Brown Tabby is a bully

kashka_katJanuary 14, 2013

This is a difficult post to write - Im thinking about finding a new home for one of my cats.

I got a pair of 2 wonderful male cats about 3 yrs ago - they had been in the same cage, they got along great and still mostly get along, but... Its getting to be time to find some other solution. One of them (brown tabby) is much more aggressive and domineering than the other (orange tabby) and when he gets a bug up his butt about something - like if I dont feed him promptly enough (he has a weight problem) he will attack the other one in a way that is not playing, but really quite intense, sometimes drawing blood. If I see it happening and pull him off his heart is pounding and he is really quite agitated, and it takes a 15 minute time out for him to calm down. His history is he was living in a feral colony and was neutered at quite a late age (at about 3yrs old) so obviously he is repeating some old tomcat territorial behavior.

Brown Tabby is always pushing Orangie around-for example I put down three cushions next to heating vents and no matter which one Orange is on, Brownie goes around and gives him the evil eye and makes him get off. What a jerk - has to hog all three cushions!

The last straw was last Friday finding clumps of orange fur scattered around quite a bit of blood on the floor , and the orange tabby freaked out and hiding with yet another wound on his tail (third time Ive found a wound on him.)

Anyone have any strategies at all I can try? Right now Im keeping them separate at night and when Im gone during the day and they mingle only when Im around.

Orange is now out of hiding and they seem to have gone back to their old ways but I just cant have this !! It really makes me not like the aggressor and I hate to see my mellow orange bullied like this.

PS- I wonder if I may have inadvertently taught Brownie this by responding to him when he gets whiny and starts hassling Orange. It certainly gets a rise out of me. I may have fed him at first when he did this without thinking of the consequences.

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No ideas anyone? They seem to be OK with being kept separate except when Im around so Im not feeling as desparate, but.... it is still a worry. I've had cats not get along before and do their little hissy fits, but not to the point of causing wounds and bloodshed.

I wonder if we were to just go for awhile without Figgy attacking Orange if he would eventually just lose that behavior? I think he does it as displaced aggression, same way an abuser would come home and abuse spouse after getting yelled at by the boss at work.

His pattern is that he would get whiny and annoyed if I dont feed when he wants to be fed, and THEN attack Orange to get my attention. More recently he has started doing this even if I'm not around but maybe out of the same frustration. What if I tried curbing the whininess and addressing the behavior before he escalated to attacking?
I might just call in a cat psych for this problem.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 9:46AM
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The way you describe Figgy reminds me of the cat we have now. It is one of the reasons I'm hesitant about getting any additional pets, he just has these episodes where he gets very aggressive and out of control. It is almost like he shifts modes, I don't want to use the term "possessed" but it is almost like he is not himself when he gets into these moods- is Figgy like that too?

I don't know what you do about it. We used time outs too, with great success, but that sort of thing doesn't help Orange much, especially when you are not around. My guy has lost some of his aggression as he's gotten older and lazier (he's 3.5) but it sounds like yours may be close t0 6? (Assuming you had him neutered when you adopted him.)

There was one episode of My Cat From Hell, where they had one cat began attacking his lifelong cat companion in the worst way. They ended up separating them for an extended period of time, in a way that they could smell each other still but not see each other. Then they eventually added a screen door in the house between the cats' areas, and had the cats eat next to that door so they had to get use to the other cat eating nearby. It was a total re acclimation as if they had never met.

If you can find a cat psychologist, an appointment might be money well spent. At the very least, it will give you peace of mind that you have done everything you could to fix the situation. I know how very frustrating it can be to have a cat with aggressive behavioral issues. Hope you find some answers and solutions.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 11:25AM
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I don't have much advice. Have mentioned on other posts that a friend of mine had 2 cats then her daughter moved in w/a male cat & all heck broke loose. One current cat was fine but the other was tormented similar to OP's cat. They ended up keeping the 'victim' cat on one side of their house, luckily there was a door between kitchen/bedrooms & living areas that worked for their situation. This went on for a couple years, with occasional escapes & skirmishes.

As soon as daughter moved & took offending cat, shy cat came out & within days was back to normal with full run of the house.

If yours have to be kept separated for safety, please try to give each attention daily. I doubt the situation will resolve itself, the dynamic sounds like it's set now between the cats.

