PLEASE HELP! My two cats are fighting to the death!

(48 Posts)
Rouen Mon 05-Nov-12 06:56:58

THIS IS LONG - PLEASE STICK WITH IT, I NEED HELP!!

Hi all - am at the end of my tether... but there's no actual end to this tether because me and DH don't want to ever get rid of one of our cats!

We have 3 female house cats. 2 of them are very similar in age and both will be 3yo in Feb. They have been together since they were 8 weeks old, always got on - slept together, cleaned one another, very affectionate.

Then RANDOMLY one month ago, shit hit the fan. I was with them both in my bedroom when the howling started, the hissing and a massive fight ensued - poo and wee everywhere. One of them actually just wee'd on the spot, then launched into attack. It's nowhere near play fighting - they literally were fighting to the death. When me and DH tried to separate, it was impossible to actually pull them apart and they got incredibly aggressive towards us, lashing out. In the end, we used water to distract them but even then it took a while to get them into separate rooms. There was a really intense hate, the sounds they were both making were terrible.

We had plugged in Feliway the week before this happened as we'd found some cheeky patches of wee. It's not a big deal, they've been known to do it before if they're not 100% happy with their FIVE litter trays!

The day after the first fight, they seemed to have recovered and were sleeping together when again, out of nowhere, the real nastiness started, along with the wee and poo and terrible noises. (Our third cat is a little Persian baby, she just runs away and hides and they leave her alone).

The two girls have now been separated for over a month, but we've tried to reintroduce them through the glass doors, but even a month on, just the sight of each other drives them crazy, and the hissing and growling starts.

It's getting pretty hard to keep them separated - just last night, one of them ran out of the bedroom when DH quickly opened the door and they had another fight. Wasn't as intense as the first, but still pretty bad. Again, could only separate them by using water. Don't know how much longer we can live like this - one of them stays with baby Persian in the lounge/hallway/garage (we made the garage a cat playroom, so there's five rooms in total for them to chill in) and one of the 'naughty' ones has our bedroom. The litter trays in each room are driving us crazy, and it's generally so unfair to keep one of them cooped up in the bedroom all day while we're at work.

However - we ADORE these cats, and it's just too hard to even think about trying to rehome one of them. They are ours, our responsibility and even if we did want to rehome, I'm pretty sure everywhere round here is too full to take one of them (I couldn't choose one to rehome even if I tried sad) and we have no friends that would want to take one. They are such lovely cats, I just want everything to go back to normal sad

Has anyone got any experience of how to deal with this? Vets were useless, just asked if one of them was ill (no) and said just buy some Feliway. Have had it plugged in since the week before it kicked off, I know it takes a while but I think this is a deeper problem - they seem to really hate each other. Do you let cats 'fight it out'? It just seems cruel, and I'm scared they'd do some serious damage to each other.

PLEASE HELP!! Can't carry on like this sad

Rouen Sat 17-Nov-12 11:32:54

I love my 3 black cats! They are fabulous. And although everyone always asks how I tell them apart, me and DH can really see a difference in their faces. Such a shame people think that way about rehoming them. Don't want to rehome her anyway.

mignonette sorry to hear about your lovely Thomas, hope you're okay. Cats are such wonderful animals, they bring so much happiness into our lives, I like to think we do the same for them x

HazeltheMcWitch Thu 15-Nov-12 12:52:16

Rouen - thanks for updating. I will continue to watch this thread. Hope you get some joy with the behaviouralist.
It's true about black cats, alas. My lovely black cat was in a rescue for about 9mths before we came along. I was told that it was a mixture of superstition, and people thinking that 'all black cats look the same'...

mignonette - very sorry to hear about Thomas. Hope you're doing ok.

mignonette Thu 15-Nov-12 11:26:43

I love black cats. My cat died on tuesday totally unexpectedly and on the day I had posted photographs from Pin off him on MN. Maybe one day I will rehome a black cat if there's a problem with finding them homes when i have come to terms with losing my lovely Thomas.

I hope you get some resolution.

Rouen Thu 15-Nov-12 10:14:27

UPDATE! Sorry it's taken so long.

So, we went to the vet (a new vet - the other one was useless and clueless) and he said we'd done everything right so far with the separation, the Feliway, the Zylkene (thanks for this, btw - have seen some improvement). He said that he's never heard of a situation as bad as this without any obvious catalyst, so he's given us the number of a behaviourist. We're filling out all the LONG questionnaire for her now, and have realised DH's change in work hours a few weeks before may be the problem, but the aggression is still going just as strong no matter what we do. Vet says rehoming isn't a real solution because black cats don't tend to get rehomed v easily because of superstition (WTF!)

msrisotto Wed 07-Nov-12 06:50:23

I think, if you let one outside, it will vote with it's feet and you won't see it again. That said, it seems cruel to let this situation continue. Cats are not sociable creatures and often reject other cats at around the age of 3 years as they mature. Prepare yourself to rehome at least one. Kittens are usually tolerated by older cats as they aren't a threat but I imagine little Persian could be rejected as she grows as well.

