Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

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SophieLou
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Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

Post by SophieLou » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:38 am

I have two 3 year old female cats, sisters from the same litter and both have been neutered. They have always been close, napped together, bathed each other etc.

4 days ago one cat got stuck in the cupboard and she knocked a box over when she came out. This spooked the other cat and ever since then she has been so aggressive to her sister, hissing, yowling, growling etc. Its more like a defensive aggression, she doesnt corner the other cat, she hisses, makes a horrible yowling noise and runs off.

The cats have been to the vet and they could not find anything wrong, I have been giving the cat painkillers for possible inflammation as requested by the vet, the dose is over and no change. Feliway has been plugged in. I have separated them for the past 4 days.

I've been scent swapping with clean socks and blankets and the cat no longer hisses at objects the sister cat has touched. I've managed to get them to eat tuna side by side with no hissing for 2 days, I tried again this morning with the tuna and she hissed at her sister and ran off.

Am I doing the right thing? Should I continue with the tuna bonding? How will I know when I can try them in a room together?

I am so sad, they are my world and I really hope this can be resolved! I cant bear the thought of rehoming either of them, I miss having them to cuddle at night. :cry:

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you.

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fjm
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Re: Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

Post by fjm » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:04 pm

I think you are on the right track, but I would take it more slowly. Plan to bring them back together over a month, that way you are less likely to be disappointed and may be pleasantly surprised. I would feed them further apart, and avoid any situations where she might practice the fearful behaviour as far as possible - the more she does it, the more entrenched it will become, so plenty of space, time, patience and treats and cuddles for staying calm. I think it is much to early to start thinking you may need to rehome one of them - it is only a few days since it happened, after all.

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Re: Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

Post by Mollycat » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:00 pm

This is surprisingly common and causes as you know great distress for us when the cats have been happy together for so long.

Unfortunately cats are incredibly good at making associations, even if they are the wrong ones. Their psychological nature means they instantly take in every detail of the scene and the moments leading up to the trauma and avoid everything in future that could have been the cause of their distress, another cat being high on the list. When the first one got stuck in the cupboard did the other one come to see what the matter was? She would have been in a state of high alert so the box would have been a big deal, if normally it would have just made her jump then being in the frame of mind that her sister was in trouble would have made the 'danger' out of all proportion.

It's important that you are calm, and I agree with fjm you are going the right way but maybe need to go slower, almost as though you were introducing them to each other for the first time. If you are anxious, they will pick up on it and the scared sister may take this as confirmation that there is something to be scared about. Don't give the one being hissed at any chance to retaliate as this can take the situation that you have in hand now to a whole different level. Slow, and calm.

My two are not related, boy came first and had no issues at all bringing in girl. Girl had to go away for 2 weeks for treatment and boy accepted her home no problem. But when it's reversed, like when he had to be away for 2 nights, I have to prepare - Pet Remedy diffusers and Zylkene for a month before and a month after, be sure to keep his scent 'alive' in the house while he is gone, and still she will hiss and run from him for weeks afterwards.

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Re: Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

Post by SophieLou » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:22 am

fjm wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:04 pm
I think you are on the right track, but I would take it more slowly. Plan to bring them back together over a month, that way you are less likely to be disappointed and may be pleasantly surprised. I would feed them further apart, and avoid any situations where she might practice the fearful behaviour as far as possible - the more she does it, the more entrenched it will become, so plenty of space, time, patience and treats and cuddles for staying calm. I think it is much to early to start thinking you may need to rehome one of them - it is only a few days since it happened, after all.
Thank you for your reply, I have been feeling so low about the whole situation. They're getting better, still a few hisses here and there. My trouble now is the 'aggressor' no longer wants to stay shut in her room at night, she makes a racket and it's keeping us up! we can't shut the other cat either as she's even worse and yowls progressively louder. Not sure how to handle it, I tried to ignore her.

SophieLou
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Re: Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

Post by SophieLou » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:28 am

Mollycat wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:00 pm
This is surprisingly common and causes as you know great distress for us when the cats have been happy together for so long.

Unfortunately cats are incredibly good at making associations, even if they are the wrong ones. Their psychological nature means they instantly take in every detail of the scene and the moments leading up to the trauma and avoid everything in future that could have been the cause of their distress, another cat being high on the list. When the first one got stuck in the cupboard did the other one come to see what the matter was? She would have been in a state of high alert so the box would have been a big deal, if normally it would have just made her jump then being in the frame of mind that her sister was in trouble would have made the 'danger' out of all proportion.

It's important that you are calm, and I agree with fjm you are going the right way but maybe need to go slower, almost as though you were introducing them to each other for the first time. If you are anxious, they will pick up on it and the scared sister may take this as confirmation that there is something to be scared about. Don't give the one being hissed at any chance to retaliate as this can take the situation that you have in hand now to a whole different level. Slow, and calm.

My two are not related, boy came first and had no issues at all bringing in girl. Girl had to go away for 2 weeks for treatment and boy accepted her home no problem. But when it's reversed, like when he had to be away for 2 nights, I have to prepare - Pet Remedy diffusers and Zylkene for a month before and a month after, be sure to keep his scent 'alive' in the house while he is gone, and still she will hiss and run from him for weeks afterwards.
Thank you for your reply, I'm kinda glad it's common as I've been feeling so alone and clueless about the situation. Yes the other cat did approach to see what her sister was meowing about, so I think you're right. I think what made it worse, we shipped them off to the vet that evening and didn't give her a chance to calm down.

Luckily the other cat just takes the hissing, she isn't aggressive. I can tell she's starting to get anxious and scared now though. The feliway doesn't appear to be doing much, so not sure how to comfort her, I give her lots of cuddles and treats. I've managed to get them to eat together fine and I let them roam around supervised now, the cat only appears to hiss when she is startled or not expecting the other cat, i.e. when she jumps on the bed without realising her sister is there, she hisses. They have sniffed each others heads a few times and no hissing. I'm not quite sure how to combat this hissing when startled, I give her treats when she's calm and stroke them both. Just can't see them being back to their old cuddly selves, makes me feel a little sad.

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Re: Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

Post by fjm » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:40 am

If they are happier together except when startled I think you are making excellent progress - it has only been a week, after all. Keep up the gentle encouragement and rewarding - the more you can reinforce that it is a Good Thing to have the other cat around the sooner the idea that her presence is a Bad Thing will be outweighed - but don't force things, and be prepared for two steps forward one back.

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Re: Fear-induced aggression? - cat hissing at her sibling.

Post by SophieLou » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:01 pm

fjm wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:40 am
If they are happier together except when startled I think you are making excellent progress - it has only been a week, after all. Keep up the gentle encouragement and rewarding - the more you can reinforce that it is a Good Thing to have the other cat around the sooner the idea that her presence is a Bad Thing will be outweighed - but don't force things, and be prepared for two steps forward one back.
Unfortunately we have gone back a few steps, she seems fine sometimes with her sister but there is now a lot of hissing again. So back to separation we go.

Is there any way I can help her out? Shes fine when they're eating, I stroke them both to get the scents mixed. But sometimes when she passes her by she hisses, but it's not always? It's odd.

I mean earlier she let her sister shove her nose up her backside and didnt care, but she walked past her in the kitchen and hissed? Dont really understand why it's so intermittent.

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