Why do you think my 2 cats suddenly hate each other?

Mods, if this is better served in GQ, please feel free to move this thread.

I have two cats, Molly and Dax, for the past 10 years. Mrs. D and I got them from a pet shop when they were 8 weeks old. For their entire existance, they have lived together and gotten along quite well for the most part. During thier time with our family they have had to endure 2 moves, both of which they went through pretty good, and the birth of 4 children. Dax has never really forgiven us for having the first child and has been pretty much anti-social ever since, but Molly had started becoming more social when child #3 came around and now even lets my 3 oldest kids pet her.

During all this, the two cats have pretty much gotten along with each other. Being strictly indoor cats, they have established a pecking order of sorts when it comes to who’s first at the food dish, and once in awhile have had a few skirmishes, but for the most part, they get along just fine.

Being summertime, we leave the door open to our screened in porch. We had not noticed, but this year, part of the screen in one of the panels had separated from the baseboard enough that if they wanted to, the cats could get outside of the house. In years past, we have left the porch accessable to the cats and they usually have had no problems, usually just hanging outside where it is usually cooler. This was the case 5 days ago.

Dax was out on the porch and had seen another cat walking through our yard. Historically when our cats see another cat, it’s usually when they see if from inside. Their hair will stand on end and they will growl, but usually that’s about it.
Well, this time, Dax, started with the hair and the growling, went through the hole in the screened porch and started violently fighting with this “intruder” cat. Neither cat was hurt and “Intruder” cat had bolted the scene, but Dax was pretty freaked, and she wouldn’t come back into the house. Mrs. D managed to scare her back through the hole in the screen to get her in. Again, this happened 5 days ago.

Now every time Dax sees Molly, she freaks out and the two start growling and fighting each other. It’s like Dax has been permenantly freaked out by this and can’t get this “intruder” image out of her head.

Why is this effecting Dax this way? She’s been living with Molly for 10 years and all has been great. Why would this one incident that didn’t even involve my other cat cause her to do this? I’m not a cat psychologist and I’ve never seen this type of behavior suddenly just show up in my cats. They have always been pretty buddy-buddy with each other until now.

What do you think?

This happened to my cats under more-or-less similar circumstances. I found one thing that helped was to give them both a bath to wash the scents off them. Probably the other cat still smells the strange cat on the friend. It’s still very traumatic for my cats to see another cat now, and one pisses herself when it happens. It still took some time before they were re-associate, though.

Maybe since she got a taste for chasing off an intruder with a positive outcome, she now figures it will work inside. She may be thinking if she runs off the competition, more food for her. Cats are very food oriented. If the other house cat can hold it’s ground once, she might lighten up.

It’s not unusual for cats to “misdirect” their rage onto another cat in the household when an outdoor cat is involved. It may take him a while to get over it. I don’t really have any helpful suggestions on dealing with it since I am not really up to date on cat behavior and possible remedies for it (not involving drugs). Although there is a feline phermone product you could try called “Feliway” that supposedly mimics the good calming cat pheromones that you can spray in certain key areas. You may have to call around to some vets to see if any carry it if you want to try it.

Cat behavior is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma and surrounded by mystery.

You can say that again. :smiley:

After 10 years of having cats, I still don’t get why they do some of the things they do.

Right now, the only thing that seems to have a calming effect on Dax is me when I pick her up. She immediately knows that “Daddy” has her and knows that it’s ok as long as I have her. But that is only if I can can convice her to let me pick her up.

I guess I will just have to wait and see if things between them will calm down over the course of time. I figured that 5 days was more than enough time to really get it out of her system, but apparently it’s not. I just hope it ends soon. We are getting quite tired of being woken up to vicious growling, hissing, and fighting in the middle of the night.

Give them both baths and keep them separated (if possible) for a day or two. The bath should take care of any strange smells, and the separation may make them eager for company.

curious and nosy How long did it take to fix the screen?

My two cats, brother and sister, are exactly the same. I didn’t know for sure if it was because one of them fought with a strange cat, but I do now. Thanks Dragwyr

Problem is, it’s been years ago, since the fight, but they still hate each-other. The girl is terrified of her brother and I don’t know what to do about it. :frowning:

I don’t think a bath will help, after all this time. And besides: I could end up in hospital if I tried to give the male a bath. He’s a big bastard.:slight_smile: I love them both dearly though and I wish his sis would get some rest.

psychokitty (aka Sebastian) reacts the same way when stressed out. If another human or animal comes into the house, the next two months he reacts with hissing and swatting at anything that moves. (Hence the reference to psycho)

Not sure what causes it, other than the animal being stressed out. Your kitty should calm down within a few weeks to a month if it is anything like ours. When Sebastian gets this way, I usually have to chase him down, which traumatizes him even more and then sit with him in my lap petting and cooing to him to let him know everything really is going to be okay.

Cats really are strange critters.

I hadn’t considered the smell angle on this. If things between them don’t calm down in the next few days, I’ll probably give them a bath and see what happens then.

gum, glad to help. I just hope it’s a very temporary thing here.

This has be asked before on this board, I’ve no idea about searching for the right thread though.

Its called transferred aggression, and there does not need to be any physical contact between the indoor cat and the stranger cat.

There is a liklehood you will need to reintroduce the two housecats to each other, which needn’t be at all traumatic.


Thanks, casdave. That’s a useful link.

Dragwyr, Good luck.

I’ve been searching the web and found this: http://www.catsinternational.org/articles/aggression_to_cats/redir_to_other_cats.html

I’ll try it.

I found this thread in a search for “Feliway,” and I want to endorse this product wholeheartedly. My 2 cats experienced almost exactly the situation as in the OP and were at each other’s throats until today, when I plugged in the Feliway diffuser. Maybe it’s coincidence, but they’ve been fine with each other all day, and I think it’s the Feliway that made the difference. Go get some of this stuff.

Thanks for the tip masonite.

Both cats have calmed down and are interacting fine. It took about 2 weeks for them to get it all out of their systems, but they now back to normal.