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Cats/cat aggression


QUESTION: I have 2 cats. They are both adult. I have a calico who we call Carrie. She's about 4-1/2 and a new one. She's a mixed breed and approx 5. We call her Jenny.
Well, Jenny just came to live with us about a month ago. since then, they have not liked each other. Most of the time they will stay away from each other, but if Jenny comes into the living room for food, water, or the litter box, Carrie growls at her and Jenny wants to fight her. Sometimes if I notice it, I can PREVENT it by warning Jenny not to, and she walks away. Carrie won't mind as well. But anyway, there are times when I don't see it and I HEAR it! I've tried feliway but didn't see much difference.
How can I make them at least tolerate each others presence, without aggression?

ANSWER: Joyce,

In the big scheme of things, cats have got to work out their differences between themselves.  My experience has been that any human interference will be counter productive and tends to delay the process.  So, whether you hear any "aggression" or see any aggression, the best thing to do is to ignore it.  However the two cats choose to interact with each other is their choice and the household will just have to live with it.  I will also suggest that we mere humans do not understand the rules of cat inter-relationships.

Also, cats have very, very tough skin, so what appears to be a fight may only be very rough play.  with all the hissing, spitting, and growling, you may see of hear, rarely will two cats hurt each other! Unless someone actually draws blood, I would not worry about it.  

Another thing to realize is that cats do not think like we do, so it is folly to ascribe human emotions and motives to things that cats do (with the exception of jealousy). In many cases, what you consider aggression, may just be rough play.

So, what to do?  Ignore the "getting to know you" rituals!   Give it much more time.  Be content with whatever arrangement Carrie and Jenny come up with. If they behave in a way that you like, reward both of them with special treats and attention. Try to lavish attention on both equally. Avoid disciplining one or the other. Cats will respond to positive reinforcement for behavior modification much better than negative reinforcement.

Give it a few more weeks and see how it goes.

Please let me know what develops.

Best regards... Norm.

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QUESTION: So you're telling me that if Carrie gets nervous and runs away and hides, just to let it go? Let them work it out?

Do you think they will? Isn't that making the problem worse, when Jenny realizes she can be the bully?



Yes, they will.  You may not like the arrangement they come to, but we humans just do not understand their rules.

Again, please do not ascribe human motivations to cats.  They do not think like us.  There are always dominant/submissive relationships amongst cats, but I would not call it bullying.  Also, these pecking orders can be different with regards to territory, or food, or litter pans.

I have found that any human interference will make matter much worse, so we just have to learn to live with what ever arrangements cats work out for themselves.

Best regards... Norm.


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Norman Auspitz


I can answer most non-veterinary questions about cats. My particular expertise is pedigree cats, breeding and showing. However, I am versed in feline behavior, cat breeds and their characteristics, general feline husbandry, and the like.


I judged for the Canadian Cat Association from 1975 until 1982. I am currently an approved allbreed judge for the Cat Fanciers'' Association (the world''s largets cat registry), and have been judging for them since 1991. I have been breeding pedigreed cats since 1971 and have been exhibiting pedigreed cats in shows since 1970. I obtained my first pedigreed cat in 1970 and have never looked back. In 1971, I obtained my first Abyssinian which has become my primary breed. In addition, I have bred Manx and Persians. Currently, besides the Abyssinians, I am also breeding Maine Coons.

Cat Fanciers'' Association, inc. (CFA) and the Manx, Maine Coon, and Abyssinian breed councils. I am currently Abyssinian breed council secretary.

Cat Fancy Magazine, The Abyssinian Chapter in The Cat Fanciers'' Association Complete Cat Book, and Articles for various editions of The Cat Fanciers'' Association Yearbook

I received a B.S. from Drexel University in 1968, a M.Math from University of Waterloo, in 1970, a Ph.D. from University of Waterloo in 1975, and a MBA from McMaster University in 1980. I received my approved allbreed judging status in the Cat Fanciers'' Association in 1999.

Awards and Honors
We have produced a number of Cat Fanciers'' Association (CFA) National winning Abyssinian and Maine Coons. We have produced a number of Abyssinian and Maine Coon Distinguished Merit females (an award for a top producing cat), including the first Distinguished Merit Abyssinian in the red (sorrel) color. I am the CFA Abyssinian breed council secretary and belong and/or hold office in a number of cat clubs. I am also a member of the CFA Judges Association.

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