Cat's strange habit

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LuxWarhammer
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Cat's strange habit

Post by LuxWarhammer » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:24 pm

Hi
We have an issue we hope you can help with.
We have two cats. The first was taken from his litter of six at about a month and a half old. He is neutered. The second is from the street, he was either abandoned by or lost his mother, and sat meowing for help on the street for weeks. He is not neutered.
The second cat has a strange habit.
The first one likes to be outside of the house, or stretch on the grass in the ground floor (we live on the fourth), and sometimes, upon his return, the second cat would start to stalk him, then stop next to him and start wailing long wails, as if he was a wolf. The first cat hates this, and when stalked or wailed at, he would growl at or sometimes attack the second, then escape to some nook to hide. When they meet again the first would still growl to deter the second from coming near him, which may or may not work. It can take several hours for this to calm.
Sometimes the second cat does this even without the first having been out of the house.
What is the second cat doing? Why? Is it related to him not being neutered?

Thanks

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exlibris
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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by exlibris » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:10 pm

Hormones can send any animal to do crazy stuff (just watch bands of roaming teenage humans!). The best course of action is to neuter, then see how things pan out. It might solve everything, it might not. But at least you won't be contending with uncontrollable urges to act erratically. When things calm down you can start to use techniques to improve behaviour.

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by Mollycat » Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:51 am

I'm trying to picture what you describe and it sounds to me like the preliminaries to a territorial fight from your unneutered boy when your neutered one comes in from outside. When he wails is his back arched and his neck twisted in an awkward position, and the fur raised along his back and his tail fluffed up?

If you've ever heard this wail from outside, from other cats, it's often followed by screeching and that's when the cats actually go for each other with all teeth and claws and someone gets hurt. The neutered one attacking would be a natural reaction and running off would be when he realises he can't win this fight.

Neutering should help and is recommended anyway but it would only take one time of it developing into a full on fight to cause real damage to their relationship and a huge problem for you so sooner rather than later before it becomes habit.

What is their relationship like? Do they get on well, play together, sleep together etc?

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Ruth B
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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by Ruth B » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:24 am

i have to agree that getting the one neutered is the first step, although, depending on his age, it might not stop it. When I was a child we had a cat that adopted us and was neutered late, at about 2 to 3 years old. Even afterwards if a strange cat got into the house (we had an open cat flap) he would howl at them, he tended to be referred to as the 'Cat of the Baskervilles' when he did it, it was the most unearthly sound you could imagine. For him it was obviously a learned reaction, if your cat is still young then getting him neutered will hopefully stop him.

Your other cats reaction to it is perfectly normal, he has, what to him, is a bully telling him how he is going to beat him black and blue and rip his throat out. He attacks in self defense and then runs to hide to try and protect himself, when they meet again, he feels he has to make a preemptive strike just to let the other know he won't be bullied.

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by Mollycat » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:43 am

Just have to add that bizarrely late neutered boys can go the other way too, both of mine (one indoor/outdoor done at 3yo and other 9yo indoor retired stud) were extremely gentle and sociable. The in/out one defended the territory but was not aggressive and was so social that he would actively recruit other cats in the neighbourhood to try and have them move in with us. The indoor one was so lonely and desperate we were forced to get another cat for him and there was no need for managed introductions, he won her over very quickly and never reacted to her fearful hissing or need for personal space. But as Ruth says there's no guarantee.

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by LuxWarhammer » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:04 pm

Hi

Thank you for your replies

"When things calm down you can start to use techniques to improve behaviour"

What kind of techniques? Is there a book or website?

"When he wails is his back arched and his neck twisted in an awkward position, and the fur raised along his back and his tail fluffed up?"

Could be about the neck, I'm not sure about the rest.

"What is their relationship like? Do they get on well, play together, sleep together etc?"

Usually they're okay with each other. Sometimes they chase each other but it usually doesn't end in violence and I assume that they're playing, although it does seem rough at times.
The neutered cat is about two years and six months old, and the unneutered is younger by four months.
The aggressor cat, except in those wacky times, is actually very gentle. It's actually the neutered one who is more aggressive and quick to anger, as he was before being neutered at about six months old. And he's quite big (not fat). The unneutered one is normal in body length but a bit thin.
The neutered one is also somewhat friendlier, although both cats, unfortunately, don't like to be touched too much. When the unneutered one is petted he would sometimes lick your hand, but I wonder whether he does it because he wants to or because he feels he has to. He is also pretty pedantic and quite the germ freak. Sometimes you touch him and he goes and licks where you did.
He also eats herbs, if that is relevant somehow.
The neutered cat at least once tried to groom the unneutered with licking, but the later objects it and makes him stop or goes away. They don't usually sleep together, actually they usually avoid sleeping in the same place. They were both a lot nicer and warmer when they were kittens, is that always the case?
The unneutered one also doesn't purr that much. He gives the impression of being a bit nervous and antsy. Perhaps it's his tough kittenhood before we took him? (although he did have an easier character as an actual kitten)
Can we help him calm down somehow?

I'm worried that neutering him might change his character for the worse while not solving the problem, making him lethargic and depressed, and making him weaker against the already neutered one who as I said, is the more aggressive one generally.

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by Mollycat » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:23 pm

Ok, the way a cat is with humans isn't related to the way a cat is with other cats. The friendliest of cats can be vicious with other cats, and cats that won't let a human touch them can be loving to other cats. Being nice or feisty isn't just one fits-all character trait.

