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Sisterly Love - help!

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by CatLifeSJ, May 9, 2019.

  1. CatLifeSJ

    CatLifeSJ PetForums Newbie

    May 9, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Okay so -

    I have two female, domestic short hair sisters, they are spayed, vaccinated and have recently received a clean bill of health at a check up. They are 15 months old. My tuxedo is Luna and my all black is Shadow.

    As kittens they were inseperable, as they have gotten older they haven't stayed so close but have never minded each others company.

    Recently there have been fights breaking out between them, kissing, growling and fur flying - no blood drawn yet thought thank god.

    It seems Luna almost always instigates the altercations even though she is smaller than Shadow (and Shadow could certainly put her in her place if she wanted to but she's far too timid).

    Feleway pheromones, seperation, extra resources and multiple perches and positive reenforcement whilst in each others company has not solved this problem.

    They now have stand offish staring contests and one leaves the room when the other enters and we are often woken in the night by hissing or growling that is seperate with a stern bang on a surface. Rare grooming sessions seem to be dominant stances rather than loving grooming and Luna constantly antagonises Shadow.

    I'm at a loss as they still eat near each other and when they go outside they go together and seem to stick close by to each other.. Soon as they are in the house hell breaks out.

    What happened to my inseperable sisters? Helppppppp
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Hello @CatLifeSJ and welcome :)

    What's happening with your two girls is that as they mature they're becoming more conscious of their territory and increasingly protective of their resources (feline resources are food, water, litter trays, cat beds, toys, scratch posts and pads and their humans' attention). This can happen later than 15 months of age, more like the age 2 years or a bit later. And it can happen between siblings who were previously the best of pals.

    You mentioned one cat "leaves the room when the other enters" and by doing this they are telling you they don't want to spend as much time in each other's company, they want their own space. So you will need to create the impression for them, in the home of there being more space. And set things up for them so that competition is minimised. They need to feel there are multiple resources for them in the home.

    First, food is a major resource and often a cause of competition. You won't see your two girls fighting while they're eating but the fact they are eating near each other is bound to be having an effect on them, in terms of competition. I would start by giving moving one cat away from the usual feeding area and giving her a new permanent feeding spot at least 10 ft away from her sister and preferably out of sight of her. What can work well is to feed one cat on the floor and one on a worktop or table. Perhaps leave Luna in the usual spot and move Shadow. Feed them in separate rooms if necessary.

    Also, if they don't have microchipped feeders it would be an idea to consider buying them one each, so they can feel assured their food is always kept safe for them and neither sister can take the other one's food.

    As Luna is the one who mostly starts the squabbles it means Luna is more protective of her resources than Shadow is. So the aim is to limit Luna's competitive feelings by always putting her food down first before you give Shadow her food.

    Water bowls - several are advisable, spread around the house.

    Litter trays are another major resource for cats, even for cats who mostly go outdoors to toilet. I imagine the girls are shut indoors at night? If so they should have a minimum of one litter tray each. And these should be placed in different spots in the home, not close together. The cats may swap around and use both trays but the point is to make then feel there are plenty of litter tray resources. If you have room for 3 trays, so much the better. (If they mostly toilet indoors then 3 trays is the minimum needed).

    Plenty of high up places for them to go, for time away from each other, e.g. tall cat trees or shelves leading safely up to tops of cupboards and down again are also important.

    What are the sleeping arrangements at night? Are both cats shut in the same room together? If so, I would change it and either let them decide for themselves where to sleep at night, or if that is not practical for you, then settle both down in separate rooms at night and close the doors. One of the worst things is for 2 cats who want (and need) space from each other to have no choice but to share a room at night.

    If both cats sleep on your bed with you perhaps that is also a source of competition between them and maybe not such a good thing to continue...

    A cat scratch post in every room, and plenty of cardboard scratch pads everywhere, are also important so each girl can scent mark as much as she likes from the scent-glands in her paws.

    They are both still young cats and should really enjoy playing with you. It will be diplomatic to try and play with each girl separately when her sister is not around (or is asleep in another room). Interactive play with rod toys or wands or chasing ball you throw is really important. Separate play times will affirm for each cat their close bond with you, their special human. Sometimes perhaps they will both enjoy joining in game together with you. But if one walks off, then they would be making it clear they do not want to share you together.

    EDIT : just re-read your post and re-noted your comment about them squabbling at night. In view of this I would separate them at night, as said above. Ideally to different rooms with doors that close. If not, then room dividers on castors can be useful at night. Make sure there's no gap at the bottom for a cat to get under and that what the dividers are made of is too slippery for a cat to climb it.
    #2 chillminx, May 10, 2019
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
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