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Sister Cats Now Aggressive!?

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by Brokebyducati, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Brokebyducati

    Brokebyducati Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Mar 12, 2019
    Where to begin . .. Apologies for long thread but desperately looking for any input that could help. We got my daughter two sister kittens from a rescue shelter back in Jan of 2017. They've been inseparable and best friends since day one and have been wonderful pets Fast forward to a week and a half ago - we were out of the house for the evening and the sitter somehow managed to pinch the smaller of the two cat's tails in a door. According to the story the larger sister began attacking the smaller sister as soon as she was freed from the door. I'm assuming the howling from the cat (release of pheromones??) confused her sister and she chased the 'injured' cat around the house until the smaller cat found a hiding spot her sister couldn't reach. As soon as we got home we immediately separared them thinking in the morning everything would be back to normal and the sisters would groom/eat their breakfast together a usual No such luck - the smaller cat was terrified and wouldn't come out of her hiding spot. A couple hours later we finally coaxed her out and as soon as her sister saw her she went into attack mode again. We basically separated them for the next several days so each cat had a separate couple floors of our house - at first we used a door that totally separated the sisters and I purchased a phermone calming spray which we used per the instructions. We noted the smaller cat was licking and favoring her tail so we took both cats to vet for a checkup - both healthy as could be (but the smaller having a bruised tail) and asked for any advice from vet She recommended Feliway plug in for multiple cats so we got that and plugged in immediately on a location close to where both kitties could see each other We then replaced the solid door with 3 baby gates so the cats could see and somewhat interact. Well, last night was moment of truth (mind u this has been over a week now of segregation) - we had been moving food dishes closer and closer to each other so they could eat at same time and see/watch each other. Both cats had been extremely interested in what the other was doing and they were even playing together through the gates. We let the 'aggressor' sister out and they were perfectly fine for about half an hour until a noise startled the cats and the aggressor took off after her sister extremely violently We stopped the chase and separated them until they were very calm and tried again to the same results. Another night of separation and we tried yet again to reacquaint them yet again tonight - as soon as the bigger cat gets free of the gate she immediately stares her sister down and goes into an attack mode.
    My question is this - - has anybody had an experience like this?? We love these kitties and desperately want them to actually be able to be in same room again. How long do we keep trying the reacquaintance techniques??? They're wonderful loving cats and none of this has made any sense - - the shelter we got the cats from has said they've never had an incident like this that has been so extreme. Anything I've found online seems to assume that the separation will only be necessary for a short time. Is it possible they'll never be able to be reacquainted??? We're getting desperate - - any other thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated....
    Furballsmom purraised this.

  2. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

    Jan 9, 2018
    Colorado USA
    Keep doing this, but don't let them out. This may take days, or even longer until unexpected noises and smells don't cause such upset.

    You can test this theory in a few days, like banging a pot in the kitchen and see how they react, separated. Only at that point will you be able to let them out - maybe. My point being, this will take as long as it will take, and it's totally up to the cat(s) :).

    Give them music too, by the way - there's an app called Relax My Cat, and there's also MusicForCats . com

  3. susanm9006

    susanm9006 Willow Top Cat

    Feb 20, 2011
    I am sure that when the smaller’s tail got caught she let out a yell that the other cat found terrifying and not at all like her sister. So it is this alien cat she is reacting to. It is most likely though that over a relatively short time she will begin to calm down and her sister will lose her scariness. Just keep looking for opportunities for positive associations between the two with treats, meals and play time.
    Brokebyducati and Furballsmom purraised this.

  4. Brokebyducati

    Brokebyducati Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Mar 12, 2019
    I will try the music with both of them - esp the aggressor sis. I guess I wish I knew some kind of time frame so we knew we were on the right track. Thank you for the info!
    Furballsmom purraised this.

