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Cat aggression - 3 cats that have been getting along fine for years

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Stevie114, Dec 10, 2019.


  1. Stevie114

    Stevie114 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all,

    I have 3 cats who have coexisted together for a minimum of 4 years. 4yo Ragdoll male, 6yo DSH female and 8yo DSH male. We moved to a new house 6 months ago with not much trouble, they settled into the space a lot quicker than expected. We have been letting them outside supervised. Today when they were outside my 8yo Male jumped on my 6yo Female (he often does this inside and they need to be separated as she will often get startled and angry. I think he is trying to play, as it seems to happen when he is in a playful mood, but goes about it the wrong way and escalates. As soon as they are redirected or spend some time apart they are fine). She got more scared than usual (I think because they were outside, and they still aren't 100% comfortable out there), my 4yo came to see what was happening, and she attacked him. It resulted in an all out brawl, with the 8yo and 6yo both attacking each other. The 4yo was terrified and trying to get away. It was very escalated, a lot of hissing, screeching, growling etc. No major injuries that I can tell but lots of fur lost. Nothing like this has ever happened before.

    We kept them separate for a few hours, and when their body language looked calm, we have tried to reintroduce on 2 occasions, both times trying to go back to their regular routine. First time it started quite calmly, but escalated to some growling and hissing, with the 4yo initially being scared / hissing, and the 6yo cornering him. So we separated again. Second time things got really out of hand, they all kind of went at each other again, I picked up the 4yo as he was being cornered by the 6yo and she was attacking him, he proceeded to urinate all over me. Up until this point I thought it was just the 4yo triggering the others (i.e. he would cower and hiss growl when seeing them, and they appeared to escalate on the back of this), but the 6yo and 8yo are now growling through the door. Since this point they are all in separate rooms, however are growling and spitting at each other from behind the doors even though they cant see each other. It's like they don't even recognise each other any more.

    I'm really stressed out as nothing like this has ever happened before. I know the process of introducing as I had to introduce them all quite slowly (e.g. feeding on other sides of the door, slowly opening the door etc). Do I just go back to doing this? Has it happened to anyone else? Even when they were first being introduced I never saw this level of aggression.

    Hope someone can help out.

    Thank you
     
    #1 Stevie114, Dec 10, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
  2. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    I don't know where that "feeding on opposite sides of the door" comes from (I see people mentioning trying it, often) but it isn't helpful at all in any situation involving cats. Cats should always have their own meal spots away from other cats.

    @chillminx will be the best one to advise you in this situation. You can search out her posts in other similar threads while you wait, if you feel like it.
     
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  3. Stevie114

    Stevie114 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for the reply. Feeding on other sides of the door was helpful for me introducing my older cats to the kittens as they came along. It seemed to make them more calm, and associate each other with a positive experience. I can only speak from my experience though
     
  4. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Glad it helped for you. Or they got used to each other in spite of it. :) Either way, I would not recommend it in this particular situation you are in now.
     
    #4 lorilu, Dec 10, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
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  5. MissFluffy

    MissFluffy PetForums Junior

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    Where I live it really seems to be the standard advice presented as a miracle cure for all "cats not getting along" problems by pretty much everyone involved in rescues, shelters, fostering, etc. Introducing two cats? Feed on opposite sides of the door. They got along fine as kittens and now they're grown up they don't? Feed on opposite sides of the door. One of them is scared of the others? Feed etc.

    I think it's one of those things that one or two particularly vocal people have heard or read somewhere and/or have found to work on a couple of occasions, then spread around their circle of acquaintances, implying that if it didn't work for them they must have been doing it wrong. If you're stating something in a confident enough matter everyone else will go along with it and propagate it further because, hey, the "authority" said this was the way to go and they didn't want to look stupid or get into an argument.
     
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  6. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    @MissFluffy You could be right about that. Problem is, it's forcing. It's just not, in my opinion, a good way to go about helping cats get along, forcing them to do something they may find uncomfortable.

    Cat has to eat to live, so is forced to eat in what may very well be a stressful situation. There are, in my opinion, better, less stressful for the cat, ways to introduce and re-introduce.
     
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  7. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @Stevie114 and welcome :)

    I am sorry to hear about the upset between your 3 cats. These things can sometimes be hard to put right, as cat pals are not always forgiving of each other easily if they have a bad falling out.

    For the moment I advise you to keep the cats separate. They are very on edge and anxious at present, and as soon as they have sight of each other it is likely to escalate into angry confrontation (as you have found).

    I would buy a Pet Remedy diffuser. It contains valerian which is a sedative, so please note it may affect the humans in the household as well as the cats. You could also consider Feliway Friends diffuser which contains cat pheromones. We use both these products at the Shelter to calm anxious cats when they arrive. Maybe start with the Pet Remedy to calm them all.

