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Need Advice Re:Aggression

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I need advice.

I've had Nova for 1yr and 8 months and we've had Loki & Zoom for 8 months.
Loki & Zoom spent the first 2 months living in our bathroom. Needless to say, introductions were slow.

Nova has been aggressive toward the boys from the very beginning.
She pounces on them with all her weight, going for the throat or belly, not letting up even after the boys submit. They just sort of lay down. There's no hissing involved, she just stalks them, pounces, and then clamps down on their soft spots and doesn't let go.

We really love Loki & Zoom and would like to keep them. Since we knew we were moving in June, we dealt with keeping them separated and shuffling them around until then. We were hoping that Nova's aggression would subside if she no longer felt like her territory was being threatend. So we moved the boys first, and let them roam the apartment before bringing Nova over. Then, we reintroduced them. I've tried vanilla at the base of their tails, and I've tried Feliway... but nothing seems to work.

She won't even tolerate them. If they're in the same room as her, she hyperventilates. If they go to a different room, she chases after them.

The only things I can think of trying, that I haven't already tried are: a baby gate so they can get used to seeing each other without sharing space, and Bach's Rescue Remedy.

Are these things worth trying, or do I have a hopeless case? Are we being unfair to the cats by shuffling them around? We have a 2 bedroom apartment, and the boys stay in one of the bedrooms during the day. Nova stays in the other bedroom (with us) at night. We do spend time with each set of cats, but Nova cries if my SO and I are both with the boys.

I don't know what the right thing to do is. I feel guilty about adopting out Loki and Zoom now. I feel like they're our cats, and they're fully grown too.

Chocolates for you if you made it through this long post.
post #2 of 11
oooh chocolates!!
I dont have any suggestions, I just wanted to commend you for doing everything in your power and please dont blame yourself or feel too bad if it comes down to adopting them out. You only want what is best for them and sadly, sometimes things just cannot work out.
Oh wait...I do have a suggestion! There are special "stress releif" collars you can get that have some aromatherapy in them I guess something similar to Feliway. I dont know what they're called though...
post #3 of 11
I can totally sympathize with you and your situation. I rescued a German Shepard that had been badly abused and neglected, and for safety reasons, even though he turned out to be the best dog ever, had to keep my cats separate from him. They live in our gameroom area, it is a large area with an adjoining sunroom with lots of windows. I have tons of cat beds and cat trees for them too. There is plenty of activity here so they are not alone, except at night when everyone is asleep.

Since last September, 2 more rescued cats came here to live. One caused so much disruption with the other cats, I thought I would go crazy. He just chased them and tortured one of them. Sadly, my dog passed away so now he is upstairs with the other resuced foster cat. They get along fine. I spend time with both groups of cats and there is peace again.

I recently had to bring in another rescue. I was going to keep him at my husband's office, where he just showed up one day. But they had to move and he escaped twice and went back to the old office. No one there would care for him, so I brought him here too. I am now in the process of slow introductions, he and the other two boys will live upstairs. I always feel so guilty that I seem to have 2 groups of cats, but this is what works for me.

There is no way they would all co-exist together, and some of them would never have done well in a shelter.

Sometimes it just takes alot of time and sometimes you just have to do what works out for everyone's peace and sanity.

I sure hope for you that Nova will eventually accept her 2 little companions, maybe she just is letting them know who is boss!
post #4 of 11
From what you describe it doesn't sound like its too bad actually. I am not sure if I am missing something.

Fiona goes after my boys and she is definately the alpha. They lay down and take it. She goes after ReeRee's belly, neck and back legs especially. It looks like she is going to hurt him but never does. But they don't get into the whole tail puffing, howling gonna kill you fight. Its just her way of laying down the law and also playing. He will even instigate it with her and when he is showing his belly he reaches for her with his paws egging her on.

She gets very protective of herself though (its definately a one way street with her. ) if they want to play with her and be the one to get the upper hand she starts to yell at them (hissing and meowing), but will go ahead and chase after them and do to them what they WANT to do to her and they TAKE IT.

So, I guess I am just wondering if its her way of relating to them? If they are okay with it (which them being submissive shows that) than it should be okay. I also wonder if keeping them seperate and giving attention seperately at this point could foster bad feelings. I found with my three playing with them together with a toy like da bird and giving treats together helped them associate good times with Mom when they were together. Helps with bonding between everyone.

Just a few thoughts. Don't know if it may help you. I know it can be difficult to know what to do sometimes.
post #5 of 11
Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
From what you describe it doesn't sound like its too bad actually. I am not sure if I am missing something.
I felt the same way when I read your post.

Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
So, I guess I am just wondering if its her way of relating to them? If they are okay with it (which them being submissive shows that) than it should be okay. I also wonder if keeping them seperate and giving attention seperately at this point could foster bad feelings. I found with my three playing with them together with a toy like da bird and giving treats together helped them associate good times with Mom when they were together. Helps with bonding between everyone.
I agree... I would stop the separations, if it were my household. It sounds like your girl is putting the dominance moves on the boys, which is understandable since she was the first cat in the house, which makes it HER house. Mine do this all the time, my boy is always humping or pinning my female (yes all are fixed, it's not like that - humping & pinning are very common dominance moves) ... let her assert herself, because the more you separate them, they more often they need to start over with their totem pole of who is in charge and who is the bottom rung... cats do this forever. Try not to get after her for asserting her dominance, unless the other cat REALLY cries out, because she'll feel like whenever "that other cat" is around, she gets in trouble - she will associate the new cat with being scolded.

