MeOW everypawdy. Can you believe it? It’s already Service Cat Monday again. And, the second week in October. This year has just flown by. Anyways, we’ve got some good questions fur ya’ today, so let me get the business outta the way and we’ll get right to it. The followin’ post will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat Monday posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Trainin’ Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy thru her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. And to offur insight into your questions about Feline Behavior. Ifin you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, purrlease let us know in the comments section or send us an email. When asking behavioral questions, purrlease be as specific as pawssible. And, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the end of this post. Always remember, Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards.
So, our question today comes from awnty Ellen of 15 and Meowing. She asks, “Is there anything that will get Sammy to stop trying to beat up Brody?” First let us say, we’re so sorry you’re having this problem, especially since you were great enough to save Brody from a life on the streets. Secondly, YES, there is hope that Sammy and Brody can live together in peace. Ideally, we know you’d love to see them curled up together having a grooming session. While we can’t promise that, we can at least give you and others going through similar things some tips to help create an alliance/peace accord. We must address the fact that awnty Ellen’s house has gone through a lot of changes since Brody joined their family; the latest being the loss of our dearly beloved Phoebe.
As most of you know, cats don’t particularly like change. And, as we discussed previously, cats do have a hierarchy/pecking order when living in multi-cat households. Any loss creates a vacuum in that hierarchy and can cause a bit of turmoil until the cats figure out the new dynamics. The same is true when a new cat is added to the house. Brody came into the house at a time shortly after another loss in his new family. If we recall correctly, he was a bit timid and did some hiding out. While that may have helped Brody adjust to his new surroundings and family, it also marked him as prey. Although Sammy was the resident cat, he was also experiencing changes brought about by the loss of other housemates.
There are several reasons that Sammy could be acting out and taking it out on Brody. These causes could be Redirected Aggression, Fear or Posturing/Dominance. Causes of Redirected Aggression could be that another cat is acting out towards Sammy. Brody may act as prey and run from Sammy causing him to go into hunt, catch and kill mode. If this is the reason for Sammy’s actions, Redirecting him to an appropriate outlet for his aggression is key. At the first sign of any Aggression towards Brody/kitty, Sammy’s attention should be diverted. A loud noise such as a hand clap or the shaking of a coin can (aluminum can with a few coins inside) should cause Sammy/the Aggressor to stop and look for the origins of the noise. Immediately after the noise, say “STOP” in a firm but calm voice and throw a favorite toy for Sammy/kitty to chase instead. Remember, squirt guns, water bottles and the like Do Not help!!!
Sammy may also be acting out of Fear. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know and/or fix what might cause a cat to Fear. But Redirecting the abhorrent behavior will still work. In the meantime, it’s important to build Brody’s/kitty’s confidence in order teach him not to run away and act like prey. Interactive play in the presence of Sammy/the Aggressor and the other kitties will help. But, remember, the point is to help Brody/kitty gain confidence, so ignore any other kitty that may try to join in unless their presence emboldens Brody/shy or passive kitty. Whenever possible, have a second person making sure Sammy/the Aggressor doesn’t interfere with the confidence building exercise. This person might offer Sammy/the Aggressor treats, pats, or brushing during the session. But, only give Rewards when Sammy/the Aggressor is exhibiting the proper behavior and ignoring Brody/kitty. Never Reward Inappropriate Behavior.
Lastly, if Sammy is acting out due to posturing, it’s up to the human to figure out the acceptable pecking order within their home and Reinforce it. Although this may sound a bit silly, it will certainly make for a more peaceful home. Always greet the Alpha Cat first and then the next in line and so on. Food, treats, grooming and all other interactive activities should start with the Alpha cat and go down the line of succession as well. It is extremely helpful to have scheduled feedings as opposed to free feeding. Free feeding can often cause small spats over left over food bowls. So, to wrap this up, we suggest building confidence in the kitty (Brody) who is receiving the aggression, and Redirecting the more Aggressive kitty (Sammy).
2 happy kitties coexisting peacefully.
That’s it fur this posty. We know this scenario is one played out in many homes each day. We do hope we have helped in some way. We should also say that you have one last option, and that would be to start all over and slowly Reintroduce the kitties by separating them and going through the scent and site swapping methods we discussed in our Fighting or Posturing post or Reintegrating the Scared or Bullied Cat (links below), if you have the extra space. But we do think Redirection and Confidence building is enough, as long as you’re consistent. Remember, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can click on the links below. And as always, we love hearing from you. Leave your thoughts, comments, post suggestions and/or questions in the comment section below or send us an email.
