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Discussion Starter #1
Well this will be a long story, so bear with me!

One of my cats is an overly aggressive player. He was found in the wild about 4 years ago by someone and taken to the humane society, emaciated and nearly blind in one eye. My friend saw this pathetic little kitty and took him into her home. Eventually the eye thing cleared up and he put on some weight. He's always had a great attitude towards people, but even back then he would aggressively attack her cats. One of the cats would stand up for itself but not the other.

That is why I have him now - she moved out of town and decided it was best to leave the cat with one of her friends, who subsequently decided it was best for me to keep him. However, after having him for a few months, I decided maybe he needed a playmate, as he seemed really bored and lonely, and obviously has abandonment issues. I now have two cats, and it's been about 9 months. He does the same overly aggressive attacking of the other cat even now.

He doesn't ever hurt her physically. He's done this so consistently that she doesn't ever want to play with him. Usually if he gets too close she will swat at him. The exception to this is when I am sleeping and she is in bed with me, sometimes he approaches her and they lick each other for a while, though eventually she hisses at him when he's had enough.

I've tried play therapy on him. It seemed to help for a while, but now he's bored of all the toys I have - laser pointer, da bird, the purrrfect cat toy, and a cloth ribbon on a stick. Some days he will play with them, but never long enough to become exhausted. Other days, such as sunday and monday, he won't play much at all. This is when the attacking is the worst.

When he's in an attacking mood, not much will deter him. Sometimes he changes his mind if I talk to him, but on the flip side sometimes (lately especially) he will keep going after her until she hides. Even if I pick him up and pet him, trying to calm him down, he will jump off my lap and run after her.

I don't want to give the impression that he attacks her 24/7, it's just when he's "in a mood" and sees her lying there. Other times he will lay down next to her on his back and try to entice her to play. She never does, though, because she hates him so much for those other times. Whenever he approaches not on his back, she will his and growl at him.

I have tried a lot of things, such as only playing with them when they are near each other, giving them treats whenever they stay near without a fight, etc. I am not sure I'm doing the treat thing right, though... I don't exactly have a bunch of treats in my pocket at all times, so I have to actually get up and open the treats. I've also tried feliway with no discernible difference.

I'm just not sure what to do. The toys seem to work mostly, though there still is an occasional incident, but he has become bored with them, and regardless it does nothing to improve her attitude towards him.

My vet told me that sometimes that's just how cats are, and as long as it doesn't seem to be seriously affecting her life, it should be ok. She seems to still lay around in open places and play.

Does anyone have any ideas or techniques as to how to make it a better family? Specifically how to modify his behavior so that he doesn't attack when the other cat doesn't want him to, and how to modify hers so that she actually enjoys playing with him...??
 

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That is so sad! I wish I had suggestions for you. It sounds like it is your cats personality to be a bully. :?
 

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Hello TAsunder,

I have what sounds like a very similar problem with my two cats (kept me up until 4am trying to stop them from fighting). I've tried many things to stop this behavior, but nothing seems to work thus far.

I would try using a spray bottle or watergun to squirt the aggressive cat whenever the attacks occur (and ONLY when they occur, not after the fact - apparently they won't know what they've done wrong if you don't act very quickly). Another tactic is to pick him up quickly when he's being aggressive, and put him in a closed off area to cool down for 20-30 minutes. I don't know if other forum members or vets would agree with these methods of discipline, but it's what I've tried.

Best of luck. If I find something that does seem to work with my cats, I'll certainly let you know.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, here's the thing. I've squirted him and disciplined him too. 90% of the time this stops the behavior, but only for the time being. And he seems really upset by this. I don't want to rely on this technique at all. the other option is to take the other cat away from him, but that may be reinforcing his behavior.

He really is a sweet cat, it seems like his problems are just too much energy and not understanding how cats socialize. I think that he was lost or abandoned when fairly young.

