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Aggresive cat behavior

May 20th, 2012, 04:16 AM
So I have a bit of a situation on my hands involving my cats...

I have 4 cats in my home; buddy 4, einstein 3 and agatha and casanova who are both 2.

They were all raised together and knew each other.

However last year I ended up moving out of my apartment and only took agatha and casanova with me and they've been fine since. I left buddy and einstein behind with my ex boyfriend and this year he lost his job and could no longer care for the 2 cats so I had them shipped cross country to me...

Ever since I got them however it's been more of a nightmare than a dream reunion. Buddy and Einstein have always been kind of skittish as they didn't have a lot of people interaction as kittens and einstein was a feral up until 8 weeks old. They recognized me pretty much straight away along with my room mate who moved with me from my old apartment but my fiance and my room mates boyfriend can't seem to catch a break.

It's been 2 months since I've had them back and they still have not warmed up to either person. It's getting to the point where one of the guys can walk past Buddy and he will show signs of aggression such as swiping out at them and an aggressive stance. Also my fiance may come into our bedroom and both einstein and buddy will start to hiss at him and hide even though he's done nothing. buddy has also swiped at my room mates boyfriend when he's walked past buddy in the living room.

As it stands, einstein will not leave our bedroom even though we leave the door open for them when we're home and buddy will go explore but he's showing signs of aggression towards the other 2 cats agatha and casanova and he'll pin agatha down and she's just a tiny little thing and casanova has been the alpha male when it was just those two but Buddy seems to be trying to assert himself as top cat.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I've tried the feliaway defuser and that did nothing to help and I've bought the collars and everyone I got was dried out and cracked as soon as I've opened the package and resulted in me returning 4 of them to petco. It's getting to the point where if we can't figure out something, I'm going to wind up single or have to get rid of the cats and I'd rather neither situation happen. Does anyone have any suggestions?:fingerscr

May 20th, 2012, 12:16 PM
What a tough situation to be in! But not impossible to overcome.

First of all, how much vertical space do the cats have? Any tall cat condos or shelves in various areas that they can hang out on and watch the peons down below? This will help increase their confidence (and the aggression that you refer to is most likely a defensive reaction due to a lack of confidence).

How are the rest of their living arrangements set up? Where are the food and litter boxes located? How many litter boxes do you have? Sometimes if there are territorial issues with resource placement (and litter box access is considered a "resource" in the cat world) that can also cause cats to lose confidence. Strategically placing these resources in a few different parts of the house can sometimes give cats extra peace of mind.

Something else to consider is play therapy. Has your fiance and roommate's boyfriend ever tried actively playing with Buddy and Einstein? I'd suggest starting off casually by gently tossing some fake mice or a pompom ball around while sitting down, or using a fishing-rod style feather toy to get them out of their shells. It's hard to be mad or scared when you're having fun! Just keep it low-key at first so they don't get startled by any sudden movements.

Follow up the play sessions by giving them some uber-tasty treats. Favourites in my house are freeze-dried chicken meat or duck liver. Salmon is also a big hit. If you can't find those (PureBites or Halo Liv-a-Littles are a couple popular brand names), Temptations seem to be kitty-crack for many cats. Just don't feed tooo many as the ingredients aren't the best. I'd also have the guys carry around a little baggie of treats in their pocket and randomly dispense one or two whenever they walk by Buddy or Einstein. If they are in any way treat-motivated, they'll quickly associate your boyfriends with good things.

And lastly, that brings me to their food. What do they currently eat? If dry food, I highly recommend making the switch to wet (raw would be the ultimate, but a good quality grain-free canned is also acceptable). It amazes me how many stories I've heard about previously anti-social cats getting a personality make-over once they're on better food. It's like the old food was making them feel lousy and that translated into chronic grouchiness or fear. It certainly wouldn't hurt to try, if you haven't already. Oh, and have the guys do the feeding too! The more positive associations you can build between them and the cats, the better.

Good luck!