Cynner Wed 07-Nov-12 06:25:15

I am watching this thread with great interest. My problem revolves around my two young male cats. They are constantly having a go at my poor old lady cat. She is very tiny and very timid. Often when she is having a cuddle with me one of the male cats will stroll by and swat at her. She retreats under bed immediately, and I carry the offending boy kitty out with a firm NO. Things become worse when both males set upon her.
This situation makes me v sad. Separately, both boys are lovely. I love them all, and jut wish they would let kitty girl alone..

Bilbobagginstummy Tue 06-Nov-12 22:50:19

Ooh, skang - that is REALLY interesting. My 2 cats scrap a bit and the aggressor is the one I always feel I should make a bit more fuss of, and he's also the one who lets the other eat his food.

Maybe I will just fuss the dominant one even more and see what happens. Feels a bit mean, though. sad

Dontbesodramatic Tue 06-Nov-12 21:12:10

This may sound mad but try a homeopath. Ours offers treatment for relaxing a cat on journeys and treatment for stress too.
Worth a try if things are bad..

cozietoesie Tue 06-Nov-12 20:24:26

Interesting, Skang. Thanks for that.

Skang Tue 06-Nov-12 20:07:29

Our two cats (male and nowhere near as angry as yours by the sound of it) used to fight a lot. We spoke to our vet about it and she said that you can tell which is the dominant cat by how they eat - if one cat is 'in charge' with the food then that is the dominant one. Our 2nd cat will leave his own food to barge our 1st one off his food and eat it so he is apparery the dominant one.

2nd cat is more affectionate in nature than 1st and will sit on my lap etc where as 1st cat always wants to be around us but sitting on people is below him! I think because of this we always made more effort to stroke 1st cat, to stop him feeling left out! He is a bit of a lurker and it's easy to imagine he is sulking. He was always the one starting the fights by randomly attacking 2nd cat.

Well, in the vets opinion it was us causing the fighting. She said that 2nd cat is naturally dominant and by making a fuss of 1st cat we were upsetting the balance and making 1st cat think that he was dominant, and he was therefore attacking 2nd cat to try and put him in his place.

She suggested we always put 2nd cat's food down first and always stroked him and made a fuss of him first when we came in etc. It seemed to work for us! The fighting stopped. They still have the occasional tif but nothing like the hours on end of scuffling of before.

My cat doesnt like feliway at all, I got the spray one for the inside of his cat carrier but it makes him more agitated on journeys rather than less.

Our vet said when cats fight one of them has to back down and it takes longer to establish a hierarchy if neither is willing to back down.

I think you have two cats who dont want to back down. sad

Rouen Tue 06-Nov-12 11:32:59

Thanks for the zylkene tip - sounds like something that could work!

The Persian came just about 6 months after we got the other two (we didn't want more than 2, but she needed a home asap and she's a delight) and introducing them went really well. Angrycat1 can be around her at the moment with no problems - Persian washes her and vice versa. Angrycat2 was initially fine with Persian (this after the fighting and separation began), but after seeing Angrycat1 through a glass door, was too riled up for me to comfortably leave them together. Persian is quite small and not a fighter, so it's easier to leave her with Angrycat1 most of the time. Which leaves Angrycat2 alone most of the time (apart from human company).

They all have litter boxes of their own and bowls of food and water in their own rooms. Am trying to keep them accustomed to each others scent by moving them round the different rooms in the house.

No work or anything happening in the house.

Last night it went like this: they hadn't seen each other for a day (they are never put in same room) and they saw one another through the glass door. The noises were terrible, they were desperately throwing themselves at the door and it was just generally violent. V upsetting because the whole seperation has been going on for WEEKS!

Spoke to a vet on phone yesterday, useless. "just get some feliway"
Going to take AC2 to another vet.

Thanks for all the feedback - it's really helpful smile going to look into zylkene

I second trying zylkene. I have a very laid back (huge!) male and a very aggressive (tiny but fat) female. My lovely boy was not intimidated by the fat fury (he just sat on her grin ) but she wouldn't leave him alone. The zylkene made a real difference and now she's stopped having it she's still quite calm.

HazeltheMcWitch Tue 06-Nov-12 00:00:49

Has anything else changed, since just before the aggression started? Eg new food, building works, new visitors?

You've probably said already, but how long have you had the Persian?

RedwingWinter Mon 05-Nov-12 23:50:57

This sounds like a bit of a nightmare, especially since they are such lovely cats! How did you get on at the vet?

I am wondering where the little Persian fits into this. Is it possible that their arrival was the catalyst for this kicking off, or had they already been part of the household for a long time too?

Also, how do the two Angrycats get along if the persian is not in the room? Are they better then or is it still daggers drawn?

I think since they have been separated for a while, it won't work to just reintroduce them quickly. It would be better to do so slowly, by re-introducing them to each others scent first, as you would do if you had brought home a brand new cat. Take something that smells of AngryCat1 (such as a blanket they have been laying on) and let AngryCat2 have a smell of it, and vice versa. If that goes okay, then rub a cloth on AngryCat1's cheeks (where the scent glands are), and then on AngryCat2, to transfer scent from one to the other. And vice versa, from Cat1 to Cat2. Only once you have been doing that for a while and it is going okay should you let them see each other again.

