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Cats got in to a fight, now one is hiding. Help!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone, this is my first post on these forums!

Something is going on with my cats that’s got me a little worried and I’m not sure how to handle this situation. First, let me give you a little background on my kitties. Their names are Smokey and Bandit (both boys, brothers from the same litter), and both were feral when we got them. Their mother was a stray that died. Her kittens were round up by a family friend that had been feeding the stray for years, and we adopted two of them. It took a few months, but we managed to tame them, but they are still very skittish and do not like anyone but me, my mother, and my father. We’ve had them for about two years now, and other than the fact that they don’t like strangers, they’ve been perfect little kitties. Both cats have been fixed and seem to be in great health.

Now, let’s move on to the problem which just started the other day. My parents left early in the morning the other day to go on vacation. About an hour or two after they left the cats got in to a rather loud fight (woke me abruptly from a sound sleep). Ever since the fight, one cat (Bandit) has been hiding under a bed and won’t come out unless coaxed, and when the other cat (Smokey) comes around Bandit starts to growl and hiss. Each night since the first they’ve gotten in to a little tiff or two, but nothing as bad as the first one. In the two years we’ve had them nothing like this has ever happened. My parents go on extended trips all the time, so them leaving is nothing new for the cats. I do think the cats know what it means when they see the suitcases come out, though.

Both cats, when separate, act pretty much like normal. I can pet them and they purr and act very happy, but when they get together the trouble starts up again. Bandit is usually a very vocal cat, but since the fight he has only meowed at me a couple of times, and not nearly as loud as usual. Smokey has the run of the house now, and Bandit is trapped upstairs under a bed. I’m not sure if he’s even coming out to eat or use the litter box, but the room does not smell like cat “wasteâ€, so he may be. I’ve brought food up to him, and he eats when I do, but he’s always on the lookout for Smokey. I managed to get him to come to the stairs this morning, and while I was at the bottom trying to coax him down, Smokey came over and Bandit started hissing and growling again. Smokey usually just backs off, but this time he took off up the stairs and chased Bandit under the bed again. A small fight broke out, but when I got down and looked under the bed Smokey came right out.

I have to work M-F, so I have no choice but to leave them alone for 9 or so hours a day. They’re used to having people home all day as my parents are retired, but like I said before, my parents go on trips all the time and leave me with the cats, and it’s always been fine. I sit here at work dreading what may be going on at home, praying I don’t come home to more trouble.

My spirits were lifted for a brief 15 or so minutes last night when Bandit actually came downstairs. I was making dinner, Smokey was rubbing on my legs and meowing at me, I heard a noise, turned around, and there Bandit was just sitting on the counter. The cats looked right at each other, no hissing or growling. I was so elated that I decided to give them a little treat (deli sliced turkey breast). I gave Bandit his on the counter and Smokey his by his food (where they normally get treats, I just didn’t want to push Bandit). They both gobbled up all their turkey, and when Smokey jumped up to the counter to see if Bandit had any left, Bandit didn’t react at all. I told Smokey “no, that’s Bandit’s foodâ€, and he jumped down. After that, Bandit jumped down to the floor and ate some of his cat food, and I thought everything was going to be ok. No more than 10 minutes later Smokey re-enters the room and Bandit starts hissing and growling again. Not too long after that Bandit was back under the bed, but he went on his own, Smokey did not chase him.

I can’t tell if Smokey is being aggressive or if he’s lonely and trying to make up to his brother, but either way Bandit wants nothing to do with him. These two cats were like pees in a pod. They slept together, ate together, and played together all the time.

I’m very distraught by this and if they don’t make up soon I don’t know what I’m going to do. If the worst case scenario was that one cat had to go, I’m not sure how that would work as neither cat trusts anyone but us. Please help. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Wow, this post turned out much longer than I thought it would. I was going to post a picture of them, but the image I have is way too big and causes the browser to scroll both horizontally and vertically.
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
Well, I’ve been home for a while and observing their behavior, and I think Smokey is definitely being the aggressor. Just like last night, I was making dinner and stopped to pet Smokey when I notice that Bandit had come down and he was eating some food. I just sat there petting Smokey and watched him. After a minute or two he started to walk over by us, Smokey started to move towards him but I held him in place (it didn’t take any force). Bandit walks up slowly and sniffs Smokey and meows at me, so I start petting him too. After a moment, Smokey gets up and leaves while I keep petting Bandit. A minute or two later, Smokey comes back in the room and Bandit starts to back off a little. As Smokey gets a bit closer Bandit hisses and growls a little. I try to stop him from getting too close to him, but he’s too quick and before I know it he’s chased Bandit back upstairs. I went up there and separated them and that was that.

