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Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by Kelise, Feb 4, 2018.
That sounds promising. I'd like to get her a toy she enjoys. What is the company called?
It is cats n us dot com no spaces (disclaimer, I'm not associated with them in any way). Enjoy, good luck!
I've had many cats in my life, usually from two to four. When my mom died and I suddenly inherited her cats on top of my own, I suddenly had seven cats and a large dog for about five years until some of them started dying from age and cancer. So I have a fair amount of experience with multiple cat stresses and dynamics.
I also have worked as a social worker for twenty years and am a horse trainer and have had several shelter dogs with behavior issues so know a bit about behavior theory and have gone to behaviorists for dog behavior issues.
Behaviorists are great and it definitely sounds like your nervous timid cat shouldn't be anywhere near your young bold cat until she's a little more confident, which could take a long time. It also sounds like medication and checking her for medical issues is the best thing that you're doing for her as some hidden medical issue could be making her more sensitive and nervous. If she's always been timid since birth it could be her nature but she could have hidden pain exacerbating it, who knows. My super sensitive anxious dog does great on Zoloft otherwise his separation anxiety makes him truly dangerous to himself alone at home.
So right now you're smart to keep her away from your mom's young little predator cat, who is just playing and acting naturally.
That being said my two remaining cats used to team up and torture my mom's older timid cat so she wouldn't even come out from a closet or under the bed for weeks. They would torture all the other cats too. My mom's other cat was a dominant large former stray who ruled a feral colony when I found him and gave him to my mom, so he fought back no problem, but the noise and ruckus. He was constantly fighting with one of them and half playing and half fighting with the kitten the rest of the time. My larger 18 pound Persian mix female had low energy but no one messed with her. Any cat that tried to interfere with her food, kitty litter, or favorite comfortable spots to sleep would get a lethal swat that sent them flying across the room and into the next. She did not play or believe in half measures to make her point.
But my two little bullies were out of control torturing, stalking, pouncing on, attacking and chasing my two most timid cats. My youngest cat attacked and drew blood and tortured each of my dogs (75-85 pounds each) the first six months he lived with each dog.
I did stop those behaviors with negative reinforcement and some punishment, which is part of behavior theory and which the behaviorists I've seen never seem to believe in. I never hit or abused any of my animals but praise, treats, positive reinforcement and clickers only go so far and when one animal is harming and tormenting another daily that behavior has to be stopped.
Both of my bully cats are extremely attached to me and absolutely flip out if locked in another room or locked out of whatever room I'm in. If I'm in my bedroom, they're up on my bed as close as they can get, literally climbing over and stepping on each other and the dog to get closer to me. If I'm in the living room or on the computer there they are. If I close a door, they meow frantically, scratch at the door, throw themselves against the door repeatedly, and have even at times managed to jump up and turn the knob and get in. It sounds like they're breaking down the door.
So when the worst bully kept attacking my dog, I said NO BAD!!! And picked him up and locked him in the bathroom. For twenty minutes. Let him out, he bothered the dog again, NO BAD! Right back in the bathroom. Every single time he did it in front of me he got locked you, which to him is the worst thing ever. When I'm not home they got locked in different rooms. When they were together and loose and no problems, lots of praise, patting and treats.
They're best buddies now and all three of them sleep cuddled up together now and I can leave them alone together no issues.
I taught them they can play with each other and their toys but harassing the dog or the anxious cats in the past is off limits and they lose their freedom and get isolated. It worked for them because they hate that more than anything.
Just my experience, like timeouts for kids. When my anxious cats got older with health problems I did separate them in their own rooms to feed and medicate them and give them peace, but it was tough because the two most anxious ones were each bonded to their own different buddies and I didn't have enough rooms to have a dog room and so many different pairs of cats in their own rooms. Also it's complicated but my very timid cat Fawn was strongly bonded to his feral buddy Inky. Inky was absolutely bonded to and in love with Mandy the fearless ruler of the roost. She loved to sleep on the bed with me and have free reign if the place and I adopted her and one if the bullies together from a shelter when he was a kitten so they had a bond too and she used to cuddle with him and groom him like a mom cat. Too many other bonds and cat relationships, really the two youngest cats just needed to learn to respect their siblings better. So I temporarily separated the offenders which they learned made chasing less fun.
