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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2004, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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Agressive behavior help needed - long

I apologize for the long first post, but I really need help. I have read different articles and most deal with agression towards people. Here's my story... (also posted on a couple other sites)

I have a 12 year old tabby, Max, that I raised from 5weeks. He has always been the only cat in the house. We moved into a new home about 10 months ago and he adjusted well. He has always been standoffish with other people. Once he gets used to you, he'll let you get in one pet and that's about it. His play with me often becomes bite-play. I never delt with it as I didn't recognize it as anythign more than him playing too rough (in hindsight I should have stopped it).

My girlfriend, Claudia, of 3 years became my Fiance' and moved in with me about 5 weeks ago. She has two 12 year old persians, Screamer & Princess (brother & sister). They are very affectionate and friendly, and have also been the only cats in thier house.

During the past 3 years Max has smelled Screamer & Princess on me and they have smelled him on Claudia.

We started by keeping them in seperate rooms and allowing each to have time to have run of the house. During the first week, I slept in Max's room. At the end of that week, we had a mishap that allowed the cats to be out at the same time. There was a lot of tension and Max was very agitated at one point and when I tried to get him back in his room he bit me on the hand. Serious enough to bleed significantly and require antibiotics. I chased him into the room very aggressively. After about 20 minutes, he did not seem concerned at about what he had just done. I started sleeping in my room after this.

We then went to stacked baby gates in the doorways. This allows for visual but not physical contact. At first there was a lot of hissing and growling from Max and none from the others. Soon, Screamer started to growl back. Claudia says he had never growled before. A couple weeks go by and we tried to allow contact a couple times, but Screamer and Max would start to get tense and we could see things begin to escalate. At one point, Max followed Screamer and when Screamer noticed, turned back and walked towards Max and Max started to get aggressive. They had fight-like contact, but not to the level of an all-out fight.

A week ago, we tried contact again. this time Max went straight for Princess (half his size) and chased her. I blocked him one way and he tried going around the other and I blocked him again. I was angry and I picked him up by the scruff. BIG MISTAKE. Another round of antibitoics and many deep wounds. I don't know what his intention was chasing Princess, but it did not look like curiosity. I think it was more my fault than his that I got bit.

All three went to Vet together for exams and shots, in carriers, all in the same exam room, last Friday. All are well. Too bad it wasn't a bonding experience for them.

The Vet suggested collective feeding, maybe in carriers. The problem here is that we free-feed and with our work schedule, they would be going to once a day. Not desireable, we think.

Another suggestion was putting Max in his carrier out in the main room with the others able to walk around him and such. We tried this when we got home from the Vet and Max got pretty pissed about being in the carrier, on the floor in the room while the others were walking around. They pretty much left him alone though.

We have asked about medication for Max, but have not heard back yet. The Vet wanted to do some research. I think she would rather not go that route.

I have tried Feliway spray, but it hasn't been very long.

They all seem to be curious about each other. When the baby gates go up for one, the other(s) will come to the door and sit for a few minutes looking in. Max will ususally growl some (less than at the beginning) when he is the one behind the gates.

So, thanks for reading my long winded post. We really need ideas here. Should we keep doing the same thing and try contact again in a couple weeks or what?

Thanks for the help.
PJohnson is offline  
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2004, 01:56 PM
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this is a very difficult situation. three older cats, long-time bonded toward their own humans and not other cats or people. and an accidental early face-to-face in the introduction process. you could try feeding and treats and lots of attention from each cats' human while on opposite sides of the baby gates, hopefully this shows the other cat(s) are no threat with respect to their food or their humans. it's probably too late to go back to square one. and at their age they're pretty set in their ways.

There are some calmative herb formulas for cats. You might try that along with the Feliway.

I hope this works out for you, but you probably realize there's a chance they may never acclimate.

Anybody else have any ideas?

coaster is offline  
post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2004, 02:29 PM
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You mentioned that you free feed so feeding at the same time is not an option with your work schedules. But you could probably do a treat once a day together. Like a little tuna.

I find that the feliway comfort zone works better for me than the spray. So, you might want to try that instead. I'd try spirit essences as well (although I don't have any personal experience with those).

I'd wait to let them have contact again until Max no longer growls when the other two are looking through the gate.

You might want to get soft claws for Max (those rubber caps for his claws). Although, sounds like you need them more for his teeth!

If Max gets out again, or you are trying contact and he starts being aggressive, you could throw a laundry basket over him to stop the fight (as opposed to picking him up).

In the meantime, be careful! Those things bite!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2004, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions. I think we'll try treat feeding together, good idea.

The plan now is to wait until Max is less tense and not growling before any more contact. We are most concerned that he will go after Princess. I had another suggestion of a leash. We might try that too.

I think I'll get the Feliway comfort zone too. At this point, we're willing to try most anything.

Max has been declawed (I was not well informed when I did it and would not do it again), so he is all teeth, sharp teeth.

Any more suggestions from anyone else?

PJohnson is offline  
post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2004, 03:10 PM
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I thought of something else after leaving the first msg...territory swapping. although maybe you read this already in the research you did. swap sides, giving each a chance to be in the other's territory without the other being there and having to defend it.

coaster is offline  
post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-01-2005, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Try "Rescue Remedy" You can buy it at GNC or other health stores.
I am going out to get some....came recommended from someone I trust.
I have similar issues with Mi'Mi... I wish you the best!
BoscosMum is offline  
post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2005, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Update.... I bought Cat vs. Cat over the weekend and began reading about Max's behavior. It seems that Max thinks he's dominate over humans as well as other cats. I'm also now more in tune with all three cat's communications. To work on this issue, I pulled Max's food and now he only eats twice a day. This is to make him dependent on me. That seemed to make a instant difference. He kisses up to me a lot more now

I also managed to get a harness on him. That took 30 minutes and the use of my arm length welding gloves. He fought a lot and bit a lot, but I remained calm as I did it. After the first 15 minutes or so, he realized his biting wasn't getting any results and it got a little easier. I used Feliway spray in the room and he didn't totally freak out once the harness was on like I expected. In fact, he seemed to adjust to it in about an hour. He notices if I hold it or try to adjust it, but otherwise seems to ignore it.

Interactions have changed slightly too. He and Screamer are more curious about each other, but now it seems Screamer is the more upset one. They get almost nose to nose through the baby gates now. Max went into a fear posture once when Screamer was on the inside of the baby gates. Princess just stays out of the way, although she too has sat at the baby gates and talked to Max.

More behavior mod for Max and maybe we'll try interaction again.

PJohnson is offline  
post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2005, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Originally Posted by PJohnson
It seems that Max thinks he's dominate over humans as well as other cats.
I read somewhere that cats don't think of themselves as small humans, they think of humans as big cats.

Relate to them accordingly!!

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