The only thing I can think to do would be to separate them. I can put a litter box in the basement with some food and water and keep one of them down there while the other lives upstairs. I don’t know if doing that would accomplish anything though, and I wouldn’t know how long to keep them separated or when would be a good time to try letting them coexist again.

Could this sudden change in behavior be linked to them being alone with me (even though it hasn’t happened before)? Could it be about attention? I always make time for each cat, and I’m still doing that now. I pay attention to Smokey for a while, and then I’ll go hang with Bandit for a while.

Ugh, this is so frustrating!
post #3 of 5
Sometimes cats suffer from redirected aggression. They may see a cat outside and since they can't get to it, they turn on each other. You may want to consider some Feliway to help them diffuse or possibly check out our guest forum for a holistic remedy.

I would also step up the treats when they are together so good things happen at that time. You also can look at reintroducing them to each other.
post #4 of 5
I'm just going to run some thoughts I have by you. Sometimes if one cat is getting sick it will smell different to the other cat and the cat that is well can smell the difference in the other cat and become aggressive so it might be worthwhile to have Bandit checked by a vet to make sure he doesn't have some medical issue (I believe you said Smokey was the one being aggressive). The other thing you might try is putting a dab of vanilla on top of each of their heads and at the base of their tails so they smell the same. Often when one cat goes to the vet, when it comes home it smells like the vet's office and the other cat(s) will be hostile to it since they no longer recognize it. Whenever we have to take one of our cats to the vet we usually take both even though only one is really there to see the vet.

At this point, I would probably keep them separated when you are not home to supervise them.

You could also pick up some Feliway (plug in or spray) which puts pheromones into the air that calms the cats.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your replies!

It's morning now and not much to report. I only heard one bit of commotion last night, and it only lasted a few seconds. My guess is that Bandit went downstairs and Smokey chased him back up, but I was sleeping at the time so I can't really be sure. If anything else happened I slept right through it.

I brought Bandit food and water this morning and he came out and ate and drank, but was still on "high alert" keeping an eye out for his brother. I still don't know if he's using the litter box or not...it definitely didn't seem like he used it while I was at work yesterday as there was only one pee in the box (normally the thing is loaded). He wouldn't be holding it, would he? I still smell no aroma upstairs where he’s been, well, living the past few days.

The trend continues…I’ve seen Bandit come down a few times now and each time Smokey chases him back up, though the chasing doesn't seem to start until Bandit hisses (until he hisses they just look at eachother or ignore eachother) I’ve been there to stop him a few times; he doesn’t fight me, but as soon as I let him go you can tell he’s wandering around looking to see if Bandit is still down. There is no aggressive posturing that I can see. Neither cat folds their ears back or anything of the sort. The only thing is that Bandit tucks his tail between his legs as he runs away.

While petting both cats I have felt some scabs on their bodies, nothing major, little cuts, but I guess there has been some small amount of bloodshed…though I suppose they could be from the night of the big fight that started this all.

Huh, as I was writing this I noticed Bandit had come down again, and this is really weird. Smokey was sitting out on the deck watching the birds and squirrels (we built a screened in enclosure around the deck for them) and Bandit was sitting by the glass deck door watching as well. I watched them for a bit and I know Smokey saw him, but he wasn’t doing anything. When Smokey started to come towards the door I stepped out there and got in between them, sat down and gave Smokey a good petting while Bandit watched (I don't want Smokey to think that Bandit is getting all the attention or anything). A big bird flies in to the yard and gets Smokey’s attention, so I go back inside, pet Bandit for a second, and then sit back down at the PC, but I’m keeping my eye on them. Then, and this is the weird part, Smokey merely looks through the glass door at Bandit (they are a good six feet away from one another and Smokey is not moving), Bandit hisses and runs back upstairs with his tail between his legs.

I really hope there is hope for this situation….my cats not getting along is breaking my heart.
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