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my cats are attacking each other! (warning, long post)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have two cats, Bugs and Daffy. Bugs is mostly laid-back, while Daffy is more high-strung. They are brothers, 2½ years old, neutered, and they have never been seperated other than just in the house. I have hand-raised them from the age of three weeks, when their momma died and they were left for dead. They think of me as "momma" now, and they are very affectionate towards me. They also get along great with each other....MOST of the time. They've had the occasional little spat, but lately a couple of events have happened which worry me.

The first happened a couple of weeks ago. My 13 y/o son came downstairs one morning to get ready for school and, in the semi-darkness, accidentally stepped on Bugs. Well, Bugs got really irate and apparently turned his agression towards Daffy (I was still in bed, I have to take my son's word for that part). Well, a hissy-spitty fight ensued like I've NEVER seen before. They attacked each other like a couple of wildcats....serious hissing, spitting, yowling, growling, and literal screaming. I never knew cats could vocalize like that!

I was up by this point and grabbed the first cat I could get hold of, which was Daffy. I put him in the carrier (a giant one, since I always transport them together) and put him in the bedroom. He was somewhat calm, but then I heard my 9 y/o daughter yelling. Apparently Bugs attacked her for no reason (she was sitting in a chair eating cereal). He scared her more than anything else. I grabbed Bugs by the scruff of the neck (my signal to them that I am MOMMA and this is ENOUGH) and picked him up with my other hand (supporting his weight with my hand, not the scruff of the neck...that was more a behavior reminder than anything else). I then let Daffy out of the carrier and put Bugs in.

I want to emphasize that I wasn't trying to "punish" my cats by putting them in the carrier, but it was the only way I could think of to keep them apart and from hurting one another.

In a while (less than 30 minutes), I thought that both cats were sufficently calmed down, so I let Bugs out (he was meowing and acted very ashamed of himself for attacking my daughter). The thing was, Daffy was having none of it...every time Bugs walked by Daffy growled at him or hissed. No fighting, just vocalizing. Daffy hid upstairs for about a day, with Bugs occasionally venturing up there to see what the deal was. After that, they seemed to make up and went back to playing, eating, and sleeping together. Everything seemed fine until tonight.

As my kids were going to bed, my daughter turned to my son and made a hissing noise, because he said something to annoy her. Well, apparently it annoyed the cats too, because I had a repeat of the above fight. Both kids ran upstairs and shut themselves in their bedrooms while both cats fought it out. I grabbed Bugs (the nearest cat to me) and put him in the bedroom and shut the door (without using the carrier this time). Daffy seemed to calm down after about ten minutes, and came in for petting from me. Bugs was meowing by this time so I went to check on him. Both cats seemed okay now, so I let Bugs out. This was about two hours ago. I just went in there to look at them, and they are both curled up together in a chair grooming one another...like usual, like nothing ever happened.

These are normally very affectionate cats, more to me (after all, I am momma), but also to my kids. The kids are very gentle with them and don't tease or hurt them, and my cats will normally sit with them and ask for attention. Like I said, Daffy is a bit more high-strung than Bugs (he doesn't like strangers or car rides or anything new), and Bugs is a bit more calm and relaxed.

Bugs did go after my daughter once before, but I believe it was because he smelled a mouse that he couldn't get to. He was all worked up and my daughter walked by, which I think triggered something in him to attack. He chased her into the bathroom where she barracaded herself. A few minutes later, he was fine, and was very "apologetic" to her when she came out. It was odd...it was like he knew, on a kitty level, that he'd done something wrong and was trying to "make up" for it.

They attacked each other another time as well...Daffy had gotten into a fly strip so I had to use Goo Gone and give him a bath to clean him up. I thought if I bathed Bugs too, that they would smell the same and it would prevent any fighting....wrong....they fought for three days before they smelled "right" to each other again.

I am just wondering what would trigger these emotional outbursts between the two cats and what I could do to keep them from happening. It scares me that they are going to seriously hurt one another one day, perhaps when I am not here, and not mean to. They really are very loving cats and extremely affectionate towards me and each other. These are the worst two things to happen in almost three years, but it is more that they happened so close together and so vicious.

Thank you for any help.
post #2 of 8
Your son is correct in reporting the two cats attacking each other. They do that when one has been frightened, hurt, startled or scared. It is entirely possible your son broke some bones in your cat's tail, for the tail is quite fragile and has 107 bones in it. If a cat has been hurt, their scent subtle that it is will change. If the cat doesn't smell the same as the other cat remembers it, then there will be a fight against he unknown cat.