Cats don't think they should, they do what they want. Licking you is quite common and perfectly normal, if a little sore after a while!

Licking himself after you have touched him - I have a cat who does that, she used to be obsessive about it cleaning off any trace of my scent after I touched her, but she's more chilled these days. She also had to inspect anything that came into the house including letters and grocery shopping, and inspect everywhere after I had moved things or cleaned the house. This was her insecurity. If I didn't give her time to do this, she would become really nervous, and unsettled. With a lot of care she has settled a lot but is still very scent orientated and needs to know everything.

Mutual grooming shares personal scent with others in the group. Not wanting to share scent means not feeling comfortable as part of the group. The other one wanting to share grooming is saying he feels comfortable and wants the other one to be part of the group. I'm avoiding calling it a pack because cats are basically solitary and do not form packs, but feral cat colonies do have group rules and roles and some scent sharing.

Neutering doesn't change their character as you should know from the one who has been done, it's a bit like taking the sharp edge off the hormones and being a bit more relaxed about things. Best comparison I can think of is how people are different when they've had alcohol or when they are sober, and some people change more than others, but they are still the same person. Not sure how long you're going to be spared spraying in the house or why one is done and the other isn't.

Chasing can be play and play can be rough, and as long as they chase each other and stop without one or the other hiding hissing or lashing out it's probably ok and can even be bonding, but the warning signs can be subtle. Sometimes just sitting or rolling on their back can be a sign of trouble, all depends how and in what circumstances. Rolling on their back is not submissive at all, it can show trust or it can be very aggressive. Sitting in a doorway or on stairs at a strategic place can be very aggressive too, without any hissing or raised paws. Cats are really subtle and complex creatures.

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by Unicorn_Emi » Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:18 pm

I agree definitely get him neutered, also fact he was on the street and abandoned etc - you don't know exactly what he's been through before you had him, he could of possibly been abused etc, just continue showing him lots of love etc, I think getting him neutered will make a big difference though so do that first and then see how he is then :)

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by exlibris » Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:28 pm

If you're worried about losing your hard-won trust if you get your chap neutered, then don't be. We've had problems bonding with our two kittens and we were worried that we'd take a step backwards by bundling them off to the vet. But it made no difference, they've not started hissing or hiding or anything like that. Neutering will change the dynamic and make things easier to manage.

By 'techniques' I meant you can change your cats behaviour/relationship (hopefully) by trying different things, which cat-chatters can suggest. But you won't know what you're really facing until he's been neutered as hormones are a real game changer.

Mollycat is correct about the spraying - you must have Bast looking down on you or something!

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by LuxWarhammer » Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:41 pm

I understand that cats can treat humans and other cats differently, but this one seems pretty consistent in his attitude towards both.
The unneutered cat did actually spray, but luckily or due to Bast's blessing as your say, he did it only three or four times in his entire life.
The reason he is not neutered is, after neutering the first cat we felt hesitant about inflicting it on another cat so soon after, but I can see our error now. We will neuter him soon. I hope it will make him calmer and less neurotic.

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by Jacks » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:09 pm

You are making a very good decision to get your cat neutered. I hope they are also chipped - it's always possible for an unneutered cat to be lured away from home by the scent of a female and may, or may not, find his way home. There is also the issue with mating related fighting (which is a whole lot worst than territorial fighting) and of course the unwanted kittens to add to the cat population.

In my experience (having taken in 5 unneutered males of various ages and having them fixed) neutering does NOT change their basic character, but they are less territorial, less confrontational, don't roam as far and no longer have stinky wee. The 'sprayers' did continue to spray; but less indoors as time went on. Also it can take many months for any real changes to be noticed (apart from the stinky pee smell, which goes in 6-8 weeks). Most importantly, none have lost their unique character, are less loveable or fat and lazy. The boys that like exploring still explore, they just don't go as far. When a new tom arrives in our garden there are always issues over the territory. For me neutering is a win-win and get it done as soon as possible. x

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by Tynaroo » Thu Dec 19, 2019 1:19 pm

Heh, I don't know why, but it reminded me about my cat's quirky behaviour.

I haven't figured it out but she's attacking me from time to time. Chasing me around till I'm forced to jump on the couch, bed or stool. Not just chasing but scratching and biting me violently, like she's hunting me like some kind of pray. But then we're okay, I'm back on the floor, patting and rubbing her as nothing happened. And she's doing it ONLY with me. She never treats my mom, dad or brothers that way, nor any guest isn't even slightly bitten ones. But on the other side, she sleeps and cuddles only with me either (seldom - with mom). I consider it like a very strange expression of love...

But now I'm thinking about what if her aggression is caused by a sick play of hormones? :? She's not neutered...

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Re: Cat's strange habit

Post by exlibris » Sat Dec 21, 2019 11:47 pm

Tynaroo wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 1:19 pm
But now I'm thinking about what if her aggression is caused by a sick play of hormones? :? She's not neutered...
If you can persuade your folks, get her neutered. You don't want unnecessary kittens, plus females on heat are really, really frustrated. I think any erratic behaviour can be looked at with suspicion if a cat isn't neutered. If she is on heat, but not able to resolve her hormonal instincts, then she's going to get aggressive out of frustration. As you're closest to her, you're first in the line of fire.

https://www.tenthlifecats.org/all-about ... aggression

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