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At wits end. Cat fights

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Wow. I'm getting really tired of this and would like to find a solution.
These are the cats involved...

Luke and Leia 5(?) year old twins.

Luke is the male, Leia is the female (white stripe on her nose.)
Luke is a big suck. A cuddley teddy bear that lives for belly rubs, and playing in cardboard boxes. Very affectionate and playful. Leia is ultra affectionate, yet extremely timid. She keeps to herself most of the time except when she wants her cheeks scratched. Both get along extremely well and often sleep cuddled up with each other. They Occasionaly play fight which lasts about 2 seconds at most before Leia runs away. For the most part they are very non-aggressive.


Flash 12 year old, female. Normally, she is somewhat affectionate and sometimes fiesty (likes to give little nips or swat at your ankle, the occasional hiss when she didn't like something). Likes to be left alone unless she wants pets, likes to curl up next to my girlfriend on the couch for pets. She has lived with two cats in 1994 (Male and Female) for about 4 months, & one cat (Female) in 1997 for about 6 months and there were no problems with the other cats. Since 97 She's been the only cat in the household.

Before our cats were introduced I anticipated that Flash would beat up my cats. 4 months ago my cats Luke and Leia were introduced to my girlfriend's cat Flash.
It immediately did not go well. Before my girlfriend and I got a place together I had to move in to her apartment for a month. When Luke and Leia were first brought into the apartment, Our cats were kept seperate from each other. Flash immediatly detected other cat(s) in "her domain" and became extremely uneasy and agressive to everyone. She was hissing and growling and "hunting" for the other cats. Their first introduction was through a sliding glass door to the balcony where Flash was outside.



On sight, Flash hissed and growled at Luke and Leia, which put them on the defensive. Almost immediately both Luke and Flash started fighting through the glass. We kept the cats seperated for the remainder of the month by carefully corraling them and letting them have turns roaming the house or sleeping in the closed bedroom. We figured it was so bad because Luke and Leia were "invading" Flash's territory and figured it would be better when they met on "Luke and Leia's territory". We decided to keep Flash in the old apartment until the last minute. and brought Luke and Leia to the new place to have a few days to settle into their new home. When Flash was brought to the new place it was pretty much the same situation. Luke and Flash had their first fight shortly after but what surprised both me and my girlfriend is that Luke turned into the aggressor and cornered and beat up Flash.

Since then things have slowly and gradually got better. The cats have settled into their own areas. with a few intersecting areas. However Flash is still to this day quite hostile towards the other cats. She hisses and growls when she sees either one. She has even taken to swatting, hissing and growling at us after seeing the other cats. Leia steers almost completely clear of Flash but Flash's unease seems to agitate Luke from teddy bear into fighting mode. We bought a spray bottle that we'd spray Luke or Leia with anytime they'd clash Flash. It helped a little but they (mostly Luke) still occasionally goes after her. Thinking the water bottle wasn't enough of a detterant I even tried picking Luke up by his rear hips and dangling him in front of Flash for her to have a free shot at him. But even while he is totally defenceless, Flash seems terrified of the very sight of him that close to her. I end up chasing Flash with a Dangling Luke trying to get her to hit him so he learns a lesson. They STILL clash.

How can we get Luke to ignore Flash and how can we get Flash to stop hissing and growling at the very sight of Luke and Leia? It's been 4 months!

This photo is of Luke and Flash in the new place. This is the closest they have ever been to each other without fighting. Flash had just been sleeping and awoke to find that Luke had entered Flash's living room and made himself at home on her couch. Surprisingly there was no fight, no hissing, no growling! I think she was to groggy at that moment. Luke left the room a moment later.
post #2 of 20
Leave these cats completely alone to figure out their pecking order. Flash is a calico, calico's have strong alpha tendencies. No where do you mention if these cats are spayed or neutered. If they aren't, they should be. If you haven't had bloodshed, or vet bills, back out of the equation and let these cats figure it out on their own. They will. Put away the spray bottle and all the other "corrective" measures you were using. Keep on hand, a small dark heavy blanket and if they come together and roll and rabbit kick, throw the blanket over them to break them off.

When they are agitated, leave them alone. Every time you interfere with their process, they are forced to start completely over.
post #3 of 20
Hi Jason and welcome to TCS.

