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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Emergency Help Needed - Serious Cat Fights

Hi everyone, it's the girls' Mommeh here, asking for some serious advice.  We have started having some major cat fights here and today it's gotten so bad I don't know what to do.  

For 2 years, Attie and Audrey have been the very best of friends.  Sisters who share toys, treats, food, blankies, beds, laps, and everything else.  Last Sunday, 6 days ago, they suddenly broke out into a knock-down, drag-out, nail-digging, big-biting fight.  This was no little tiff with a bout of smacky-paws and then finished.  This was a completely unstoppable storm that really frightened me.  I was terrified someone was going to be seriously hurt.  Tried to get them apart but they were NOT having it.  Managed eventually, and put Audrey in the bedroom while Attie hid on top of the cabinets in the kitchen.  Eventually Attie came down for some comforting, and Audrey was just stretched out relaxing in the bedroom as if nothing had happened.  (She gets over things very easily and then stares at you like you're stupid for ever having been worried, but Attie stays traumatized for quite a while, presumably because of her past with the abuse.)  So I let them chill for about 2 hours, gave each some catnip and treats, and waited until all seemed calm.  Let Audrey slowly out of the bedroom, but the second they caught sight of each other, BAM, right back at it.  Tore them away from each other again, even more difficult than the first time.  Well that was it for the night I decided.  Audrey stayed in the bedroom because she was totally fine, and I slept out with Attie on the couch to calm her down because she takes a long time to get over being upset.  The next morning I woke up early for work to take stock of the situation.  I again let Audrey out of the bedroom, and they didn't fight, just sort of ignored each other, and I was scared to leave them alone for the day but I was scheduled to work 14hrs and I felt it was cruel to leave them both locked up alone for all that time, so I just crossed my fingers and prayed a little bit and left, hoping I'd come home to two whole cats.  I did, and it seemed to be over.  Absolutely cannot figure out what started it, but after that they were totally fine the whole entire week, back to sleeping snuggled up together and everything.

Unfortunately it seemed I was wrong when I assumed it was a one-time issue.  Last night, the same fight broke out again, and it seemed even more violent if that's possible.  Broke them up and put Audrey in the bedroom again and decided to just keep them apart until morning.  Unfortunately Audrey scooted out past my feet when I opened the bedroom door and it happened a second time, and this was even more horrifying because they ended up underneath the very low couch where I couldn't reach them.  It just kept going on and on no matter what I tried to stick under there to stop it.  

I can't describe how scary these fights were.  Horrible screaming and yowling, hissing, spitting, strangling each other, really hard injurious biting, Audrey's claws sinking in…  Terrible, just terrible.  So I spent half the night on the couch and half in the bedroom so no one would feel i was favoring one over the other.  Again this morning they were allowed in the same room again - big mistake.  It took about 3 seconds, literally, for the fight to begin again.  Audrey came over in an aggressive manner, Attie hissed and growled, and backed away, and then Audrey made the first strike with her huge claws.  I will say I'm in quite a bit of pain just now, as I attempted to protect Attie and stop the fight, Audrey's claws sunk into my hand and wrist and I've got several very deep punctures there now.  Even more upsetting is that the sacrifice of my own skin didn't stop the fight, and it got worse until I could rip them apart again.  So as I type, Audrey is in the bedroom purring in a pile of laundry as if nothing happened, and Attie is shaking and hiding on my lap.  She's doing the same thing she does when I take her to the vet and she's terrified, burying her head in the crook of my arm and crying.  She always buries her head like an ostrich when she's truly scared.  

Although I have not been able to figure out what started the original fight, the point of origin doesn't actually seem to matter anymore, they just are going at it now, regardless.  And I can't tell which one is usually the aggressor, they seem to take turns.  So having read about it on the CB, I just ordered a Feliway diffuser off Amazon.  I wish I could have gone to the store to pick it up right away, but I'm on a very tight budget just now and Amazon's price was significantly less than two local pet stores.  It's due to arrive Tuesday evening.  I hope it helps a little when it arrives, but until then it seems I really may just have to keep them sequestered, which horrifies me.  Each has her own litter, food, water, toys, etc, and I'll have to rotate them each day/night so not just one is locked into a room.  I can't really keep one in the bedroom, that strikes me as favoritism since I'll be sleeping in there with whoever it is, so I've decided to shut one in the extra room we have and leave one out in the house, taking turns doing so.  Breaks my heart, they have been such good sisters, but this has got to stop.

