My Pet World: How to deal with redirected aggression among cats
We have two 5-year old domestic shorthair cats, Bailey and Jasmine. They are sisters, not declawed, and are inside cats (except for being out on our screened-in patio). Up until recently, we've had no problems with them. They're great "kids" and bring us much enjoyment and love.
But a few months ago, Bailey started attacking Jasmine. We finally figured out the cause. When Bailey sees another cat outside, she rushes from the patio into the house and attacks Jasmine. Jasmine hasn't done anything to Bailey, and Jasmine can't understand why Bailey is doing this to her.
We purchased pheromones and have placed them in our bedroom and living area, but so far, they don't seem to be helping. Can you help us figure out a way to stop this behavior?
Bailey is fine with Jasmine otherwise. How to stop this behavior has us puzzled. Any tips you can provide would be helpful.
- Maris, Coconut Creek, Florida
What you are describing is redirected aggression, which is a behavior that occurs when a cat is frustrated by the sound or sight of something it can't reconcile or reach, and it smacks the nearest person or animal out of sheer frustration.
There are various triggers for redirected aggression, from a cat hearing high-pitched noises to smelling another cat on a visitor's or family members' clothing to exactly what you describe above - seeing another animal outside, like a cat, bird or squirrel. In your instance, Bailey sees a cat outside she can't get to and so she smacks Jasmine to relieve some of her pent-up frustration.
The only truly effective thing you can do is to restrict Bailey's access to outside stimulus. Close the shades so she can't see out and find other ways to entertain her. If you want her to have time on the porch though, then make sure Jasmine is in another room so Bailey can't attack her. If you want to sit with them both on the porch, then have a can of coins to shake, a spray bottle to spritz at Bailey or a Pet Corrector to make a sound to interrupt Bailey if she looks like she is going to attack Jasmine.