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Two old brothers fighting

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
HI everyone,

I'm new to this forum -- just joined. I hope nobody minds that I'm jumping in right away with a question!

So, I have 2 cats, Arthur and Merlin. They're brothers (same litter); I got them from the humane society when they were 3 months old, in 1996. So they're 11 going on 12. We've been together for a long time and they've been my loyal buds. Both are very affectionate (I wanted cuddly cats, so I took extra attention with them when they were young) and overall are just good dudes.

I got them when I was single, but I'm married now. My husband and I have been living together for over 3 years, so he's not a newcomer to the house or anything. We've also been living in the same apartment for almost 2 years now.

Back in the day, Arthur used to be the alpha cat. But somewhere along the line, Merle became the aggressor. Over the past several months, they fight a lot. The overwhelming majority of the time, Merle is the instigator. Sometimes, they'll be sleeping together and all of a sudden Merle will start chewing on his brother. Other times, it's like Merle is just bored and goes over and starts swatting.

When they're not fighting, they're cuddling or grooming each other. So it's not like they can't be in the same room with one another. But the fights get loud, with hissing and mounting (they're both neutered, have been for years and years) and it's really disruptive.

Especially at night. My husband is having a really hard time sleeping with this. I sleep through it, but there will be nights where he can't sleep at all.

Yes, they sleep with us. Like I said, I've had them for a long, long time, since back in my early 20's. And they are very affectionate. The minute I get on the bed, to read or whatever, they're on top of me. I've never minded this, and after their nocturnal kitten phase, their bed behavior has always been very good -- they get settled down and that's that. But now they fight all night long instead of sleep.

One more thing: Merle is an overgroomer -- his belly is practically bare. I've taken him to the vet a few times and nobody seems to be able to tell me what's going on there. They give me medicine for his bare skin (it was irritated a bit at one point but that has since cleared up), but that's it. This is not new (he has always overgroomed), but it has gradually gotten worse over a period of a couple of years (probably since we've been in this apartment).

They're never aggressive with me or my husband, just with each other.

Any thoughts as to how I can stop the fighting?

Thanks so much for reading!
post #2 of 4
I too had older brothers that started fighting with each other when they were about 8 years old. It turned out that one of the brothers had heart disease. There were times they were perfectly fine with each other and other times where they fought. I'm sure it depended on how he felt that day.

When cats turn on each other like this after years of getting long, more often than not, one of them is ill. There may not be visable signs so you might not notice it. Cats are very good at hiding their illnesses from us.

Have you had them in for a complete exam, including a geriatric blood profile? In my opinion, the first thing to do is to rule out any physical ailments. I start doing senior blood panels at age 10 as a baseline for years later when they are prone for disease. If your have not had that yet, its a good time to start right now. Don't let your vet brush this off (as some of them do). Dig a little deeper than normal to get to the root of this.

Keep us posted?
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
You know, I'll have to follow up with the vet... she did bloodwork on one of them very recently but I can't remember which one it was! Whoever it was, their bloodwork was fine... but again, I can't remember if it was the geriatric bloodwork.

I think it may have been Merle because of the grooming -- that's why I brought him in last time.

I will definitely check. Thank you!
post #4 of 4
I'd take a good look at the guy who's overgrooming himself. Sounds like there might be a health problem there.

Also, ask the vet about food allergies. Cats can tolerate a borderline food situation when they are younger, but then the allergens build up and their skin irritation can be a sign.

Check their food for corn, and try to eliminate it. Cats don't eat grains in the wild, and corn is a prime offender.

I've had all kinds of grooming issues resolve themselves by giving the cats canned with this supplement:


which has a lot of micronutrients they need. Canned food with real ingredients might give him more of the protein and fat they need as they are getting older and their digestive systems become more sensitive.
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