Attie is still shaking and hiding, and it's been over an hour, so I'm starting to think she may not be feeling well on top of whatever is going on here.  I can't afford it at the moment, so I hope it isn't too serious.  When I get paid on Friday I will take her to the vet.  Until then I'd appreciate and welcome any ideas, advice, criticism, ANYTHING that might help.  (Pee-Ess, no calming collars, my asthma can't take the strong lavender scent.)

44 comments:

  1. Maybe she isn't feeling well... that can put a cat on edge, you know... react to even the slightest little thing. Keep an eye on her when eating and using the litter box to make sure there's nothing physical that is causing discomfort.

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  2. I would keep them separated until you can get them to the vet for a check-up, sometimes illness kicks off aggression, and you don't want the cycle to become ingrained. You may have to reintroduce them to one another again, and reward good behavior when they are together with treats and praise. Have you tried play therapy? Wear them both out playing (apart, if you need to), then feed them (together, if you can) and they may be calm enough to reassess each-other. This may take a while--hang in there--we've got your back. Two of my crew have had to take anti-anxiety meds and they helped tremendously; but first make sure the girls are healthy and go from there.
    Feel free to e-mail me: katniplounge AT gmail DOT com if you need to talk.
    Trish

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  3. I had a similar situation with Wally and Ernie. They get along fine normally...but once they got into a knock-down, drag out fight and there was no stopping them. Ernie seemed to be the aggressor, going after Wally. My behaviorist told me that 90% of the time these blow-ups are triggered by seeing a cat outside...re-directed aggression. I can't say what triggered this, but it was very upsetting to me. I had to keep Wally and Ernie separated when I was not home and when I was there, I watched them like a hawk to make sure no big fights broke out. Trish from Katnip Lounge suggested some of the things I would suggest. When they are together, keep everything positive...play with them together...that's what I would do with Wally and Ernie. Da Bird was a good toy to get them both involved. Reward good behavior with treats. I don't want to damper things, but it took a good 30 days before I felt comfortable leaving the two of them together without supervision. They are fine now...but do have some normal squirmishes. I'm sure Attie and Audrey will learn to become friends again. Like Trish, if you have any questions or need to talk things out, please email me at blkcatgal at gmail dot com.

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  4. It is very possible one of them is ill and their scent has changed thus leading to the fights.

    I generally ignore fights and let them work things out for themselves. Scylla always sounds as if she is being killed half the time no one is even near her she is just screaming her head off. Once when she was a kitten she was playing with Socks and Scylla sounded as if she was being hurt the kids were all like "Mommy save Scylla Socks is killing her" I nearly died of laughter cause Scylla had Socks ear pinned to the floor and he wasn't hurting her at all, but she was the one making all the racket.

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  5. I have had the same problem with my Annie/Major all last winter. It even spilled over to the boys with fights breaking out amonst them. I got the feliway stuff and then seperated the girls. Major (yes a girl) is in the main bathroom., Annie has the run of the house. And there is peace again in paradise. The feliway stuff did work in the main section of the house. Annie who'd become an old grump is now playing like a kitten hunting the younger boy cat. Major, now the bathroom cat is totally happy. I think she's operating a brothel in the bathroom because the boy cats keep me busy opening the door to let them in to play with her. On warm days I put Major out in a screened in room on the porch so she can get some some sunshine.

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  6. We're so sorry this is happening. Sometimes our Audrey and Simba get a bit fighty here, usually when Simba is the aggresor because he thinks she is going to get to go on the deck, or get food (e.g. when he hasn't really eaten up his breakfast and is perhaps feeling hungry.) The Mom has taken to using a spray bottle on the cats at that point. But they never really get into major biting or scratching. I would be concerned about the chance of abscesses in your case.

