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Unusual behavior in my 2 cats

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi all, I look forward to any advice you can give me!

About 2 1/2 months ago, I found a cat by my work. She was starving, coated in fleas--clearly a stray/abandoned. I searched for an owner, and was unsuccessful. I decided to keep her. The vet said she's about 5 years old, and fixed. She's clearly been a housecat before; she knows the sound of cans opening, not to jump on counters (although not the table!!), and just generally is a cat. I named her Tangent :)

 

Now, I have another cat that I raised from a kitten, named Garnet. He's EXTREMELY inbred, and as such has some...issues. He can't run, jump, meow, and he doesn't know how to use his claws. Basically, he's a fuzzy goldfish with a very sweet temperament.

 

I kept Tangent and Garnet separated for a LONG time; nearly a month went by before I even let them see each other. I have 2 floors in my house; I kept Tangent upstairs and Garnet on the lower level. He never goes up there anyway, so she wasn't invading his space. He was very curious about her; sniffing my hands, or the blankets when I traded them to get them used to each other's scent. She never seemed to notice.

 

After a month, I started letting them sniff through a baby gate, etc. Basically followed protocol advised by all vets/forums/experts. A few weeks of this, and I start letting them both hang out as they saw fit as long as I was home. Tangent hisses at Garnet a lot; he just sits down and deliberately looks away.

 

For the past two weeks, I've let them hang out all the time, even when I'm not at home. I started with short departures, then gradually worked up to my 8 hour shifts. I've never seen any evidence of a fight, thankfully!!

 

However, Tangent still hisses at Garnet a lot, and sometimes lunges at him too (when his back is to her), then immediately hops away. She's done this multiple times, and never once has she actually attacked. Is this an attempt at aggression, or something else? Should I be worried?? Today she literally hopped about 3 feet up in the air, landed by him, and skipped away. It was funny--but of course I worry. She also flipped on her back and rolled around by him, and when he looked at her she jumped up and hissed.

 

I'm sure it doesn't help that Garnet's fascinated by her; whenever she's not hissing, he's watching her. When she runs away, he kind of plods after. When she hisses, he sits down, tucks his tail around his body, and very deliberately looks away. He doesn't hiss, just watches. Oh, and tries to eat her treats if she doesn't eat them fast enough.

 

He never goes upstairs; that whole floor's her territory and it's clear she feels safer there. She doesn't eat his food, and he never even sees hers (since it's upstairs). They have their own litterboxes, water/food dishes and areas, and just generally live the high life. I just want to make sure that Tangent's not building up her courage to try to kill/attack Garnet--because if she does, he's essentially helpless.

 

Also, any advice to help reduce her anxiety? I've tried the Feliway plugin for the past month; it doesn't seem to be doing anything.

 

Thank you!!

post #2 of 10
Hi, and welcome to TCS wavey.gif

Hissing is generally cat-speak for 'respect my space/back off'. Garnet is clearly understanding exactly what Tangent's saying, and is respecting her wishes.

From Tangent's perspective, it sounds like this is all a big game. Rolling around on her back is her way of trying to invite him to play, or even flirt with him a little! My girl was just the same with my old boy - she'd roll around making eyes at him, and pounce at and chase him, but when he DID try to wrestle with her, he'd get a hiss and a slap rolleyes.gif I think some girls just love winding boys up laughing02.gif

I'm guessing this is the kind of thing you're seeing


If you want to keep Garnet a little safer, keep Tangent's claws clipped, and maybe even fit her with claw caps (such as Softpaws).

What makes you think Tangent is stressed or anxious? Nothing you've said here gives me that impression. One of the best stress busters I know is interactive playtime. In your case, it will have the added advantage of draining Tangent's energy in a positive way, which will hopefully result in her being more mellow with Garnet.
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post #3 of 10

All of this sounds completely normal to me - especially with her being a female that was out in the wild.  Even fixed she's probably had every male in the neighbourhood come and check her out - usually far more aggressively than they would another male.  In human terms, think of the wild like a bar - too many men, all of them being more forward trying to see if any female is interested, and generally not being on their best behaviour.  Any woman who was just there to dance & have fun would get their shields up pretty quick too.  That's what all the hissing/batting is - just saying "respect my space, I'm not here to mate" and your kitten is responding completely appropriately. 

 

Nothing you've described sounds like anxiety.  Her jumping at him and running away is completely normal as well.  It's actually nice to see that kind of playful behaviour from a 5 year old.  If anything she maybe trying to teach him since he's so much younger.

 

I'm curious about what you call "inbreeding" and "issues" though - what kind of behaviours are you seeing that make you think that?

