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Attacking Dog to Earn Status?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
For those of you who don't know, Pumpkin was a severely injured adult stray I adopted from a local vet in early December. Upon bringing him home we learned he HATES dogs and has a real issue with fear aggression towards them. The only dog he's not violent towards is my Saint (who could really care less about him).

We also learned that he LOVES other cats. But of course, my boys - being very 'cat' - hated him. After a few weeks their relationship grew tolerable. He followed them everywhere, did what they did, etc., almost like a game of copy cat (haha, pun! ). Every once-and-awhile he'd tried to play with them or groom them, lay with them, but they simply weren't having it. It was a little sad to see him pining for them and constantly being rejected.

Then came "the night"! My brother stayed over with his dog (who stays outside because he does NOT get long with cats). The moron ended up bringing him inside without telling me and then falls asleep, allowing his dog to escape. I'm startled awake by cat screaming, dash into the dining room to find his dog practically on top of Billy. Pumpkin flies out of nowhere in attack mode, jumps on top of this dog and pretty much rips him a new one before chasing him from the room.

After I got the dog back out and went nuclear , I found Pumpkin grooming Billy in my bedroom. Ever since then they have been inseparable! All of the cats are pretty fond of him now.There have been a few times since when Pumpkin seems to protect Billy. Like when someone accidentally stepped on his tail. Not seconds after he let out a yowl, Pumpkin barreled into the room. Billy had hidden under the coffee table, so Punky went over, laid on top of him and stayed with him.

Did Pumpkin do this to earn Billy's trust? Is it common behavior for cats to protect each other or 'go into battle' for one another? Would that make Pumpkin the alpha cat now? I'm still new to the whole 'cat hierarchy' thing, but very interested on any knowledge any of you might be able to share about these behaviors!

Gee, I sure am good at keeping a long story short.
post #2 of 8
We were house sitting a cat when it attacked and bit my husband. My OTB Bogart, who loved every other cat he met in his life, went ballistic on the visiting cat. This is a cat who would walk up to a newly arrived feral cat and lick their head to great them. Bogart was by no means the alpha cat in the house - he was happy to be the house ambassador and live in a lesser position. He just loved the regular occupants and felt obligated to protect them.

I think Pumpkin is just protecting his "friends". Bogart was what I called an "ambassador" cat. Perhaps you have the same with Pumpkin. They are really great cats to have!
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for sharing your experience with Bogart! He certainly told that cat how the place works, huh? Looking at him as an "ambassador" now, a lot of his actions make perfect sense!

I do have an added question then.. my oldest female cat is very anti-social. If one of the other cats gets too close to her or (God forbid) touches her, she will attack them. But with Pumpkin (who has seen her do that once), she won't even tolerate his presence 70% of the time. He doesn't stalk her, but he will follow her around and lay down in the same area as she or even keep scooting closer to her while making that "prrrooo" talking noise. Twice now she has gotten VERY physical with him. The kind of fight where they are both a big ball of cat rolling around the room. But I'm so perplexed because Pumpkin does not seem to be fighting when they are 'fighting'. Nothing about their altercations is 'mean' on his end. He doesn't hiss, scratch or bite; he doesn't swish his tail around, his ears are forward, his eyes are 'friendly', mood is normal - he's not defensive *at all*. He'll just watch her and keep trying to get closer to her.

Going off the idea that Pumpkin is the ambassador, why might he be so forward with such a potentially violent cat?
post #4 of 8
Question back to you: Do the other cats in your house harrass your oldest female, or is it just that she doesn't want them around her. If the other cats harrass her, then your oldest is a "pariah" cat. A fairly rare situation and most pariah cats are best suited in a single cat household, as for some reason, other cats hate them.

With that said, I had a pariah cat (Shep) when Bogart was with us. He would approach Shep in a manner similar to what you are describing. Shep would bat him away, and it took Bogart a long time to simply give up on her. They gained a tolerance when they were both old (Bogart was 13 and Shep was 16), which told me that Bogart never really gave up on trying to befriend her, he was just smart enough to leave her alone when she was younger.

I bet that Pumkin gives up on her in another few months.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
They definitely leave her alone. If she has to walk by any of the other three cats in close proximity, for example, they will even lie down until she has passed. She's very intimidating and defensive about her bubble, but as long as they respect her "rules" there is little chance of a squabble.. so they bend to her every whim. Pumpkin is the only one who isn't conforming. But for as intimidating as she acts, she will "attack-&-run" rather than keep a fight ongoing. He just won't stop following her around. Since he's not mean or defensive about any of it, could he be calling BS on her own intimidating behavior? Like "I don't buy it lady.. get over it"!

While it's very rare, there are times when Pumpkin & Shadow can be within a couple of feet of each other without incident. At these times Shadow has zero attitude, so Pumpkin couldn't care less about her.

I've done so many searches on the internet and never came up with as much knowledge as you have! Where did you learn of this stuff?? Guess I should try a library instead!
post #6 of 8
Sounds like Pumpkin is a brave and noble little fella. You're lucky to have him!!!
post #7 of 8
Originally Posted by kittybernard View Post
I've done so many searches on the internet and never came up with as much knowledge as you have! Where did you learn of this stuff?? Guess I should try a library instead!
You've found the library at The Cat Site. I've lived with cats for most of my (longish) life and have close to 20 years working with feral cats, which I consider more challenging than most. I live with a lot of cats so I have to study them to keep the harmony in my house. I've had shelters ask me to assess their incoming cats for behavioral problems. And most importantly, I pick up all sorts of cool knowledge from the people here.

Your Shadow is clearly not a pariah. She sounds like more of a queen with a lot of attitude. Is she a torbie by chance? I know my limitations - a torbie would create complete and total chaos in my household.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
She is solid gray. Are torbies supposed to have a certain temperament about them?

Originally Posted by AddieBee View Post
Sounds like Pumpkin is a brave and noble little fella. You're lucky to have him!!!
Thanks.. I'm thankful to have him!!
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