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Behavior problem

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I'm hoping someone here can help me with a long standing problem we're having.

We have 3 cats: Ozzie, a 10 yr. old, neutered male; Delilah, a 6 yr old, spayed female; Mittens, a 2 yr old, spayed and declawed (she came to us that way-we didn't do it) female. All 3 came to us at different times, Mittens was the last and has been here a year. Ozzie and Delilah had been together for about 3 years when we took in Mittens and her brother Tigger. Unfortunately, Tigger died suddenly when he was just a year old. They were such mellow cats that we broke the rule about keeping them in a separate room for awhile while everybody got acquainted. We have been taking in stray and unwanted cats for 30 years and have never had to do that anyway - the resident cats just always accepted the newcomers. Any way, it was total chaos most of the time when Mittens and Tigger joined us. Mittens has been hospitalized a couple of times because of wounds received in fights with either Ozzie or Delilah - it always happened when we weren't around so we don't know who's doing what to whom. We do know that Ozzie stalks Mittens. Mittens is living in a room of her own with a screen door so she doesn't feel totally closed in. Everything is fine as long as we keep her in there. We keep trying to bring her out and get Ozzie used to her but he just goes after her and she's scared to death of him. I've talked to a cat psychologist and done everything she told me, to no avail. I've been told to find a home for either Ozzie or Mittens. That is not going to happen! I love all these cats and can't give one up - besides, I would never find anyone good enough.

If anyone has had this problem and successfully dealt with it, please help. Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 4
I am sorry you have to go through this. It sounds like you have been through all the steps. I cant say that there's going to be a way out of this one if all has been done. It sounds like Mittens is a poria cat and will always get beat on. I have a cat who does this to one of my others. I refuse to get rid of anyone and so the bully and her brother live in my daughters room for now. They actually seem happier in a much quieter enviroment. I am going to try drug therapy in a few weeks and if I cant get her to stop beating up my other cat, I am just going to deem that room theirs. Living in a room with love,food and water, is much better than giving them to strangers or being in a pound which is where they were headed before I got them. I am sorry I cant give you more help or a cure all answer.
post #3 of 4
What a tough problem!!!

Intercat aggression plagues a number of multi-cat households. It can be sporadic or continuous. Sometimes it seems nothing can resolve this kind of problem short of heartbreak. Your not the only one who has ended up keeping their cats separated by confining them to different rooms of your house. You are not alone so take heart.

Among feral cat colonies some cats are treated as outcasts - pariahs. Every cat seems to turn against them. This is harsh but it gives definition to the social hierarchy among cats. The pariah cat is obviously the one cat that the rest out rank.

This may or may not be your problem. If the other cats accept Mittens you may need to consider that Mittens and Ozzie just haven't connected yet hierarchy-wise. Give Mittens a good smelling yourself, if he stinks this may be your problem. I believe Sandie had a good home cure for this using vanilla.

Get down to cat level. Look and smell their environment. You might try washing the walls with a mild soap and water solution. Look for the places your cats hang out and wash these places as well. This will give your home that clean slate (to a cat) smell. There is a commercial product called Feliway that mimics the "friendly" hormones cats produce. It has been used to treat intercat aggression.

Aggression problems can also be treated with medications. (((Some for you, some for the cat))))<-----ajoke.

One At A Time:


Mittens could be treated with antianxietals such as Buspar or Valium.
The PDR states that "Buspar (Buspirone) is an orally administered anxiolytic that is structurally and pharmacologically distinct from all other anxiolytics including benzodiazepines and barbiturates."

Valium is a scheduled medication. Both require veterinary prescriptions.

The plus side to Buspar is that it is non-addictive - your cat won't experience withdrawal after therapy. The down side to buspar is that it can act as an immunosuppressant - bad news if the cat is FIV or FELV positive. Buspar doesn't start to have an effect until after two weeks of therapy.

The downside to Valium is that it is addictive.

Mitten's nervousness or defensive behavior such as cowering, puffing up, hissing, arching and running away will definitely encourage Ozzie's aggression. By using an anti-anxiety medication like Buspar or diazepam (Valium) the pariah cat's body language will change.
Mittens will be saying in effect "hey I'm relaxed, so what's the fuss? Peace up, Ozdude, word .......(insert favorite Californiaism here)"

Watch Mittens boddy language around Ozzie before the aggression manifests. Make sure that Mittens isn't the agent provacatuer.


The aggressive cat (Ozzie) can be treated with Amitriptylline, 5 - 10mg a day and requires a veterinarian to prescription. Amitriptylline is marketed (to humans) under the brand names Elavil and Endep. The human PDR describes Amitriptyline "as an oral and parenteral tertiary amine tricyclic antidepressant. It is structurally related to the thioxanthene antipsychotics such as thiothixene(thorazine). Clinically, amitriptyline is used to treat depression, pain of neuropathic origin, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), functional enuresis in children (bed wetting not caused by a physical problem)..."

Hyperthyroidism in cats can cause aggressive behavior can easily be detected through testing and treated with medication.

Continued vigilance on your part will help. You know your cats better than anyone even their veterinarian. Your intuition may be your best guide
post #4 of 4
I know this isn't the answer you want but... We adopted a one year old stray male and brought him into our 4 cat home. As soon as the new cat was neutered, we began the introductions. Unfortunately, the new cat was brutally aggressive to all others, to the point that they stayed hidden (even in the ductwork of the house!) 24 hours a day. I consulted with an animal behaviorist who gave a good list of things to try. But, she also asked whether it was fair to the old cats to have to live in terror the six months or more it would take to calm the aggression.

After many tears and conversations about this, my husband and I decided to find a new home for the new cat. It broke our hearts because he was such a wonderful boy! But...now he is in a single cat home. The lady who adopted him regularly calls with updates. Her son has started a photo-album of the cat and all of the neighborhood kids regularly visit just to see him because he is so cool! He is a very loved cat!

So....the moral to this story is that he is very happy, my old cats are very happy, and although my husband and I were initially very sad, we are a lot less stressed and are very happy that all of the kitties are happy. When we really thought about it we were wanting to keep him because he made us happy...not because it was the best thing for him. In that way we were being selfish because we were putting what was best for us above what was best for the cats. (Please note that I am NOT saying you are being selfish...I don't know your situation so I would be wrong to make that implication.) Once we started looking out for the cats rather than ourselves, the only possible choice was to find him a new (wonderful) home.
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