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Redirected Aggression

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by taralynnallred, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. taralynnallred

    taralynnallred Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    7
    8
    Aug 10, 2019
    Hi All,

    I am experiencing some redirected aggression from my female cat. here's the situation:

    Mavis, 1.3 yrs old, female, adopted 1 yr ago. She is the queen:)
    Kevin, 1.2 yrs old male, adopted 2 weeks after Mavis.

    I had planned to introduce them slowly, as suggested by most cat behaviour sites I visited, but Mavis refused to let that happen. Lucky for me, Kevin is a chill dude, and was adopted from a house of 17 cats and knew his place, so it took maybe a week for them to get along. Or rather, for Mavis to accept Kevin. Since then: they play together, groom each other, and I think love each other and are truly brother and sister at this point.

    All was well, until my aunt's cat, the same age, came into my care due to illness, and no one else wanting to take responsibility for her. Again, I wanted to introduce them the right way, and had Izzy, female, 1.3 yrs old and very shy and timid, staying apart and unseen in the basement while I swapped scents. Well of course it didn't take long for Kevin and Mavis to realize what was going on in the basement. Kevin, Mr. Cool, was crouched down at the door, chirping at Izzy, and trying to figure out what was going on. Never upset, just genuinely curious.

    The problem is with Mavis. She would sit at the door and hiss and growl occasionally, which is expected, nothing I hadn't experienced with her with her introduction to Kevin. The problem I have is that now she is turning on Kevin. Whenever he makes an attempt to "talk" to Izzy, Mavis hisses at him, and now their play ends quickly with Mavis hissing. This is devastating for me, because I don't want to destroy their relationship! Poor Kevin just looks bewildered when this happens. I could handle Mavis being angry with Izzy, I can slowly introduce them and see what happens. But I don't know what to do with this redirected aggression, because all blogs and articles I read say to remove the stimulus. Well I can't really do that right now. I know the obvious answer is to find Izzy a new home, and I might still end up having to do that, but I'd really like to keep her, if I can.

    Any thoughts? Ideas?
    Feliway never worked with the Mavis to Kevin introduction, so not really sure how well it will work now.
     
    Moka and PushPurrCatPaws purraised this.

  2. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

    9,805
    3,806
    Jan 2, 2005
    Eastern California,USA
    :welcomesign: Welcome to TCS and a huge thank-you for taking in Izzy. It seems as if Mavis needs reassurance that she is still in "top dog" status in the clowder althi.nough she needs to sense that ultimately you are in charge ( just like the top lioness in a well-organized lion pride). My suggestion is to spend more time in comfort grooming first Mavis then Kevin then Izzy in order of seniority, using the same comb or toothbrush. Also, I would add extra vigorous play time with extra focus on Mavis, especially with a lazer or a teaser/wand toy attached to a retired fishing pole (it greatly expands the diameter of the play area and allows for across the room dashes and fantastic leaps into the air) and allow Mavis the most "catches". If Mavis is interested, I would add some focus on learning tricks - it is often a confidence builder; some cats like to do "high 5s" or "shake paws", others prefer "circles" or "tail whips" .
    We have many other members who have excellent suggestions and I will tap a few for you: @Jcatbird , @Mamanyt1953 , @di and bob , @white shadow , @Sarthur2 , @war&wisdom , @Norachan , @Furballsmom , @Kflowers , @FeebysOwner
     
    taralynnallred purraised this.

  3. taralynnallred

    taralynnallred Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Aug 10, 2019
    Yes! Lol that's totally Mavis, and now that I think about it, that's probably why she demanded she meet Kevin right away.

    As far as the situation with Izzy (I might be attributing too much human thought here), my first thought, when she would hiss at Kevin when he would try to communicate with Izzy, was that she was saying, "Don't talk to her!"
    I will definitely try those tips! I am also thinking that I'm going to just speed up the introduction process to meeting face to face a little early, and see if having Mavis put a face to the smell might redirect her attention away from Kevin, and on to Izzy, which is something I am a little better prepared to handle.
     
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  4. Mamanyt1953

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

    19,776
    26,104
    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    You got excellent advice from @catsknowme, who could well have been name iknowcats. I would add that cats DO get jealous. There's no doubt about it. I am not entirely sure from your original post...please clarify...Is Mavis ONLY hissing and swatting when Kevin "talks" to Izzy?

