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Cat Suddenly Growling All Of The Time

r-kins

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Sorry, but as usual, this is a long post.

I have two cats: Claws and Guapo. They're both great, lovey cats. Claws had been an only cat for a couple of years, but he needed a playmate and as soon as my boyfriend and I moved to a larger apartment, we got him Guapo. Initially, things were great. No territory issues, everyone was friendly and wanted to play. Not even a growl when they met! In fact, Claws was the one who introduced intense rough housing to Guapo. Claws has always been a little dramatic, but Guapo has a great, even temperament.

Around a month ago, Claws started randomly growling and hissing during their play sessions. I'm not sure what changed. I'm not sure if he got injured, or if because Guapo has gained some weight (he was pretty thin when we got him and is now 11.5 lbs [2.5 lbs larger than Claws]) he's afraid of him. Or maybe because of that, Guapo has too much of an advantage when they play?

The thing is, Claws DOES sometimes want to play. If Guapo initiates, Claws is likely to start hissing and screeching, but if I separate them, Claws will often go start pestering Guapo until they start tussling again. He's also growled at me a few times if he's even slightly displeased with being picked up or moved around, which he never did before. Sometimes Guapo will walk into the room and Claws will just growl. His body language is also saying to back off.

He's been to the vet, everything seems normal. He even gets along perfectly fine with Guapo the rest of the time. But this is a big problem because we live in an apartment building, and they're disturbing the neighbors below us if they fight and Claws starts shrieking at 5 am. Not to mention it's stressful for me, and unusual behavior for Claws. I don't know whether or not to be worried, and I also don't know what to do to make it stop. The vet didn't seem that concerned and said he seemed fine. We also don't even know if we should split them up or not since Claws starts it up again later.

Does anyone have any ideas as to how to get everyone over here to calm down?

Thanks!
 

maggie101

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How old was Your cats when you got Guapo? When I rescued Maggie 3months old and had Peaches 1 yr old they played together but as they got older Peaches growls and hisses if she does not want to play with Maggie. After I go to bed I would hear a loud screech from Peaches because she only plays when she wants to so not when she's sleeping! I lock one of them out of my bedroom to get some sleep
 

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Everything sounds normal, Claws is just teaching limits and does not want to play on those times. As long as he isn't hiding and initiates play at times, everything is OK. The growling at you is redirected aggression because he is mad at Guapo. Leave him be, he could unintentionally attack in that excitable state. Guapo should change as he gets older and become aware of the limits, he is testing right now. You might get a 'kickeroo' at amazon and toss it towards him when he is stalking, it gets rid of a lot of energy. Keep one 'steeping' in a plastic bag with catnip to keep his interest up. He may also be enjoying annoying poor Claws. You might have to sternly tell him no for a while, and even resort to pinning him to the ground by the loose skin on the back of his neck to show him you mean business. After a while a loud NO should then work. They are working out their hierarchy in their world, and both want to be on top. Eventually they'll get older and call a truce. For now, you might have to separate them at night, or play hard with them right before bed to induce longer sleep, a wand works well, or a laser light. All the luck!
 
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r-kins

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How old was Your cats when you got Guapo? When I rescued Maggie 3months old and had Peaches 1 yr old they played together but as they got older Peaches growls and hisses if she does not want to play with Maggie. After I go to bed I would hear a loud screech from Peaches because she only plays when she wants to so not when she's sleeping! I lock one of them out of my bedroom to get some sleep
Claws was around three and a half and Guapo was around 1 year 8 months (they think). It's been a few months since then. They were playing happily and then one day, Claws started getting super dramatic about it.
 

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Could have been a stray nail, or the size difference. Regardless, agree its not too big a deal if the smaller cat still wants to play with the bigger one sometimes.

As far as them getting up at 5 am, thats a separate issue. Lets see...these links might help:

How To Stop My Cat From Waking Me Up At Night (step-by-step Plan)

Cats And Night Crazies!

In general, playing at 3-5 am is something that cats often do at this stage of their lives, and eventually grow out of even if you do nothing. So I'm not entirely certain that any of these strategies really do all that much to help. But they are worth a try!
 
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r-kins

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So, now we're having issues of Claws almost never wanting to play with Guapo, and Guapo attacking at random times because he isn't getting the energy out. We used to have a peaceful household at bedtime (they would do a 10 p.m. play session), and now I curl up in bed with Claws and Guapo flies out of nowhere and starts attacking him at midnight. It seems like Guapo starts because he either wants to play, or because he wants breakfast. Both of the cats like sleeping with us, so I don't want to have to lock them out (but I guess can if we have to). Plus, we would need to put litter in the bedroom for whoever gets locked in with us.