I can really feel in your post that you are at the end of your tether and are feeling a bit angry with the whole situation. It's really important that you take a step back from the situation and look at it calmly, from the cat's perspective. As hissy has said, you intervening (or interfering) with what's going on with these cats is not helping at all. Perhaps you can invest in a couple of Feliway room diffusers. They work by releasing an odourless calming pheremone into the air which helps cats who are fighting to get along better. You can read aobut it here: http://www.feliway.com/html/detail.php3/pID=2 .
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonh1234
Luke) I even tried picking Luke up by his rear hips and dangling him in front of Flash for her to have a free shot at him. I end up chasing Flash with a Dangling Luke trying to get her to hit him so he learns a lesson. They STILL clash.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ok we're going to try the feli-way stuff. Thanks for the advice.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
No where do you mention if these cats are spayed or neutered.
All the cats have been fixed.
Flash was fixed when she was 3. Luke and Leia were fixed as soon as they were old enough to be.
Quote:
Every time you interfere with their process, they are forced to start completely over.
Can you clarify on this? What process? Luke is already clearly the alpha male.
post #7 of 20
Their process, their getting along, their spitting hissing and clawing. And your idiotic stunt of dangling a cat by it's rear legs and running with it throughout your home is completely uncalled for.

When you have a multi-cat household you will have conflict. It does not sound like you have bad conflict- (have you raced any cat to the vet because it has open wounds and is bleeding?) Have you woke up in the morning to find that the cat has developed an abscess and the wound needs to be debreeded? You have common conflict right now and everytime you step in to fix it, you throw these cats back to step one and they become confused and aggressive even more. Just leave them alone. Alpha status can change all the time- many cats will challenge the leader and some will triumph. I have three Alphas here now, and they will occassionally try and beat it down to just one, but it never happens. Riley maintains the strongest alpha traits and remains in control, but the others keep trying.
post #8 of 20
Good advice from Hissy. Now pay attention. The cats will work it out themselves
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
...your idiotic stunt of dangling a cat by it's rear legs and running with it throughout your home is completely uncalled for.
Uh... Both myself and my girlfriend think that "idiotic stunt" may be be to harsh of a wording. I was trying to teach Luke there were penalties for attacking Flash for no reason. He actually stopped for almost a week after I did that. You make it sound like I punished him by locking him in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
post #10 of 20
You could have severely injured him in ways he might not even have exhibited - I've never known a cat to 'lay off' for a week because of momentary disciplining.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonh1234
Uh... Both myself and my girlfriend think that "idiotic stunt" may be be to harsh of a wording. I was trying to teach Luke there were penalties for attacking Flash for no reason. He actually stopped for almost a week after I did that. You make it sound like I punished him by locking him in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
To Luke, both acts might be psychologically equivalent. He's not attacking Flash "for no reason"; establishing and defending a "pecking order" is normal cat behavior.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Update: Not 2 minutes ago this transpired...
My girlfriend and I were rearranging furniture in the living room. Flash was adjusting to the changes. Luke was at the entry of the room, checking out what was going on but not entering the room. I gave Flash some of her cat treats just to be nice and calm her down a bit. While she was eating the treats Luke entered the room unseen and moved out of sight. Flash didn't see hime until she moved around the room. Flash freaked out when she saw him and started hissing and growling. Luke hunched up on the defensive and you could almost SEE the thought processes in action. Luke: "Boy I'd like to smack her but if I do I'm gonna get sprayed and soaked, or she's gonna get a free shot at me. I better just get out of here without incident." Both stood there a minute before Luke creeped past her and out of the room while giving her a wide berth. I gave Luke his favorite treat (Fancy Feast) as a reward for his good behavior. My girlfriend and I were pretty impressed with Luke's restraint. They must've been 2' away from each other. PROGRESS AT LAST!
post #13 of 20
I think it's great that you are so patient to try and stick with your cats through this. I know it can get very annoying having to deal with it for 4 months. Don't give up they'll work it out between themselves eventually.
Oh , and welcome to TCS!
post #14 of 20
It can be very frustrating when you have cats that are constantly fighting - but PLEASE don't physically intimidate or harm your cats. I can see what you were saying about teaching him a lesson, but cats do NOT respond to that kind of treatment - what you said about seeing Luke's cogs ticking over basically sounds like he's now scared of YOU and not thinking about his behaviour.

