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Help, My Kitten Is Hissing/growling After His Littermate Came Back From Vet (& Other Complications)

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by ScarlettSkater, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Hello again,

    I've written on this board quite a bit, and quite frankly, I'm frustrated, concerned, and confused over the behavior of my littermate Siamese kittens, and I'm hoping someone can help advise.

    As some of you may know, I am the owner of 5-month-old Siamese, Luna, a female seal point, and Artemis, a male chocolate point, and they are littermates as mentioned above. They have always been loving, bonded to each other (often to the exclusion of their humans), and the best of friends. In fact, I often remarked that they got along better than most human siblings! However, that changed after yesterday.

    Both were scheduled for spaying/neutering yesterday. As is usually the case, I was able to get Luna into her crate (which is actually the size of a small apartment: it can fit not just the two of them, but a litter box, bedding, etc with plenty of room to spare), but Artemis could not be caught. This happened a few weeks ago, when we took them on a "trip to grandma's house", (a five-hour trip one way). They loved being there, but while I was able to catch Luna easily, Artemis took THREE HOURS to catch. So this is hardly news.

    So Luna went to get spayed, and we have to figure out a way to get Artemis there (which I ask about later in this thread,) but when she returned, Artemis started acting antagonistically. I realize he was stressed from the multiple "catching attempts" so I get why he would hiss and growl at me, but when he started doing it full-time from his perch in my boxspring (where he goes when he gets freaked out) to the point I could hear it even with the tv on, I knew something was wrong. I was further reminded of this when I saw him growling louder when Luna came near, which she did, not realizing that her brother was being hostile towards her, hissing at her, and even swiping at her if she didn't get the hint.

    Obviously, I didn't want her hurt, especially in her condition, so I did what others in this forum recommended in similar situations, finally getting Artemis to move to my mom's bedroom down the hall and keeping the door closed so he stays in there, while Luna stays with me. Despite what everyone has said she should do, she still climbs a bit to get on my bed (which I'm trying to discourage, don't want her messing up her stitches) but both are relatively better now, despite crying all night for each other.

    To add to the problem, I don't think the cats were very well socialized. While they did come from a breeder, they also were in their own "wing" with three adult cats, (mom, dad, and aunt) and other than cursory visits from the breeder to feed them, replace their litter, etc, I don't think they had much socialization. So all the tools listed in this article work for folks whose cats let them near, but not necessarily in my circumstance. I did rub a towel on Luna to try to get the "vet stink" off, but good luck getting anywhere near Artemis to get his scent to rub on her! I even had to raise my voice at him to get him away from her (they were under the bed, so I couldn't physically seperate them) which I hate to do in their traumatized state.

    My next challenge will be getting Artemis to the vet, since he is the one who is hardest to catch. The irony is, I have the crate out all the time as sort of a "Cabana" for them, and he loves hanging out in there...when we don't need him to be there. I'm wondering how that's going to go, and if Luna will suddenly start acting hostile towards him because of the "vet smells" and if this will have to start all over again.

    I've kind of been going crazy over here (in case you haven't noticed lol) and not sure what to make of all this.

    So I have a few questions:

    1) How long should I keep them apart? I think this article said "a few days" but I'm not sure what worked for your cats, specifically Siamese? To clarify, there will be someone with each of them 95% of the time, my mom and I are keeping an eye on both, especially Luna, until she heals.

    2) Is socialization only possible during a window of time, as one vet suggested, or is there still hope? I can only really pet/hold Luna when she's in repose, or if she's not actively playing, but Artemis is my loveable coward who is seemingly afraid of everyone and everything, so only lets me pet him when he's in repose/sleepy and even then, if I move my other arm as if to lift him, he freaks out. In the two months I've had them, I have lifted Luna countless times, but only lifted Artemis a few, after which he wriggled out of my grasp. Any suggestions?

