How do you know when it's safe to leave cats out together all of the time/unsupervised?

cleoandsuki87

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This is specifically after non-recognition aggression issues, but I guess it could apply to new cats too. I was dealing with non-recognition aggression after taking one cat to the vet, about 1.5 weeks ago. At first it was necessary to separate the cats all of the time, and then I did the whole feeding near a closed door thing, playing in the same room for brief periods, etc. The last few days I have tried to let them both be out and about when I'm at home. Things are certainly not "normal" but do seem to be getting better. Often, they are fine being in the same room and ignoring each other. They have no issues sleeping for long periods of time, within feet of each other, in their respective favorite spots in the living room. Several times per day, they go up to each other and sniff noses with no hissing/growling reaction.

However, probably an equal number of times per day, one will begin chasing the other. This leads to hissing and growling at minimum, and sometimes barring teeth and swatting. There have also been 2-3x per day where one appears to have the other sort of cornered and the cornered one is repeatedly hissing/growling. They have not physically hurt each other. I have been able to break up these incidents with loud clapping or other distractions, and depending on the severity may briefly separate the cats afterwards. Typically, after this when I let the separated one back out, they go back to the ignoring thing for a period of time.

Part of me wants to think that the chasing thing is just them trying to get back to playing. Back when they were bonded, they frequently would play chase games, hide and leap out at the other, play wrestle, etc. They're only 2. However, I knew this was just playing because it was noiseless- I had NEVER heard either of them hiss or growl before this non-recognition incident. They also would regularly groom each other, sleep together, and cuddle. I have not seen a return to any of those other behaviors- grooming, sleeping next to each other, or cuddling.

How do I know when it's safe to leave them both out together when I'm at work? It's a minimum of 10 hours per day. I certainly don't want to hold them back from making more progress, but I am also terrified things will escalate while I'm gone, or something will happen and I'm not there to break it up.
 

danteshuman

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I would say when they stop hissing and growling on sight. You can also try feeding them wet food & see if you can get them to eat close together. Are they playing together & hanging out together? That would mean they smell like each other again & are back to being friends.

If in doubt, I would only allow supervised time together.
 

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However, probably an equal number of times per day, one will begin chasing the other. This leads to hissing and growling at minimum, and sometimes barring teeth and swatting. There have also been 2-3x per day where one appears to have the other sort of cornered and the cornered one is repeatedly hissing/growling. They have not physically hurt each other.
Interesting.
Is there anyway that you can place a chair, or box,...in those corners...so that the 'cornered cat' could have a chance to 'escape', or jump up to something a little bit higher...so that the 'chasing cat'...would have to slow down, or stop.
I have been able to break up these incidents with loud clapping or other distractions, and depending on the severity may briefly separate the cats afterwards. Typically, after this when I let the separated one back out, they go back to the ignoring thing for a period of time.
Do the cats...ever separate on their own...after they hear you do the loud clapping, or using your voice to say something like, "hey, hey, hey"?
Part of me wants to think that the chasing thing is just them trying to get back to playing. Back when they were bonded, they frequently would play chase games, hide and leap out at the other, play wrestle, etc. They're only 2. However, I knew this was just playing because it was noiseless- I had NEVER heard either of them hiss or growl before this non-recognition incident. They also would regularly groom each other, sleep together, and cuddle. I have not seen a return to any of those other behaviors- grooming, sleeping next to each other, or cuddling.
(Wow. When my previous male cats would Play...it always ended up being loud...I could never tell which cat started the fuss. :stars:)

With the 6 year old male and female sibling cats, that I now have,...it is usually the male that plays a bit too rough, and likes to wrestle and corner...but then again...sometimes the female with do the 'run and tag' game,...or just sniff him and swat him...perhaps due to some previous 'payback incident'.) :cringe:

Most of the times when my cats are Playing,...they tend to get loud...since my female cats is regularly chatty,...and so she is the one who is always very vocal,...in her vocalizations.
She is loud...and definitely puts a 'halt' on any type of Play that she does not like.
She vocalizes through yowling, hissing, growling,....if the male cat is chasing her, getting cornered, or being too rough.