  5. Brokebyducati

    Brokebyducati Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Mar 12, 2019
    The story so far - got two sister kitties back in late 2016 from a rescue shelter for our daughter. Cats were inseparable - got neutered/shots at same time, etc - they've lived their entire lives together in an unstressed indoor utopia for the most part since we got them - they were incredibly loving and great pets - never a (true) fight (just play!) and great litter box habits. I should mention they're both tiger cats but one is quite a bit smaller than the other (weighing about half of her sister).
    Anyway, about three and a half weeks ago (while we were out, unfortunately) the smaller sister got her tail pinched in a bedroom door. According to our daughter she howled and immediately her bigger sister began attacking her. As soon as she was free from the door the chase was on and the heavier sister proceeded to chase and attack the poor smaller cat for probably 45 min to an hour. By time we got home the injured sister was hiding under a bed terrified and we immediately separated the cats. We figured the next day they'd be back to normal albeit with a sore tail but that was def not the case. Smaller cat was terrified - her bigger sister just snapped every time she saw her and flew into full attack mode. We did some quick research and segregated the cats entirely - got a pheromone spray and barely let them peak at each other. Several days later we took both cats to vet to get tail checked out and to (hopefully) reset the cats behavior. Clean bill of health and got a Feliway plugin - then replaced door we had between cats (4 level split house - each cat gets two levels) with see-thru baby gates so cats could interact but not touch each other. We edged their food closer each day so cats could enjoy eating near each other plus we gave them treats so they could snack right next to each other. Both cats would cry because they wanted each other's attention so bad but each time we did a supervised release the bigger cat cold-stared at her sister and within moments went into attack mode. As soon as we got them locked back apart they were immediately looking for each other again. We even tried a harness and leash for the more aggressive bigger sister so we could better control her when we tried to reacclimate them but as soon as cats were in same room with no gate she charged at sister so hard she pulled free of the harness and attacked.
    We're at our wits end - both of these cats are so sweet and loving and our daughter loves them so much but I don't know if what we're doing is helping or hurting anymore. We've tried to follow all the advice that makes sense - vet said it could take several weeks but - like I said - we're going on three and a half weeks now and nothing we're doing seems to make any difference. Should we be punishing the aggressive sister cat? Should we try some kind of behavioral medication (the Feliway seems to be a total bust in my opinion...)?? Is it possible these sisters will never be able to be reacclimated? I find that hard to believe but when I see a cat that loved her sister so much until she yowled when her tail got pinched and now just goes crazy trying to wreck her after this long is baffling and it's getting harder and harder to live like we have been.
    ANY advice would be greatly appreciated - it breaks my heart thinking we could poss need to get rid of one of these cats from such a mundane happening...
    Thanks in advance!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2019

  6. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

    Dec 27, 2018
    Hi there, I don’t believe you should punish the older sister. We don’t know why she is going full on attack mode now.

    Are you able to take a video and post it on YouTube or something? I would like to see their reaction.

    I feel like we (including you) don’t have the full picture. I have never heard of a situation like this. Are you sure something else didn’t happen and your daughter hasn’t told you?

    Feel all around both of the sisters bodies. Maybe she has a broken bone somewhere that has yet to heal. Go slow and apply very slight pressure to each area and see how they react. If the younger cat has something broken then maybe the older sister is picking up on her being sick and attacking.

    You said the vet gave a clean bill of health... were xrays done? Blood test to check for infection?

    Did you got to a cat only vet or a mixed dog/cat vet?

    Thank you for trying so many things! It’s nice to see people go all out for their family.
    ArchyCat purraised this.

  7. Brokebyducati

    Brokebyducati Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Mar 12, 2019
    I'm finally getting a chance to respond to your comments (i def appreciate your input...) - we've not gotten a chance to video the fiasco that inevitably ensues when we try and let the sisters get face to face again. It's pretty much all hands on deck trying to make sure the smaller sis has an escape route and the bigger sis can't get a chance to corner her. We tried again tonight - left gate open and smaller cat played as normal and occasionally peeked down the stairs where sis was. Sis ignored her for about 20 min then wandered up the stairs and as soon as she got up on same level her ears flattened, her fur stood up on back and she went straight for her spitting and howling. We separated them and within minutes they were pushing a piece of dry food back and forth under the gate. They were acting exactly like they used to be before the incident as long as there is a gate between them. I just don't get it. We spoke with everybody who was there when the incident happened and everybody had same version of what happened... No doubt it was jarring when kitty got her tail pinched but she was freed almost immediately - as soon as she howled her sis cat just lost it.
    Re: the smaller cat's heath - she's def healthy. Vet did no xrays but did do a thorough exam of her tail. Mildly bruised but no broken or dislocated bones and she saw no need to do any blood tests. She is perfectly healthy - she plays hard, eats and drinks well and is incredibly affectionate. She favored her tail for a couple days after the pinch but there's zero lingering effects anymore.
    We tried to get an appt with a diff vet that had an animal behaviour specialist on staff but haven't been able to get them in. We did speak however and it turns out we'd already tried ALL of her initial suggestions (short of the meds route) already so that didn't give us much hope at any rate. The typical endgame in these type of scenarios seems to be based on simply coaxing them to be willing to get close to each other again which is def not the problem (as long as there's a gate...).
    Our next attempt is going to be to have the aggressive sister fostered at a friend of ours (who had cats up until a couple months ago) for a few days to *hopefully* give her instincts a chance to reset in a totally separate environment. Wish us luck -- if this doesn't work it may be our last straw. It would be heartbreaking but this active separation thing is really starting to affect the household....

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