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  7. We certainly know how upsetting that can be! I agree, it usually comes from re-directed aggression and it happened many years ago with Pixie and Cricket after Pixie saw a strange cat through the sliding glass door. I think keeping them apart for now is a good idea, and it isn't cruel to keep one confined to a bedroom.

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  8. Lots of good advice here.
    I have had the same problem.
    It started when Baby Cat got the vet's okay and was "released" into the household.
    I quickly separated Baby Cat into my room, but the boys began to attack KC. She is now in a room alone, terrified her "brofurs" are going to corner her again.
    They will all be boarded in a few days, I am hoping Dr. Smith can give me some insight into what is wrong. Our house has always been so harmonious and happy, and now it is divided.
    Thanks for all the advice.
    Mom ML

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  9. This must be really scary for everyone. It does sound like a case of either redirected aggression or maybe illness on Attie's part. The important thing is to keep the two of them separated and take Attie to the vet as soon as you are able to make sure that she is okay. You are getting lots of really good suggestions here. I would add that since this has been going on for a while and getting progressively worse and ingrained, they may need to be separated for an extended period of time and reintroduced very, very gradually with a generous helping of treats and play when they behave well with each other. It's possible that either one or both cats may need meds to get them through this - it's not a definite, but something you need to keep in the back of your head as a possibility if nothing else works.

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  10. All very good advice here. And yes, Feliway works very well. I usually have 6 of them going in the house to keep things calm. But, I have 8 cats and 2 levels of rooms.

    Definitely keep an eye on Attie to see if she gets an abscess. Since it appears that Audrey is really picking on her. If you take her to the vet on Friday, have them check her out.

    And I would keep them separated until you figure out what is going on, or until they calm down. And definitely re-introduce them to each other very gradually and over a period of days. Always stay with them when they are together, and never leave them alone until they can get along again.

    Luf, Us and Maw

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  11. This is amazing as Audrey just had her Ladygardenetimy which is supposed to make cats more gentle. The peeps had this problem with Nicky and Autumn and had to lock them in different rooms the entire time they had them. When I went after Isabel, they knew they couldn't keep her. I think the others are right that one of their scents have changed due to illness. For goodness sakes, throw water on them to break them up. DON'T put your hands between them. Take them to the vet and try one of Jackson Galaxy's formulas to calm cats. He rocks.

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  12. Our Julie & Mica Moo fight like that. Julie hates all other cats and fights to kill. Last year Mica spent 4 days in the hospital & a month in isolation because a bite became infected and spread under her skin. In our case nothing like Rescue Remedy or Feliway worked. Meds just spaced Julie (the aggressor) out. Now they are permanently separated. We rotate nights so each has every other night with me. I'd like to get them used to seeing each other again (which is as far in their introduction as they got), but don't really have much hope, Mica has been here almost 2 years. I had another cat who would fight with cats he normally got along with if he saw a cat outside. Good luck! I haven't had much success with this issue.

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  13. Momma reiterates what others said above it would be best to have a vet visit for both of them. This has been known to happen when one of them is ill, not sure why, it just does. And if not possible to keep separated get a Feliway plug in that will calm them. We sell that and also sell Pet ease that is an all natural calming gel too. Purrrrrrrrrrs

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  14. Ouch! Some good advice, including not getting between two cats fighting. A neighbor once tried to move his cat away from the screen door with a strange cat outside it and his cat attacked him so fiercely he had to go to the ER. Redirected aggression from any circumstance is painful! Sending pawhugs and hope a vet visit might shed some light on the problem.

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  15. We are very sorry to hear of these current troubles. We do not know what to suggest.
    We hope all the advice can help and that the Vet has good ideas too.
    We send calming purrs.

    Purrs Tillie and Georgia,
    Tiger,Treasure and JJ

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  16. Be very careful with any wounds you receive. Abby bit me last year and I ended up at the DR and in the ER. Like everyone has said it would be best to make sure you have them evaluated at the Vet to make sure that there are health issues. We only have smirches here, so I can't offer up any more advise than the wonderful comments from the ones above.
    WE will all purr for both Audry and Attie.

