Redirected Aggression

taralynnallred

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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.
 

catsknowme

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: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 Mamanyt1953 , @di and bob , @white shadow , @Sarthur2 , @war&wisdom , @Norachan , @Furballsmom , @Kflowers , @FeebysOwner
 
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taralynnallred

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: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 Mamanyt1953 , @di and bob , @white shadow , @Sarthur2 , @war&wisdom , @Norachan , @Furballsmom , @Kflowers , @FeebysOwner
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.
 

Mamanyt1953

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You got excellent advice from catsknowme 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)
 

Mamanyt1953

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You got excellent advice from catsknowme 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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taralynnallred

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You got excellent advice from catsknowme 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
You got excellent advice from catsknowme 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
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!
 

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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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taralynnallred

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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!
 

Mamanyt1953

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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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taralynnallred

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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.
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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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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taralynnallred

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Just wanted to give an update and ask another question:
Update:
Mavis is no longer redirecting anger at Kevin! (I'm not sure how much of this is the feliway diffuser, but I don't care, I'm just glad it's not happening!)
The introduction process has been slow going, but for I'd say 90 % of the time, mavis no longer hisses and moans at the door when Izzy is on the other side:) I've been allowing Kevin and Izzy to see each other through a cracked door. Izzy rarely hisses at him, and of course Kevin basically has no reaction to her other than curiosity so far. I've been swapping scents and they no longer hiss at each other's scent anymore.
Given this improvement, I decided to let Mavis and Izzy see each other through a cracked door. Mavis does hiss at her when she sees her, but every time she does, I distract her with a toy, since she's more play motivated, and so is Izzy. I tried food to distract, but it isn't as effective, or for as long as play time, I should say. This interaction only lasts maybe a few seconds, after Mavis is distracted, as I want these interactions to hopefully end a little more positively. The plan will be to continue these interactions until there is less hissing and I can get them to playing on opposite sides of a baby gate. It's only been a week, so I'm telling myself this is going well at a normal pace, not too quickly.
Question:
Am I going too fast with these introductions? I have been trying to go off of their behaviour as an indicator as to when to move on to the next step. However, I'm worried that I'm going too fast, and that since Izzy is not really food motivated and neither is Mavis, that play distraction will not be enough to give them motivation to like each other, which, from everything I've read, is vital to cats getting along. Also, I thought there would be less hissing, since Mavis seems to be very well aware of Izzy. Izzy will sit on the other side of the door sometimes and make sounds, and they can hear and smell each other without hissing, but when they see each other...hissing! Is that normal?
 

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My experience has been that a certain amount of face-to-face hissing is normal - the "queen bee" (with my cats it's usually the girls) asserts her supreme position with newcomers and periodically with the regulars as well.
 
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taralynnallred

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Happy update: a little more than three weeks in, and all three cats can be around each other supervised without major incident!!!!!❤❤

Kevin and Izzy are fine together, and now Mavis can be around Izzy with minimal hissing/growling. I can tell after a few minutes that she’s had enough and is getting grumpy so I end it there, and they are separated for the rest of the day. It’s progress, however slow it is☺

Sometimes after they are separated Mavis has to let out some pent up energy/anxiety/frustration/stress or whatever it is and run around the house like a lunatic, but she is quickly redirected with a toy and treats

So thank you for the hope and tips you have given me to help me get to this stage!!!!!
 
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