That is so interesting, that your two cats Play...in a noiseless way.
My female cat hisses and growls for communication, with her brother, all the time.

Granted, they don't really Play all the time, ...only a few times per week.
And hardly ever sleep together,..preferring different rooms to relax in.
(having said that ...I did catch them sleeping on the same bed, yesterday,...and could not believe my eyes.) :eek2: :blush:
 

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...You can also try feeding them wet food & see if you can get them to eat close together. Are they playing together & hanging out together? That would mean they smell like each other again & are back to being friends.

If in doubt, I would only allow supervised time together.
:yeah: Excellent advice. :thumbsup:
 

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To be honest, if they're only hissing/growling during play (i.e. when physical contact has gotten past one or both of their boundaries for how they feel with each other) but not simply on visual contact, that seems fine to me. Like when they're chasing/fighting, it's not actual fighting (you'd know - there'd be fur flying and they'd be loud from the get go), then it just sounds like they're going back to their routine of playing, but they're not at the stage where they want to do that for too long, so it's a case of little play and then one or the other is like 'okay that's enough now, back off'. It's like if you fall out with a friend but want to reconnect, you probably wouldn't go back to the same intimacy but you might hang out for small moments until you feel more comfortable with each other again.

River got hissy with Lillie after her spaying, but it was impossible to keep them apart (River has this supernatural skill of opening doors no matter how you block them). But it didn't hamper their process in returning to normality, and now he only hisses/growls at her on occasion, and is equally likely to be sniffing and grooming her. I think there's a stage where keeping them apart slows down refamiliarisation - and I think you've reached the point where personally, I would be wanting to encourage them to accept each other being around in the same space rather than splitting them into territories. But every cat and household is different so YMMV
 
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cleoandsuki87

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They're definitely past hissing/growling on sight. It's only when the chasing thing happens. Currently, I'm downstairs and they're both upstairs in the cat room. One was in there already. When I opened the door, the other went in voluntarily. They've both been just sitting in their respective favorite spots in that room for probably 2 hours now with no issues. I've gone up and pet them both a couple of times and they seem relaxed. This is the first day that I've felt like I didn't have to have to have a visual on them at all times to make sure nothing was amiss.

They separate on their own easily, when I do the loud clapping/distracting thing. I'm afraid of what happens if I'm not there to do that, though. In the "cornering" experiences, it's been sort of a combo where I've done the clapping thing, the aggressor looks at me, and then the cornered one is able to run away. If they are both hissing/growling and one is not cornered, if I clap at them they both walk away from each other.

Maybe I will try feeding them together tonight and see how that goes. I've found that to be very triggering for both of them (they both run over to me when they see me getting the food out, then both get mad that the other is so close and running, and start fighting) so I've been making sure one of them is closed into another room when I'm getting the food out.

I'm not sure if I should be waiting to see any of the "bonding" behaviors- grooming, cuddling, sleeping next to each other etc. or if I'm not letting them have enough time together (on a typical work day) for those to develop again. So far, we are hiss/growl free today. However, this is their lazy period of the day. I had them separated for breakfast, and then during the day they both tend to just be laying around anyway. They get more active in the evening especially before/after dinner and then there is more trouble.
 

imaginewizard

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Personally, I think it's fine. From what you've said, they're only play fighting, and then getting vocal when it becomes too much. If they were going to hurt each other, my understanding is cats who actually want to fight for real go straight into it, it's rarely an escalation from unwanted play? If they've not done it before I don't think you need to be worried unless you find signs it's happening.

I think you're okay to let them both free roam and work things out, vs. confining each of them because you can't supervise them at certain times.
 

danteshuman

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You are just looking for tolerate; not bff. The cats being friends is a bonus. If they will eat by each other & since they don’t hiss/growl on si; I would let them be together.

If you are really nervous then leave the house for a couple of hours and see how they are when you get back.

