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Fighting males

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Since I got such great advice last time from everyone here, I'm back again with my new problem.

Here's my situation: I have two males, both fixed. One, Spike, is eight years old. He was my first cat. He used to be this sweet little teddy bear that cuddled all the time.

Last September, I found Grayse. He was about five weeks old at the time. Spike was very tolerant of Grayse. He would hiss at the baby, but wasn't aggressive towards him--he never tried to hurt Grayse. Most of the time, he just avoided the new little guy.

Grayse, being a baby, just wanted to play, and he would follow Spike around. This was cute, but Spike would not participate in play. And if Grayse got too rowdy, Spike would want to go outside, which we would allow.

Fast forward to now. Grayse is about seven months old. This cat went from cute kitten to a hells angel. Seriously, while Grayse has his adorable moments, they're vastly overwhelmed by his bad behavior. He's tore up almost every set of blinds I have in the house. He claws the furniture, and he's literally dug a hole in the carpet in the livingroom about the size of a fifty cent piece. While this makes me want to strangle his little red butt, I do chalk his bad behavior up to his young age.

The real problem is Grayse's attitude towards Spike now. He stalks Spike just like a lion stalking an antelope. When Spike runs, Grayse jumps on his hind end to bring him down. Spike, not having an aggressive bone in his body, just runs away and hisses. I thought this was just an establishment of the pecking order, inwhich, Grayse is obviously going to be the alpha male. However, he keeps edging it up a notch. Over the last two weeks, I've caught Grayse slapping Spike in the face and biting at his face.

There hasn't been any injury to either party, but it seems as if Grayse is getting more aggressive with time. But here's what throws me...sometimes (and I mean once or twice per week) Grayse will be herding Spike through the house. And if Grayse stops, Spike will find him and slap at him in order to start the chase again--but these times aren't nearly as aggressive as the fights where Grayse is slapping and biting at Spikes face.

So my question is: Should I be concerned? Spike, for the most part, avoids him by staying outside as much as possible. Grayse, for all his bullying of Spike, is afraid of the outdoors, and will rarely venture past the backporch, and then, only after dark.

I read about the vanilla extract trick...do you think that might help? For all his bratty behavior, Grayse has found a special place in my heart. I don't want to have to get rid of him...but I love Spike, and I don't want him hurt.
post #2 of 8
Grayse is at that unruley teen-age period. If they are stubborn, it's a real challenge to discipline them at this time of their lives. Most cats that I've had usually start a little older (9 months) and seem to settle down at about 13-14 months. But of course they are all different.

What is your reaction to Grayse when he misbehaves? Do you stop him and give him time outs? Redirect him to a toy or cat tree? Play with him? Hiss at him to get his attention? Sometimes we need to play cat parent and show them the proper behavior. Never use a squirt bottle on them because it only teaches them to fear you and doesn't teach them what they are supposed to do.

I'm not sure vanilla extract will work. They already know each other's scents and that only helps to bridge them over the time when they first meet.
post #3 of 8
I would be very careful about Spike's going out - you don't want Grayse to drive him away one day.
post #4 of 8
Tbh this sounds exactly like the relationship between Jaffa and Mosi, except that Mosi sounds a little bit less of a monster than Grayse (but not much!) and Jaffa is also a dominant cat who can stick up for himself.

Is Grayse neutered? I found that things deteriorated between my 2 when Mosi was round about 5 months (he was neutered at just over 5 months) and weren't too good for the next 2 or 3 months but things did get better and now that Mosi is 14 months old things are much better. He still jumps Jaffa and seems to enjoy waiting for Jaffa to be preoccupied before he pounces on him but Jaffa is the bigger cat and either enjoys the mock fight, hisses at Mosi and puts him in his place or gives me that "will you do something about this kitten?" look.

I don't have much advice for you other than to say that with my 2 it did pass and they get on pretty well now. At 7 months Grayse is an adolescent and turning into an adult cat. Hormones aside, they both still need to find their place in the household and it's very likely things will settle down if you can manage to prevent world war 3 from breaking out over the next few months. I think your main worry is Spike's reaction and his spending more time outside. If Grayse is the more dominant cat they may well just sort it all out with Spike being happy to submit to Grayse but you'll have your work cut out trying to make sure Spike isn't unhappy in the meantime. You may need to separate them when you're not home.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick responses everyone.

Yes, both of them are neutered.

Spike is my main concern. I don't want him to get hurt. I'm still not 100% positive that this is a dominance issue as opposed to an aggression issue on Grayse's part.

As far as modifying Grayse's behavior goes, I'm at a loss. Nothing phases this cat...and I mean nothing. I've tried all these at one time or another:

Saying "aannnntttt" in a firm, louder than usual voice. He just looks at me initially, but then continues. After the first time, I'm ignored.