I took a cat into my home years ago and none of the feliway, herbs, you-name-it worked. You can't change a tiger's stripes! The only thing that worked for me was I built a door at the top of my second floor landing and I kept him away from the other cat. I put him on Prozac and that did not work. I worked with Jackson Galaxy before he was "Jackson Galaxy" and he told me re-home one of the cats or live with them separated, so I lived with them separated. It's a very stressful situation. I did a reintroduction too, that didn't work out. He couldn't stand to see her walk around. Period.
The door I built was out of scrap wood and lattice, so they could see each other and even touch each other if they wanted, through the slats in the lattice. I imagine when I was at work they had many conversations through that door! :-)
The only thing that happened was after about two years he was able to come upstairs with me and she would hide under the bed from him. I always hoped one day they would work it out and I could take that door down but it never happened. He passed away three weeks ago from cancer, and I'm heart broken.
That was my experience with what you are going through.
@inkysmom Thanks for your input! Timeouts is one of the first things I tried, when the issue first began. Unfortunately it made no difference and the problem continued to get worse. I guess chasing down my cat is more rewarding to him than timeouts are punishing. I am a personal believer in using all elements of behavior theory, and my behaviorist doesn't seem to be against positive punishment (evidenced by his suggestion of a can of compressed air for come cats) in the right situations. He would never suggest punishing an animal acting out of fear (such as a reactive dog), but a can of compressed air for a naughty kitty attacking your legs as you walk by is fine with him. Unfortunately there is no room for punishment here, because anything I could use against Padfoot would terrify Brook 100x more. I had thought in the past about sitting with a spray bottle and giving Padfoot a good squirt when the behavior starts, but then I learned how terrified Brook is of the spray bottle. I think it would makes things considerably worse.
I've got a dog who is being treated by the same behaviorist and does quite well on fluoxetine. I've seen a huge difference, so I'm hoping that medication can help Brook feel better too.
I think there might be hope. Before I decided to separate them, there were times that I saw they could get along. Sometimes Padfoot would come into my room when Brook was laying on my bed. He'd jump up there, and just wanted to lay on the bad. Brook would get scared a first, and tense up and hiss. Padfoot would just slowly creep to a spot where he was comfy and lay down. Once Brook realized he was not here for a fight, she would relax and they both slept on the bed. Sometimes she even got up and tried to start grooming his face (which he did not seem to appreciate). She wants to just live peacefully, but her terror is too strong. I think making her feel less fear is a good approach, with a combination of medication and behavior modification.
I'm just glad this is temporary. If it doesn't work out and they never get along, it'll only be a matter of time before I leave and we can live in peace. She gets along very well with my other cat, so I'm happy about that.
@Timmer Thanks for sharing! I guess only time will tell if my situation will be unsuccessful or not. I'm going to try all of these calming things and whatnot, if for nothing else than pure curiosity. At the very least, I'll learn something new about behavior.
On another note, Brook's blood work came back and she is totally healthy. So I'll fill that prescription within the next few days and start the medication.
By the way, here are the trouble-makers themselves!
Brooksie baby !! Thanks ever so much for the photos - I love them all of course but TANK
I know the struggles of cats who don't want to play. All of mine are fickle and a toy only holds their interest for a couple of days at the most. It can be hard, but it'll help a lot if you can find something that'll work. It doesn't have to be much. Even if she plays for a few minutes, it's better than nothing. There are electronic toys. I got a mouse that ran around. They were all interested in it, but it moved too slowly and stopped too long. It's an easy catch for them, but you might want to try something similar if it gets her playing. You could try something as simple as a string if you haven't already. I find my cats normally like simple things.
Getting Padfoot worn down will help too so it's good to know he likes the laser light. He seems pretty normal all things considered. He's just a young, confident cat sharing a household with an older, less energetic, and less confident cat. There's bound to be problems.
