Litter mates hate each other

JackNJJsMom

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My two year old litter mates, Jackson & JJ, used to love each other. They came to us as kittens. They ate together, played together, bird watched together, slept together. It was hard to find one without the other. Then, early this summer, Jackson, who was always the more timid of the two, got into an altercation with the plastic grocery bag. In his nosiness he stuck his head into the bag through the handle, couldn’t extricate himself, ran through the house with a bag attached and the first thing he saw when he finally got loose was his brother. Since then he’s afraid of JJ since his situation had to have been JJ’s fault! He growls, hisses, screams and fights with the brother he used to love. JJ has always been the more aggressive of the two when playing and although we’ve tried to keep them separated, I swear JJ sits and thinks about ways to get past us when the separating door opens. He barges in like a bull and presents himself to his brother. Hi! It’s me! But Jackson growls & hisses, and each time we lose what progress we’ve made reintroducing them. It’s been 4 months and I’m at the end of my rope. But I can’t bear giving either cat up. I read the article about introducing cats, saw some new ideas and will start over with the socks. We also purchased a tall cat gate (50+ inches high because JJ is a jumper) that we can use for step 2. My questions are: 1. Has anyone else experienced something similar? 2. How do you know when reintroduction is working? 3. When will it be evident that they’re willing to tolerate each other again? We all thank you!
 

Mamanyt1953

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OH, yeah. It even has its own name, "Redirected Aggression," which is when something happens that angers/terrifies a cat, and he turns his anger/fear towards the cat (or human) who is cIosest at the time. Re-Directed Aggression In Cats: Insight And Solutions - TheCatSite might give you some additionaI insights. The best way to know that anything is working is the sIow reIaxation of the cats when around each other. But it takes time. SadIy, we can't give you a meaningfuI time Iine for this, as it is totaIIy dependent on the cats invoIved, and, as you know, they are SUCH individuaIs! Time and patience are on your side, and remember, you can onIy go as fast as the most reIuctant cat.
 
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JackNJJsMom

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Hi, Jackson needs his confidence built up. Are you playing with him, and then trying to play with them together, where one person plays with one and another person plays with the other?
Jackson loves to play. His favorite is that wormy-looking thing on a wand. He’ll bat and chase toy mice and he has a track toy with balls in it. He’s a cuddler and enjoys a good snuggle. We try to play with them together and award treats but Jackson is suspicious of JJ’s intentions even when JJ isn’t paying attention to him. As a result, Jackson will stop and stare at JJ, often retreating to a safe place. I feel like JJ doesn’t understand why Jackson doesn’t like him anymore.
 
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JackNJJsMom

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OH, yeah. It even has its own name, "Redirected Aggression," which is when something happens that angers/terrifies a cat, and he turns his anger/fear towards the cat (or human) who is cIosest at the time. Re-Directed Aggression In Cats: Insight And Solutions - TheCatSite might give you some additionaI insights. The best way to know that anything is working is the sIow reIaxation of the cats when around each other. But it takes time. SadIy, we can't give you a meaningfuI time Iine for this, as it is totaIIy dependent on the cats invoIved, and, as you know, they are SUCH individuaIs! Time and patience are on your side, and remember, you can onIy go as fast as the most reIuctant cat.
One of our problems is we live in a very open-concept 2-story house. So there’s no good place to put one cat except a bedroom. Jackson seems most comfortable in our room — it’s a large room with a big bathroom and walk-in closet, big windows to watch birds and traffic, a cat tree, dressers and closet shelves to climb on. So he’s not confined to a small space. But his brother has the rest of the house. We try to spend equal time with each cat. But each day we struggle to set aside our feelings and react to what the cats need. And regardless of where he is, JJ wants to be where Jackson is. Jackson feels differently.
 

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Makes a lot of sense he's acting the way he does considering the way cats think and what happened.

But, it is something you can work on if you're willing to put the time into it. Others have offered a lot of great help too. But you definitely do need to rebuild the relationship between them and get Jackson to relate JJ with good things again.

As a simple way to do that, you can use snacks. I find cats are heavily food motivated no matter what their personality is. Try doing something like feeding them high value treats (even cheese if you must) when ever they are around one another. Or if you find JJ is too pushy even with food to distract him with it, separate them with a screen or puppy gate and try working on their relationship with that first to separate physical touch.

