Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to handle cat-to-cat aggression (without losing your mind)

two cats playing together
Maggie is our resident scapegoat.  She is small, and somewhat timid. She is the first to run from a room when a stranger enters, and the last to head toward the food bowl. It took her a full three weeks to adjust to living in our new house, while the others had the place mapped within 48 hours.
Maggie has a quiet voice, but she knows to yell when she needs my help, and so I dutifully come when she calls me. The last three nights, I’ve had to leave the dinner table to rescue her from an aggressive, dominant Eamon who has trapped her underneath a piece of furniture. 

This is incredibly depressing.  

Maggie and Eamon got into tussles like this when we lived in much smaller quarters, and I had hoped it would stop when we moved into our much larger house. Apparently, this isn’t the case.
Experts do have some suggestions, including:
  • Scruffing and hissing at the aggressor cat and placing him in a time-out for this behavior.
  • Throwing a toy between the two of them, so the aggressor has something else to fight with (seems like a long shot to me, honestly).
  • Covering the windows. The theory here is that the aggression is caused by a trigger outside the window (another cat, a squirrel, etc.) that the aggressor cannot do anything about, so he picks on a resident.  
For now, we will start confining Maid Maggie to her own safe room during the dinner hour, as this is when the attacks tend to occur. And Eamon will be wearing a bell, so she knows to run from him if he’s on the make. I will probably try the scruffing/hissing, too.  If all else fails, we will cover the windows.
Let’s hope this does the trick.

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