My cats are no longer getting along

by Mary
(Dublin, Ireland)

Hi Kate,

I have two 4 possibly 4 and a half month old kittens. They are siblings and I am think they are both male.
I have them since they were about 6 weeks old. I probably took them a little too early from the mothers owner. The mother would have been a wildish outdoor cat.
One of the kittens was very weak initially and it took a while for him to be able to eat etc. The other kitten is much bigger than his sibling and much more robust.
The two of them slept together, ate together from same bowls etc and got on fine.
The bigger kitten was always more dominant and would groom the other kitten and would seem to have the upper hand when they were play fighting but would never hurt the smaller kitten.

i took the kittens way for a week to another house about 4 hours drive away. Both travelled together in the same cage and we had a lovely week both getting on fine. We had been to this house before for a long weekend so they would probably have been familiar with the house.

One night i put them outside to their bed as usual. The next morning when I called them to feed them the bigger kitten eventually appeared from under the car. He appeard out of sorts was wet and a bit dirty and was dragging his bum along the floor.(I had noticed a discharge in their bed inside from the earlier the previous day-brownish discgarge)
There was no sign of the smaller kitten adn I looked for ages calling him etc. The bigger kitten followed me all the time I was calling him.
I thought he had been taken by a fox. I brought the bigger kitten in. He didnt eat or go to the toilet for the rest of the day. He slept most of that day and I gave him loads of attention him sleeping on my lap etc.

I left the house the following evening and brought the bigger kitten home as I reallly thought the smaller kitten was dead. I was so upset.

two nights later lo and behold the little kitten was found by a neighbour outside the door of the house crying and hungry.I travelled down to collect him bringing the bigger kitten with me as I thought he would be delighted to see him However he was not and hissed at him when they met. They travelled back in the one cage and there was hissing initially from the bigger kitten but they then settled down.

Since they have been home (they were apart only 3 nights) the bigger kitten is very aggressive, doesn't want to be picked up by me ( he previously loved to be petted and would sit on my lap and sleep for a while) and was tearing arpund the house in a very aggressive way. he keeps hissing at the smaller kitten and has been a bit intimidating towards him. The smaller kitten is very gentle and was tring to approach him etc. I put the bigger kitten outside for a while to calm down and left the smaller kitten in. The bigger kitten disappeared for a few hours but eventually reappeared agin acting aggressively towards the smaller kitten. I put them in separate rooms thst night separate beds etcas I worried he might harm the smaller kitten.

I have tried to make a fuss of the bigger kitten but he doesn't want to know. His body seems so tense as if he is stalking mode all the time.

I tried to play with the two of them with a little ball and after a while the bigger kitten was dominating the game.

As I work during the day I have left the little kitten inside and the bigger one outside as there is only one kennel outside and I was afraid he might bully the smaller one out of it into the rain and cold.

All this happened just 5 days ago. I think the kittens might have been chased by a fox/ badger or dog and they were probably traumatised. Now I'm wondering did the bigger kitten chase away the smaller one.

I am just bewildered at this change in temperament and am worried that they won/t be friends again. I'm also really worried that he might harm him or kill him as he appears to hate him.

Sorry this is so long winded but I am just so upset at this.
Is there anything I can do?
THanks so much

Don't worry this sort of behaviour is common and is known as aggression trauma. It usually occurs after some frightening experience.

I assume that you have taken the bigger cat to see a vet to make sure he is not in any discomfort as this would also cause him to react aggressively. The discharge he had may a internal infection.

As to how to try and help your cats get along again, there is a process of re introduction which can help but it does take a little time and effort on your part to make sure that it works. Please see this page for the details of the technique.

best wishes kate

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