    If you can identify which of the 3 cats is the most anxious or volatile I would give him/her a course of Zylkene for a month. If all 3 of them are quite volatile, consider giving them all Zylkene for a few weeks. It is a calming supplement not a drug. The contents of the capsule are added to food and mixed well.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vetoquinol-Zylkene-Capsules-Small-20-Count/dp/B00K06MAK2/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=35M57XDE2V2LD&keywords=zylkene+for+cats+75mg&qid=1575982480&sprefix=zylkene+for+cats,aps,135&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFLUlM3VjZZWEZPN1UmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTAzMzcyNDhFNTNMVVBFMk1BREomZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDAwOTE4MDFUU0VaSU9aWUhDOVomd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

    It may take several days, or a week, for them all to be calm enough for you to start reintroductions. Do not rush things with bringing them together as it could be counterproductive. I would reintroduce them 2 at a time, not all 3 together. I wouldn't use the either-side-of-the-door method (it may work with kittens perhaps but I think not with adult cats).

    The ideal for introductions is a mesh screen door as a divider. So the cats can see each other, read each other's body language, hear each other, and smell each other's scent. But have the reassurance of knowing they cannot be physically attacked. But as your cats know each other you may be able to manage without the screen, if you go very carefully indeed.

    Once you decide to allow two of them to meet face to face again, supervise them closely and do not allow anything negative to escalate, The odd hiss may be OK, but anything more than that and you must separate them back to their own safe quarters. Place a large cushion upright between them if you feel animosity is growing and then use the cushion to 'herd' one cat out of the room. This is much safer than you picking one cat up to move them.

    Prepare to give them their own separate feeding spots (once they are all together again), at least 10 ft apart, preferably out of sight of each other (e.g. at different levels). As lorilu mentioned, cats should not be fed next to each other, it is stressful for them. While some cats may tolerate it if they get on together very well, when there has been a major upset (as with your 3) you will need to make these kind of changes so as to avoid any repercussions in future.

    Other resources would also be best increased significantly, e.g. water bowls (several around the home) litter trays (at least 4) , cat beds, scratch posts, tall cat trees or high up places to rest.
     
    #7 chillminx, Dec 10, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
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  8. MissFluffy

    MissFluffy PetForums Junior

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    I agree. I'd consider using special treats to help food-motivated cats get along, but not their normal meals (with a naturally anxious cat that's probably just a recipe for a hunger strike). I like Chillminx's screen door idea much better overall, because they'll be exposed to each other enough that they're likely to get tired of antagonizing eventually, even if they never go back to being friends.
     
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  9. Stevie114

    Stevie114 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for the detailed reply. I am glad to hear that we've been doing some of these things already! (e.g. using feliway, feeding in separate rooms). We have been reintroducing them over the last 2 days and it is going really well. I feel like all of a sudden they remembered each other and instantly relaxed. They are still being monitored but have been acting normal again. They were very anxious being locked away in separate rooms, unfortunately our new carpet was ripped up but that was the worst of it. Thanks guys for your ideas :)
     
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  10. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    I'm very pleased to hear that progress is being made. Excellent! Well done. :)
     
  11. Kitties 4 ever

    Kitties 4 ever PetForums Newbie

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    Hi. I find myself in the same situation. I have 10 kids, no I'm not joking. My eldest is 5yrs in march. Belinda whom I call Boo. Next is Socks & Patch 3yrs. Riley 1yr. Devon & Emma 1yr. Abbie 8mths. Charlie I adopted from shelter 1,1/2 yrs, have had him for 7mths. I just adopted 2 4mth kittens from rescue grp. Josh & Penny. I love all of my kids more than life. They are my reason for getting up in the mornings. My girl Patch has started picking fights with Devon & Emma, I don't understand this because they have been together for a yr. I don't know what to do? Have you found a solution? My babies are all 100%indoors but they have a whole house to play in including a playroom and 6 kitty condos, I've lost count how many toys, water fountains, biscuits 24/7 and excellent quality food. I work and study from home, which is great and I usually have at least 5 asleep with me at night. I've got calming products galore. I am getting stressed and down in the dumps because I love all of them and I hate having to separate them. Please help.
     
  12. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    I would first and foremost transition them to timed feedings, and then transition them all to a good quality wet diet. No kibble. Every cat should have his or her own meal spot. Diet plays a larger role in behavior than most people realize.

    Kibble is dehydrating, triple processed, poor quality, high in carbs and causes digestive problems (like tummy aches) that are easy to miss.

    Besides that, it's possible you simply tipped Patch over the edge adding two more cats.

    All the cats are spayed and neutered?
     
    chillminx likes this.
  13. Kitties 4 ever

    Kitties 4 ever PetForums Newbie

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    Yes they have all been spayed and neutered and they are all vaccinated and microchipped, also highest level of insurance cover available. If it's wrong to feed them biscuits and I stop them, how often should I feed them good quality wet food? What wet food would you suggest? I am currently feeding them fancy feast, is this what you would recommend? I understand what you're saying about adding 2more kittens but I love all of them, I couldn't bare losing any. Do you have any ideas as to what to do with the situation? Do you think it will right itself given time? I am open to all suggestions. Thanks to all.
     
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