The problem seems to be that Guapo has decided he wants to play on top more, and Claws only likes to be the aggressor. Guapo never had a problem with that before, but decided he'd like to be the dominant one in the fights now.

Claws typically doesn't want to play with him ever anymore. Guapo will chase him and he'll hiss and shriek and not want to play back, and then if Guapo quits, Claws MAY try to get a sucker punch in. But this only encourages Guapo, because Claws' screeching doesn't mean "no" if he's starting it up again once Guapo gives up.

We have tried playing with Guapo, but it seems that what he really wants is to rough house like he's used to doing, so it's very hard to engage him. I can hardly blame him. Is there a good way to encourage him to play with Claws more gently? He's like a sumo wrestler next to a normal person and is getting more aggressive. Can we get Claws to stop doing a last chance sucker punch? Obviously no one is listening to my stern lectures.
 

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Sounds like this is just the natural result of one cat getting bigger, not a sudden problem. Which is actually unfortunate, as with a sudden problem you can often solve things with a reintroduction. If this is just one cat starting to enjoy play less when the other gets older & bigger, it is a much harder fix, if you even can. That is a natural thing, and I'm not really sure how one changes that dynamic. Certainly, we always recommend playing with a cat to try and tire it out, and you can probably find some different toys to re-engage Guappo, but with a young cat, it is often like trying to drain the ocean with a bucket. One thing you can do is make sure you have a couple of cat trees and hidey holes...very often a smaller or more reluctant cat will be comfortable playing from a defensible position.
 

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Hi. This article may or may not have any helpful information in it for you, but it is not long in length so take a few minutes to read through it just in case. It also contains another link within the article about bored cats - maybe that is part of Guapo's problem?

Why Do Cats Attack?
 

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View attachment 274240
So, now we're having issues of Claws almost never wanting to play with Guapo, and Guapo attacking at random times because he isn't getting the energy out. We used to have a peaceful household at bedtime (they would do a 10 p.m. play session), and now I curl up in bed with Claws and Guapo flies out of nowhere and starts attacking him at midnight. It seems like Guapo starts because he either wants to play, or because he wants breakfast. Both of the cats like sleeping with us, so I don't want to have to lock them out (but I guess can if we have to). Plus, we would need to put litter in the bedroom for whoever gets locked in with us.

The problem seems to be that Guapo has decided he wants to play on top more, and Claws only likes to be the aggressor. Guapo never had a problem with that before, but decided he'd like to be the dominant one in the fights now.

Claws typically doesn't want to play with him ever anymore. Guapo will chase him and he'll hiss and shriek and not want to play back, and then if Guapo quits, Claws MAY try to get a sucker punch in. But this only encourages Guapo, because Claws' screeching doesn't mean "no" if he's starting it up again once Guapo gives up.

We have tried playing with Guapo, but it seems that what he really wants is to rough house like he's used to doing, so it's very hard to engage him. I can hardly blame him. Is there a good way to encourage him to play with Claws more gently? He's like a sumo wrestler next to a normal person and is getting more aggressive. Can we get Claws to stop doing a last chance sucker punch? Obviously no one is listening to my stern lectures.
My cats Peaches and Maggie used to sleep together but as they got older my older cat Peaches does not like sleeping with her anymore. Maggie wants to play at night so she disturbs Peaches in her sleep which really makes Peaches mad. She gives a loud screech. So every night Peaches would growl for a long time when Maggie got on. Eventually it calms down. Maggie has a bed she real,y likes so ever since I put it back in my living room,that's where she stays,usually. They are now 6 and 7 yrs . Maggie loves startling her. Peaches tail poofs out bigView attachment 274240
2015-07-24 001 001.JPG
View attachment 274240 oldView attachment 274240
 

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r-kins

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View attachment 274240

My cats Peaches and Maggie used to sleep together but as they got older my older cat Peaches does not like sleeping with her anymore. Maggie wants to play at night so she disturbs Peaches in her sleep which really makes Peaches mad. She gives a loud screech. So every night Peaches would growl for a long time when Maggie got on. Eventually it calms down. Maggie has a bed she real,y likes so ever since I put it back in my living room,that's where she stays,usually. They are now 6 and 7 yrs . Maggie loves startling her. Peaches tail poofs out bigView attachment 274240 View attachment 274244 View attachment 274240 oldView attachment 274240
Ha ha, Maggie looks like a little devil!!
 