    3) Will they get any more social towards me? Part of the reason I wanted Siamese is because they are supposedly "vocal", yet perhaps because of Luna and Artemis' bond, they only seem to chat with each other, no matter how much I speak to them. I'm honestly a bit disappointed that they are relatively aloof and not super-social....any suggestions?

    4) For the lovely experience of trying to get Artemis to the vet, I read on this forum about gabapentin to mellow him out - anyone with Siamese experienced with this? I know pedigree cats tend to be high-strung and more sensitive (these cats eat better than most humans I know) so I wasn't sure if they are a good idea....I would of course ask my vet for the prescription, but wanted to get the Siamese perspective before I ask.

    Thanks again everyone, and sorry for the rambling, I'm really worried about the kitties and want to make sure I do everything correctly. In case you didn't notice, these are my first kitties, and they are quite a challenge!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018

  2. Draco

    Draco NOT Malfoy! Veteran

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    Your kitten's smelling the vet on the other kitty. Cats know each other by scent and since your kitty doesn't smell like himself anymore, he thinks its a stranger on his territory.

    Try using a small amount of baby powder. Put some on your hand and rub on all cats heads and behind the ears. It neutralizes the smell. Works well for me and usually works quickly.

    I'd give Luna a few days to heal, or at least keep her from pulling the stitches and she can wander around. Just keep an eye on her

    Cats personality can change as they get older. One of my cat (not a siamese) was not cuddly or affectionate, but the older he got, the more loving and vocal he became.
     
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  3. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    A few drops of real vanilla extract on both cats may also help.

    I know that what your vet said is the acknowledged current thinking, but we've had more than one member here successfully turn a street cat into a house cat with time and patience. At least one was, to all intents and purposes, a true feral. Don't give up, but do be aware that the socialization at this point will be a longer, slower process. There may well be setbacks, so don't let that discourage you!
     

  4. rubysmama

    rubysmama Forum Helper Staff Member Forum Helper

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  5. jen

    jen TCS Member Top Cat

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    I second the vanilla. REAL vanilla extract on both cats. Just give them time, you could feed them on opposite sides of the door so they have a pleasant experience near each other. Sorry you are going through this with your kittens. Sounds like an awful breeder selling under socialized cats.
     
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  6. susanm9006

    susanm9006 Willow Top Cat

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    As far as catching Artemis, since he is young we can try a couple of things that don’t work as well on older and more wary kitties. I would start feeding him a treat he loves by putting it in the bathtub or shower area and I would store cat carrier In the same room for at least a few days prior to vet day. You could in fact try putting the treat in the carrier but he may not fall for that. Anyway, once he is happily eating you shut the bathroom door and in that small space with limited places to hide you should be able to capture him and stick him in the carrier. Top loading carriers work best, if you have a front loader only then tip it on end and drop him in feet first.
     
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  7. 1 bruce 1

    1 bruce 1 TCS Member Top Cat

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    As far as the two not liking each other right now...
    I have litter mates that are best pals, but when one goes to the vet and comes home, it's 2-3 days of slapping, screaming, hissing, etc., and no blood shed nor a hair out of place. Lots of noise, no damage, but it's stressful for the slap-ee and the cat being yelled at (not to mention being jolted awake at 1:45 AM to a somewhat melodramatic cat scream), so we do keep them separated for a few days til everyone's cool.
    The vanilla thing is really, really good to know.
    For us, giving the cats time to relax, calm down, get a good meal and take a good, long bath is the best start.
    IME litter mates ARE like siblings in humans. They play together, sleep at the same time, eat side by side, but can argue and fight like crazy. Unless there's serious targeting behavior and someone is being bullied unfairly, or there's any kind of "real" fighting, I wouldn't worry too much but just keep them separate for awhile and let them calm a bit.

