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Long & complicated, but I'm at my wit's end...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi all...I'm new here, so I'll try to keep the backstory short in order to get to the problem at hand.

"Dylan" is my two year old neutered kitty that I took off the streets when he was about l2 weeks old. He's always been a bit of an oddball, but when he got to be about one and a half, he started "freaking out"--twitching, chasing and mauling his own tail, and attacking me badly enough that I had to go the hospital. I couldn't just give up on him. Having worked 8 years for an animal shelter, I couldn't imagine ever taking one of my own pets to a shelter, and for a cat like Dylan, that seemed the only option. Instead, I consulted with my veterinarian and did a little research. Eventually, we diagnosed him with anxiety/schizophrenia and he was put on the kitty version of Prozac. It helped to mellow him out immensely. Enter "Chaplin." Because I'm a student, I spend long hours away from home each day, and Dylan seemed to be getting very lonely. I used to foster kittens, and Dylan absolutely adored each and every one of them, so I figured that if I got him a playmate, he'd take to him fine. And he did. He and Chaplin were inseperable. Dylan was very motherly towards the little tyke. He'd bathe him, protect him, teach him to knock things off the counter...the whole nine yards. They slept together, played together, ate together, and looked out the window together. Chaplin now weighs l0 pounds and is about ll months old. Within the past week, he and Dylan have gone from being best buddies to worst enemies. My boyfriend and I have barely gotten a wink of sleep for the past week because one of us has to be up to watch the cats. It seems as though Chaplin may have started it, initially...Dylan still spooks easily at some things, and one night, Chaplin tore out after him, presumably to pick a play. Dylan tore INTO Chaplin, obviously feeling threatened and it's been a downward spiral from there. Everytime Dylan so much as sees Chaplin, he starts hissing and yowling. To make matter's worse, Chaplin seems to be fearless in light of his friend's behavior and has no qualms about getting into hours-long staring matches with Dylan which often results in Chaplin inching his way over to Dylan who will then lunge, causing another fight to ensue. It's as though they never knew one another.

I hasten to add that up until yesterday, Chaplin hadn't been neutered yet....: / I finally located a low-cost clinic in town and had the procedure done and brought Chaplin back home this evening. The night Chaplin was away at the vet's, Dylan was so happy...purring and rubbing up against everything and sleeping like a baby.

I wasn't expecting an instant fix to arise from Chaplin's neutering, but I must admit, I nearly cried when I brought Chaplin home, let him spend about an hour in the carrier so that Dylan could sniff him, and brought him out only to have them eat together, touch noses, and return immediately to being completely hostile. Right now, Chaplin is sleeping in the carrier (door open) and Dylan is hiding, terrified, on the top shelf of my pantry. If he so much as gets one glimpse of Chaplin, he starts hissing and yowling and retreats immediately to the back of the shelf again. I know this isn't just an issue of Chaplin smelling like the vet's office because it's exactly how it's been all week...

I have absolutely no idea what to do. We have a Feliway diffuser that we got to cut down on the anxious night-crying both cats were doing, and it really seemed to help. However, in this instance, it's been of no use. I'm at my wit's end.

Do I just need to give it time to let the netuering take effect? It seemed to start out as a dominance issue. For instance, when Chaplin rolls over and shows his belly, Dylan immediately stops growling and hissing, but the second Chaplin's back on his feet again, Dylan is terrified/aggressive. Chaplin was also biting the back of Dylan's neck in the days leading up to his neutering, which leads me to believe that Chaplin is trying to assume the role of alpha cat.

Are these problems ever going to be undone? Will Dylan ever stop running away from Chaplin? He doesn't even sleep because he's constantly looking around to make sure that Chaplin isn't sneaking up on him. It's awful. I can't fathom giving one of my boys away, but I also can't fathom dealing with this for the rest of their lives.

Help? The tension in this house is affecting us all. : (

post #2 of 6
Cats recognise each other by smell, and right now, as far as Dylan is concerned, Chaplin smells of the vet surgery, not of Chaplin, so he doesn't recognise him. Chaplin will smell of Chaplin again in a few days, but you can help the process by rubbing him all over with both his own and Dylan's bedding, or you can make them both smell the same by putting a dab of vanilla extract under each of their chins and at the base of each others tail. It will get back to normal, don't panic
post #3 of 6
First I'd like to say welcome to our site It sounds like you are a very caring kitty parent and I can tell by your story that this turmoil is breaking your heart

I think Epona is right, and I'm sure that after a month or two (once Chaplin's hormones have calmed following his surgery) that your home will become much more peaceful. Just hang in there
post #4 of 6
I agree the vanilla trick may work, it helps to mask a cat's distinct smell, but since this was going on before the neuter, I don't think this is related to Chaplin smelling like the surgery, I think its Chaplin smelling like Chaplin, so try the vanilla. Do you have a spare room, an extra bedroom or even the bathroom that you can possibly sequester one of the cats in when you and your BF are not around to referee? I would say to separate Chaplin, and let Dylan have the run of the house. I think the main problem is that you waited to long to have Chaplin neutered, and I know how things happen, money is tight, etc and nothing can really be done now anyway, but I do agree that after a couple months, when Chaplin's "boy" hormones have calmed down, things may get better, but its going to take a bit.
post #5 of 6
It may have been that Chaplin was "coming of age" and Dylan looked at him as a "rival".

When Chapliin was neutered, then instead of being a challenger, Chaplin was someone that Dylan didn't know.

Please, if you are willing, give Dylan and Chaplin a chance to settle in, try the vanilla extract on them and see if that doesn't settle down.
post #6 of 6
Sorry I didn't read the thread properly the first time, I swear my brain got switched off over the Xmas break and is taking a while (like weeks) to warm up, I somehow read it that this was just since the neuter.
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