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for the quick response! I'm so relieved to hear that her behavior is normal! Columbine, the picture you posted is almost exactly like what she was doing last night--too funny! Part of the reason I think she's stressed is because of how much she hisses at him--but at the same time, she also is always hanging around by him instead of hiding upstairs, so maybe she's just getting used to having another cat around! I bought her one of those feathered 'fishing pole' toys; she LOVES it! I'll keep playing with her using that; maybe Garnet can join in sometimes too!

 

JMJimmy--I never thought about her reactions in relation to how other male cats probably acted toward her--no wonder she's kind of suspicious! As for Garnet's inbreeding, I actually know his family tree (more like spider's web!) because I took him from my cousin. The story is as follows: His roommate found a pregnant stray and named her Baby Girl. BG had kittens, one of whom was Blackie. BG either got out OR had kittens with Blackie (he's not sure), and she had a kitten named Foxy. Foxy and Blackie had kittens--and one of those was Kemma. KEMMA and Blackie had kittens--and produced Garnet, my cat. My condition for adopting him was that he finally get those poor cats fixed--which he did! Garnet's a great cat, but unfortunately he has a lot of kidney issues due to the inbreeding, as well as what my vet's pretty sure is a mild form of Cerebellum hyperplasia; he can't jump, and his run looks rather like a kangaroo hop, and he has a tendency to move in a little 'swimming' motion! He also doesn't make any sound beyond a slight "MEH!' and is generally a pretty silent cat. Blackie displays a lot of those characteristics as well, so he probably inherited the CH from his dad (/grandpa/uncle??), and then the kidney issues are the result of the inbreeding. I've moved twice with Garnet, and I'm always warned by every new vet I go to that he probably won't live a very long life, but for now he's happy and healthy, so basically I just have an excuse to spoil him rotten :)

post #5 of 10

Ahh ok.  It's not abnormal for cats to breed among families - fairly common actually.  Genetics aren't believed to be involved in CH though so it's probably not inbreeding.  Likely it was that the mother had Panleukopenia.  CH could also contribute to the hissing issue.  Cats with CH don't always "speak cat" fluently due to the lack of fine motor control - it results in some miscommunications that are interpreted as hostile by other cats.  Nothing to worry about though because he CH cat will never follow through and the other cat(s) will eventually learn that and hopefully stop reacting as intensely.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

The cat that's hissing doesn't have CH :) Garnet does. Tangent is 100% normal cat--I'm still not used to her ability to jump! But they're slowly getting along; just a little bit ago they were hanging out in the same room :)

post #7 of 10

Quote:

Originally Posted by mirianatraversi View Post
 

The cat that's hissing doesn't have CH :) Garnet does. Tangent is 100% normal cat--I'm still not used to her ability to jump! But they're slowly getting along; just a little bit ago they were hanging out in the same room :)

 

Sorry, I didn't explain that very clearly.  One of the characteristics of CH is the loss of fine motor control.  That means tail gestures and such don't always say what they're meant to.  Garnet could be trying to say "lets play" and it comes across to Tangent as "I'm defensive and aggressive" because Garnet is "slurring his speech".   (The difference being about 1-2 inches in base tail height and an outward curl in the end of the tail)

 

Playful tail example:

 

 

Defensive/Aggressive tail example:

 

 

As you can see it's a subtle "language" and not having full control over it could result in Tangent getting the wrong idea and becoming defensive/hissing as a result

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

That's fascinating--and makes total sense! It seems like she's beginning to catch on a little (less hissing today), so hopefully she'll learn that he's not aggressive, just a little different :) Thank you so much for the advice!

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mirianatraversi View Post
 

That's fascinating--and makes total sense! It seems like she's beginning to catch on a little (less hissing today), so hopefully she'll learn that he's not aggressive, just a little different :) Thank you so much for the advice!


No problem!  The process will likely take months/years, if ever.  In the mean time don't worry about hissing.  It's just a mild warning and isn't something to worry about.  We have one cat who will his and yowl while playing because she doesn't like "in close" play but is still young and wants to chase/run away.  She'll chase Junior and then hiss when she catches up to him, then turns around and lets him chase her... rinse repeat for a good half our ;)

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJimmy View Post
 


No problem!  The process will likely take months/years, if ever.  In the mean time don't worry about hissing.  It's just a mild warning and isn't something to worry about.  We have one cat who will his and yowl while playing because she doesn't like "in close" play but is still young and wants to chase/run away.  She'll chase Junior and then hiss when she catches up to him, then turns around and lets him chase her... rinse repeat for a good half our ;)

That's too funny! And I think it's also what Tangent's like! She really is interested in him; but once he notices her, she's all hissing and yowling! I had cats growing up, but usually they just ignored each other/refused to be in the same room! Hopefully Tangent and Garnet will learn to be friends :)

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