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r-kins

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Hi. This article may or may not have any helpful information in it for you, but it is not long in length so take a few minutes to read through it just in case. It also contains another link within the article about bored cats - maybe that is part of Guapo's problem?

Why Do Cats Attack?
Thank you! I do think that Guapo is bored. We got him as a match for our high energy cat. He was having problems nipping and biting people in the shelter because he was so wound up. They had to put him in a room alone, which then made the problem worse because he was desperate for anyone to play with, and then would be so riled up he'd grab onto people and chomp on him.

He and Claws used to play together all the time and everyone was perfectly happy (Claws was having play aggression with ME because he needed a pal). So now that Claws has suddenly stopped for whatever reason, Guapo isn't getting the type of play he wants. We think that's making it worse. He also could be playing more aggressively and that's why Claws chooses not to engage. I wish I could just ask them what the problem is. :(
 

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So, I don't think anyone has discussed the issue of health - if it has been talked about, sorry I must have missed it. What triggered me to think of it now is because you said "Claws has suddenly stopped...". I know you said he's been to the vet, but was that before of after his new behavior started?
 
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r-kins

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So, I don't think anyone has discussed the issue of health - if it has been talked about, sorry I must have missed it. What triggered me to think of it now is because you said "Claws has suddenly stopped...". I know you said he's been to the vet, but was that before of after his new behavior started?
No one has brought up health yet. :) He has been to the vet since the behavior started. Within a couple of days of the behavior starting, he had an eye infection (very goopy) so I brought him to the vet and mentioned that he didn't want to play, and had he possibly scratched his eye playing? She didn't see any scratches, although said it could have healed by the time I brought him in with the infection remaining.

So, it's a possibility that he ran into something or got kicked in the eye while playing, but considering how rough they typically are, it'd be unusual for him to be scared off by just that. Also, the infection spread to his other eye a few days later, so it may not have had anything to do with a scratch. I have entertained that possibility though. The vet didn't seem concerned about his behavior.
 

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Hmmm. Could the scratch(es) have been caused by Guapo? Sure would help explain Claws reluctance to engage with him as much.

Do you keep their claws trimmed regularly?
 
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r-kins

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If there was a scratch (the vet didn't see one), it could have been caused by Guapo. They play(ed) pretty rough.

I trim their front claws, but not the back ones because it stresses both of them out very badly. If that did cause a scratch, it would be the first time since October (when we got Guapo).
 

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The back claws, especially with serious rough-housing are what is going to be used the most. Especially if/when they do/did 'death grips' during play. What would happen if you trimmed one front claw, then one back, then another front, etc? Maybe they would get used to it eventually?

I know, still not getting to the real issue for you... Have you tried to plot out what was going on when Claws started backing off play with Guapo? Kind of like trying to map out a timeline of things that were going on at the time? I still feel there is something that has been missed with Claws (or, maybe Guapo) that would end up explaining the change.
 
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r-kins

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The back claws, especially with serious rough-housing are what is going to be used the most. Especially if/when they do/did 'death grips' during play. What would happen if you trimmed one front claw, then one back, then another front, etc? Maybe they would get used to it eventually?

I know, still not getting to the real issue for you... Have you tried to plot out what was going on when Claws started backing off play with Guapo? Kind of like trying to map out a timeline of things that were going on at the time? I still feel there is something that has been missed with Claws (or, maybe Guapo) that would end up explaining the change.
No worries! I appreciate someone trying to get to the root of the issue with me.

Basically everything was fine, then they had one big tussle on a Saturday morning and they knocked over a heavy lamp, and then Claws' eye started acting up that afternoon. I took him to the vet Monday morning and mentioned that he'd been growling when he never growls at all. It's been slowly building up to him now NEVER wanting to play and shrieking about it.

So at first, we thought perhaps he wasn't feeling well and wanted Guapo to back off in the meantime. Or that he had been injured while playing and was afraid of Guapo. But he's long since healed and he occasionally does engage in a little bit of playing, but 95% of the time he freaks out if he thinks Guapo is going to try to engage.
 
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r-kins

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So, update that we've temporarily separated the cats for the time being. It went well until this morning, when Claws started growling at Guapo through the door. We split up the house using baby gates to see what happens, and Claws and Guapo are mostly sitting there, but sometimes Claws starts growling and meowing at poor Guapo, who isn't doing anything.

They are also both distraught and can't understand why we're keeping them apart. Claws seems to be missing his buddy...the buddy that he growls at and refuses to play with.
 

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