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Rough play...or Attack? What to do...

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hey folks,

My older (~5 years) neutered male (Toby, adopted from the local shelter at ~3 yrs old) has been rough housing with my two kittens (now ~15 months old).

The kittens play rough with each other, but you can still tell that it is "play"..i.e. chase, kick each other's head rabbit-style, etc. and never use claws. My older cat, Toby, however, turns the kittens' play behavior into something entirely different.

He will target a kitten (usually Frazier, the less dominant of the two) and will chase them, pin to the ground, "groom" them and/or attempt to mount them and bite their neck. This has recently started to become prolonged...i.e. after a failed attempt he will continue to hound the kitten and will attempt several bites (we're not talking nips here) when he doesn't get his way...all this with ears half-back in the agressive posture.

I'm guessing that this is behavior is arising from two areas:
1. "I want to show you I'm the boss"
2. He was neutered too late, after sexual maturity, and there are still some lingering "urges"..and in place of a female, anyone will do.

I'm beginning to think that this is starting to effect some other areas (i.e. Toby might be litterbox guarding when we're not there). But that's only a guess on my part, as I haven't wittnessed it myself. But, his dominating behavior has been increasing lately and it seems that he is more and more likely to attempt to attack rather than be peaceful when the kittens are in the same room. The kittens also don't "hang out" in the same room as him, as they used to.

I'm open to any suggestions that might help me allievate this situation... Here are some of my thoughts, so feel free to let me know what you think.

1. I've been feeding Frasier first (Toby waiting to eat until after Frazier) mainly because I'm afraid that Toby will eat all of the food if allowed to eat first (and I got tired of having to wash twice the bowls each day). I think seperating them (feeding from seperate bowls at the same time) might help as I won't be pushing frazier as the "dominant one by allowing him to eat while making Toby wait.

2. I've heard folks say that rescue remedy helps when in water or applied behind the cat's ears. I'm thinking of putting a drop behind each of Toby's ears and seeing if that helps.

3. I'm considering feliway spray for some scratching issues, but maybe a diffuser would work too... I don't think spraying feliway ON anyone would be a viable alternative (my only concern is the major price of the spray and/or diffuser...not sure if I could afford to continue it on a regular basis if it did work).

So, if you have any suggestions, I'd greatly appreciate them. I might have to resort to sticking Toby out on our screened in back porch (with water, food, bed, etc.) when we're not there....Can't confine him in a single room indoors as he's had inappropriate peeing problems before.... Although he LOVES to escape outside, I wouldn't want him as an outside-only cat due to his health issues and the area we live in.

I'm hoping that I can get this resolved ASAP, as it seems to be escalating....Toby has so many health problems (seizures, enlarged heart, overweight, apparent allergies that we can't define) that if his agression gets worse I may have to consider euthanizing him rather than allowing him to injure the other cats. I know that rehoming him (with said health issues) would be impossible, so I'm not sure that I'd have another option.... and I do not want to rehome the kittens.

post #2 of 3
I'm not convinced that what you describe is all that big a problem. I had an 3 year old/15 year old relationship much like that. The old cat would lick the young cat from head to toe and then finish him off with a good bite and a whack. It was some kind of weird domination behavior, but the young cat went back every day for another butt-whoopin. It's just the way they interacted. It looked worse than it really was.
post #3 of 3
I had the same experience last year when I brought in a new kitten. My alpha male also mounted him and would bite him. The kitten is a Siamese mix and makes strange noises anyway so it was hard to tell if he was hurt, unhappy, or just making his usual racket (which I love btw). Though I typically would break it up, the alpha never did any real damage to the kitten and frankly in a four cat house having him "put the kitten in his place" wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

I do separate all of my cats for eating and generally encourage other to do so as well. Not only will it help alleviate some of the dominance issues (maybe, cats work a bit differently here than dogs do "alpha" can be a much more amorphous thing with cats than with dogs) but you'll know who's eating, if they stop eating for any reasons, how much they're eating and you won't have to stand over them! All that can be extremely useful to you if someone gets sick. You'll have lots of info to share with your vet.

Also, I've found with Feliway that it's not necessary to use on a permanent basis. The wall diffusers last for about a month which can be long enough to get your cats to chill and stop unwanted behavior. I'm a huge fan of the diffuser and have almost no use for the spray.

Your adult male reminds me a lot of my adult male as he was also a rescue, neutered late and had a serious bout with UTI's. The Feliway stopped his marking when my husband and I married and combined pet households. There again it only took one month of using it. Amazon has the best prices I've found on it so far.

Just to be safe you may want to put out an extra litter box or two if different areas of your home so everyone can potty as needed!
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