Why the heck are my cats who have BFFs since birth, fighting?

These cats have been friendly with each other since they were small kittens. They sleep together, share the same food bowl, and now, at four and five, they are fighting.

It’s usually the older one hissing and growling at the younger one. I first noticed it when they were outside. Older cat was hissing at the younger one. I figured he must of picked up on some scent that put him on edge. But now it’s happening inside too.

Today, I fed them a can of cat food, and put it on one dish for them to share just like I always have. Older cat starts hissing at younger cat and almost chased him away before I stepped in. Older cat got all pissy and just ran away, while younger cat continued to eat.

When younger cat finished, older cat came back around to finish the remains on the dish. That’s when younger cat returned in a friendly manner, only except older cat wasn’t having it and actually turned around and gave him a few swats! That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him do that!

I mean, they play fight all the time. But that’s not what this was. Older cat was trying to cause harm.

What the heck is going on?

That is weird. Have you had any changes in your household? Has anyone moved in or out, or have you had repair people in?

It could also be that there’s a new cat outside threatening territory. When I had a bunch of cats and was introducing a new one, sometimes they’d all be hissing at each other for a few days.

he wanted to eat, and was telling the younger cat to GTFO.

thing is, you’re ascribing human emotions (BFFs) to non-human animals. they’re “friendly” because they’re familiar with each other and don’t see each other as threats. but when the chips are down, they won’t give one rat’s ass about each other. so a WAG is the older one might be ill or have some other condition causing hunger, and wanted the other one away from “his” food.

They’re playing duck-and-chicken.

If they’ve been close since they were kittens, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they feel no affection for each other. (I’d personally argue the opposite, from my own experience, but all cats are different.) I’d look for signs of the following:

  • A new cat or cats in your yard. As mentioned up thread, new cats can shake up the hierarchy (even if you don’t know they’re around) and make everyone anxious and tense.
    -Changes in household or routine. Things like a new family member, a change to your work schedule, a new dog at the neighbor’s house, or even a change in their litter can all upset your cats. They can be very finicky about having things exactly the way they expect it.
    -Signs of illness or injury. If one of your cats is sick or hurt, they may be more self-protective than normal. Keep an eye on their eating, drinking, bathroom habits and coat conditions. If they start acting “off” in one of these areas, you may want to have a vet look at one or both of them.

For now, feed them separately and make sure they each have their own space to go to have alone time. They should probably have their own bowls to eat from anyway and hopefully it’s easy enough for you to arrange that. Separate bowls will remove a source of friction right away. With any luck, whatever is causing this sudden tenseness will pass. Until then, try to make it easier for them to ignore each other. I would say that if the behavior keeps up for several days or intensifies, that would also be an indicator to have your vet look at them.

Is it the heat?

Maybe they are irritated by it?

Thanks guys.

FTR: Nothing at all has changed in the household routines that I can think of.

Ok, remember back in March when the older one was looking out the window at a bird and the younger one ate half of his dinner? It’s just payback time.

You forgot to say March 2014. :smiley:

Cats are weird. That said, I don’t think expecting animals to share a food dish is really fair.

Some cats get especially territorial when they’re pregnant. But judging from the OP, both cats are male.

I had this exact thing happen with two fixed boys who had been cage-mates as kittens in the shelter. One day at about age 3 they started fighting, like, to the death – literally pss and blood and sht all over the place on a daily basis. I had to completely separate them, and put up what barriers I could to their sensing each other’s presence at all. It went on for weeks.

A very kind and compassionate vet took me in as her last patient of the day and talked to me for about an hour after closing about how dominance has to be established, and in some cases, that’s delayed long past fixed “puberty” for some reason. My smaller boy had the brains, and the larger one had the brawn, and they put off the issue of deciding who was Top Cat for a few years. Then it came up with a vengeance and suddenly had to be decided once and for all.

Brawn, as is its wont, of course won out. The little, smarter cat was smart enough to let the big one think he was the boss, and so the big one ate first, used the box first, slept in the prime spots first, etc., for the rest of their lives together, and there was peace ever after.

During the period when they were figuring it out, Feliway helped muchly. Look it up. I used the plug-in kind; it’s kind of pricey and possibly hokum, but I thought it worked.

Is it possible that the younger cat picked up a scent while outside, maybe rolled around in something, then kept the scent afterward? You may want to bathe him, or have it done professionally.

It’s also possible that the older one picked up something outside that’s irritating him, like a splinter or burr. Is he acting any differently toward you?

Sudden Onset Grouchiness can be a sign that an animal is ill. If they’re outdoor cats, this can’t be ruled out. They should see the vet.

If they get a clean bill of health, then I’d set out more food bowls and a second litter box. I’d let them figure out their own personal relationship for themselves. I’d only step in for actual blood shed. If there is actual bloodshed, I’d separate them when I wasn’t there to supervise.

It’s probably just a dominance thing but remember that the real alpha cat in the house is yourself.

They’re cats. Don’t try and assign human emotions and human interactions to animals. It doesn’t work that way, no matter how much you want it to.

Given that Dopers have posted about friends/coworkers inexplicably beginning to act hostile towards them, it doesn’t seem that remarkable that unobserved tensions in cat society might spill over into visible rancor.

Maybe one of the cats did/said something to cause the other to hold a grudge. :dubious:

Dude - humans are animals. If humans can feel emotions and have social interactions, it’s only because we have the common mammalian hormonal system and the common mammalian brain that recognizes social impulses that the rest of the order does.

The only difference between the humans and the rest of the mammals is that we think we’re something special.

If you think that the human brain and the cat brain are anyway equivalent…

So do cats.


I don’t think it. It’s basic biology. Here -

The physical folding of a cat’s brain is superior to dog’s -

And we haven’t even talked about how animal brains process adrenaline and oxytocin and other chemicals similarly to the way humans do.
Seriously - acting like the other mammals are all incomprehensible aliens flies in the face of our current scientific understanding of intelligence and brain function. The fact that humans have a scientific understanding is an important difference but it doesn’t obliterate all of the fundamental similarities between ourselves and our kin.

Again - we’re not the only animals who think or feel. We’re just the only animals who lie to ourselves about how special that makes us. (Except, as Shodan correctly points out, for cats.)