Definitely good to keep them separate for now. I know it's impossible to prevent everything and mistakes will happen, but please try to minimize contact between the two of them as much as you possibly can. It's not so bad if they see each other, but any aggression from Padfoot could make the situation worse. I'm having issues between two of mine because I had to wash Ash's backend and Ember doesn't like it. If he even so much as stares as her, she starts growling. So just be aware that even eye contact can be intimidating in certain circumstances.
I've never used medication, but I hope it helps. I try to avoid it for my animals and would normally recommend doing the same, but there are some situations where it's helpful and unavoidable.
I totally understand. I tend to be extremely protective over Ember. I guess because of her timid nature, but I do get a bit frustrated with Frost when he hisses at her. But you just have to remember that everything they do has a reason even if you can't see it or don't agree with it. In the end, you don't really own them. You live with them. You belong to a family with them. And that includes all of them, each animal and person in your household. I do get it though. She's an older cat, if not quite old. She's been with you for a long time and she's vulnerable. It's okay to want to protect her, but do keep in mind that he really doesn't want to hurt her. It's just his nature to lash out. Perhaps, like my Ember, he has his own insecurities he's trying to hide by picking on someone more vulnerable than him.
I have a dog with behavior issues too, but it's that she gets too excited/overwhelmed/anxious. I have yet to figure out how to fix that. But it's good to have the experience and know how to be patient.
Beautiful cats! All of them are, but Tank! He's stunning! Makes me want to take pictures of him. And maybe sneak out with him under my shirt.
Yeah, isn't that the truth LOL
@Animal Freak I will definitely work on finding a toy she will play with. She actually came out to hang with me in the living room today and looked pretty comfortable, so I'm glad to see that. Lately it seems like she doesn't want to leave my room.
We haven't had an incident with them getting together in a while. I think we're getting accustomed to the system. The only time they see each other is when I'm feeding them (which has never been an issue, since Brook knows he can't get to her and he is focused on food) and sometimes when I swap them, I will carry one past the other. Also seems okay.
I was really iffy on medication for a while. But my dog (and of course my wonderful behaviorist treating him) changed that. My dog was a liability and had already bitten people before. He's a 60 pound dog, and drew blood. He is very anxious and is easily overwhelmed, and when he gets overwhelmed and scared he bites. A fast motion, a loud voice, a hat. Small things pushed him right over the edge into biting. I'm lucky nothing came of it when I didn't know how to handle him. If I wanted to keep him and myself safe (not to mention other people), I knew I had to act. And I don't regret it. It has improved his quality of life so much, and I'm no longer afraid that one day there will be a mistake and he bites a person who decides to be serious about having him euthanized for it. Now I can let him meet strangers (carefully), I can take him into the waiting room of a vet's office without a meltdown, and most importantly he is happier. He can go on a walk without having a complete meltdown at the sight of another dog now. I have no qualms with putting Brook on buspirone temporarily, as an aid to build her back up since her confidence has been so destroyed. I don't think I would want her on it forever, because she is a sensitive but still normal cat, but temporarily I'm content to try it. But that is just my experience.
As for being protective over Brook, I definitely am. She's my girl. I picked her out of a box of 20 other kittens 7 years ago and she's been with me every since, through some pretty nasty times, too. Logically I know he's just a cat doing cat things. But emotionally it's hard to handle. Which is another reason why it's a good thing they are just separate now. I don't want to be angry with him. He's new in my life, and I honestly just hate him for a few days after I see him terrorizing my cat. We're better now. He doesn't like me very much, but that's okay. He's not my cat anyways.
I do love these guys. Tank was hard to resist adopting because he is just gorgeous. I always tell him that it's a good thing he is gorgeous, because he is such a pain. Never met a cat so obsessed with food. I'm amazed they found him outside. He seems like he is at least part Siamese. Not just because of the points and blue eyes and all of that, but his voice. He has that distinctive Siamese meow and is very vocal. He is also the most intelligent cat I have ever owned. Quite the character. I'm burning with curiosity about where he came from. He was found outside in a very dangerous area for cats, unnetured, by the rescue.