    Does Artemis love food? I'd start by feeding him any and all meals in a crate, door open. If he won't go in, feed him near it, then the bowl at the entrance, then just over the entrance threshold until he's happy to go in and out for food. If we're trapping semi-ferals for SN's, this method works well to catch 4-5 at a time in a large dog-type crate.
    (Also, I don't know if this does anything really or if I'm just projecting but whenever we bring a cat home from the vet, we leave the crate out, in plain sight, for awhile. Take the cover off if you have to, it actually makes a cozy cat bed! I hate that feeling of dragging out the crate from the back closet, the cats seeing, it and diving for cover, this seems to help minimize that.)
     
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  8. 1 bruce 1

    1 bruce 1 TCS Member Top Cat

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    Also, as a side note I really like your avatar. GWTW is a great movie =)
     
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  9. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Thanks, I love it! :)
     

  10. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Thank you! After keeping them away from each other for about a week and a half, everything was fine again and they are now getting along. I did finally catch Artemis, but he's still weird and I'm posting a separate question about how to socialize him better. Luna is the loveable one!
     

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  11. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Oh, good. These things often settle down with time and patience.
     
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  12. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Funny you say this. I started working on "socializing" Luna a month ago. Then, she was reluctant to be held, and would only let me hold her for very short periods of time - 30 seconds, 1 minute, at the most. I went away to visit family with both her and Artemis and while I was there, worked to increase the amount of time she would consent to be held. I think I got up to 2 minutes. When I returned home, the time started to increase more; then she got spayed, so I had to separate her from Artemis so she could heal. That's when things changed: she started to become much more friendly, and wanted me to pet her 10, 20 minutes at a time! She would flop in front of me, knead whatever she could, bonk my hand with her head, and rub against me to encourage this.

    However, Artemis is tricky. I'm still having a difficult time with him - sometimes he lets me pet him, but most of the time, he runs away whenever I come near. It's not just me either, the rest of my family has the same experience. I'm posting a separate thread about that. :)
     
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  13. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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  14. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    This is good to know for the future. In the end, time was the answer. Now they are back together with no problems.

    I really liked the breeder, it was the vet who suggested that perhaps they were not ideally socialized. Seeing Luna behaving so affectionately now, I'm not sure that's the case. Artemis is still a little weirdo though, but I'm wondering if that's personality more than anything else. ;)

    And I see now that the lack of recognition post-vet-visit is normal, so that's reassuring. It was mostly because I had never had two cats before, so had never seen the dynamic change so abruptly. Thanks for the help! :)
     
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  15. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    This is great, thank you! The only issue is, my bathroom has a washer and a dryer. Because of mandates, we needed a special filter for energy efficiency so they are away from the wall which gives kitties even more space to squeeze behind them. I don't even allow them in there too much for that reason.

    What worked for me, (finally) was getting Artemis out in the small hallway between our rooms. We blocked any furniture he could squeeze behind and put his favorite tunnel (he likes to hide there whenever he's frightened, which seems to be most of the time). Then when he went into the tunnel, my mom picked it up, folding it so he couldn't get out, and I opened the door into the bathroom (where the carrier was hidden) so we could put him in. Before that, we had given him a light sedative. Honestly, it didn't seem to help much, it slowed him down but not much, but perhaps it did help and I just didn't notice. Anyway, that's what eventually worked for us. Now both seem to have recovered and are back to being buddies! :)
     
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  16. ScarlettSkater

    ScarlettSkater Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Funny story - Artemis LOVES food and LOVES his pet carrier - when I don't need him in it, that is. He actually sleeps in his carrier (I call it his cabana because it is large and covered with fabric over a frame), and considers it a great place to hide out.

    The kitties still spar, but not maliciously but more like playful tussling. Of course, I watch to make sure it doesn't get out of hand, since Artemis is larger and about two pounds heavier than Luna, but for the most part they are super comfortable with each other now. :)
     
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  17. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Sounds as if things are well under control now!

    As for Artemis, some cats are just less hands-on than others. Hekitty would barely let me touch her when she was much younger. As she has become a middle aged cat, she is far more affectionate.
     

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