Saying "No" in same firm voice, and then slapping my hand on a table or flat surface. He considers that a game, and thus begins: Grayse doing the bad behavior, me saying no and slapping the table, Grayse runs in a big circle around the room, ending up in his original location, and doing the bad behavior again...starting everything all over. Honestly, the first few times he did this, I didn't realize that it had become a game to him, and I was thinking "what a dumb-as-dirt cat"!

After reading these boards, I hate to admit it, but I did use a water bottle. It had absolutely no effect at all. Grayse would just lay down where ever he was, close his eyes while I drenched him, and when I stopped, he'd get up, lick himself off, and then start back to whatever he was doing in the first place.

I've tried swatting at him with rolled up papers, which he considered an invitation to start an attack game. This does stop the bad behavior, but only until I get tired of chasing or swatting at him. However, when I realized that he only considered this 'fun', I had to stop because he'd start doing something 'bad' just to get a game started.

I've tried redirecting (over and over and over again), but as I mentioned above, Grayse tags his bad behavior with the start of a game. So this only causes him to do something bad in order to start something he considers fun.

I've tried ignoring whatever he does. But this only works if whatever he's doing isn't destructive, because trust me, this cat can last a long time at whatever he's doing.

I was at a loss, until 'time outs' suddenly occurred to me. While these haven't stopped any of the bad behaviors, like attacking Spike, scratching the furniture, etc, it does tend to 'break' his concentration on whatever he was doing, so that when he's released (after about 10 minutes), he starts on something else.

And I don't want you all to think Grayse is just bad. He's not. He can be absolutely adorable at times. He's very smart too. He knows that cute adorable look will get him out of trouble every time...and he uses it a lot.

But as I said, I can handle all his bad behavior as long as Spike isn't hurt.

Right now, Spike goes outside early in the morning (he's always been an indoor/outdoor cat) and he doesn't come home until after dark. This is a long time, even for Spike. Spike has also become more cranky. He hisses at me (which he's never done before), he shuns me petting him (and one stroke use to get him on his back for a belly rub). And as stupid as it sounds to most people, his facial expression has changed. Now he mostly looks irritated or mad. I still try to pet him, groom him, etc...but now he just doesn't seem interested. And everything stops if Grayse comes around, and Spike will get down and start hissing and running again.
post #6 of 8
Originally Posted by SouthernGem22 View Post
Honestly, the first few times he did this, I didn't realize that it had become a game to him, and I was thinking "what a dumb-as-dirt cat"!
But you are so wrong - he's a "smart as a tack cat"!! Yup, it sounds like you have one of the stubborn ones. My Stumpy was exactly as you described at that age. Way back then (before I was better educated), I also used a squirt bottle. He'd simply swipe at me if I used it on him. Another reason why they don't do you any good.

The only thing that got us thru that period was complete persistence and patience on my part and hard as it was, I didn't give in to his antics. He got a lot of time outs during that period in his life. When he finally got a little more maturity (around 14 months), he was an absolutely wonderful cat. The discipline does pay off but its frustrating in the mean time.
post #7 of 8
Gosh, I hate to keep suggesting this to everyone... but the thing I would try is a Feliway "Comfort Zone" diffuser (cheaper online). It really does help with our six cats, one of whom (St. John) is exactly Grayse's age -- but thank goodness, not quite such a little hellraiser!

If it's any consolation, St. John has begun to mellow out recently... partly through age and partly, I think, because we've always picked him up and put him in a bedroom for a few minutes whenever he gets really out of hand. And for the intermediate problems that just require a "warning," I pick him up and hold him like a baby (but firmly), look him in the eye, and explain to him in a low, direct way that he mustn't do that. He really seems to understand! Obeying, that's sometimes a different matter, but I think he does understand.

I know how painful it is to see two kitties you love always at each other's throats... I'm so sorry. I'll be thinking good calm thoughts for your little ones...
post #8 of 8
I love my cats, I love my cats, I love my cats what a little rascal you've got there!!! I totally agree with the time-out method my time-out room is the bathroom, its outfitten with food, water a litterbox and a nice comfy place to sleep (my pile of dirty clothes ) when I got Posey, he was a little devil, always harassing my girls, so when I'd catch him, off to the bathroom he'd go, he's usually be in there until I had to use it myself, which is fairly often given my BP meds but invariably he'd be sleeping in the sink then when I got Hades 2 weeks later, Posey redirected his aggression on him, and some serious, at least to me, fights would ensue I'd rotate who got the bathroom treatment depending on who started it, and yes, Hades knew how to stand up for himself so he would get back at Posey when he could now, a bit more than a month later, it has calmed down exponentially! sometimes the boys get a little to rough still, with the girls and each other, but I swear, all I say is "you wanna go in the bathroom!?" and they give me a guilty look and break it up and they are not afraid of the bathroom either, they are always in there with me.... Good luck!!
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