I will add that Dante got his nose scratched (& had a scar) from his pecking order scuffle with Chess. After that they never fought again and were friends for years, until Dante died. (Chess is a reformed feral so maybe his fight is tougher than a normal house cat?) So even if your cats get into a mild fight, don’t panic!

Treats & play together always help cats bond. Some personalities though just don’t mix great and they will never be bff. I thought Dante & Salem were more frenemies than anything else. They didn’t seem like best friends but they were happy being a foot or two apart. Then Dante died and Salem grieved for his obnoxious bully of a little brother for over a year! They never fought but they were not snuggle buddies either. So even if your cats are not bff they might still be friends.

The first picture shows how Salem & Dante were together.

The second picture shows how Jackie & Nick are together. They are bff!

The last picture shows Jackie with his sister. They snuggle sometimes, have no problem sharing food ..... she just hates that her brothers pick on her by trying to wrestle with her when she doesn’t want to rough house sometimes (the last 2 pictures all the cats are littermates. The boys love to play fight & the girl wants to play tag.) So even if your cats are at this level that is still good!
 

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cleoandsuki87

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Unfortunately, this afternoon's peace seemed to be predicated on the fact that they were both in lazy mode. There haven't been many issues (other than the first couple of days) when one or both of them is just laying around. This evening, Cleo (vet cat) is repeatedly chasing Suki (home cat). I think it MIGHT be possible that Cleo thinks she's playing (giving huge benefit of the doubt there). I held back from interfering to see what would happen. Suki growls/hisses at Cleo, and Cleo walks away from her. Okay, great. Of course I want them to go back to being friends, but at least no one is being hurt. BUT, not 20 seconds later, Cleo starts chasing again. Rinse, repeat. This happened at least 10 times in less than 3 minutes, and I ended up separating them (in a minute, I'll feed them and let them out to try again). I just don't think I can trust what would happen if I leave them for 10 hours. This is so incredibly frustrating.
 

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Unfortunately, this afternoon's peace seemed to be predicated on the fact that they were both in lazy mode. There haven't been many issues (other than the first couple of days) when one or both of them is just laying around. This evening, Cleo (vet cat) is repeatedly chasing Suki (home cat). I think it MIGHT be possible that Cleo thinks she's playing (giving huge benefit of the doubt there). I held back from interfering to see what would happen. Suki growls/hisses at Cleo, and Cleo walks away from her. Okay, great. Of course I want them to go back to being friends, but at least no one is being hurt. BUT, not 20 seconds later, Cleo starts chasing again. Rinse, repeat. This happened at least 10 times in less than 3 minutes, and I ended up separating them (in a minute, I'll feed them and let them out to try again). I just don't think I can trust what would happen if I leave them for 10 hours. This is so incredibly frustrating.
How did your two female cats Play...before all the non-recognition started, caused by vet visit?
Does Suki ever just whack, swat, or swipe at Cleo...when Cleo is acting all pestering, and constantly chasing her?

Have you tried brushing both cats using the same Brush?

Can you post some photos of the girls?
 

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Also suggest 'harness training' Cleo.
Harness training a cat..is difficult..at first...until the cats get used to the feel of the harness.

(It does not mean you have to ever bring her outside.)
Only to have Cleo under some control...at least for the times when she wants to just chase down Suki.

It would perhaps help...to stop the chasing...and allow Suki...to build back her Confidence.
See this thread...starting on post #28...to get the idea: Newly introduced cats: attack or rough play incident?
Just watch the videos...from that post on, (since the rest of the thread..is not really like your cats...different sizes and ages, and such.)

You'll still need to Play a lot with each cat...to burn off any excess energy, with either wand toys, or balls, crinkle up some paper/foil paper,...since it sounds like Cleo...has a lot of energy to burn off.
 
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cleoandsuki87

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How did your two female cats Play...before all the non-recognition started, caused by vet visit?
Does Suki ever just whack, swat, or swipe at Cleo...when Cleo is acting all pestering, and constantly chasing her?

