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Old 03-04-2007, 12:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Suggestions on dealing with a bully?

I've about had it with Dude! He's seriously workin' my nerves!

I've tried everything I can think of to deal with him beating up on my other two cats. He especially picks on Kit N. the most and she's going to be 7 this year. He's a lot bigger than my two females and can easily pin them down. Dude is about 2 years old. Everyone's S&N, kept indoors also. The DustBunny is his partner in crime most of the time, but he has been getting really rough with her more and more.

We intervene in his bullying of the girls, he's pretty much ignoring the spray bottle, he will spend 15-20 minutes in "jail" (a crate) when he's being really obnoxious and frequently come right out of the crate and go after one of them again. We give him 15-20 minutes of by-himself play time with us once or twice a day, plus we distract him with toys or petting when we see he's about to pounce on one of the girls and he is still relentlessly harrassing them every day.

Yesterday I thought about how he just flops over on his side and refuses to move when I put the harness on him, so it gave me an idea. I only use the harness and leash when I take a cat to my store, just in case something frightens them they won't get away even if they jump out of my arms or the cart we use in there. I got a small t-shirt for a dog, and I just put it on him right now because he's started in on Kit N. He's now laying down, refusing to move and leaving Kit N. alone! I know I can't keep doing that, though, because he'll get used to wearing the shirt and it won't work to keep him still anymore.

We having been considering keeping him separated from the other cats for a while and "re-introducing" them, but do you guys think that will work after they've all lived together for over a year? That's the last thing I can think of to try and end this fighting and scrapping. Other than his bullying of the girls he's a nice cat, he's friendly to us and is nice to the girls sometimes too, but then he gets a wild hair you-know-where and harrasses them both.

This has GOT to stop! I'd really appreciate any ideas you have!
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Old 03-04-2007, 09:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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15 minutes is way too short for a time-out. It can take cats up to a couple hours to calm down. I'd suggest extending your time-outs to two hours. You might not need to do it that long. Just get a feel for how long it takes so that he doesn't immediately repeat the behavior. Start with two hours and work back from there.

Also, the time-out should also be in "solitary confinement" so if the crate is somewhere he can still see the other cats then he's not really being deprived of their society. He needs to see the time-out as something to be avoided. Do you have a room you can shut him in (with a litterbox in case he needs it, and a bowl of water?)

Do the other cats show signs of being afraid of him?
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Old 03-04-2007, 03:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The other two cats mostly act like they're fed up with his rowdiness and they usually give it right back when he starts in on them. I do notice Kit N. will hiss at him, slap him a few times and then run away which provokes him to chase her and tackle her. The DustBunny just throws down and gives him everything she's got, but she's so much smaller than Dude. She rarely wins a straightforward battle.

When we put him in jail we face the crate a couple of inches from the bathroom door and cover the crate so he is sort of in "solitary". I'll try an hour next time and see how he does.

We're also going to try Feliway despite the mixed reviews we've gotten from customers on it's effectiveness with their cats. Who knows, it might work on Dude. I haven't decided whether to try the diffuser or the spray inside the crate. The diffusers will be right costive, because we have a townhouse-style apartment so we'd have to have one upstairs and one or maybe even two downstairs.

*sigh* Ah, Dude, you can be such a jerk sometimes! I did ask my vet about having him cut off Dude's legs...
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Old 03-04-2007, 03:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh...I know this well. Kobi is my jerk. I do use the Feliway diffusers and while they don't induce miracles I think they do make a difference. The cheapest price I've found is here:

Plug-in
Refill

Oh...and they're always on sale as far as I can tell.

Between the timeouts, distractions, and Feliway I've managed to keep it under control. I also put a bell on him so the other cats would know exactly where he was at all times.

But what has really made a difference was getting Holly. He is so much better since she has been here. He still has his moments, but they don't come nearly as often. It appears he just needed a kitten to keep him busy...
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Old 03-04-2007, 04:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Based on your description of the other cats' reactions I think you've just got a situation where Dude in trying to establish himself as the top cat in the group. So long as the other cats fight back and aren't afraid of him, I don't think you really need to be too concerned. The thing you don't want, and which I don't think is going to happen, is Dude terrorizing one or more of the others to the point where their life is intolerable and they become a "pariah" cat.

