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Unread 01-11-2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default Older (mother) cat has been hissing, biting for three months...

I've got two cats, a mother (Cathy) and daughter (Phoebe). Cathy adopted me as a stray about five and a half years ago, and I'm guessing she was probably about a year old at the time. She appeared to have had a home before (I first saw her a few months before she showed up on my front porch, in front of a house a few blocks away), and the moment she adopted me, I was hooked. A few months after Cathy adopted me, she ran out the door one night when I came home from work, came home three days later smoking a cigarette, and 10 weeks later, six kittens were born. I kept one of the kittens (or rather, she kept me--she wouldn't go near anyone else), and Phoebe and her mom became best buds. I was in the same apartment for five years with Cathy before moving last September.

So then back in September I moved to a different apartment complex with an indoor hallway, and the lady across the hall from my new apartment has three cats. So both of my cats had a bit of a reacclimation period moving into the new apartment, but it appeared that they were adjusting well. So then about a month or so after I moved in, Cathy just up and starts hissing and fighting with Phoebe for no apparent reason. Cathy is definitely an alpha cat (and I think she's retained a lot of her street-cat instinct), although Phoebe is very docile (but also extremely smart). So Cathy starts hissing for reasons I can't figure out--I "introduce" her to the cats across the hall, with limited success--she hisses at the female and alternately hisses at and sniffs the two males. All of my neighbor's cats and both of my cats have been fixed. So for a while I thought that maybe Cathy was just continuing to smell the cats across the hall from the air ventilation under the front door and that maybe that was why she was hissing. I had a can of facial pheromones left over that the vet had given me a few years ago after I had first Phoebe and then Cathy spayed--I brought Phoebe back from the vet apparently smelling like antiseptic from the surgery, and Cathy hissed for a couple weeks at this odd-smelling "newcomer" but the pheromone spray seemed to help stop Cathy's hissing, and afterward they were best friends again. Well, this time in the new apartment the pheromone spray has seemed to have little effect. Not only that, but Cathy has been hissing at and biting both me and my fiancee (not to mention Phoebe) and nothing we've done has seemed to change Cathy's behavior. Phoebe's behavior hasn't seemed to change at all in the new apartment, while Cathy has just grown more and more antisocial and aggressive. Cathy normally loves having her head and back scratched, but now she tries to bite us just about every time we touch her. I'm not really sure what to think. Could she have some kind of underlying medical condition--pain or something else--that is causing her to act out aggressively? I'm guessing that's the kind of thing a cat would do if they're in pain. Neither of the cats have been to the vet since they were spayed because they're both indoor cats (OK, maybe I'm dropping the ball as their human father), but I'm going to call the vet this week about Cathy because it's seeming more and more like something isn't right, if her behavior is any indication, but I wanted to see if you guys might have any advice or insight as to what might be going on.
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Unread 01-12-2010   #2 (permalink)
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It is possible that the pheromone stuff has expired and she is still reacting to your neighbours cats, but I would still take her to the vet's for a check up just to be on the safe side.
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Unread 01-12-2010   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice, Maggiemay. Glad to see you have a Phoebe, too!
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