You want them both to smell the same so you can rub them with brewer's yeast several times a day, or you can apply vanilla extract several times a day under their chins and at the base of their tails. Also check out www.biovet.com and invest in a comfort zone room diffuser.

Ask your daughter not to hiss at her brother, and next time the two cats tangle, take a dark blanket and toss over the cats to startle them out of their behavior
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks...I already admonished my daughter (she thought she was being cute). She hates to see the cats upset, so she won't do it again.

It happened again this morning...but now they're sitting by each other licking one another, just like normal. I think I am going to call the vet. These are my babies and I don't want them hurting in any way.

Thank you so much, and I'll keep you updated!
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
I took the cats to the vet. Normally, they both travel in one big carrier, as they seem to do better that way...but not today. I had Bugs in the carrier and when I tried to put Daffy in, all fire and brimstone broke loose...Daffy ended up riding in his own carrier.

I explained the story to the vet, and he said that there were no broken bones, but that Bugs was pretty bruised up, and that is probably the cause of his acting out towards his brother...which, Daffy being a nervous cat to begin with, put him on edge and in a bad mood....which caused HIM to act out towards his brother. But...while we were at the vet, Daffy decided that he would feel better in the carrier with his brother, which they both took very well. Silly cats.

They got their rabies shots updated, Daffy got a cortizone shot to help with some skin irritation (he scratches his neck constantly and he licked his belly bald, due to a flea problem he had this summer), and the vet gave me a Feliway diffuser to plug into the wall, to help keep them calm while Bugs heals up.

I, of course, was thinking the worst all afternoon...I was sick to death thinking they had rabies. I can handle a little bruising...he'll heal. I am just glad that was all it was and now my mind is at ease.

Thanks for letting me vent.
post #5 of 8
Glad they're OK, and that Bugs' tail isn't broken. Hopefully the Feliway diffuser will make a difference for them.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Daffy seems to be doing better. He's ventured downstairs a few times today and has let me pet him, although he got VERY po'ed when I picked him up. I guess he thought I was going to put him back in the carrier.

It's Bugs that I am concerned about. He has stayed upstairs since he came home yesterday, except for one or two excursions downstairs to go to the litterbox. When I went upstairs last night at one point, his face looked really swollen up...I felt around his face a little and looked at his gums, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, with no lumps or drainage. This morning, his face was back to normal. But he is still upstairs, mostly sleeping or lounging. He isn't eating or drinking. I have gone upstairs a few times and smeared some peanut butter (one of his favorite treats) on his paw, trying to get him to eat at least a little something, which he did clean off. I'm hoping that he is just resting and that he'll be to his normal self in a day or so. He doesn't have a fever, and he lets me pet him without incident (although he is somewhat sensitive around his ribcage, which is where I assume it hurts), and his brother is sleeping near him (not curled up with him, however).

On a different note, Daffy seems to really like the box the Feliway came in. He rubs his face against it and purrs. Bugs acts like he couldn't care less about it. I just went upstairs and checked on him, and when I said his name he rolled over on his back for a tummy rub. But he won't come downstairs. I'm really very confused as to his behavior. I took the Feliway plugin upstairs and plugged it in the wall next to where he is laying. Should I be overly worried?
post #7 of 8
You might want to call the vet & let him know about Bugs, just to be safe - a cat not eating can be a cause for concern, because that in itself can cause problems if it goes on for more than a day or so. Don't forget to mention the swelling, too - perhaps he had a reaction to his vaccinations?
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Good news!

Hoss is eating again and looking perkier. I bought him a nice, thick slice of turkey at the deli counter today (they looked at me real funny when I said I wanted one ¼-pound slab of meat!), diced a little up, and he ate it from my hand. He also ate some peanut butter, which is one of his favorite treats, and he is jumping (somewhat successfully) from the floor to the chair or couch. Sometimes he appears to be over-cautious, perhaps from fear of aggravating the bruises, and doesn't quite make it...that's when he looks at me like, "Mommy?" so I take pity on him, pick him up, and place him where he wants to go.

He is just looking and acting altogether perkier today. I do think I'll call the vet in the morning and tell him about the swelling...I have no clue what caused it, other than the vaccination. He's just chilling out and resting, but it is a relaxed kind of rest, not a lethargic sick kind of moping.

Thanks to everyone for letting me vent.
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