Help, catfight!

Help, catfight!

You ask – we answer:

Q: Hello all. I have 2 cats that grew up together and have always been fine together — Skitz and Daisy. We just recently moved from Connecticut here to Georgia and about a week or so after the settling down and everything, Daisy has gotten very aggressive for no reason. Shes loves, plays with, eats and she sleeps with me every night, wanting to cuddle. But during the day she’s a devil.

We will be playing with Skitz and a rope toy and she comes in attacks him, taking over with the toy and us. She also used to be so good when we were cutting her nails, but now I can’t even touch her — she hisses and tries to attack me. I DO NOT hold her down or anything, I just lightly take her paw LIKE ALWAYS and start to clip. She used to just sit there, now I have to put her in a towel because her nails have gotten so long and sharp, Scruffing her does nothing.

We have tried skiff in her (making a funny noise close to hissing BUT NOT to gain her attention). She looks at us like “I’m not doing anything,” and stops bugging Skitz. But recently that has stopped working altogether. We have even gotten to the point we have used a water spray bottle when we are not close enough to deter her from attacking poor Skitz, (who’ I might add is SOOOO docile and starts NOTHING.) We watch them. Skitz will be sleeping, and Daisy just walks into the room attacks him and walks away.

I don’t know what to do. I feel like it was something I did, but day to day it’s normal. Daisy has HER space, a window perch, her own food dish, and nippy toys, as does Skitz. The litter box is shared, but it’s funny she waits for him to come out PATIENTLY and then uses it no problem. Leaves him alone. So I don’t think its a litter box thing. That’s the only thing that she DOESN’T attack him while doing.

I don’t know what to do. I love her so much, but she’s getting very aggressive. PLEASE HELP ME.

A: Change of environment is one of the most stressful experiences a cat can undergo. Cats are creatures of habit and get very attached to there surroundings. Any time that there is a significant change, cats can go through a period where there may be a change in hierarchy, shifting of dominance roles, or simply frustration and stress (and they have to take it out on someone or something).

Daisy should first have a medical evaluation or in this case an aggression exam. Your vet would be looking for anything that may be making her uncomfortable, that coupled with the stress of the move is making her lash out. For example, she could have a urinary tract infection, a bad tooth that hurts, impacted anal glands, skin allergies making her hypersensitive to being touched.

Some cat households also experience what is called “redirected aggression.” There may be a few neighborhood cats outside your window that are making Daisy frustrated and the only live target she has is Skitz. If every time she sees or experiences the outside cats (or any unpleasant stimulus) Skitz happens to be around, he becomes a target for her fear or frustration. It usually does not take long before she is beating him up with every interaction they have, as she now associates him with something she does not like.

Most behaviorists should be able to help diagnose and treat this problem, but the sooner it is addressed the more successful the outcome. It is imperative that she has a medical evaluation first before it is assumed to be behavioral.

One of the easiest and most important things you can do is make life easier for Skitz. This means providing more than enough of their basic needs so they can avoid each other at all costs if they choose to. You said that they have no problems around the litter box — yet! You are lucky, let’s keep it that way.

Have 3 litter boxes in 3 different locations, 2 feeding stations in different areas and the same goes for water, fuzzy beds, and scratching posts. You want to create a non-competitive, non-confrontation environment. If daisy continues to “stalk” Skitz, then your behaviorists can help make other suggestions, but in the meantime do not force them to interact!

Q: I am not a cat hater! I love all animals! However, could you please tell me how to stop my neighbor’s cats from pooping in MY yard! I don’t want to harm the cats, but it is just not fair to me and my children to have to look out for my neighbor’s cat poop!

A: Your neighbor’s cat may be marking your yard for a variety of reasons and it is probably considered part of his territory, but you may want to look at where in your yard, specifically, he is going. For example, if it is your nicely tilled veggie garden, it may like the area because the soil is nice and loose and easier to dig in than hard clay. If only a specific area like this is being used, perhaps you could find a way to close it off. This would help with other woodland animals eating the fruits of your labor and help with your neighbor’s cat.

As far as deterring cats from the yard, there are a number of humane deterrents on the market that are motion activated and will beep, spray water, or spray compressed air at trespassers. If you do some research online you will be able to find a number of resources and maybe your neighbor would be willing to help pay for them, as the cat is ultimately their responsibility.

Cats also hate citrus smells and you may want to try leaving some citrus peels around the area the cat is frequenting. Garden supply stores have concoctions that are designed to deter different species with different pepper mixtures. You may want to try both black and cayenne pepper — it is not harmful to the cat, but definitely unpleasant. You will have to keep the smell fresh for it to continue to be effective, re-applying after rain, etc.

Another trick is to place chicken wire (or similar material) underneath your top layer of mulch so when the cat goes to scratch, digging will be unsuccessful and they will move on to a place with more cooperative soil. If you have a cat yourself you may want to try leaving some of your cat’s litterbox contents in the frequented areas and see if it acts as a deterrent, as if another cat is coming in and marking the territory now. Of course, be prepared that this may backfire and encourage the need to re-mark.

Lastly, you may try speaking with your neighbor about the problem. It is possible that they have always wanted to make their cat an indoor-only kitty and do not know the best way to go about making the transition.

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