Have you tried brushing both cats using the same Brush?

Can you post some photos of the girls?
They might briefly chase each other, but it would be more equal, not one continuously going after the other. If they were engaged in a play session, they might hide behind something and leap out at the other. They would occasionally play wrestle, but it would be noiseless. No growling or hissing, ever. I'd never heard either one of them growl or hiss before this happened, ever for any reason, and now it's constant. I never saw swatting before, now I've seen both of them do that. Suki has done that to Cleo when she's chasing her now. When I first got them I googled how to know if they were playing or fighting, because I'd never had two. Everything said if there is no noise you know it's playing. The other way to tell is how they act when not "play fighting," and if they groom each other, they're friends. They used to groom each other constantly. In fact, play wrestling would end in grooming the vast majority of the time. They also used to sit together and snuggle all of the time.

Suki doesn't tolerate brushing. Honestly there is no way it's the scent thing at this point. It's been 1.5 weeks! Cleo can't possibly still smell like the vet after being there for less than an hour 1.5 weeks ago. And no, she's not taking any meds. I did tons of scent swapping at the beginning and even tried the vanilla thing (didn't work). Past the first day or so there have been no issues sharing items- not at the same time, but they're both using both litter boxes, no problem snuggling up on a blanket the other one was just on, playing with the same toys right after the other one, sharing water bowls, etc. IDK how to attach pictures here.
 

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They might briefly chase each other, but it would be more equal, not one continuously going after the other. If they were engaged in a play session, they might hide behind something and leap out at the other. They would occasionally play wrestle, but it would be noiseless. No growling or hissing, ever. I'd never heard either one of them growl or hiss before this happened, ever for any reason, and now it's constant. I never saw swatting before, now I've seen both of them do that. Suki has done that to Cleo when she's chasing her now.
Thanks. It's good to get a visual idea of how they played before.
Wow. So you had a very close, and affectionate female cat pair.
It doesn't mean that it won't happen, again,...sometimes it just takes loads of time...for each cat to fully "Trust"...the other cat, again.

Frustratingly, yes, though.
When I first got them I googled how to know if they were playing or fighting, because I'd never had two. Everything said if there is no noise you know it's playing. The other way to tell is how they act when not "play fighting," and if they groom each other, they're friends. They used to groom each other constantly. In fact, play wrestling would end in grooming the vast majority of the time. They also used to sit together and snuggle all of the time.
Not sure why those google sites would say 'no noise' while Playing...since that is not true...or realistic in all cases.
Cats Playing with each other...will display all sorts of noises.

Some cats Play rougher than others.
Problems arise...when one cat wants to Play...and the other one does not.
Usually that is what causes all the more aggressive play fights.
(...but I understand now, ...it's just because your two female cats has an exceptionally great bond, ..before the vet visit.)
Suki doesn't tolerate brushing. Honestly there is no way it's the scent thing at this point. It's been 1.5 weeks! Cleo can't possibly still smell like the vet after being there for less than an hour 1.5 weeks ago.
No, sorry. I should have explained better.
The suggestion to Brushing both cats...is not to get the Vet smell away. (though, that is an excellent idea.)
It's just to get the 'good happy pheromones'...around the head and cheek areas of each cat...transferred to the other cat.

If Suki does not tolerate brushing...we will have to think of some other things to try.
 

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Oops...forgot.
This is how to attach photos:
How To Add A Picture To Your Forum Post – TheCatSite Articles

It's way at the bottom of the Page...under "Site Help"..in the red section.
Site Help – TheCatSite Articles

and if you want to add video...even better.
How To Upload And Add Videos To Your Posts – TheCatSite Articles
(though, usually I think that people just upload their cat videos, to youtube, or gif, vimeo, and then use the 'insert media' drop down function...(it's the three small dots...beside the smiley face...on the top ribbon...which drops down a menu.) to insert the videos into their own posts.
Embed videos

(Not sure about how to actually upload videos from phone. I know the Site has a 25MB limit...and I think only in mp4 format.
Someone posted this 'reduce video file size online'...online website...but I have never tried it ..so I'm not much help, here.
Reduce Video File Size Online, Make Video Smaller (MP4, AVI, MOV, MPEG) | VideoSmaller
 

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I'm kind of going through the same thing with my two girls that I adopted in early November. I put them both together immediately because they were both new to the house. I don't think they will ever be cuddle buddies and I am OK with that.