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  17. We are having simliar issues here with Cecilia and Bennette. Serious fights, so we are keeping them separated. We are unsure what triggered it but we can no longer allow them to even see each other. With just the 2 kitties you have, we agree that one of them may be ill. Keep them separate and get them both checked out by a vet. Once you rule out any illness I'd give them 2 full weeks separated then treat them like they are newly introduced kitties...taking your time to reintroduce them just like you would if you brought home a new kitty.

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  18. Sorry you are having this problem; it can be extremely stressful. When I first adopted Taffy, and introduced her to Jet (very slowly and carefully), she still was all hissy and upset. Besides the collar, I used Calm treats (made by Natural Products or GNC) which seemed to help. I suspect, as others have mentioned, that illness or something has changed one's smell. Please do try a water spray bottle to separate them, not your hands. Hugs and purrs to you all.

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  19. So sorry that you have this problem. You MUST get yourself checked as cats carry nasty bacteria and their bites need special antibiotics (especially if you have not been bitten before and have no immunity).
    I can't really add much except one of them wants to be boss, and eventually they have to sort this out. But it sounds like something has triggered the problem - illness? Their health needs checking (as well as wounds). However they need separating in the meantime, with lots of treats and cuddles individually so they know you are still the boss and are not punishing them.

    Have you got any feliway ? It's a pheromone that helps calm cats. It does not interfere with human allergies. I have used it to 'take the edge off' here. Then there are other meds available as Trish and others have said.

    Good luck - and do keep posting and Trish is fantastic and generous with helpful advice.

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  20. I'm really sorry your kitties are fighting like this. That must be really scary. :(

    First, I would recommend taking both of your kitties to the vet for a check-up. One of the major indicators that a cat is sick is a change in behavior, so it's best to make sure both cats are healthy. If you're having trouble meeting the vet bills, maybe you could ask your vet if you can set up a payment plan with them? You could also apply for Care Credit (www.carecredit.com). Or you could look for a low-cost vet in your area through a Google search. We have a low-cost vet here in Denver where exams are only $20. You just have to bring a pay stub to show your income level.

    If your kitties check out medically, I would suggest a couple of things. You should probably re-introduce your babies to each other. For whatever reason, they have become "enemies." Re-introducing them might help ease the tension. It'll give them both the space they need and with a slow re-introduction, hopefully they will be able to become good friends again.

    Next, I would invest in one of those Feliway defusers (or maybe even two). Put them in the rooms your kitties spend the most time. These defusers produce a scent that calms kitties somehow, though I'm not sure how exactly.

    If these two things don't help, I'd ask your veterinarian for a referral to a vet behaviorist who may be able to help you more with the fighting.

    I really hope this helps and I really hope that you can help your babies resolve this soon. I cannot even imagine how agonizing this situation is for you. *hugs* and purrs from us. We will pray that things get better soon. Please keep us updated.

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  21. I am so so so sorry that this is happening. As I have always had just one cat at a time it hasn't been an issue for me BUT: PLEASE see your human Dr. and make sure those wounds don't fester and take both of them..not just the one to the Vet and see if he has a presecription calmer for now.

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  22. I can't add anything to the great advice given, just to reiterate that you get yourself checked out. I had an episode with Annie once, back in summer 2006, while I was walking her on a leash outside, an encounter with another cat, neither would back off so I picked Annie up to get her away. She redirected her aggression toward me, of course, and I got teeth sunk into my hand and a deep scratch. Ended up having a tetanus booster, just to be safe.

    Everyone has given good advice re: Attie and Audrey, though, so I'll just add my own good vibes and hope things can be worked out. Definitely have them checked, blood work done, etc.

    BTW, Feliway never did anything for Annie and Nicki, and while neither of them drew blood, it wasn't exactly peaceful in our house, before Annie passed last year.

    -Kim/Fuzzy Tales (under my own account)

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  23. You have gotten some great advice and we don't have much to add. We have dealt with redirected agression here - though we didn't know what it was a the time. Our angel Butterscotch bit mom's ankle when she tried to get him to stop attacking Maestro - turns out we had cats outside the apartment that was making him nuts. Think about any other changes in the household. But, a vet visit is in need - a change in scent could set them off as well. Separation is the best thing right now - and then a VERY slow reintroduction.