They really need to work this out on their own, and in a sense you are prolonging their fighting and confusing them by intervening all the time.

You do sound like you were at the end of your tether - and much like children, we can all do things we regret if we are pushed to our limits!! What you did with the rewards was absolutely the right thing to do - ALL animals respond much better to positive reinforcement than punishment.

The best thing to remember is that cats don't operate like humans - and you need to think, would you dangle your child in front of another child so that he could get hit and learn a lesson? If you did that to your kid you would get locked up!! Just because it's a cat it doesn't make it right for you to physically abuse or intimidate. I'm certain you didn't see it that way and weren't trying to be cruel, but it certainly was a cruel thing to do. Any time you make your cat vulnerable like that you are losing his trust, and he already has dominance issues in the house to start with, without being fearful of you, too.

If you just back off and leave them be, reward them when they do the right thing and don't hurt or punish them anymore, things will eventually sort themselves out.

Good luck!
post #15 of 20
OK OK
It was not an idiotic stunt. It was a well intentioned but misguided attempt to help.
Fortunately, you now have TCS to guide you in this behavior problem.
post #16 of 20
The reason the dangling is really bad for Luke is that they are fighting over dominance. If you take the "winner" and humiliate him, it doesn't help. The reason Flash doesn't take a swipe is that she is a cat, and understands the process better than you do.

Think if you had a neighbor guy hitting on your girlfriend. Would it help if your gf humiliated you in front of him? Or is it better for the two of you to work things out, so you can let him know that you are alpha, (at least when it comes to him and your gf). No amount of "reason" is going to make you think its ok for him to hit on her.

Same for Flash and Luke. She wants top billing, but he has testosterone and probably size on his side. You cannot teach them get along, but if you leave them alone, they will figure out who is alpha.

Garfield is alpha to Festie, and she hates it. But she accepts it. When we added Sugartoes, I was sure he would stay alpha. But she put him in his place somehow, when I was not home. I have seen her lift her paw to him from 5 feet away, and he ducks. They are good friends now, and she is alpha. (All 3 are under 2 years old, so more flexible than Flash).

If you want to "punish" a cat for getting overly aggressive, you can put them in a "time out" room, give them cooling off time. Do not intervene in every interaction, but only if he is way too harsh. Or she may prefer to be let into another room, to escape him. It gives her time to plot her revenge (just kidding). But in cat terms, the more natural reaction is for the non-alpha cat to walk away.

Best of luck. It does take time, but is worth it.
post #17 of 20
Jason it certainly does look like they love their dad but trust me when i say that giving each other the odd bat is harmless which is why you don't need to hold them as bait to each other

I have a tortie myself and Rosie can have an attitude, but it's nothing serious as i'm sure it isn't with your gorgeous babies, because thats exactly what they are.
post #18 of 20
the flowers pic is so funny! I just let my cats go at it and figure they'll work everything out in the end. My young male drives everyone else CRAZY! He does not take no for an answer!! He just goes and goes and they get so mad and hiss and run and fight him off but he just keeps coming. I figure he's just too immature right now to understand they don't want to play with him all of the time. Hopefully when he gets older he'll learn to back off. But he will eventually probably have to be put in his own stud room anyway.
post #19 of 20
I have had the same problem you are. Older cat + new kittens=pretty ticked off older cat!

But, I let them fight it out. There was no need for me to put myself in the middle of it, because as soon as I would have left the room they would be right back at it. The good news is, Samantha is much more tolerable of the younger cats. She still hisses and swipes at them if they annoy her, but other than that there isn't anymore fights.

However, Smudge and Little Miss still take swipes at eachother when they think no one is looking. Little Miss fought Smudge once after she had her kittens (I was alseep) and Smudge had actually ripped Little Miss' ear open. Thats when I got involved. Ever since, they are constantly swiping at eachother. And I catch them doing it. Smudge will bonk Little Miss for no reason other than to hold a grudge, I do think! And ten minutes later, Little Miss hits her back. Its like having toddlers!

Just hang in there, eventually, it will get better.
post #20 of 20
It seems like you did everything you could to introduce them properly. I just ignore them and let them work it out on their own. I watch but I don't interfere unless I am afraid of bloodshed then I have a blanket nearby.
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