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Terri, Feline Healthcare Expert
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 32666
Experience:  Expert in feline health and behavior. 20 years experience with cats.
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What can I do to stop my cats from fighting? Background: They were bro

Customer Question

What can I do to stop my cats from fighting? Background: They were brought home from seperate shelters 2 days apart from each other. I introduced via seperate rooms with a doubled up baby gate so they could see but not touch each other. after about three days the older jumped the gate and they saw each other and were face to face. They walk past each other now and are in the same rooms with each other without conflict. I have provided seperate litter boxes, food, etc. We are mindful to spend equal time with each. One is 3 years old other is 1 year old both female. The older one originally started with the hissing and growling behind the gate but has since come around and now the younger one is hissing/growling at the older. occasionally they will fight/wrestle but fights do not draw blood and end within seconds with no damage. Growling/hissing are frequent fights are occasional. We are worried what to do. It has been 2 weeks now since formal introduction. Feliway is in use in the house
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Terri replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry you are having trouble with the fur kids.
Which kitty came to your house first?
Was it the tortie?
Is it just a lot of noise or have they scratched each other?
Which cat seems to be the head kitty (alpha)?
After your reply please give me a few minutes to type detailed answer.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Terri,The tortie was the first to come home and the baby came 2 days later. When the baby (Willow) came home she would hiss/growl through the gate at the tortie who who just let out a long goanlike meow. From what we have experienced recently the tortie will come up to Willow in what appears to be a friendly enc**ter and Willow will growl as she gets closer eventually ending in a hiss. The tortie will do the same goaning meow for some time then slowly back away and walk away slowly as if unconcerned. Sporadically, we will hear the noise of a fight which lasts a second or two which will result in the tortie running into us and Willow hiding behind a couch or under a chair for some time. No blood, cuts, scratches, or and harm seems to be apparent. The scuffle usually happens if the tortie gets too close. The torie is much bigger and stronger than the baby but will not hurt her is appears. Between the noise and the fight is literally 3 to 4 seconds then they go seperate ways.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The tortie approaches Willow very slowly but confidently and leaves in much the same way. Both are still eating and using the litterbox regularly. It concerns us because we want them both to be happy but more importantly we dont want it to escalate to where the tortie can harm her because due to the size difference it seems as that could happen easily.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
im not sure who has assumed the alpha role. I would think the tortie based on size and demeanor but the baby seems to be far more agressive and prone to fight which is strange because when the two were seperated the baby was very loving and affectionate. at times she will even growl at us if we try to pet her.
Expert:  Terri replied 2 years ago.
Thanks so much for your very helpful reply.
Bless you for saving two shelter kitties!
Don't worry a bit about hissing - it is completely normal.
It is absolutely normal for your resident cat to vehemently object to any newcomers. All her hissing means is:" Hey, who are you? You smell different!! I don't recognize your scent and I am head cat around here - so watch it!!!"AND the baby will know that and expect it.Hissing from the baby just means "I"m scared"!
This is the way cats act when they are first introduced.They have a specific language they use to communicate with each other.
You do not need a behaviorist for cats. They are really quite easy to understand.
They do not rationalize, nor are they capable of in depth thought or reasoning.
Everything they do is basic, logical (to them) and makes purrfect sense.
In a cat heirarchy a strong kitty will always try to take over and assume the head cat position. In addition, that is always subject to changes if cat one senses weakness in cat two. Cats DO work things out in their own way and they could care less what humans (or behaviorists) think. They only respond to the energy of another animal be it feline, canine or human.
At this point they are in the process of establishing a pack standing. You MUST allow them to do this. In every relationship there must be a leader and a follower. I think the torie will be the leader. Did you ever hear of tortiude lol? It is an attitude specific to tortoiseshell cats.
JUST IGNORE IT and let the girls work things out on their own. I promise they will.....if you let them. DO NOT separate them because if you do it just delays their bonding.
Feed them side by side so they see "good" things happen when they are together.
Engage them in play with a feather wand or laser pointer.
Please let me know how things are going. Just press reply and I will be here for you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply, I was concerned with the growling and hissing because I thought a brawl would brake out with blood and fur flying. Thankfully no ijuries. It does surprise me that the tortie will not harm the baby even though the baby seems to be the antagonist. Clearly the older cat is bigger and more able to defend herself. The hiding from the baby is what worries me most because I dont want her to think we arent there for/defending her. The growling at us was also a concern of mine. My girlfriend and i have been sick with worry and going through sleepless nights worring if they will be ok.
Expert:  Terri replied 2 years ago.
You are more then welcome. It is my pleasure to help such a wonderful person.
Try to relax and let the cats work out the pack standings.
Don't worry about hissing and growling It is just cat language, the way they communicate.
Think of young children playing and screaming ..... sound familiar?
Expert:  Terri replied 2 years ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for staying in touch. They are still fighting. The baby is hiding all the time and the tortie keeps going up to her to say hi. The baby will growl and swat then hide again. The older cat keeps trying to go up to her if she goes into a different room. The have a spat then the tortie just walks away. We are trying to just let it run its course but it hard because we want to keep them safe and happy.
Expert:  Terri replied 2 years ago.
I would like you to give this a try.
Sit down with a pillow. The minute the tortie goes up to the baby to chase her say NO and gently push her back with the pillow.
YOU MUST be consistent! If you do it every single time tortie will see that her behavior will not be tolerated. Baby will gain confidence because she will see tortie being stopped.
BUT the second tortie approaches calmly and quietly give her an immediate food treat so she sees good behavior is rewarded.
As they get more friendly feed them side by side so they see good things happen when they are together.
Please let me know how things are going. I expect you will see good results.