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brothers turning onto eachother

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
We have two cats, Marty and Taylor that we've adopted as kittens a year ago, they're from the same litter so they've always been playing together and we've never seen any hostility. Taylor got hit by a car about a month ago and he sustained several serious pelvic fractures. We put him though surgery though and got to take him home after 4 days in the hospital. We were expecting our cats to be very excited to see eachother again, but unfortunately not so. Marty was probably seriously freaked out by all the weird smells that Taylor was bringing in from the hospital, and would generally stay away from Taylor, and when his curiousity got the upper hand of him and Marty did approach, he would just hiss at his injured brother.

We figured that over time things would probably go back to normal as Taylor would lose the hospital smells, grow back hair on his shaved rear end, and learn how to walk again, but so far Marty is still not friendly to him. Taylor still walks a little wobbly and it may take another month before he can jump and run again (if he doesn't have lasting nerve damage), and of course we have to keep him inside for at least another while. But he's recovering well so far, he's comfortable, starting to get more active, and seems excited and wanting to play with Marty when he sees him. But Marty wants no part of that play. He'll sometimes tolerate Taylor sniffing him out and getting close to him, but eventually Marty will always end up hissing and whacking Taylor on the head. It's like Marty has never seen this cat before. There's been no serious fights yet, I'm not sure if that would be possible since the hostility seems one-sided, and Taylor (who used to be the dominant one) doesn't have the strength yet to put up much of a defense.

I suspect that Marty is stressed out by Taylor's presence in the house now. When he comes in at night and we won't let him out again he will cry and meow for a long time before he will accept the fact that he has to stay in. We just thought we lost him altogether since he didn't come back home for almost 3 days (whereas before he would always come in at least twice a day and spent at least a few hours sleeping inside every night). We of course don't know where he was for 3 days, and he may have been lost or trapped somewhere, and he was very hungry when he walked in again. We suspect that his being gone for so long may be related to his situation at home and his confusion around his brother.

Sorry this is so long winded - but I was hoping someone could help me understand what is going on with Marty. Does he not recognize Taylor as his brother at all? Is he confused about Taylor's appearance, smell, or limited ability to walk? Is he just trying to take the opportunity to establish his dominance now? We'd love to see them play, cuddle up or at least be tolerant of eachother again ... what can we try?

post #2 of 5
I do think Marty is freaked out by this cat who moves differently and behaves differently and smelled like the hospital when he came home. There is also a strong possibility that he is watching the attention you are giving to Taylor and not liking that Taylor, with his recovery status, is getting more than him.

On the outside thing, I think if the brothers went out together they may have shared territory and it could be that Marty is having a harder time defending his territory without Taylor. Or it could be what you said, that Marty is freaked about Taylor- but I think it is sadness due to not getting as much attention, and hence jealousy.

I don't know if you already compensated for this and are indeed giving Marty extra love, you may need to do more and change the overall dynamic anyhow, since Taylor will not be able to be a playmate for Marty yet either.

I would keep Marty inside while there is risk that he will not come home, and I would give him a lot more attention than Taylor so he knows he is equally loved. You want to make sure he has something to look forward to when he thinks about "time to come home", so I would give him some cool toys, a workout with the laser light, a play session with a big peacock feather (it looks like a huge centipede when you jiggle it against a wall surface).

It sounds like it is very important to you that both your kitties remain indoor/outdoor despite the risks and injuries, so I will not "go there", since this is a philosophical area. But if your yard is big or if you have a highway or something dangerous nearby, maybe you could look into an electric fence so they are safe from car injuries.

I have 2 outdoor ferals who I am devoted to, and it scares me to death that they are out all the time running around. I've gone through 2 injuries with them, one requiring a tail amputation and the other not serious, at least not so far (she is holding her back leg up) but I know the outside is their heaven on earth and they were there first before they learned about indoors.
post #3 of 5
Maybe it would help to keep Marty in full time for now and do a complete re-introduction?

Or separate them for now and then re-introduce them when Taylor is feeling more himself?
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
thanks for the responses. We live in a fairly quiet street with little through traffic - but perhaps the occasional car passing through is actually more dangerous to a cat than a constant flow of traffic. There are lots of cats in our neighborhood though and I haven't heard of any other traffic fatalities here so I've considered it fairly safe. I believe it's more natural for a cat to be able to be outside, but we're aware of the risks that are associated with this (pet insurance sounds like a good idea all of a sudden, after this hospital bill!).

We've been aware of the jealousy issue and have tried from the start to give Marty immediate attention and love as soon as he'd come in, so I'm not sure if it could be related to a different interaction between us and Marty.

I suppose the dilemma has been: do we either keep Marty in a lot more, or all the time (which might be stressful and disrupt his regular patterns even more, but might help in getting him comfortable with his brother again). Or do do we let him come and go as he pleases, and hope for a more gradual adjustment to his brother while Taylor gets back to his old self... ?

In any case I'm going to try some Feliway to see if it might reduce Marty's stress.
post #5 of 5
Originally Posted by sfpeter View Post
I suppose the dilemma has been: do we either keep Marty in a lot more, or all the time (which might be stressful and disrupt his regular patterns even more, but might help in getting him comfortable with his brother again). Or do do we let him come and go as he pleases, and hope for a more gradual adjustment to his brother while Taylor gets back to his old self... ?
I only thought to keep Marty in full time for now since it would be harder to reintroduce the brothers to each other if Marty wasn't there to do it.

Also, I would worry that during this stressful time, and particularly since Marty has already taken off for 3 days already that he might do another disappearing act.

Maybe try to transition him? Keep Marty in a little more each day while his brother is recuperating in a separate quiet room and by the time it comes to reintroduction time, Marty would hopefully be happy to be mostly indoor and around to actually be reintroduced to Taylor?
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