Can you keep them separated while you're away from home? (I once kept a cat in a bedroom while I was away from home, didn't like doing it but it was the best solution I could come up with at the time & it worked). That way, you can monitor the fights a little better. Also, you can try feliway or rescue remedy, some have success with them. I'd use a spray bottle of water on mean cat when I see the attacks, to try to show mean cat his behavior isn't accepted. Good luck, I hope you can work it out.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Quasifish gave some good advice. My question would be: are you sure he's neutered and not just given a vasectomy? I'd first make sure everything was taken during his neuter surgery then try the re-acclimation quasi suggested. The screen door along in one of your extra rooms would be peace of mind when you're not around.

If things don't improve, I would then suggest contacting the rescue you adopted from and ask about returning Figgy, but at the same time offer to adopt another cat. If you bring home a new cat, be sure to do a slow acclimation.
Orange shouldn't have to spend his life in fear, not to mention the injuries he's suffering with.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 11:41AM
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I guess I've been lucky over the years and never dealt with this. I did return an adult female cat who followed me home one snowy night years ago. I offered to foster her till the group found a home for her, but she just terrorized my cats so she left and eventually did get a home without any other pets. My Henry occasionally gives two of my females(he's in love with the other one) the evil eye and meows and and hisses but nothing ever happens. It's him posturing and never has it come to blows.

BUT my daughter has a cat like your aggressor. He's the one who had her going to the ER for a cat bite a month ago. They had an adult tiger named Sam who's docile and sweet when they adopted Sid. He's great big brown tabby who rules the house. Sam hid under the bed for six months. Finally Sid accepted him(it should have been the other way around) and now they're friends. But when Sid sees another cat walking by his window, he transfers his aggression towards that cat to Sam. That's what happened to my daughter when Sid escaped. They are strictly indoor cats and when daughter grabbed him he lashed out. He was going after another cat outside.

So, I have no advice except to tell you this happens a lot. Maybe a little tranquilizer would help the aggressive behavior. .

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 3:14PM
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Hey thanks, some good suggestions here.

Yes I will continue keeping them separate while Im gone, and I think Ill continue having them be together and eat together when Im present because they still get along reasonably well except for this glitch in Figgys brain. I wouldnt say his attack mode is completely out of character, because he does tend to be a sassy brat at times batting at my legs and stuff like that. But yeah, when he snaps it is very much like he goes into this wildcat mode with heart pounding. Maybe its PTSD from all the street battles he was probably in - as a young stud about town!

I would rather not return Figgy to the shelter - they said they are OK with me finding new owner myself and then have him or her go thru the screening process with the shelter to adopt him from me. I do think animals are fully cognizant of when they are not wanted and I think if he were to go straight to a loving home (without other cats) that would be less traumatic for him. AND for me - it would be hard enough to say goodbye without having to endure the thought of him being stuck in a little cage. I think he already has some abandonment issues bc he tends to be kind of clingy - poor guy! And at 6 yrs old not the cute adoptable kitten anymore (although he does play like a maniac in a cute kittenish kind of way).

I didnt mention I have a third cat, Kashka, my 22 yr old who Ive been keeping separate because Figgy had been attacking her too even as she slept (and then shed get upset and pee all over the bed). So now I have THREE cats Im keeping separate - jeeze louise! Actually there may be some chance that Kashka and Orange may learn to get along which would really warm my heart. At first Kashka hated both of them but is now (3years later) finally starting to distinguish between the two and figure out that one attacks and the other doesnt.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 4:19PM
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You've got your hands full! best of luck, maybe Kashka & Figgy will get along, that would be easier for you.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 8:45PM
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I've got some of the same problems. We adopted 2 kittens 3 months ago. Our existing cat Kaya has been with us for 7 years. She is timid with visitors, she hides under the bed until they leave. She did not welcome the new kittens, she growls, hisses and then goes and hides. We have tried every method recommended on the web, Feliway helped for about a week.

After 3 months Kaya tolerates the little one but the larger male is losing his manners. He respected her space but now he is getting aggressive toward Kaya. It looks like the increasingly aggressive male will be going back to our no kill shelter. He is a really, really beautiful, nice cat(except to Kaya) and I've got $500 invested in curing his shelter supplied distemper but Kaya is the first kitty I ever had and she is my little sweetie. She came first and still does.

