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CalCatDoc, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 341
Experience:  I have 31 years of clinical experience, with the past 22 years being in a feline-exclusive practice.
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We have had two littermates years. Both female. They were

Customer Question

We have had two littermates for 5 years. Both female. They were spayed between 6mo and 1 yr. At the age of 18 months, the girls began fighting after an unfortunate trip to the vet. However, we worked through that. Then a year later we had a series of big fights. Apparently one of the girls is allergic to fleas, and since neither my husband nor I knew she had fleas or of a flea allergy, she broke out in hives and started behaving very badly. We of course got her treatment, but I think that created such anxeity in the other cat. After the bad behavior while having the allergic reaction to fleas, we tried to re-introduce the girls, and they were sort of ok. We would keep them separated while we were not home and let them our at night while we could keep an eye on them. They would fight periodically. Once, their fight happened in the bedroom, and one cat ended up attacking me, which lead to both cats being de-clawed (front only). We have started keeping them in separate rooms at night, and still the girls will fight during the day. It's not all the time, but at least daily. It seems like a territory issue with the cat who was attacked when the other had the flea allergy. She starts these fights with a defensive territory behavior. Now, when they fight, we move them in their "rooms". When I go to check on the one who has such bad anxiety after a fight, she will turn her aggression toward me. My husband and I are really sick of this. They are supposed to be our pets, not psycho projects. We are considering starting a family soon, and I definitely cannot have her doing this around a child. I have spoken with the vet several times. We have instituted the "house of plenty", feliway, their own territories, designated playtimes, etc for over a year, and nothing has changed. Should we look to re-home her to a single-cat family, put her down? I really can't take all this stress at home anymore. I'm to the point of showing her the door, but she's so fearful, I think that would be a terrible life for her. Please help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.

Hi! I'm CalCatDoc and I might be able to help with your questions.

Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.

I not only have practiced exclusively on cats for 24 years, but have had plenty of challenging behavior to deal with in my personal cats.

Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.

Aggression and conflict problems like this are not rare, but can be tough to set straight. We do have some useful pharmaceutical tools to help out, though.

In addition to the usual measures (Feliway diffusers, multiple litter box and food/water stations to minimize unwanted contact) I have found use of paroxetine (Paxil) to be very helpful in intercat conflicts with aggression predominating and with secondary redirected aggression (where they go after any convenient humans).

My hospital mascot came to us as an apparent bottle baby, at the age of 6 months. We found out on day one that he HATED other cats. He also would violently attack nearby humans if he couldn't get to the other cat (a patient in a hospital cage). I originally put him on buspirone which is my go-to drug for inappropriate urination since it is a great anti-anxiety drug in cats. But he still had some increasing aggression issues so after several months of wishful thinking I took him off buspirone and started paroxetine.

He's like a new cat. He is basically "safe" now and very loving even if other cats are nearby. I don't think he'll ever be completely normal, but compared to how he was, this is orders of magnitude better.

So I am a big believer in paroxetine in cats with aggression issues. I have also started using it in select patients and they all do well with it and we do see improvements. It's not a cure, but it can get them through a rough period and back into their normal behavior pattern.

Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.

I have Markie on 5 mg daily and it's been about 4 months, but I saw improvement within just a couple of days. They do say that it takes about 4 months for them to totally adjust to it. I may try dropping his dose to 2.5 mg daily soon, but I don't feel like I have to. He's very happy now.

Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.

When you have conflict between two cats in a household, same 2 cats every day rather than new ones like here, you need to look at their behavior and figure out who the aggressor is so you are treating the correct cat. The submissive one might or might not benefit from use of buspirone but I don't normally start right away treating both parties.

Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.

I recommend you talk to your vet about giving it a try.

Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.