Two siblings newly fighting

genuineform19

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Hello all, my first post here. Thank you sincerely in advance for any help provided!

I adopted two kittens (male & female) from a local town shelter two years ago. They are unrelated and I adopted them when they were about 2 months old. They've always gotten along since we brought them home, with an occasional spat here and there. Nothing too serious. The male is much more dominant than the female. The female (Hazel) has always been extremely affectionate and loving while the male (Bobby) has more of a selfish, pet me and worship me attitude.

We rescued another female (Reese) last summer and she assimilated to the family very well after about 2 months of socializing her with Hazel and Bobby.

For the past year or so, a neighbors cat has been snooping around in our front yard at night. Our cats DO NOT like him, especially Bobby. If Bobby is looking out of the front door and the stranger appears, he goes ballistic and they try to kill each other through the glass. When I go to close the door, he turns and lunges at my legs and attacks me. He behaves well at all other times except when this cat comes to visit.

The main issue:

Fast forward to last week. Around 3am, the neighbors cat came to visit and there is a brawl near the front window between Bobby and the foreign cat. Apparently Hazel was near Bobby as this happened and he damn near killed her after being tuned up by seeing the outsider. He chased her all over the house, brutally attacking her. He cut her, ripped her fur out and terrorized her. She defecated and urinated all over the house as she was being chased. She was out of breath and terrified of being near him. I split up the battle and Bobby calmed down very quickly. Hazel on the other hand was terrified for close to 12 hours. I've never seen a fight this bad. I got her cleaned up, went back to bed and when I woke up, she was still apprehensive about being near Bobby. By the end of that day, things were near normal again. The next morning, the same thing happened except the neighbors cat didn't trigger it. We think a deliveryman startled them both and Bobby went attacking her again. Same thing all over again. It's happened another two times since then. Now she won't go anywhere near him, she hides on top of a book shelf and when they get close, she hisses and spits at him. He doesn't instigate anything, just his presence makes her hiss - this is totally unlike her. She has never hissed or been aggressive towards anyone, human or animal since we adopted her. Now after witnessing these altercations up close, it seems as if Bobby's presence makes her hostile because of her memory of her being terrorized by him. She hisses to let him know to keep away and what started as them innocently walking past each other in the hallway turns into Bobby seeing her hissing as aggression and the fighting ensues. He is much bigger and more dominant than her, so I'm afraid I will come home from work one day to find her dead on the floor.

I can't imagine the stress she is going through and I don't know what to do. I really want to help them both because we've had 2 years of such a great bond between them. I have considered separating them in different rooms, but I don't want to go through life having them live in separate rooms. I have tried feeding them treats face to face, which they are fine with - no fighting at that point. I try petting them at the same time while their eating their treats together. It seems to calm them. But that's the only time they will get close. I tried putting them together next to an open window today to get some fresh air and watch birds which they normally love, but Hazel didn't want to be next to him and started hissing.

What do I do to help them? I'm very upset!

Thank you

-Joe
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi! And welcome!! This is classic re-directed aggression. Bobby being upset by the outdoor cat lashes out at anyone/thing around him because he so riled up. He is now on high-alert because of that cat, that other noises out of the ordinary - like the deliveryman - are creating the same effect.

First off, can you find a way to keep Bobby away from the area that this is occurring in for now? He probably should also be separated from the other cats at this time as well. You also need to see if you can determine where this foreign cat is coming from, and ideally get it to stay away from your house. Is it a stray, does it belong to a neighbor? There are solutions for both. But, you need to get rid of this original source of the problem or you won't be able to help Bobby and the other cats in your home. For strays, you might consider calling rescue centers/shelters to see if they can trap it, look for the actual owner, and/or set it up for adoption. For a neighbor's cat, you can talk to the neighbor and let them know what is going on. If they are not cooperative, you can use things like cat deterrent sprays around your house, or placing chicken wire on the ground around the house - as most cats do not like to walk on the wire. Some people have even resorted to motion detection sprinklers when no other solution could be found - although that is an 'iffy' endeavor if it involves a neighbor's cat.

I would try some calming diffusers in your home to see if they might help calm Bobby and settle down the other cats as well.

Then, if removal of the foreign cat and keeping Bobby away from that area of the house for a while doesn't settle things down, you will need to consider re-introductions between the cats. Below are some links to TCS articles on re-directed aggression and introducing cats.
Re-directed Aggression In Cats – TheCatSite Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles

Good luck! Keep us posted.
 
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genuineform19

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Hi FeebysOwner, thank you for your comprehensive reply!

The strange thing is, the neighbor's cat has been coming around for about a year now and this redirected aggression has NEVER happened until this past week. The cat is my next door neighbor's and I can't see the neighbor taking kindly to me asking her to keep it indoors. I was thinking I could keep it away by running a hose under my bushes and poking some pinholes on it to have it spray out water lightly to deter the cat.

There would be no way for me to keep Bobby away from that window unless I lock him in another room. It's my living room bow window or front door where this occurs.

The problem is no longer startling noises or the cat outside. The problem seems to be that the two cats just don't get along, period.

I guess I will try separating and reintroducing them.

Thank you again for your help!

-Joe
 

FeebysOwner

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I wonder if the neighbor's cat hasn't been neutered (or spayed) and that is the reason for the more recent behavior. I presume Bobby is neutered. The other thing to consider is that there is an underlying illness going on with Bobby. Sometimes, cats will act out aggressively if they are not feeling well. I can't imagine Bobby can smell this other cat, can he? Maybe the other cat is ill. I do think you still need to talk to the neighbor, just to let them know what is going on. Maybe they might have some ideas about how to help with the situation that doesn't entail their cat having to be kept inside. If not, it wouldn't hurt to try your approach with the water sprinkling concept - a little more gentle than mine.

As far as them now not getting along - the animosity has been created, so yes it probably has gone beyond other provocations at this point. So, separation and re-introduction might be your only option. However, one cat would initially have to be placed elsewhere in your house in order to do so - so, why not Bobby? That would 'kill two birds with one stone' so to speak.
 
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genuineform19

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I'm not too sure about Gato (the neighbor's cat) being neutered, but I can ask the her. The neighbor is a slightly cranky older woman who I can't see being too receptive to my problems. Bobby cannot smell him because while any interaction has ever occurred between them, the windows have been closed. Aside from these issues, Bobby seems very healthy. I guess a visit to the vet couldn't hurt.

I will try separating them and trying a reintroduction. I really hope it works. My heart is broken for Hazel because she's such a sweetie and despite fighting with Bobby, she still is to the humans.

Thank you so much!
 
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