Hope this is making sense. I advise to give it more time, and let them sort it out in their natural way.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
fifi1puss and PintaMeez, Loki & Zoom used to approach Nova but now they run away from her when they see her. I took their running away for a bad sign, but maybe I'm mistaken. I will see if I can get a video of it. Thank you for the feedback!
post #7 of 11
Video is always helpful. Sometimes things get lost in words.

As for the running away part, I am not so sure that it will be a long term probelm if they spend time with each other instead of seperated. Also, think about ways to get them in the same room under positive circumstances like treats and play.

Don't be suprised if she takes swipes at them while you are doing so though. Fiona smacked Rocko around for the whole year and a half that I've had him, on a daily basis! Still does but very rarely. But guess what? last week I found them SLEEPING together. Shocked me! I thought they would only ever tolerate each other.
post #8 of 11
I wouldnt seperate them...Fatman is a snootypatootie when it comes to GiGi and Hercules even Franklin. Fatman does not tolerate anyone else getting attention when he deems its his time and will smack anyone who comes near him on the head (without claws) and will growl and hiss...Hercules likes to pounce on top of Fatman and instigate a tussle between them and they both shed like crazy even with brushings so after their 2 second tussle it looks like cats gone wild..And even GiGi struts her stuff around like shes the queen of sheba! She has a habit of lying in wait around a corner till someone comes around it and she just goes into flying kitty mode and latches on to anyones back!!! When all this happens I just look at all of them and tell them I dont know who they think they are but they ARE NOT the bosses in this house and we are all going to live together happliy whether they like it or not! At some point thru my tirade Fatty starts yelling at me and putting in his two sense but I hush him up quickly by threatening to throw away all the cat treats in the house and no more chicken!!!
Thats just what I do in my house to each their own but so far we have made it with no bodily harm caused and a somewhat functionally dysfuntional household that works for us!
post #9 of 11
Well, on the bright side - there's no blood shed so far from the sounds of it.

I've lived for 4 years with Ophelia Rose....she has put stitches lots of times in Lily (she would attack people going through doorways, bolt through, then rip the holy heck out of Lily).

My cats do live seperated - as Ophelia will never be able to handle living in a normal multi-cat household - she loves Dory & tolerates Eden....those 3 live in the basement. Margo, Molly, Twitch, & Lily live upstairs. A lot of people freak at the fact that I keep some of my cats locked in the basement, but really - someone's in the basement a lot (it's where the computer is).

More things to try - the baby gate idea might not be a bad idea for when you aren't able to watch them..... create positivity when Nova is around the boys, like feed her treats, wet food, etc - feed them as well. Have you tried Feliway? The Rescue Remedy might help as well. Or playing with them all at the same time, say with Da Bird or another wand toy.
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
From what you describe it doesn't sound like its too bad actually. I am not sure if I am missing something.
I had the same reaction. ?

But, that said... when we adopted Billy last November, Lazlo did more or less the same thing - but Billy would just like down - and later, they'd happily eat treats or dinner right next to each other.

It took about six months, but what we did was just focus on behavior modification through scent swapping and positive reinforcement. We also put Lazlo in the bathroom for three minute time-outs when he didn't pay attention.

We rubbed Bill all over with several cloths. We put one under each of the free-feed dishes. We'd play with Lazlo, and put treats down for him on a Bill scented cloth. Any time he was near Bill and ignoring him, we praised him to high heaven. We explained to him multiple times a day - he doesn't have to like Bill, we just don't want him to be mean to him. When we'd see Lazlo staring at him like he was about to go for him, we'd tell him no - he knew what we were talking about. When he did it, if he didn't let up quickly, we'd make a loud noise to startle him out of it, and put him in the bathroom for the time out - with the explanation, again, that he didn't need to be nice to Bill, just ignore him.

It took about six months or so of this, and Lazlo very rarely goes after Bill now. Mostly they just ignore each other. I actually saw Lazlo grooming Billy a couple of days ago. Of course later that day he went after him - but go figure.

The other question is - do you have a lot of vertical space? It can help in situations like this. It helps diffuse the alpha issues.

But you may want to give it a go and see what happens - they may work out their territory issues themselves. If there's no blood, you keep their claws trimmed - watch the body language. Are their ears flat? Backs ridged? Tails puffed? These in combo are signs of serious aggression. You get puffy tails during play fighting - but the ridged back and ears flat are not good signs.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've had a Feliway plugged in for over a week now. I didn't notice any difference after a few days, but maybe it takes longer than that to have an effect and I was just impatient.

Yesterday, I put up a baby gate that Loki and Zoom can jump over but Nova can't. Loki decided to stay put but Zoom came out. Surprisingly, Nova didn't clamp on to him the way she usually does. She did bite and swat, but it didn't look like she would mangle him so I let them sort it out.

What caused me to worry before was that she'd clamp down on their soft spots, shake her head, and not let go. Loki and Zoom would run and hide when they saw her. (And she'd still go after them.) They just turned 1 year of age, so they were a lot smaller than Nova (13lbs) for a long time and I thought she could seriously hurt them. She treats her fuzzy mice the same way, so maybe she was trying to play with them. I know they need to establish a pecking order and there will be biting and swatting, but I see a definite difference in the way she interacted with them before and the way she's interacting with them now.

Thank you for the advice and suggestions, everyone. I can really be a 'mother hen' when it comes to the cats. I'll do less worrying and more of what everyone is suggesting!

We do need more vertical space. We rent an apartment, so maybe I can't get as many shelves on the walls as I'd like but I'll figure something out. I hope Nova continues the way she's been yesterday and today. I did try loud noises (coins in a tin can), but I never thought to do something like a timeout.
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