So having been through this myself with two cats, one of whom had to be rehomed, I'm going to suggest that a reintroduction after all this time is going to be a waste of time. I'm going to suggest that you actually support Dude in his effort to be top cat. Of course continue separating him when he gets too rough so he learns you don't tolerate that behavior. But otherwise try treating him as the top cat. Give him all the attention, first at mealtime, first at playtime, don't give the other cats attention when he's in the same room, etc. etc. If he's confident in his position as boss cat then he's less likely to assert himself with the other cats.

In addition to the separation you can try redirection. When he starts going after another cat you can divert him with something that gets his attention. I don't know what will work for you; experiment. Also watch to see if the other cats are bating him. Watch for stare-downs, lying in wait, occupying commanding positions. Separations, diversion, and diffusions. When he knows he's top cat in your eyes; when he knows you don't appreciate that behavior; when the other cats don't ask for it -- then maybe he'll relax. You can't prevent an alpha cat from asserting him/herself, but you can manipulate it sometimes.

Good luck.
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Old 03-04-2007, 06:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks Tim and doodle! I'll try your suggestions and see how he does. The Duder is such an oddball about some things. Take the "first at mealtime" thing: he actually defers to the girls at feeding times and chooses to wait until last to eat. Kit N. will absolutely NOT allow him (or The DustBunny for that matter) to get to the dry food first. She loves that stuff and since I dole it out so sparingly now she has elected herself as Queen of the Kibble! She's not bossy about eating it first, she just plunges right in and starts chowing down. She won't let herself be moved away from that dish until she's good and ready to move, even if I try to move her!

Most of the scrapping is when Dude decides to move Kit N. out of a place she's perching and sometimes he just jumps on her if he's annoyed at us for something. Kit N. is funny about it sometimes, also. She might be snoozing on the back of the couch and he comes up to her and wants his face cleaned. She obliges him with a few licks and then starts biting his ears and slapping his face until he takes off.

I don't get it, it's like if your spouse comes up to you and gives you a kiss then hauls off and hits you. I guess that points to how differently our minds work.
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Old 03-04-2007, 06:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It's funny how a cat can be top cat in one situation and a different cat be top cat in another. It really sounds like you've got normal hierarchy contention going on there; nothing too serious. Eventually they'll all come to terms with who's boss of what and when.
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It does sound like normal fighting for position. The fact that she'll clean him and doesn't get freaked out and hide means they'll probably work it out amongst themselves. Two is the age when a cat reaches social maturity and starts challenging for position...so it sounds like that is what Dude is doing. The bell might be an idea so he can't easily jump them when they're snuggled up somewhere.

You might want to read Cat vs Cat by Pamela Johnson-Bennett...
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have almost the exact same situation in my house with Thurston. I use timeouts and distractions but he seems to get into these moods where he just won't quit!

I recently got Cat vs Cat by Pam Johnson Bennet and it has given me alot of insight into whats going on. Reading it I believe that Thurston was separated too young from his littemates and thus has no bite inhibition. I also read that some cats don't fully mature socially until age of 4. My bully just turned three so we may have to wait it out a while.

I'm still reading the book but I recommend it. Maybe it will give you some ideas.
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Old 03-18-2007, 05:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Suggestions on dealing with a bully?

Do I know what you mean! I have seven wonderful little four legged personalities in my home with plenty of “issues”. Cricket is a boy, a typical boy. Asserting his dominance is one of his favorite pastimes. He can be the most lovable sweetest lap cat, at 16lbs, you would want. But his six girl companions all get turns in the ring when he needs to feel in charge. This time of year seems the worst, maybe it’s the spring thing. In May he’ll be three so he still has a ways to go before he becomes “mature” (sure hope it means he’ll calm down).

When we leave the house he is not allowed to be alone with any of them, he gets locked in the bedroom or the daylight basement. The Farnam Feline Comfort Zone® with Feliway doesn’t slow him down but it seems to help the girls calm down if he has been a bit rowdy and we failed to stop him quickly enough. I have 3 diffusers between the 1st and 2nd floors. Yes its’ expensive but I sure notice a difference when they are empty and I don’t refill them. Here is the best price I’ve found for the Diffusers and the refills, http://www.petguys.com/-039079056840.htm.

We’ve also noticed that he becomes more aggressive when we are more aggressive with him. So, even though I want to throttle him, I take a deep breath and will start talking to him in a calm easy going way until he comes to me. Then I’ll put him in the bedroom or basement for a couple of hours. Usually this will work and we have peace for the rest of the day. Good luck.
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