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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 32818
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I have a 8 month old male bengal kitten, he was neutered when

Customer Question

I have a 8 month old male bengal kitten, he was neutered when he was 5 and a half months. My problem is that he is very aggressive with my two and a half year old brother and sister bengals, they would just ignore him but he attacks them every time he sees them. I have tried getting them to play together and spent a fortune on toys, I have tried giving them treats to coax them to associate something nice with each other, I have 3 Feliway plug in defusers going in the house and have done eversince I got the kitten, all three have been on 2 skylene capsules a day to help with the stress and calm them and still taking them, but nothing is helping, again tonight he attacked them with no provocation from either of them, they keep away from him but he chases them, they are now terrified of him and hate him, what can I do, will I need to rehome him? I am at my wits end and don't know what to do.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely fashion. It's a common question with a less than satisfactory answer because we're, in effect, attempting to modify what's normal behavior in cats.

I have advanced training in feline behavior and will share a synopsis of my notes that I use when lecturing about feline aggression in an existing household. This isn't easy to manage and does involve what you've already tried - associating something pleasant (feeding, play) - when your cats commingle. Psychotherapeutic drugs are likely to be necessary for not only the aggressor - your 8 month old male Bengal - but also to cats who react in a manner that encourages his continuing to be aggressive...and who wants to do that? I must admit that rehoming him where he'll be the sole cat may be the most expedient manner in which to proceed.

Aggression may occur between two or more cats already present in the household where there had been little or no previous history of aggression. Relationships may change as cats mature and age. In addition, increased conflicts may arise when there has been a change in the social group (people or animals becoming a part of the household or leaving the household), or when there have been major changes to the environment like moving house, or more subtle changes such as where the cats sleep, eat, perch, or eliminate. Medical problems could lead to pain or irritable-induced aggression, or may alter the way the cat interacts with other cats in the household. Any event leading to redirected aggression* could also lead to a change in the way that cats interact with other cats in the home. It's also not unusual for aggression to arise when a cat has been out of the home and then returns (e.g., from a groomer or veterinary hospital stay). This may be due to pheromonal alterations (pheromones are chemicals that cats secrete in order to communicate with other cats), anxiety or discomfort of the returning cat, or the response of one or more cats that remained in the home to some alteration in the way the cat looks, acts, or smells upon its return. There may also be territorial and status issues that need to be re-established, even if the departure has been relatively short. Many of these problems are mild and will resolve themselves over time, particularly if there is enough space, perches, and hiding places for the cat to avoid interactions while they again "recognize" each other and re-establish a compatible relationship. This may take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks for some cats, while on rare occasions the problem may be sufficiently intense to require a formal reintroduction program of desensitization and counterconditioning in much the same way as a new cat is introduced into the household. It may be prudent to sequester one or both of your cats in a dim and quiet area until their level of arousal abates. Many owners will then “test" their cat(s) every day or so and continue sequestering them if necessary.

*Redirected aggression is diagnosed when the target of his aggression (your other cats) is not the stimulus that triggered the state of aggressive arousal. Territorial, fear-induced and defensive aggression are the types of behaviors that are likely to be redirected by him. Stimuli that can cause an aggressive state of arousal include the sight or sound of another cat (at times quite far away from the home), unusual noises, odors of other animals, unfamiliar people, and unfamiliar environments. A common situation is one in which the pet becomes aroused upon seeing or hearing another cat while sitting in a window. When the owner attempts to pet it, pick it up, or nudge it away from the window, it attacks. It may show aggression toward another pet when approached in similar situations. Redirected aggression is a common cause of the sudden appearance of aggression between cats in the same household that have been living together amicably for quite some time. This type of aggression is probably the most dangerous type of aggression cats exhibit due to the uninhibited nature of the bites. Treatment involves identifying triggers for arousal and then removing the pet's access to the stimuli. You may have to be quite the detective as stimuli can be imperceptible to owners. Medication can be beneficial for reducing his response to environmental stimuli - psychoactive drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) have been used. The most important thing that I can impart to you is to be careful around him when he is aroused. Too many of my owners have ended up in the hospital due to infected bite wounds. One encouraging fact is that many of our cats will habituate to the arousing stimuli and "self-cure" within weeks to months.

If you want to continue trying a pheromone diffuser, the allomarking pheromone Felifriend is the F4 fraction of the facial pheromone (Feliway is the F3) and would be the more appropriate product to use. Please see here: and please continue our conversation if you wish.
Expert:  dianne-cssm replied 3 years ago.
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