Sending you all the luck and patience!
 

Mamanyt1953

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One of our problems is we live in a very open-concept 2-story house. So there’s no good place to put one cat except a bedroom. Jackson seems most comfortable in our room — it’s a large room with a big bathroom and walk-in closet, big windows to watch birds and traffic, a cat tree, dressers and closet shelves to climb on. So he’s not confined to a small space. But his brother has the rest of the house. We try to spend equal time with each cat. But each day we struggle to set aside our feelings and react to what the cats need. And regardless of where he is, JJ wants to be where Jackson is. Jackson feels differently.
That can work just fine. For a part of each day, switch them out. Get both cats' smeII aII over everything without them interacting. JJ in the bedroom for a coupIe of hours, whiIe Jackson expIores the rest of the house without interference. You're Ietting them get used to each other without any pressure (ie, visuaI etc) at aII. Just one more "weapon" in your aresnaI. And worth a try, as it doesn't cost a thing!
 
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JackNJJsMom

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Here’s where we are now. We have a tall pet gate separating them. I use big bath towels instead of socks as they both like to knead and roll on them — then I switch them out to share smells. They occasionally play at the gate, rolling on the floor, reaching through the bars to gently bat each other, fiddling with each others toys. They’ll stand at the gate and cry for attention. And they seem excited to have the gate opened so they can hang out. Problem is that JJ has no filter. He starts out slowly, approaches Jackson quietly (while I dole out treats for good behavior). They sniff, follow each other, investigate the room,etc. Then JJ can’t stand it anymore & he rushes over to his brother, which sends Jackson into a minor panic. Jax may hiss a bit then turns to get away from JJ, but JJ keeps pace. Jackson will dive under a bed, into a closet, behind a chair. But JJ won’t give up until he realizes there are more treats or can be coaxed away another way. I don’t think he’s intentionally threatening Jackson. But he can’t help himself. He wants to get closer. So the gate is shut and we start over. Any thoughts?
 

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Jackson's reaction sounds better than he used to be, which is kudos to you. More time should help, but Jackson may always be timid. Can you play with him more and help build his confidence?
 
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JackNJJsMom

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We’re trying to do that. In fact, Jackson has a play/cuddle time every morning. Husband even sits in a rocker and rocks him! We’re in an out of his play area all day, tossing mice & playing with a wand. I birdwatch at the window with him and give him little treats when he’s a good boy. He’s great with people and curious about his brother. But this “go get ‘em” attitude from his brother seems to trigger his flight mode. It used to be a fight mode, though, so I guess we’re making progress.
 
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JackNJJsMom

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OH, yeah. It even has its own name, "Redirected Aggression," which is when something happens that angers/terrifies a cat, and he turns his anger/fear towards the cat (or human) who is cIosest at the time. Re-Directed Aggression In Cats: Insight And Solutions - TheCatSite might give you some additionaI insights. The best way to know that anything is working is the sIow reIaxation of the cats when around each other. But it takes time. SadIy, we can't give you a meaningfuI time Iine for this, as it is totaIIy dependent on the cats invoIved, and, as you know, they are SUCH individuaIs! Time and patience are on your side, and remember, you can onIy go as fast as the most reIuctant cat.
So we kept them apart for quite a while, introduced more toys & treats, installed a gate they could see through but not penetrate — except for a paw now & then — until they seemed calmer and were reaching out to playfully touch each other thru the gate. Then we opened the gate to give them a few minutes together, backing off if either seemed uncomfortable. The last couple days we’ve had the gate open more. JJ will go into the room but Jackson won’t come out. Jackson will tolerate JJ from a distance but if he gets too close for too long (Jackson’s opinion on length of time) Jackson will hiss/growl/howl and back JJ off. JJ seems sad and confused. Any suggestions? Do we need to back off and keep them apart longer? Quite honestly it seems like Jackson has decided his rooms are his territory and he’s almost fine with that. But we and JJ aren’t. So…?
 

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Do we need to back off and keep them apart longer?
I think so. Keep in mind that you might end up having to adjust your expectations, and JJ will figure things out if in fact Jackson decides he likes his rooms to a point that he's not going to change :lovecat2:
 
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