MeOW everypawdy. Can you believe it? It’s already Service Cat Monday again. And, the second week in October. This year has just flown by. Anyways, we’ve got some good questions fur ya’ today, so let me get the business outta the way and we’ll get right to it. The followin’ post will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat Monday posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Trainin’ Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy thru her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. And to offur insight into your questions about Feline Behavior. Ifin you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, purrlease let us know in the comments section or send us an email. When asking behavioral questions, purrlease be as specific as pawssible. And, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the end of this post. Always remember, Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards.
So, our question today comes from awnty Ellen of 15 and Meowing. She asks, “Is there anything that will get Sammy to stop trying to beat up Brody?” First let us say, we’re so sorry you’re having this problem, especially since you were great enough to save Brody from a life on the streets. Secondly, YES, there is hope that Sammy and Brody can live together in peace. Ideally, we know you’d love to see them curled up together having a grooming session. While we can’t promise that, we can at least give you and others going through similar things some tips to help create an alliance/peace accord. We must address the fact that awnty Ellen’s house has gone through a lot of changes since Brody joined their family; the latest being the loss of our dearly beloved Phoebe.
As most of you know, cats don’t particularly like change. And, as we discussed previously, cats do have a hierarchy/pecking order when living in multi-cat households. Any loss creates a vacuum in that hierarchy and can cause a bit of turmoil until the cats figure out the new dynamics. The same is true when a new cat is added to the house. Brody came into the house at a time shortly after another loss in his new family. If we recall correctly, he was a bit timid and did some hiding out. While that may have helped Brody adjust to his new surroundings and family, it also marked him as prey. Although Sammy was the resident cat, he was also experiencing changes brought about by the loss of other housemates.
There are several reasons that Sammy could be acting out and taking it out on Brody. These causes could be Redirected Aggression, Fear or Posturing/Dominance. Causes of Redirected Aggression could be that another cat is acting out towards Sammy. Brody may act as prey and run from Sammy causing him to go into hunt, catch and kill mode. If this is the reason for Sammy’s actions, Redirecting him to an appropriate outlet for his aggression is key. At the first sign of any Aggression towards Brody/kitty, Sammy’s attention should be diverted. A loud noise such as a hand clap or the shaking of a coin can (aluminum can with a few coins inside) should cause Sammy/the Aggressor to stop and look for the origins of the noise. Immediately after the noise, say “STOP” in a firm but calm voice and throw a favorite toy for Sammy/kitty to chase instead. Remember, squirt guns, water bottles and the like Do Not help!!!
Sammy may also be acting out of Fear. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know and/or fix what might cause a cat to Fear. But Redirecting the abhorrent behavior will still work. In the meantime, it’s important to build Brody’s/kitty’s confidence in order teach him not to run away and act like prey. Interactive play in the presence of Sammy/the Aggressor and the other kitties will help. But, remember, the point is to help Brody/kitty gain confidence, so ignore any other kitty that may try to join in unless their presence emboldens Brody/shy or passive kitty. Whenever possible, have a second person making sure Sammy/the Aggressor doesn’t interfere with the confidence building exercise. This person might offer Sammy/the Aggressor treats, pats, or brushing during the session. But, only give Rewards when Sammy/the Aggressor is exhibiting the proper behavior and ignoring Brody/kitty. Never Reward Inappropriate Behavior.
Lastly, if Sammy is acting out due to posturing, it’s up to the human to figure out the acceptable pecking order within their home and Reinforce it. Although this may sound a bit silly, it will certainly make for a more peaceful home. Always greet the Alpha Cat first and then the next in line and so on. Food, treats, grooming and all other interactive activities should start with the Alpha cat and go down the line of succession as well. It is extremely helpful to have scheduled feedings as opposed to free feeding. Free feeding can often cause small spats over left over food bowls. So, to wrap this up, we suggest building confidence in the kitty (Brody) who is receiving the aggression, and Redirecting the more Aggressive kitty (Sammy).
2 happy kitties coexisting peacefully.
That’s it fur this posty. We know this scenario is one played out in many homes each day. We do hope we have helped in some way. We should also say that you have one last option, and that would be to start all over and slowly Reintroduce the kitties by separating them and going through the scent and site swapping methods we discussed in our Fighting or Posturing post or Reintegrating the Scared or Bullied Cat (links below), if you have the extra space. But we do think Redirection and Confidence building is enough, as long as you’re consistent. Remember, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can click on the links below. And as always, we love hearing from you. Leave your thoughts, comments, post suggestions and/or questions in the comment section below or send us an email.
Till the next time…………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle