tips on reducing aggression between my two cats?

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ciaobella308
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tips on reducing aggression between my two cats?

Post by ciaobella308 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:21 am

Hello, fellow cat lovers! I was hoping to get some insight or recommendations about how to help my two cats get along. I will provide a little background information about each of my cats.

I adopted them from a no-kill cat shelter at the end of October 2018. One cat is named Blossom, female, two years old, spayed. She was a domesticated cat and was admitted to the shelter when she was still a kitten because the owners could no longer care for her. The other cat is Felix, female, five years old, spayed. I was told that she was a feral cat up until she was admitted to the shelter when she was around 3 years old. When I adopted them both together, they had never spent time around each other before. The worker at the shelter said that these two cats were the types that "would likely get along with other cats." Both cats are very sweet and affectionate around me. Blossom is more sociable, but still shy around new people. Felix is extremely shy and skittish but has opened up very well since last October. Neither cat acts aggressively toward me; no biting nor scratching.

The cats were separated in my home at first, for a few weeks, and I eventually tried to expose them to each other. When Felix was around Blossom initially, she seemed very comfortable and would roll over and just look at her. Blossom, the younger one, always took a predatorial stance and would attack Felix when they got near each other. I tried some methods to help them get more comfortable with each other. I tried using Feliway pheromone spray for Blossom, switched their living areas (Felix stays in the living room and Blossom stays in my bedroom/hallway/bathroom area; a door separates the two areas), switched blankets and bedding for them to get familiar with each other's scents, feeding them near each other or distracting them with toys (Blossom doesn't pay attention to any of these things, she is just focused on Felix). Every time they are near each other, Blossom attacks Felix. Her hair stands up on her back and her tail gets all puffy. One time, after they fought, I saw a chunk of hair in Blossom's mouth; it seemed that she tried biting Felix. At this point, after 8 months, Felix is now scared of Blossom, so when Blossom appears, Felix runs under the couch right away.

Please let me know if you have any other ideas or advice on helping my cats tolerate each other, even if it looks like they won't become friends. For the meantime, I have the convenience of keeping the door in the hallway closed between them (I never leave it open when I am gone), but I anticipate that this could be difficult later on, like if I or someone else accidentally left the door open - I worry that Felix could get seriously hurt. I am open to going to a professional, if need be, as the reason I adopted two cats was so that they could keep each other company. I feel a little strained having to set aside time for each cat separately, and strange that one of them has to be behind a closed door, alone, while I am at home. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Stephanie

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Mollycat
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Re: tips on reducing aggression between my two cats?

Post by Mollycat » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:27 am

Hello and welcome1

Unfortunately Felix rolling on her back is not a good sign. In dogs this is submission but in cats what you're describing is actually the opposite, the message is something like "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough". Yes they can roll in a playful carefree relaxed way, but if she is staring at Blossom when she does it rather than eyes half closed, blinking or looking around, then it's more likely the aggressive kind.

You need to go right back to the start, separate them and start the whole process again but go much more slowly and watch for the positive signs every step of the way, and give it much longer at each step before moving to the next step. It sounds like you are doing all the right things but may have gone a little too quickly for them. A few weeks is not that long.

Having had an actual fight, this has now set them back and makes it even more difficult for them to accept each other, so the process now will be even longer. Please keep them separate them again straight away so that there isn't another fight, even when you are home. They may (or may not) get to tolerate each other and they still could become friends, if you go back to the beginning and take it at their pace. Please don't lose hope and be careful not to be anxious about them, they will pick up on your feelings. You're on the right track just slow down.

If they have both spent 2 years in shelter at such a young age and the shelter never introduced them, it's going to be difficult for them both. Really, neither of them has ever known a home life let alone sharing with another cat that isn't part of their 'clan' and although they are loving towards you this is no measure of how they might feel about other cats. Females tend to be more family oriented and happy to live with other cats they have lived with all their lives, whereas males tend to be (oddly) more sociable and ready to accept new friends. This is not true of every cat but a broad generalised average.

Edited to add - if they both respond well to catnip, let them get stoned together occasionally during the reintroduction process. We always think food treats but affection and catnip are positive reinforcement too.

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Ruth B
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Re: tips on reducing aggression between my two cats?

Post by Ruth B » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:23 am

To me it sounds like you have two cats who are trying to be alpha female, if it was only verbal arguing then I would say let them sort it out, but as it has got physical you need to intervene. I will add that while i hope they will learn to live together it could be that both are set in their ways, it might be that they can learn to co habit even if they don't become friends, but there is always the possibility that one will have to go back to the shelter If that does end up as the outcome, do not feel guilty about not being able to make them be friends, I once adopted one that would not integrate with the resident cats and I had to return her, it was years and involved a lot of reading before I finally stopped feeling guilty and came to terms with the fact that returning her was the best thing possible i could have done, both for my own cats and for her. I am surprised that the shelter didn't try and introduce them if you showed an interest in both, or even offer you a bonded pair. A cat's attitude to humans can be entirely different to their attitude to other cats.

As Mollycat says, try going back to square one and separating them fully, then doing all the scent exchanges etc. If there is an area in your home you can set aside as neutral territory (I got the impression your home isn't that big) and let them both have access to it at different times it will give them a chance to realise there is an area where they might meet another cat which is allowed in that area. At the moment it sounds like they both have their own 'dens' and when they meet it means that one or the other is invading their personal area which they feel they have to defend.

If you can find a child gate (or possibly two to help prevent them jumping over, you could use it so they can see each other, smell each other and talk to each other without being able to actually attack each other. You do need to make sure it is a design that won't allow one of them to squeeze through though.

When they do have full access to each other make sure you have a cushion or pillow on hand in case you need to separate them, the last thing you want is to end up in A&E with cat bites and scratches.

I really hope you can get them to accept each other but after the start they have had it is likely to be a long road ahead and it might be worth asking your vet for a referral to a behaviourist if you feel you could use the additional support along the way. Remember if you get stressed about it they will pick up on it and feel there is some threat they should be worried about, and likely target the other cat, which is the opposite of what you want.

In the worse case scenario, if it does end up with you having to give one back to the shelter, don't think that it means you can only have one cat, you might find that they would happily be paired with a male cat rather than another female. I will say again, always remember that whatever the outcome you have tried your best and are doing what is best for the cats in the long run.

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Alice
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Re: tips on reducing aggression between my two cats?

Post by Alice » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:46 pm

I can't improve on the advice you've been given, but will just mention that CatChat has a behaviourist who can be consulted without charge at

[email protected]

Good luck with them. I hope they will learn to live together amicably, even if never best friends.

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