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Old 02-20-2011, 03:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Suddenly aggressive male cat

Just a little background before I get to my question. I have 7 cats (2 male, 5 female), all are indoor only, and all are spayed or neutered. They range in ages from around 7 to a few months old. The newest additions are the two youngest (2 sisters) who were added to the family about 5-6 months ago. Other than the two kittens several months ago, nothing else has changed recently.

Within the past few weeks, my large male cat (17 lbs and about 5 years old) has become aggressive towards one of my smaller female cats (about 8 lbs and a year old). It's definitely not something she's provoking as she's not an aggressive cat at all. They used to be big pals too, and played together a ton. Lately though he'll put his head low, lay his ears back a bit, and basically charge at her, trying to jump on her and bite her neck. Since he's 17 lbs and she's maybe 8, it's not exactly a fair match... She's much quicker than him, but sometimes she doesn't see it coming (or she's sleeping).

Just within the past few days, my large male cat's sister (who is about 15lbs) has started to be aggressive towards the smaller female cat too. Again, they used to be big pals, so this is really strange...

I've tried using a squirt bottle to stop him from doing that, and it does stop him for a minute, until he washes off the water, but then he goes right back at it again. So I've been separating them when hes gets in that mood, since it really upsets the smaller female. She was rescued from a cat hoarders house where judging by how scared of people she was, she wasn't treated very well at all.

Besides the squirt bottle, and separating them when he's acting like that, I've also tried the "feliway" plugin thing that's supposed to have a calming affect on the cats. It hasn't done much to help so far. Separating them seems to distract the male cat long enough so he leaves her alone for a while.

Any ideas what could be causing this, and what I can do to help return things to normal? Even though I suspect he's just doing the whole dominant male thing, I'm still very worried he's going to hurt her, and it's very upsetting to her.
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Old 02-20-2011, 03:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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By chance is the little female doing anything like staring at the large cat or his sister with an unwavering stare? This would be a threat and would make any cat react if not stopped. I would highly encourage you, if you have not already done so, to do some research on cat communication and body language just to be sure that your small female isn't being aggressive without you knowing. Sometimes the smallest things that we don't catch say a thousand words between 2 cats.

There reason why I suspect something going on with the small female is because you have 2 cats at around the same time suddenly reacting to her. That would make me suspect her. Has she been to the vet recently or shown any odd signs? I know sometimes when a kitty isn't doing well the other cats will sometimes be mean to it.

Has there been anything odd recently that you might not think of that would cause stress to your cats. Perhaps they are redirecting to your small female since she is so non aggressive and they are taking it out on her. Perhaps you had a new neighbor move in, or you rearranged the furniture? One product you could try is Feliway. It has pheromones that helps calm and reduce stress levels.

Is there a particular place that this always happens in? Or time? A certain toy involved or event happening outside like kids screaming off the school bus. I'm just trying to see if there might be a link, some part of the puzzle that is always involved during the tension that might not be obvious.
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Old 02-20-2011, 03:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Oops sorry, I somehow missed that you already had Feliway.

I encourage you to play hardcore detective! I had a friend whose cat started doing similar things to the point that she was going to get rid of it. We encouraged her to watch it, and she noticed that it was around the time that the cat goes to eat supper that it started to get anxious. So then she really paid attention. That is when she discovered that there was a cat living in her house that she didn't even know was there! Somehow this stray got in and was living upstairs and sneaking down to get a bite to eat, upsetting her resident kitties. Your cats are trying to say something, we just gotta figure it out
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Old 02-20-2011, 04:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Is this female spayed? If not, that may be the reason. If she is spayed, I suggest a vet visit should be made. Cats will pick on another one that is ill or weak, so she may have some underlying condition that the other cats are sensing, especially since not only is the big male picking on her but now his sister is too. It seems strange that she's been there for many months(?), used to be pals with your big boy and as you say is "not an aggressive cat at all" . Something's changed, but I think a vet visit is the first place to start. Keep us posted.
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Old 02-20-2011, 05:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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First I recommend the book cat vs cat for anyone with multiple cats, I read it often for ideas. I recently have been having an issue with my male who is appx 3.5 he acts much the way you are saying of yours. The book talks about sexual maturity vs social maturity and how at about 3-5 they hit this social maturity time and tend to reassert themselves. The book talks about redirection-which Jack too is unfazed by water, yelling etc. We use redirection almost exclusively for Jack. He seems to have taken well to it. We have used feliway in the past and started again recently, though for the current aggression it doesn't seem to faze Jack. I've also tried to make him feel more important, giving him treats in secret.