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  24. I fight with my brofur Sam, just play fighting, and I never fight with Sabrina, so we can only send our purrs and purrayers that Attie and Audrey will be able to get over this quickly. You have had great advice, that is what the CB is there for, thank goodness!
    Hugs, purrs and headbutts to you Mommeh, and of course to Attie and Audrey also ...
    Simon (and Sam and Sabrina too)

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  25. You have received some great advice already - I only would add one thought. You mentioned that the first fight occured last Sunday and then they are fighting again this Sunday...is there anything different you are doing on Sundays - maybe having someone over to the house, wearing a different perfume, opening the windows, etc?

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  26. If I may add some advise....clip the nails! While each is alone and calm, quietly talk to them, rub their fur, then attempt to clip. Squirt bottles are a must....I have one to two in every main room, set on stream. When any signs of aggression show, keep replacing the water to keep it cold! If you are going to be out for awhile, play calming music.
    As my vet advised me when Tinker and Toy had some bad arguments, cats are very sensitive to our moods so if we become over stressed they can pick up on it and react, also, spring is the time when windows open so new smells are drifting in like male cats on the prowl.
    We still have them sleep in different areas of the house at night and it is working out fine. Toy has been the aggressor so when it was really bad we put his "X" harness on him using a clip to close it since he couldn't have his leash hook for closure. If I take Toy to the vet in a carrier he freaks out but when he is in harness he is a totally calm cat. Our vet said it's because it puts pressure on the points where his mother picked him up. I guess it works like the thunder shirts for cats and dogs. ICE has a thunder shirt and I put it on him when the two little girls come over for a visit. Even their parents can't believe how well it calms him down. They asked me if they make them for kids! LOL...good luck=^Y^=Holly

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  27. Everyone has given such terrific advice, so we won't say what's already been stated. But we will add our purrs and prayers and good thoughts that everything works out between Attie and Audrey. Hugs.

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  28. We think you've received some excellent advice and hope you can get to the bottom of this and things will calm down soon.

    Truffle and Brulee

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  29. Please tell me how you three are? I am concerned for all three of you.

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  30. We hope things are better now.
    Hugs to Attie & Audrey....and Mom too.
    There's a similar problem with two of the alleycats we fed, we confine either one during feeding time.....

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  31. How are things going?? I just read your post, and see tons of great advice, so curious how things are going?

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  32. I see it is Audrey's gotcha day today, and I am wondering if you have an update on the girls! Please let us know.

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  33. Just dropping by with good wishes for Audrey's gotcha day. Hope things are going better now, you seem to have been given some advice in the comments above.

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  34. Happy Gotcha Day to Audrey! Hope peace and calm have returned to the girls.

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  35. We wanted to wish Audrey a happy gotcha day, and check to see if things have gotten any better since your last post. Please let us know, okay?

    Hugs!

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  36. Happy Gotcha Day to Audrey. We hope things have started to improve between the girls.

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  37. Happy Gotcha Day to Audrey! Hope things have improved.

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  38. Happy Gotcha day to Audrey! I sure hope it will be -- and for you and Attie, too.

    What a terrible turn of events! There must be some reason for it -- psychological or otherwise. I hope the Feliway does the trick.

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  39. Hope things have calmed down so you can all have a nice day.

    Happy Gotcha Day, Audrey!

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  40. Happy Gotcha Audrey!
    Me sure hopes you has a CALM day.
    Love, TK

    PeeEss from mommy- TK and Sqaushies get into big fights from time to time, it is heart-breaking. Hang in there. No way I can add anything to what has been stated. In fact, I'm reading the advice very carefully. Good stuff!

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  41. How are things?
    With males its usually a domination thing. Scout is trying to be alpha cat and keeps jumping shaggy, but none of the knock down drag out fights like you describe.

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  42. Happy Gotcha Day Audrey! We purr things have calmed down. It's an extremely stressful experience for all involved. Big hugs and calming purrs.

    Laura & Taffy

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  43. Happy Birthday Attie Cattie. How are things going between you two?

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