Now I'm a little worried about him, too. He's had a bit of diarrhea and is acting kind of off. I'm watching him really closely, but it makes me anxious. I've grown quite attached to him.
Now I'm just rambling about pretty unrelated things... Hope that is not against the rules.
Here is a picture I love:
That's good that she came out. Most (if not all) cats have a "safe place." Ember's is my room. Ash's is the top of the cat stand. Frost might be one of the few without one. He's a confident cat who's never been attacked. So it's not surprising that she has one place she hangs out in. That's fine, but it's best for her to feel comfortable outside of that place too.
That's all good. Not everything is a problem for every cat. In my situation, Ember probably wouldn't want to be in the same room as Ash even if he couldn't get to her if she was in that state of mind. But it's good that they can be together. Food will probably be a great ally.
Oh, I know medication can be useful. I'm on a few myself. I don't know why I'm so hesitant about it with my animals, but I am much more aware of their health and safety than I am my own. My own dog could probably benefit from a low dose of some sort of calming medication. I'm glad it helped your dog and I agree with keeping Brook on it temporarily. Once her confidence is built, it shouldn't be as hard to maintain it.
I totally get it. Ember has been with me since the day she was born. Her mother showed up at our house before she was even showing signs of pregnancy. She's the youngest and the most timid. However, it would be good if you could try to realize that Padfoot doesn't really mean any harm. Cats pick up on our emotions quite easily and any negative emotion could contradict everything you do to try to help them. I'm not saying you have to have a great relationship with him, but it would be nice if he knew he could trust you and you could at least minimize any negative feelings. Perhaps stop thinking of him as "not my cat" and try thinking of him as "part of the family." Maybe try hanging out with him, playing with him, alone so you can see the good side of him.
He is truly a stunning cat. I would have a hard time resisting him too. Siamese seems like a good guess, especially if he has the meow of one. If he's not acting right then it might be a good idea to take him to the vet. It could be a simple cold, but it's best to catch things early just in case it's something more serious. I know you have enough on your plate, but him being ill is really just another concern so it might help if you can figure out what it is and if it's something worth worrying over.
I ramble a lot so don't worry about it.
That picture is adorable. They obvious have a good relationship.
I think I'll keep this thread going.
I gave my cat her first dose of Buspirone a few days ago. She got 2.5 mg (1/2 tab) in the morning. She didn't seem to react well to it, and kind of freaked out. She spent the day hiding and acting very strange. I didn't give her any more and contacted my vet again. He said to try giving her 1/4 tab twice a day. We've been doing that for two days. It doesn't make any sense, but this medication makes my cat HYPER. On the lower dose, it doesn't seem like a bad thing. It's like how some cats act after getting catnip. She'll just be laying there on my bed, and then she just gets really hyper. Her pupils get big, her tail poofs, and she starts running around my room playing with things she finds on the floor. It's just weird, because it should cause sedation if it has any side effects like that. I'm going to email my vet again in the morning.
For the current moment, I'm taking advantage of this side effect and am trying to convince her that playing is fun. She will play with feather-stick type toys after taking her meds. I'm hoping if I keep playing with her, then she will get used to it and want to play more often without the aid of this weird hyper reaction to the meds. She's definitely much more playful in the hour or two after her meds.
I'm still just keeping them separate, and there haven't been any accidents in a while. She stresses me out sometimes, because she seems uncomfortable in the house. She's fine in my room (home base), but sometimes I have to take her out of my room so I can clean the floor or do something with my dog. If she is locked out of my room, she is uncomfortable. She'll kind of trot around frantically and make squeaking sounds until she finds a place to hide. Except, it's only in the hallway outside of my room, the backroom, and the kitchen/dining room. If you physically carry her from my room to the living room, she will act normal in the living room. Tail up, walking around, clawing the cat tree, etc.