Leslie
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Old 02-20-2011, 05:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the tips. All of my female cats are spayed, and all of the males are neutered. It is interesting reading about the social maturity of a cat. I wonder if that's what's going on with the big male, since he does this towards the other cats too (some more than others).

I'll try to keep an eye on her and see if she's doing anything that might be viewed as aggressive before it starts. I know at least a few times she's been sleeping when he starts doing that, or playing with one of the other cats. If things don't get better I may take her to a vet to just have her checked out. She seems perfectly healthy, and plays a ton with the kittens and other cats.

The big male does the same thing to a few of other cats too, but the smaller female seems to be the target the majority of the time. Of all of the cats she's the one that gets the most upset by it, and he seems to pursue more.

Of the other cats he does this to, his second favorite is his sister. She handles it a lot better though (usually by pummeling him for it). Sometimes he does get on top of her though and hold her down though.

I'm less worried about the larger female cat doing that, since that just may be her playing a bit too rough and things getting out of hand. The smaller female cat doesn't seem to be afraid of the larger female. They still play together a fair amount

I was hoping that if it was a dominant type of thing that the feliway would calm him down a little. I've had it plugged in near the center of the house for several days now. Last night within about 15 minutes of me getting home, he went after her and got her cornered though. Sometimes it'll go a few days without him doing that (that I witness anyway).

I'm half tempted to set up some cameras in my house and try to see if he's doing it while I'm gone, or if he's just doing it while I'm here. I'm going to buy another feliway plugin thing and put it in the living room. Maybe the 1 I have near the center of the house just isn't enough.

Last edited by JohnMT; 02-20-2011 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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In regard to the feliway if memory serves me right it doesn't do over a large area. Our dinning room and living area are open and we couldn't use it down stairs as the area was too big for it to cover. When my kitty had her tantrum a few years ago, we had to use it in a smaller room with her locked in for a few days (I used to go in and sit with her for hours and play). If I remember rightly, the feliway also needs to be switched on constantly for it to have any effect.

We were lucky that it seemed to work and we didn't have (much) trouble after our time out.

I think that maybe your boy cat is perhaps trying to assert himself as the alpha male by picking on the one thats least likely to give him trouble. It would be worth while keeping a real close eye on them both so you can at least try to figure it out.
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Old 02-22-2011, 11:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info on Feliway. I've ordered a couple more so I'll hopefully have good coverage upstairs in my house.

I got to see a few scenarios yesterday and the day before that set him off. One is if the playing gets a little loud (like between his sister and the smaller cat). He went after the smaller cat first, and then after I separated them for about 5 minutes, he went after his sister next.

The other scenario is if he wants to sleep in a spot where the other cat is. He'll jump up there with them and bite their neck until they move. This usually gets the other cat to move, unless it's one of my kittens. If it's one of my kittens they just turn around and glare at him, then go back to sleep. He doesn't seem to know what to do about that, so he just lays down next to them then.

I did see another time though when the smaller cat just walked down the hallway by him fairly quickly (since she's afraid of him). He got up and chased her into the living room behind the TV. I didn't see her do anything that could have provoked it that time other than start moving faster to get around him. I think she was just trying to go to one of the food dishes.

I'll keep investigating though and will get those feliway plugins put in as soon as they arrive. Thanks everyone for all of your tips on this. I also ordered that book that was suggested, so if the feliway doesn't help, I can check it out for some tips.
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It does indeed sound like he is being the aggressor. I hope that what others have suggested works out for you, you will have to keep us posted
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It sounds like he is being the dominant alpha in the house and is at the age when he really wants to display it. The incident where he broke up the fight between his sister and the small female is typical. Have you tried redirecting his attention when he gets focused and looks to go after someone? Try redirecting his attention with a toy. If he's actually going after the small female to beat her up, you could go after him yourself with stomping feet and say "No" very sternly. Stop and give him a hard unblinking stare until he looks or walks away. You want to make it clear to him that you are the "alpha" and you won't tolerate him bullying the small female. On the other hand, when he's behaving well, give him lots of special individual attention and treats too. Good things come from good behavior and reprimands will come from bullying.
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