There is one that dominates or tries to dominate over the other one. I let them work it out. There's been some slapping around and aggressive chasing but they don't hiss at each other anymore. I don't keep them separated. God only knows what goes on when I am at work but they seem OK, no fur clumps laying around. I do keep their nails trimmed so there are no sharp tips! I think the fact that your two can sit in the same room together is a good sign. It's really hard to know when you can stop worrying, but I think it all sounds very positive.
 
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cleoandsuki87

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I am continuing to see both good and bad things. They have no issues at all being in the same room if one or both is laying down or snoozing. Over the past couple of days I've seen them both chase each other, so I feel better that it doesn't just seem to be Cleo going after Suki. At times, they will stop and just look at each other. Occasionally they will sniff noses. Other times, it ends in hissing or growling, or Suki will start growling if she feels Cleo is too close even when not chasing. Sometimes she has no reaction and lets Cleo walk right up to her, and other times she doesn't like it. I have separated them when I see they're in this cycle where they can't stop hissing/growling at each other, to give them a break. Usually after about 10-15 minutes I can let them out and they'll go back to ignoring each other. I'm afraid of what might happen if they just keep going at it if I'm not there. I have continued to keep them separate during my work day for right now. With the 3 day weekend I'm hoping I can keep them out, hopefully see more improvements and feel comfortable leaving them out all of the time after that. I just wish they would go back to at least sitting together or grooming each other. If I saw those behaviors happening I would know they feel like friends again and wouldn't have to worry so much about what's playing vs. aggression.
 

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How long have you had these cats? I re-read your first post and it seemed to indicate that this hissing started when you took one cat to the vet 1.5 weeks ago.
I think just hissing is not bad and they will work it out. Mine do chase each other at times and one shows a bit of aggression in the chase but I just let them work it out. The other one has stood up for herself, and I feel confident in that. I have never had cats who groomed each other or cuddled together. :-)
 
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cleoandsuki87

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How long have you had these cats? I re-read your first post and it seemed to indicate that this hissing started when you took one cat to the vet 1.5 weeks ago.
I think just hissing is not bad and they will work it out. Mine do chase each other at times and one shows a bit of aggression in the chase but I just let them work it out. The other one has stood up for herself, and I feel confident in that. I have never had cats who groomed each other or cuddled together. :-)
I've had them since April. Yes, I never saw any aggressive behaviors from either of them until this vet visit. They're litter mates and they were very bonded when they came into the house.

Huge knock on wood, tonight they have been chasing each other but neither have hissed or growled-really hoping they truly are just playing. I just wish they'd go back to grooming and cuddling. I go out of town several times per year and a huge part of the reason I got a bonded pair was so that I knew they'd have a friend during those times. Cleo is also very intent on sniffing Suki's butt- what's that about? I've seen her do it numerous times. A few days ago, Suki would seem VERY offended by this and would yelp, hiss, growl, turn around and swat at her, etc. Now Suki seems a little unsure of it still and will sort of turn around quickly and look at her, but she hasn't been hissing or growling or anything like that.
 

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Cats don’t smell the stinky part of poop but they smell a whole lot of info when sniffing each other’s poop or but or pee or other scent markings!!! Some cats just get up in there a little to much. The annoyed cat moves away & may bat at the eager sniffer.

I have a cat that is overzealous sometimes in the but sniffing.🤦🏻‍♀️ Cats (& dogs) can tell dozens of things from the whiff. How the animal’s health is, what they have been eating, who they have been around due to the community scent etc. Luckily after he gets a good smelling he calms down and leaves his brother’s but alone! Hopefully as your girls spend more time together, such intense inspections will not be needed! 🤣
 

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How about trying the 'thunder shirt' for cats.
***You might even be able to make your own...if you look up 'DIY thundershirt for cats'...online.
Buying one is a bit expensive, ..so I would try making two...out of old t-shirts, first,...and getting velcro from dollar store.

