Redirected Aggression

Straight from the horse’s mouth: Redirected aggression is one of the most common forms of aggression among cats living in the same household and can be a challenging problem to resolve. Redirected aggression is when one cat experiences something that instills fear, is over-stimulating or highly arousing and they redirect their frustration, aggression or fear onto whoever is closest. This could be the family dog, another cat or even a human. Redirected aggression is most common in households with five or fewer cats. It rarely occurs in homes that are very saturated in cats.

In my case we have 4 cats. Liter mates / best bro’s / Jake and Andy are the two cats engulfed in the very center of the conflict. The problem actually started over a couple of months ago, before Jake and Andy were neutered, and before his royal highness Tyrion entered the picture. It was a feral female cat that frequents my back yard was the spark that ignited the fire. She was in heat, looking for food and / or a mate. Jake and Andy had been the very definition of brotherly love up til that point, but that unspayed female presence made their hormones and instincts boil to the surface.

Jake was the runt, Andy was the mama’s boy, and together they were inseparable. Andy considered it his duty to protect, groom, and pal around with Jake. Andy got really, really sick and almost lost all of his nine lives in one shot. He pulled through, but lost so much weight that Jake is now larger than his brother.

Just before they were fixed they began to fight. A lot. Having both of them neutered drastically decreased the number of fights as well as the intensity of them. We got Tyrion the same day they were fixed. For some unknown reason Andy thinks he is Tyrion’s mom. My cats paired off in two’s. Jake likes to hang out in Deedee’s room with Toothless (who tolerates him) and Andy taught Tyrion everything there is to know about being a pampered cat in our household. Neither Jake nor Andy seemed to dwell upon the rift in their relationship.

Sometimes Andy would be sitting in the window. Jake will stroll past, stretch himself up right, and bite Andy’s bum. It was these small little instances of tension between the two. Andy, who was the dominate cat before his illness, now crouched with ears pinned back, fearful of Jake.

We went to the beach on Sunday. When we got back, Andy was hiding under my bed. He was cowering and terrified. He wouldn’come out until the door was shut and I shook his treat bag. I figured he’d be okay after the night.

Monday Andy returned to under my bed. If he even thinks Jake is near by, he won’t come out. He wouldn’t come out to eat nor use the box, so I brought the amenities to him. Looking over his shoulder the whole time, he ate. Giving up on letting him have the run of the house, I locked him in my room all day.

The humans in my house had a meeting. We need to re-introduce the brothers. They will no longer be allowed to see each other. Only one of the will be allowed the run of the house at a time. Andy will be kept in my room while Jake has time to roam the house, and then Jake will be kept in Deedee’s room. This is going to be a long process. I realize they may never be best friends again, but I need Andy to stop living in fear of Jake. My goal is for them to see each other again some time in July.

*fingers crossed*

4 thoughts on “Redirected Aggression”

  1. How complicated! I hope it works out for you. Cats are so special, aren’t they?

  2. I agree, cats are extremely special and some what complicated to understand. I just hope this goes well. I can’t call Andy’s quality of life good if he’s hiding under my bed terrified. If we can’t get the two of them to be peaceful – our options are really limited. The best option for all of the cats to be happy & feel secure (if re-introduction doesn’t work) would be to re-home either Andy or Jake. We love the two of them so much that it breaks my heart to think of having to give one up especially considering Toothless is on borrowed time.

    I’ve also been toying with idea of letting Jake outside. Again, not something I’m comfortable with. I don’t want him getting hit by a car or end up the victim of some violent, disturbed cat hater.

  3. I’m with Grace, how complicated! My goodness. However it is interesting…I’ve never had more than one pet at a time. Interesting characters. Hope you can make it work.

  4. Basically, I need to retrain Jake’s thinking by using his own cat instincts and nature. If Jake can be civil near Andy (and I’m sure he can since he is sweet as pie to baby Tyrion and Princess Toothless) than I’ll be one happy camper. I think Andy is starting to return back to his old self since he hasn’t seen Jake in two days. Really Jake is a sweet boy, he’s only a jerk to Andy…

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