She's definitely been strange since this all started. I feel very sad that the situation has come to this, and that my poor kitty doesn't feel comfortable in some areas of the house anymore. I really hope we can fix that soon. We have a pretty functional system for keeping the cats separate, so at least that shouldn't be a problem.
I wasn't alerted to your posts with the photos etc and have only just noticed your thread in the forum (again, without receiving an alert). So, I've missed out.
Wonderful photographs, they all look very beautiful. Padfoot certainly has that Sirius Black thing going on.
Like any medicine sometimes cats (humans & other animals) react in the opposite way than intended. I'd talk to your vet about the possibility of trying a different anti-anxiety or antidepressant. Fluoxetine works well for your dog so that would seem the obvious choice to me.
And, please keep this thread going! We're all in this with you to the end.... And by end, I mean when all is right and well in all your worlds. And even then, we'd want you to update to tell us about it.
Animals and people can have atypical reactions to medications. My dog does well on Seroquel for his separation anxiety but gets violent, aggressive, hyper aroused and overreactive to everything for almost two days on a low dose of any kind of benzodiazepines, clonidine, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan. All I can do is put him in my bed turn out the lights and get him to sleep. They do knock him out for the four to six hours at first but he's basically an overreactive angry drunk after he wakes up. The doggy daycare asked me to never give those meds again because he couldn't be in the daycare he was picking fights with all the other dogs that he's usually buddies with and had no filter and was provoking them into attacking him so had to be in the time out room the whole time. I couldnt even walk him to my car without him lunging at everyone. At the dog park he was attacking random dogs so I had to put him on the leash and leave. Never again!
I tried taking buspirone once for weight loss prescribed by my doctor and I felt weird, anxious, lightheaded and jittery. I swear after a day or two I started seeing things out of the corner of my eyes so I stopped that fast and decided to stay fat! Creeped me out and I have no history of any psychiatric issues or reactions to meds like that.
Medication can be very strong in how it affects individual metabolism.
It's good that she's playing with you though.
Try to think of the other cat as part of the family, they are very sensitive and if he picks up on anger and negativity from you and knows that you love her and she's your favorite he's likely to get jealous and attack her more. They're like kids in that even negative attention is better than being left out or ignored. And he is part of your family, your mom loves him. How would you feel if something bad happened to him? He's only acting like a typical punk teenager.
Thanks for the replies!
I still gave her the meds this morning. I don't want to stop without my vet's instruction. This reaction doesn't really seem distressing thus far. It was at the higher dose. She was scared, and honestly seemed like she was hallucinating or something. Now she gets hyper, but seems happy and playful. But of course I will switch to something else if my vet thinks it's a better idea. I have a feeling he will ask me to continue for a couple weeks to see if the side effects resolve, as they do sometimes. Truthfully I'd rather not have her on medication at all, because she is so darn sensitive. But she can't very well be terrified all the time, either.
@inkysmom Interesting that you used it for weight loss... I hadn't heard of it being used for that before. My vet kept telling me that it is very safe and has very few documented side effects in cats. Now I feel a little more concerned, because I'm worried it will alter her metabolism or have other side effects.
I definitely understand that medication affects everyone differently. That's why I've been watching her quite closely. I don't think I would be comfortable using a benzo on my animals, not a fan of the drugs in general. I'm also reluctant to try an SSRI because she's so sensitive and they can have some pretty crappy side effects in the beginning. When my dog first started taking fluoxetine, he got really sick to his stomach and couldn't keep anything down for a few days. I had to feed him peptobismol (luckily he loved the pepto mixed with canned dog food to make this greyish-pink, minty, meaty mush that I thought was disgusting xD) twice a day and small portions of canned food throughout the day until he got over it. Now he doesn't have any side effects at all, and is on quite a generous dose. But I'm afraid to put my kitty through anything like that. My dog is hardy and resilient. My cat I tend to perceive as fragile and slow to recover when bad things happen. She just so easily becomes distressed. When I took her for her exam, she lost it in the car. She yowled the whole way, panting heavily, and her little pink nose got bright red I guess with increased blood pressure. Just from being in the car. Not to mention I'm fairly traumatized from her getting a hair blockage over the summer and I'm afraid to give her anything that might upset her GI system. =/
As for Padfoot, I know he is just being a cat. I really do. Our relationship has been a bit better since we've been successfully keeping them separate. I don't have to feel angry at him because he doesn't get the chance to bully my cat. It might actually be a good thing that he doesn't like me much, because I am the person in my household most dedicated to the animals. As a consequence, most of the animals like me best. It's upsetting to other people when animals that they got for themselves like me best. So me and Padfoot just having a cool relationship is probably okay.
