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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 18812
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My large heavy, neutered at 1 year, two-and-a-half-year-old

Customer Question

My large heavy, neutered at 1 year, two-and-a-half-year-old cat persistently attacks my very small female (neutered by 4 months) cat. These attacks seem to be sexual in nature and he realy hurts her. What can I do about this?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 6 months ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 6 months ago.

I m sorry to hear about your large, male, young cat bullying your small, timid female.

Are there other cats in the home that he gets along with and plays with?

Is either cat allowed outside?

Is he a fellow with lots of energy?

Although his behavior may seem sexual, it may or may not be. Dominance behavior in cats often appears sexual as the dominant cat may jump on their poor housemates back, grab their neck and make lots of noise. The lower on the chain kitty may scream and holler in protest and fear, and as a way to try to get the attacker off. Either way this is no way for your little female to live.

Cats don't live together normally in the wild. They have territories, although they are fluid, and will fight to preserve resources. In many cases with unlimited resources in a home environment they learn to live together peacefully and some learn to enjoy each other's company. But some cats simply never learn to tolerate other cats in their environment, and some large, very active kitties may get bored and bully their housemates.

It is worth trying to get them to get along, but it may not work. Unfortunately because it's been going on for an extended length of time it will also be more difficult to fix.

Do they ever ignore one another and co-exist peacefully while in the same room or does he react every time he sees her?

At this point I would never leave the two of them alone together when you aren't around to mediate. And in fact you may want to start all over with introducing them again.

In aggression cases I recommend using a product called Feliway. It is a synthetic version of a feline calming pheromone.

There are also pheromone collars which may help calm them both. It's worth a try. See this link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_17?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=feline+pheromone+collar&sprefix=feline+pheromone+%2Caps%2C197&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Afeline+pheromone+collar&ajr=0

Keep them completely separated, behind closed doors for several weeks. That way they aren't constantly confronting one another but are able smell and hear one another and get used to having each other around in a non-threatening manner. Make sure to frequently switch bowls, beds, toys and use the same brush on both cats to get them smelling the same and familiar to each other.

Then try using a large baby gate between areas to keep them separated from each other but able to see one another for a few weeks. If he is becoming aggressive at that point and she is getting nervous again then you may want to try a homeopathic calming oral medication called Bach's Rescue Remedy. See this link for further information: http://www.bachflower.com/rescue-remedy-pet/ We want them calm enough to learn to at least co-exist.

If things are going well allow them in a room together, but only when you are present.

You should make sure that there are plenty of spots for her to get up and away from him, such as cat trees or ledges that are carpeted and comfy to sleep on. They should be small enough that only she can fit, so he doesn't have room to maneuver and attack her. He can have lower areas to comfortably hang out on, but she should always have the option/ability to get away.

Cats do tend to get along better when resources are unlimited. Make sure there are plenty of toys for everyone and don't let him harass her. If he isn't respecting her and does chase her or continually tries to approach her it's fine to use a can of coins to throw near him as he approaches her for negative reinforcement.

You may also want to feed them separately in different rooms so neither feels there is any food competition.

If all else fails discuss anti-anxiety meds with your veterinar***** *****ke Buspirone or Amitriptyline for both of them as stress is certainly playing a part in this. If either one hates taking pills there are transdermal gel formulations of these medications available.

Finally he may do better when allowed to go out so you may wish to construct an outdoor cat pen so he can safely spend time outside. Here are some examples:

http://www.google.com/search?q=cat+outdoor+enclosure&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ajaDUNukA8foigLvjoHQAw&ved=0CE4QsAQ&biw=1441&bih=656

If he seems bored perhaps introducing another male his size for him to wrestle and play with may take the burden off her. Make sure the new kitty comes on a trial basis though just in case that turns into another bullying situation, or they both gang up on her.

Best of luck with this situation, and let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your response. Yes, we do have another neutered male cat in the house - the sibling of our small female. The 'problem male' gets along well with him. In fact, the 'problem male' is a very slow, docile, placid cat. All our cats go outside whenever they want to - we have a cat door. They do co-exist well (mostly when they are both napping!) but on entering the house again, the 'problem male' sometimes goes directly to where the female is sleeping and attacks her. The attacks are increasing in frequency.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 6 months ago.

I understand the issue better now.

So it sounds like he is in the middle as far as social status and has decided that she needs to go so he can have more of the critical resources. He sees the other male as a cat with social status that he must respect and her as weaker and smaller and so easily (hopefully in his mind) pushed out of the territory. Cats that are confident and comfortable with plenty of resources do not bully other kitties. It sounds like he is taking his insecurities and frustrations out on her.

I would make sure that he and she are both physically healthy with an exam and some blood and urine tests.

I would recommend trying both Feliway (I would put a diffusor near the door so he is exposed as he comes in from outdoors), Bach's Rescue Remedy or Zylkene ( http://www.vetoquinolusa.com/content/zylkene ) to see if these help him relax.

If those aren't enough he may need prescription medication to settle him down.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 6 months ago.

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things are going for your kitties. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****