Some of the literature I've read about trying to introduce new cats says 2 is company, 3 is a crowd. After all the time and money invested in this cat I guess the saying, "tuition isn't cheap" applies. My patience is wearing very, very thin with all this conflict between these cats.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Suggestion, maybe some hard play sessions might help. I bought one of them Feline Flyers but the mounting for the feathers was too heavy. If a fast moving cat ran into a fast moving Flyer you could see that it hurt. I made my own with plastic rods and vinyl caps from Amazon. I use wild turkey or chicken wing feathers. My cats just go nuts over those toys and will play until they exhausted. I'm going to give my aggressive male a good workout every day and see if that helps.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 9:46PM
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I forgot to ask: do you have towers, cubes, tubes and other play areas they can use? Cats really enjoy them and the tower would at least give Orange an area where Figgy couldn't sneak up on him.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 11:58AM
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I second the idea of making some time to do some hard playing with him,

Our cat, Mort, will attack my legs- wrap himself around them, chase me down, bat rather aggressively at me and will keep doing this for quite some time when he is in a mood. This is a big improvement over his hyjinx as a youngun when he would leap onto my back repeatedly.

Word of warning though, make him play on your schedule, not when he is starting to get amped up. You probably already know that from what you've said about fearing you conditioned Figgy that way a bit, but I made that mistake with Mort and he then he would get wound up so we would play. He likes a laser pointer toy, it's about the only thing he will chase, though he likes those stuffed mice and birds that chirp or squeak when batted. If by any chance his worst episodes are predictable (i.e. it always happens at dinnertime) make a point of starting a play session a short while before you know he is going to get out of control.

You know, one thing I recall hearing about domestic short hairs (assuming Figgy is one) is that they sometimes get very wound up an hour or more before they are ready to eat. It is the hunting instinct in their DNA that gets them amped up to go hunting. Not sure if that applies to Figgy, it's hard to tell in Mort if he is going into hunt-now-eat-later mode, or if at that moment he's just in a mood.

FWIW, Mort has had a charmed life (mom was a stray, but he was born in a house and well cared for from day 1, neutered early, etc) and yet he still acts this way... It's just who he is.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 1:59PM
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I saw the same episode of My Cat From Hell. Part of the solution was to built ceiling-high catwalks so the submissive cat would have "escape routes" when the aggressive one comes around. Not sure how to build these (I'm a typical non-handy "girly-girl" , perhaps a local carpenter could help you in this situation.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Veterinary behaviorist. Could be a thyroid issue, or any number of medical issues or even just behavioral. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Figgy is still here and Im actually starting to like him again. In case anyoneâÂÂs interested - I started by keeping the 2 cats strictly separate unless I was there to monitor everything going on. When I went to work, went to bed, or was gone from the house more than a few minutes, one cat went into the hallway/basement and the other stayed in the apartment. Some days, I was gone pretty much all day then went straight to bed, so total time they were together and in my presence was a.m. and p.m. feedings, and thatâÂÂs it.
I thought theyâÂÂd both be bothered by not having the run of the house and lonely by being kept separate, but I couldnâÂÂt have been more wrong. Within days, both cats seemed more relaxed as if it had been stressing them out to be together in close proximity 24/7. I was under the impression that if they were tired of each other, they could just go to opposite corners of the house and have all the alone time they wanted. But I guess like small children they are not capable of regulating themselves.

Lately, IâÂÂve been experimenting with letting them be in the bedroom at night which they both love, the idea being that they could be together at night and I would wake up if one was being murdered again by the other. I donâÂÂt want to risk not hearing anything, which is what happened the night Orange got attacked and injured by Figgy.

At first there was all kinds of shenanigans with Figgy trying to assert dominance over the whole bed. He could be purring nicely next to me and then get all bent out of shape because Orange dared to jump up and sit on the foot of the bed, way down at the other end. And the thing with guy cats is theyâÂÂre always wrassling and fussing even if theyâÂÂre getting along. Once I woke up with Orange a large 15 lb cat running lengthwise down my body running away from Figgy. Try to sleep with that going on. Orange snores like an old man - really loud. Any thrashing or fussing whatsoever and Figgy gets the boot out into the living room and the door closed. I operate from the assumption if thereâÂÂs a ruckus going on, its Figgy that caused it. I think he is actually coming around and coming to decide that he loves being in the bed too much to risk being evicted Last night they both actually slept quietly all night which is a first.

Long term, I donâÂÂt know if IâÂÂll ever risk leaving them together for long periods of time such as when IâÂÂm gone on vacation or if thereâÂÂs the risk of Figgy getting hungry and wanting to be fed and no oneâÂÂs there to serve him. Sounds like a spouse abuser - get my dinner on the table woman or there will be h*ll to pay. Sheesh!

Maybe put up some kind of screen door for these times so they can see each other and play through the door but not have actual contact. It was so awful to find all that blood on the floor - it just canâÂÂt happen again.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Oh about getting thyroid checked- would this apply if the cat is overweight? Lots of great advice in this thread - many thanks!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:33PM
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