On another note, something happened this morning that I might want to be maybe a little happy about? I left Brook in my room this morning while I went to prepare her medication and then came back to give it to her. I opened the door to go in, and she just burst out. I hate when she does that. But she exploded through the door and skidded to a stop on the wood floor nose-to-nose with Padfoot, and then turned and ran to where she gets fed. 1) Padfoot did not attack on sight (his tail did poof a little, but he shied away rather than becoming aggressive) 2) Padfoot did not pursue her as she ran down the hallway to where she gets fed. He did start to stalk down the hallway after she had disappeared, but I gave him a little "tst!" (not sure how to express that sound xD) and he stayed while I went to retrieve her to bring her to safety.
I know I'm coming in late and only a kitten on this forum but I'm in my 60s and have lived with large numbers of cats all my life.
We usually have 6 or 7.
I have had a number of experiences with what I call hooligan behaviour. I certainly don't see bullying as 'natural' or just 'being young and lively'. It's a young cat who needs training. (It can happen with an older cat too who makes a bid to claim higher status in a clowder.)
My main approach is to use cat language. I can't release nasty smells to say what I mean! but I can do two things.
1) Hiss and growl. Open the mouth widely - pull to each side not a round O - make a harsh noise KKKKK in the back of mouth/ throat.
Round it off with a good long SSSSS.
This is a domiance signal and it means you are offended and acting alpha.
2) Swat! I have no hesitation in swatting a badly behaved cat on the nose, or top of head.
They do it to each other - or me occasionally if offended - and I don't have claws.
It's not about hurting them it's the sharp movement and the symbol of anger that matters.
Let a cat feel it can get away with it and it will - much like children or spouses or lovers.
3) Ive also use d a plant spray esp now I'm older and not so fast myself. But that will frighten Brook.
The trick is to work out how to a) expose them to each other for a few seconds only 3 max
and b) if Padfoot starts any stiffness use the Disapproval signals.
Each cat will need to be held. Brook to feel safe, and Padfoot to get his training.
Person holding Padfoot brings him slowly slowly towards where Brook is - very alert for his reaction. Just as soon as he notices her and stiffens STOP swing round fast so bearer's back is to other person holding Brook.
At same time or as fast as poss, Sharp Swat on his nose or head.
take him away and ignore him for about 15 mins then make peace. He'll prob be happy to, so fuss to make it clear he is loved.
Keep repeating this at intervals until he starts to get it that reacting to Brook gets an instant Swat.
When he can tolerate a few seconds of exposure still swing away but Big Fuss him strokey strokey and fuss fuss Voice.
If when he's carried away he growls or tries to be confrontative USE the advantage of human size.
Hold him away from the body with back legs hanging loose (hold under his front legs).
Let him hang for a count of 5. Then drop him.
This is pure dominance and tells him who is in charge.
You can also use the Stare - hold him helpless and Stare his eyes until he wriggles and hold it a few secs more.
This is not cruelty. It's body language. Cat version of a good talking to with a naughty 6yrs human.
He needs to learn that being on the receiving end is no fun and he better avoid it.
But backed up with love and cuddles not long after (15 mins/ 1 hour whatever works) so he knows he has a choice.
You're offering him freedom to choose, be nice and get cuddles, be a bully and get bullied.
I've tried some version of this but it can backfire with a truly dominant cat. Or an unstable or formerly abused cat.