Cat Thunder Shirt
An old Cat Site thread...with a few photos of another diy thundershirt pattern:
why does our home made thunder shirt work on our rescue cat Dolly?

At least if you make it yourself, you don't spend too much money, and see if it works.

(Plus, if you ever have to take, either cat in to the Vet, again,...you can place it on them...take it off at the Vet...and then bring it home, to place on the non-vet cat...to 'mingle the scents.' It may work. But of course, if the 'non-vet cat' gets too, too, stressed...then take it off immediately. Not good to increase the stress levels of cats, without them having an escape route.)

ThunderShirt for Cats
(I honestly don't know if it works, but I did see it in one of the vet clinics, here, years ago.)
THUNDERSHIRT Anxiety & Calming Aid for Cats, Heather Grey, Small - Chewy.com

**Perhaps, also trying some 'cat calming treats'...may help reduce some of their stress...or help them relax.
Amazon.com : calming cat treats
I'd ask your Vet, first though, in case any of the ingredients would bother them.

If you do a "Search" in the upper right corner...you'll find this thread may be helpful.
(Not the same issue as your cats...but has some good recommendations.
Calming Treats For A Very Picky Cat
Maybe I will try feeding them together tonight and see how that goes. I've found that to be very triggering for both of them (they both run over to me when they see me getting the food out, then both get mad that the other is so close and running, and start fighting) so I've been making sure one of them is closed into another room when I'm getting the food out.
That's a great idea...if "running" is triggering for both of them.
Either one cat is getting startled, scared,...or they are beginning a "play/prey run" again.
Could be that one cat is trying to "chase away the other, from the food" ...also.
Keeping "all the resources" for themselves.
It's a cat's instinct to do this...if they feel threatened.

How did the feeding of both of them go? Was there any running?
I have separated them when I see they're in this cycle where they can't stop hissing/growling at each other, to give them a break.
Can you use a towel, or large piece of cardboard, even a pillow....to 'block their line of sight'.
**By 'blocking a cat's line of sight'...they sometimes will be able to 'easily get out of' their 'prey/play drive'.

No need to separate, sometimes, ...just block their line of sight.

When they actually do go all out, and fight,...and one is constantly bullying the other...then you can do a mini-separation, if it works,...but it's easier to just use a large towel, or cardboard and whisk them away from each other.
They will usually go their separate ways...and calm down.
With the 3 day weekend I'm hoping I can keep them out, hopefully see more improvements and feel comfortable leaving them out all of the time after that. I just wish they would go back to at least sitting together or grooming each other. If I saw those behaviors happening I would know they feel like friends again and wouldn't have to worry so much about what's playing vs. aggression.
Sometimes grooming is not actually an affectionate behaviour, but actually a dominate behaviour, ...with one cat constantly grooming the other to get their "own Scent" on them.
I guess it all depends...on which cat is doing the grooming, and when.

But yeah, it can be affectionate, too.
It just all depends on the situations involved...and if the other cat likes it.

It is very difficult to know which is play and which is too much aggression.
Since when cats Play...it often looks to be too aggressive....but they end up separating on their own...staying away...calming down...and coming back.
It's the coming back, over and over...that is a good sign.

Your two cats being so young, at 2 years, still have loads of Energy...which they have to release.
So it's hard, that when one wants to Play, the other cat might not want to.
Or one cat may like to Play...rougher than the other cat.

Good Luck, this weekend.

Oh, one last question...is either cat taking medication right now.?
Or have they been given a long lasting antibiotic shot? anesthetic at the vet?
Or even a vaccination?
This will sometimes change the way the cat smells, too, ...and give off different Scents to the other cat...for a much longer time.
Some medications alter the smell of a cat,...for weeks.
 
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