    Meanwhile, this article is pretty darned good when dealing with jeaous cats: Do Cats Get Jealous? (and What To Do About It When They Do)
     
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  5. Mamanyt1953

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

    19,776
    26,104
    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    You got excellent advice from @catsknowme, who could well have been name iknowcats. I would add that cats DO get jealous. There's no doubt about it. I am not entirely sure from your original post...please clarify...Is Mavis ONLY hissing and swatting when Kevin "talks" to Izzy?

    Meanwhile, this article is pretty darned good when dealing with jealous cats: Do Cats Get Jealous? (and What To Do About It When They Do). At least part of the issue here is that you are dealing with two females. Even though they are spayed, their instincts tell them that they are competing for resources for future kittens. Feral mamas can and do cooperate, but it takes time and a bit of upheaval to cement those relationships.

    I'm going to add a couple of articles about stress here for Mavis. And by the way, I've NEVER met a Mavis, no matter how many feet were involved, who wasn't just a bit of a diva!

    Potential Stressors In Cats - The Ultimate Checklist
    Is Your Cat Stressed Out?
    Six Surefire Strategies To Reduce Stress In Cats
     
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  6. taralynnallred

    taralynnallred Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Aug 10, 2019
    Thanks very much for the links, I’ll be reading those:) To answer your question, yes, so far the only thing Mavis has done is hiss at Kevin, when he “talks” and when Mavis and Kevin are playing. I have been trying to distract her with food and play, to try and remind her I still love her, because I absolutely agree that cats get jealous, i’ve seen it in action!

    Thanks so much for these helpful tips, everyone! I’ll keep you updated! So nice to get some help at last, I know a couple people at work that have cats, but no one in my family/friend circle likes cats, so I feel a little out of my element!
     
    catsknowme purraised this.

  7. Mamanyt1953

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

    19,776
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    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    LOL, well, you'll now have an entire new circle of cat-loving friends, so that's to the good.

    Yep, I do believe that Miss Mavis has her nose out of joint! And Kevin is, in her mind, a dirty, rotten two-timer! This, too, shall pass.
     
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  8. taralynnallred

    taralynnallred Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Aug 10, 2019
    Bit of an update on the introducing process:
    I added feliway again, just to try since last time I attempted to use it they were less than 6 months old and I’ve heard that it doesn’t work well on kittens. I thought it was working, Mavis hisses and growls less at the door. Today I swapped scents, Kevin of course doesn’t seem to be bothered. Mavis didn’t hiss at the scent, but did seem a little angry afterwards, and there seems to be a power struggle or something between Mavis and Kevin. Mavis is not wanting to play with him as they usually do this evening, she’s hissing and moaning at him. He stares her down and isn’t really taking no for an answer. She keeps trying to avoid him, and he keeps following her. No fighting so farJust hissing and moaning from Mavis. I have to work tomorrow and the next day, i’m Thinking of putting Mavis in my room with food and litter for the day. I just don’t want them to fight while i’m gone!
    I have most definitely taken your tips and used them, i’m Doing a lot of play with them, especially with Mavis, and using treats when Mavis doesn’t growl and hiss at the door to the basement where Izzy is.

    I’m just a little concerned that Mavis and Kevin will be worse as the days go on. How long does scent swapping usually take? I’m just wondering if, once Mavis is used to Izzy’s smell, she’ll calm down?

    Help!
     
    catsknowme purraised this.

  9. Mamanyt1953

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

    19,776
    26,104
    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    If any of us could answer that "how long" question, we could make a fortune. It takes as long as it takes, and you can never go faster than the most reluctant cat, in your case, Mavis. It might take weeks, it could possibly take months. If you try to rush it, you'll not only go back to "start," you'll hit negative numbers. I'd LOVE to be able to give you a better, definite answer, but there just isn't one.
     
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  10. taralynnallred

    taralynnallred Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    7
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    Aug 10, 2019
    Yeah, that was the answer I knew was probably correct, just not an encouraging one right now. But it’s the truth, and I just need to be patient and calm and keep trying. I’m trying to be positive and believe that they will at least tolerate each other and they will each carve out a little territory for themselves. In the meantime, as much as there has been a negative shift in my cats dynamics, there has been a imperceptibly small shift back to normal, so i’ll just go with that!
     
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  11. Mamanyt1953

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

    19,776
    26,104
    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    With cats, you take your triumphs where you can get them! But small shifts back towards normal can become foundations for the big ones!
     
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