My friend cat sits her boss' cats. They've had a few cats come and go, the boss rescued cats and had to return one because it was too aggressive and fighting with the home cats to the point of hurting them and needing vet treatment. Also boss' bf was too rough with cats, not malicious, just roughhousing treating them like dogs. My friend verbally said hey stop to prevent a fight and one redirected on to her and attacked her from behind as she was leaving the room. Next time she was there she fed the cats he didn't eat so she just said are you ok? He ran out of room. She unknowingly sat on bfs side of bed and he attacked her, multiple bites all over her arms and hands. She was so freaked she spent the night hiding licked in the bathroom and had to go to urgent are in the morning for multiple infected deep cuts. He's attacked the bf too.
My own Inky was feral his whole life, I wasn't able to fully tame him until he was very sick at 13. Even then if he cuffed me or got aggressive at another cat he would tolerate me saying no. If I ever went to swat him he'd cuff me hard with nails out and even bite. He would not tolerate humans being fully dominant but we had bonded and he chose to allow me to medicate and care for him. He was an adult feral two or three when I took him in and no one could touch him or get near him until he was thirteen. He'd be near me at times but I couldnt touch him until I isolated him in the bathroom for weeks to tame him. I had to he was very sick and I had to medicate him twice a day. It was either that or euthanize him.
So for unstable, abused or very dominant or formerly feral cats it's risky. For normal cats its probably fine.
I appreciate your input. =)
However, I'm not into using dominance based methods. There is already a lot of fear between these cats (evidenced by the way Padfoot poofed and shrunk away when Brook escaped me this morning). Brook is terrified of Padfoot, and Padfoot is afraid of me (or rather, afraid of the situation) when Brook is around. He's definitely made an association that Brook being present = me being very loud and scary. It wasn't my intention, and I certainly don't want to make this association stronger. Scared cats are more likely to be aggressive, especially if they can't get away.
I think I'll focus more on creating positive experiences for them. I just got a new target stick with a clicker on it, so am in the process of target/clicker training both cats. Once they are good at that, I want to do sessions with them together. If they are trained well and properly motivated, they should be focused on earning treats rather than on each other. I'm hoping it will also teach them that the presence of the other = opportunities to earn tasty treats.
Thus far, I am content to listen to my behaviorist. I trust him, and I don't think he would be pleased to know I was using dominance-based methods or physically holding cats so they can't get away and forcing them into each other's presence.
I'm sorry this is a bummer!!
Well, these are YOUR cats, but like you say, maybe more positive experiences would be good for them
I think we'd all love it if you kept us updated. I don't know anything about animals on medication, so I can't help you there, but her being playful can definitely be used to your advantage. Definitely keep them separate until Brook has some more confidence.
It's not so great that Padfoot was clearly fearful when Brook approached him, but not so weird either considering Brook probably startled him. I would still consider it a good experience since they came face-to-face with no issues.
The idea of using their language is interesting, but I'd wary of using it too. I give my cats a tap on the nose when they're misbehaving, but I'd be afraid that if I tried to swat them quickly enough for them to get the message I'd end up hurting them. And I don't really think we know exactly what is causing Padfoot's behavior. In my case, it was a cat's insecurity causing her to lash out. If I had used those methods on Ember, it would have made the situation worse. Also, hissing and growling could end up scaring Brook. If it wasn't for her lack of confidence, then maybe.
If they can be in the same room with you holding Brook, that could be helpful because she'd be up high and able to watch him. That would teach her that he's not out to get her and she doesn't have to be afraid. However, that would rely on her being able to lay in your arms without a problem because you don't want to force her there. I don't think I'd be bringing Padfoot over to her either. At least not until she has more confidence. When Ash and Ember are having issues, I'll pick her up and let her watch him, but she doesn't like him approaching her. I want to get her to approach him.
I do think getting them together for training sessions will be great, but I don't think you'll be able to do it immediately. Both will need to be highly food motivated and they'll have to be able to be in the same room together without a fight at the very least. But it will be good to maintain their relationship and then continue to improve upon it.