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My Pet World: How to deal with redirected aggression among cats

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

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

Dear Maris,

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.


Dear Cathy,

We recently got a rescue 10-week-old puppy mix (probably a lab and terrier mix). He is deathly afraid of a leash and won't go out on walks. We have another dog who loves walks. We've tried having the leash on him in the house, but we are not sure what else to do.

- Veronica, Whitehall, Pennsylvania

Dear Veronica,

Some puppies need a little extra time to get used to a leash and, at that age, they don't always know they are going for a walk. When you're letting him wear the leash around the house, be sure to toss him treats. Treats help dogs learn quicker and mark positive behaviors.

If you have tried the leash and treats, the next step is to add a canine pheromone collar on him for the next 30 to 60 days. Pheromones mimic the pheromones a mother releases when she nurses her pups and this can have a calming effect on a puppy, which will make it easier for him to try new things.

If after a few weeks, this is still not working, then try a harness instead. Let him wear the harness and pheromone collar around the house without the leash on it and toss treats to him. If he tolerates the harness, then put the leash on him and see if he will go for a walk. Given time, he should get used to the leash or harness.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)




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