To be honest, I would include the persian in all this scent-swapping too, because their presence is possibly part of the issue, from the AngryCats' perspective.

Also, try to think like a cat and check that each one has access to all the things they need and that they are in locations they can feel safe. Obviously they have enough litter boxes between them, but check that the boxes and food bowls etc aren't in locations where another cat could easily pounce on them. And if you haven't done it already, make sure you have really got rid of the smell of wee and poo, by using a dilute solution of biological washing powder, or one of those cleaners from the pet store that says it gets rid of animal odours. (spot test it before using on anything that might stain). Normal household cleaners don't get rid of the smell, as far as the cat is concerned.

Obviously I haven't seen them but from your description it does sound like AngryCat2 is scared. Your vet will be able to recommend a behaviourist who will be able to come round and observe and give advice.

I think since they co-existed before, it should be possible to get them to co-exist again. There are some cats that won't tolerate other cats, but they are usually the ones that have been brought up in relative isolation from kittenhood and didn't mingle with other cats during their critical phases of development. Obviously that doesn't apply to your cats, so I think you can sort it out.

Sometimes when a cat is stressed by something, they can instead take it out on the next nearest thing. That's why I asked where the persian fits into this scenario. Even if the persian is nothing to do with the problem, I think you have to treat all cats together to try and resolve it. Good luck!

P.S. Don't let them just fight it out. Cats can injure each other and it can cost a lot in cleaning up and antibiotics at the vet, never mind being horrible for the cat.

endoftherainbow Mon 05-Nov-12 21:54:23

I only have two felines but they have in the last three months been fighting off and on. The first occasion was due to changes being done at the house. Couldn't leave them together without them fighting. More recently one attacks the other if she sees the 'new' cat in our garden - seems to upset her so she goes at the other one in the house. I was recommended the plug in thing but it can make some cats worse so I too removed it. More recently I've been giving them zylkene which had been recommended by their breader. I found it on line via a major 'generic' retailer. Both eat it mixed into their food and after a couple of weeks being separated when in the house they've returned to their 'old relationship'. My two, have also been together since being kittens.

Rouen Mon 05-Nov-12 08:50:55

Will give an update when I know more - have to keep reminding myself that ultimately they are animals and some of their behaviour is inexplicable!

mignonette Mon 05-Nov-12 08:45:06

Am interested to have updates on this, Rouen. The vagaries of cats are an endless source of fascination.

Rouen Mon 05-Nov-12 08:42:34

'Like a stealth bomber' made me laugh! Yep, I'm googling it and will talk to the vet about a behaviourist later. I'm going to take AngryCat2 to the vet first because she's the most vocal - as in, you walk into a room and she's got something to say about it. Not in an aggressive way, in a bit of a whingey way. She put on a lot of weight after being neutered and we're slowing getting her weight down but I can't help but wonder if there is something else going on with her. She seems happy and has the loudest purr ever (like a pneumatic drill!) But who knows! I'm going to ask the vet to do some blood work just in case

mignonette Mon 05-Nov-12 08:30:35

Our cat has been with us a year after walking in off the street as a stray. He's no nonsense tolerating sweetheart except with one neighbouring cat. He takes great pleasure in attacking him and neither will submit. They regularly set off car alarms with their fighting underneath parked cars and have brought neighbours out into the street because of the commotion they make. He sits on the shed roof and drops onto the other cat like a stealth bomber. The vet thinks they may never sort it out because they both seem to enjoy it. My cat walks about like John Wayne after a fight, swinging his non-existent balls......

Sorry to say that if removing the Feliway doesn't work, then cat behaviourist may be your only hope. Cats, like humans, can develop permanent hatred towards another of their species..

Rouen Mon 05-Nov-12 08:21:49

Bilbo have talked about getting a cat behaviour expert - def worth doing for us. Will do anything to get them to at least tolerate each other

Bilbobagginstummy Mon 05-Nov-12 08:20:11

Oh, xpost re going outside. Yes definitely try letting them all out - will give them something else to think about.

Bilbobagginstummy Mon 05-Nov-12 08:19:04

I agree with getting rid of the Feliway and seeing if that helps. I never found it any good anyway - and you're right it's very expensive the profit margins must be huge as vets are always pushing it.

The Cats Protection magazine has a regular feature with a cat behaviour expert. Mostly those point out how the owners' behaviour is the catalyst for the cats' difficult behaviour, but nevertheless it might be worth looking into someone like this who can come and watch you & the cats and see if they can suggest techniques for stopping it.

Or you could just leave the cats access to each other and go out for the day, let them fight it out and tend the wounds afterwards sad.

Rouen Mon 05-Nov-12 08:18:08

Catsrus We've talked about letting one of them go outside - there's only one that I'm confident enough to let out as she's a little more 'switched on' than the other two, though I am scared she'll just fight with other cats instead. Will consider this though - I'd much rather try this than rehome.

Rouen Mon 05-Nov-12 08:15:58

I know! They got along so well - so affectionate towards each other and sleeping together. There's enough space for them to get away from each other and more than enough love and attention given to them all to keep them happy. It's really sad.

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