Till the next time…………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle
When the Handler Dies Proper Training Methods Pt. 1 & Pt. 2
Discipline: Stop Countersurfing Kitty Internal Disputes
The Rest of the Story Raena & the Wheelchair Pt. 1 Pt. 2 Pt. 3 Pt. 4
Stop Kitty’s Begging Calling For Help Options Pt. 1
Going for a Walk When in a Wheelchair Calming the Tiger Pt.1 Pt. 2 Pt. 3
Meowllo evewypawdy hope yous havin’ a gweat week. Well da Bloggin’ A to Z challenge modewators wuz here yesfurday and weez not been kicked out. Whew (runs paw across forehead) So we covewed 2 letters in one day, K fur Kittens and L fur Law. So today’s letter be M. Well lately there seems to be gweat discussion amung ow bloggin’ counterpawts on Facebook ‘bout whedder or not cats have a hierarchy; or as da doggy peeps call it…an alpha. So we fawt dat we wuld tackle dat subject today. Hmmmm this bloggin’ challenge sure has us duin’ a lot educational stuffs, huh?. Anyways, anypawdy hoo has evew owned a doggy knows da hooman needs to assert themselves as da alpha or there’s gunna be lots of purrawllems at their house. So duz da same hold twue wiff cats?
As you know there’s just Lexi and me. But before me mommy had sis Lexi and her 2 bwofurs. And mommy also fostered and always had a house full of kitties, so she can tell ya’ ‘bout whether or not cats have a hierarchy. But first lets take a look at the history of cats, both large and small. Even as late as the 1970’s scientists thought that the only social cat was the lion pride. Held together by it’s close matriarchal leadership where all the females share the duties of raising the young, hunting and feeding the pride and even fighting off intruders when their male is away. The only standard used to determine the results were those of the dog pack. But as anyone who has ever owned both cats and dogs know they are completely different and one can’t study cat behavior based on that of a dog.
More recent studies have shown that like lion prides the feral cat colony has a similar matriarchal hierarchy. So now we move into the house and look at the altered cats living under your roof. When all cats in the house have been spayed or neutered less attention is placed on the sex of the cats in determining who will be in charge. The humans in the house can also play a role in determining who gets to be Top Cat; we’ll tell ya’ more about that later. More often than not the top cat in the household is the one that’s been there the longest. In our house mommy makes sure that sissy remains in the top spot as she has been here longest. Cats living together will divide up territory within their house. That’s not to say that one cat won’t go into the territory of another such as pawdee boxes, water bowls, cat trees, beds, etc.. However these things are typically surrendered quickly when the top cat wants to claim them.
Typically the top cat is given a wide berth. Play time is a great time for watching the behavior of your cats and observing who is the head cat in your house. The lower cats look to the top cat for approval. The top cat usually is deferred to in every thing. All subordinates recognize the authority and experience of the top cat. Sometimes these behaviors are subtle. So subtle you might not even see them. When the top cat walks by a subordinate might flatten their ears, divert their gaze downward or drop on their side or belly to show submission. Subtle changes in the household can affect the fragile hierarchy of your little pride of house lions such as an illness in the cats (top cat especially) or a family member, a move, a new cat or kitten, or any number of other changes. You humans can help to keep the hierarchy in tact. How you ask? Well let me tell ya’.
It’s something mommy’s been doin’ for years to keep order in our house and make sure we get along. Mommy says it makes for introducing new furries and changes a whole lot easier. First recognize there is a hierarchy in your feline family and determine who is top cat. It’s not always the meanest or biggest. Mommy says she likes it to be the kitty who has been ‘round the longest cause subordinates will learn appropriate behaviors from them. Always refer to the top cat first in everything. Top cat gets fed first, petted first, greeted first, talked to first, and so on. We think you get the idea. And first does not mean that subordinates have to wait till the top cat is finished, it just means their plate is filled first, or set down first, they get the first treats and so on. Mommy says it’s sometimes hard especially if a subordinate is friendlier or more outgoing than the top cat because we’ll be the ones meeting you at the door. But mommy says ignore that and go straight to the top cat to greet and then everybody else. If you have a large feline family it helps to identify the rank of all cats and do the above in that order. It’ll for sure help keep the peace in your house. So we may not be called Alphas but we do have a hierarchy. It’s a fragile one but it exists.
Till da next time………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Dezi and Lexi
Mommys personal experience after years of being a cat owner, trainer, and rescuer.