If this were a science fiction movie, I would try to solve this by attaching some sort of electrodes to them and giving them a pleasant feeling any time they are near each other. The treats just takes too long. They associate me opening the treat jar with the treat, and not what happened before.

One idea I had but haven't implemented is to always ring a bell just before I give them a treat, and then eventually ring the bell whenever they are acting in a good way towards each other. That's the only type of thing I can think of to remodel the way they behave.
 

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Squirting water and other "punishments" do not work well on cats, and as you have already noticed, can make a bad situation worse.

Definitely consider Feliway, which can work very quickly, it doesn't always take very long. Also, flower essences can help give him a nice, natural "chill pill" that will improve his attitude. "Bully" or "Peacemaker" might be good for him. (www.spiritessence.com)

When you do play therapy, do you put the toys away where he can't get them after a session? Do you do it at a regular time every day? Routine is important, as is not having access to the toys in between sessions. Do you praise him as you're playing? Give him a snack afterward? He should be looking forward to these sessions; you need to think about why that's not happening.

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 

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TAsunder, I understand how you feel. Pebbles used to irritate Toffee all the time till she didn't trust him for anything. He didn't exactly attack her, but he'd try to hug and kiss her, and she wouldn't have any of that "mushy" thing. heh...

But if you feel your male kitty is hurting the female one, you must be stern with him. She will probably still not trust him, but at least he must learn to be more gentle. I'm not sure when you talk about discipline what you mean, but when my cats get rough, whether it be with us or each other, we grab them and make them sit down alone with us. Then we give them a talking-to that hurting people and the other cats is not the way to make friends. Then we make them smell the other cat or the wound they've inflicted and smack the part of the body they'd used to inflict the wound/harm others, eg the claws or the teeth then go "NO!" and "Look what you've done! Don't do it again." Sounds harsh, and drjean would probably have some words for me, but it's worked with Sandy who used to have a habit of 'love biting' a little too hard, and Toffee who used to scratch people for the fun of it. When the two of them start a fight, we just need to shout a stern "HEY! STOP IT!" or stomp towards them and they break it up immediately.

Make it clear that it's ok to play, but violence will not be tolerated in your home.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I try to do play therapy at the same times, and do give them treats afterwards. I've heard a lot about praising cats but I'm not sure what it sounds like. I do put the toys away. In fact, when I first started doing this I chose the wrong closet, one which is usually closed. The cat would regularly hang out there and I had to put a cheap rug there to prevent him from digging. Eventually I discovered I can put the toys up high in a different closet and it is less of an issue.

Feliway did not work. I bought the plug-in oil version. I even tried two, thinking the room was too big.

One thing I've wondered is whether I should separate the cats during play therapy and only therapize one of them at once. I decided not to because I figured them playing at the same time near each other would be good. But I do wonder if when he doesn't play, it's because she wants to, or if it's that she wants to because he doesn't.

As I mentioned, there's never been physical harm. He does tend to have sharp claws, but never has injured her. He is more into trying to bite her, and he has very few teeth, though he does have the big ones. She doesn't hurt him either, even when she bit him on the ears he didn't bleed and only protested. The weird thing is that after that he would lay on his back and continue to try playing. For some reason she didn't keep doing that though.
 

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TAsunder, then it really sounds like my Pebbles and Toffee's relationship. *lol* We never really figured out how to get Toffee to like Pebbles a bit better though. Just a preference thing I guess. Pebbles wasn't exactly a bully, but he did bother her quite a bit with the love biting, following her around, and rolling on his back to impress her like yours had. And she hated him like anything. I guess your tom cat is in the same boat. Poor boys. :cry:
 

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Yes, I think playing with each separately might be better, at least for the time being. That way he gets 100% concentrated attention from you, which is more satisfying. Perhaps having to "share" playtime is part of the problem.

Praising cats? Just the usual "good boy, what a beautiful wonderful boy" in a soft soothing happy voice, like baby talk.

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 
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