Another cat question

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by derby, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. derby

    derby Songster

    Apr 18, 2008
    Boonsboro, MD
    Thanks for being patient with me. I don't know who else to ask about cat behavior.

    We have 2 barn cats from a rescue group that have been here since April. Then these 3 kittens showed up in the barn. We have kept them quarentined at night until they get all their shots, but let them loose with the 2 older cats during the day.

    Sometimes the 2 older cats are tolerant, but sometimes out of the blue, they take a wack at these kittens. I figure they are establishing their "pecking order", but now one of the older cats, who has been very docile and loving, is starting to wack at the kids as they walk by, especially if it is getting close to feeding time. This very loving cat is getting kind of cranky! Is it because of the kittens? Is it because the weather is getting cold? Has he gotten "too full of himself"? Do I need to re-establish the pecking order in the human favor? If so, how? Is there a cat whisperer?

  2. sussexgal

    sussexgal Songster

    Have you been showing more attention to the kittens and less to him? Cats are not above jealousy. How old is he? I'm assuming if he's a rescue that he is altered. If he's whacking the kids out of the feed dish, you may have to feed in two different places. Cat groups have their own dynamics. They are very social even tho their behavior says otherwise. It could be any number of reasons your older fellow is cranky with the kittens. Keep an eye on him that he doesn't become overly aggressive and harm one of them. If it's just a whack now and then he's probably just showing them who is boss or telling them he's tired of their antics. But if he is seeking them out and giving them a good kicking you want to separate them until the youngsters are old enough to handle themselves in a brawl. Do you know anything about his background? If he was an only cat in his previous arrangement he may not be able to handle all the hubub going on around him. You may see him get real piggy with the food. Alpha cats will sometimes try to eat the others out of house and home in the hopes they will go elsewhere. Good luck with your felines....
  3. derby

    derby Songster

    Apr 18, 2008
    Boonsboro, MD
    We've been careful to greet him first and spend time with him. He came from an over-crowded barn situation. I think they pulled close to 50 cats out of this barn.

    I tend to think he is keeping the kittens in line. Sometimes he'll rub his head against theirs in a friendly way -- and then 30 minutes later--whack! His claws seem to be in when he swats them.

    But swatting at the kids is something new. I wonder if we could have over-done it with showing him attention when the kittens are around and now he thinks he is the boss of the kids?
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Wait, just to clarify -- when you say he is taking a whack at the "kids" as they walk by, do you just mean the kittens or do you mean human children?

    If it's just to the kittens, then it's just the cats working out the food chain now that the young'ns are getting old enough to have to integrate into the Mature Cat World. None of your business [​IMG] and I *strongly* recommend not trying to intervene in any way. You can't change their social structure or how they maintain it; anything a person does is just going to cause additional and prolonged chaos and discontent. They'll work it out. BTW if the kittens are old enough they really need to be NEUTERED asap - the approach of sexual maturity can bring on all sorts of social upheavals, as well as additional unwanted kittens.

    If he's whacking at *people* as they walk by, I dunno, I have cats that do that sometimes and nobody ever uses claws, just a hard smack from a 'velvet' paw, and I just ignore it and nothing has ever, ever come of it. If it seems aggressive or if claws are being used then obviously it would be more of a problem, and I would tend to think that he may be extending his newfound animal-training skills <g> to your kids. They might oughta try to avoid walking right by him or annoying him [​IMG]. You might need to assess whether you've exceeded your 'carrying capacity' for number of cats, if it's not something you can live with.

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  5. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    I don't know if this helps, but my indoor cat does that with my dogs. Sometimes he swats them claws out, which I've always taken to mean "Go away. Don't touch me.". But sometimes he just reaches out with claws sheathed and pops them on the head. He also rubs his head up against them and hangs out with them so it's not all aggression. I've always intrepretted it as him establishing his dominance as alpha dog (even though he's a cat).
    How do the kittens react? I know my two barn kittens play pretty rough with each other. Maybe he's playing with them?

    Good luck!
  6. sussexgal

    sussexgal Songster

    Ah.... he sounds like he is being a big brother. Just keep an eye on the situation. No claws is an excellent thing [​IMG] He likes his little buddies and cats will do the strangest things... he may be toughening them up so to speak.... to survive you must expect the unexpected kinda thinking. He shows them affection and then tries to bait them. I love cats.... he may be asserting himself as boss, but cats have a leader within the group. A protector... just like roos with your hens. I wouldn't try to change that dynamic unless he is hurting one of the other cats. Let them be.... they sound like they are sorting it out on their own.
  7. derby

    derby Songster

    Apr 18, 2008
    Boonsboro, MD
    Yes - he has started swatting at the human children, with the claws in.

    The vet tells me the kittens are about 10 weeks and too young for fixing.

    All total, we have the 2 adult rescue cats and 3 kittens. I was hoping they would all get along, but I guess we could find homes for the kittens while they are young and cute.

    I think you are right- he is trying to train the human kids now along with the kittens. Should we reassert the human children as dominant? And if so, how?

    Why can't they just act like dogs? Now THAT, I could figure out....
  8. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    Cat "pecking orders" aren't quite as simple as most other animals since they aren't really as social. They don't really have a strict order or a pack/flock leader. They mostly just watch out for themselves and their own territory. When you introduce new animals cats will flip out. They will get cranky. They will whack the newcomers. Express their concern vocally and sometimes with bad behaviors like not using the litterbox and peeing on your stuff. You mostly just have to keep them as happy as you can and wait it out. Provided they aren't actually injuring anyone I would not worry too much about it. I'd tap them on the head, cats will tap each other on the head and shoulder with claws in to express dislike and tell the other to go away, and say no if they actually whack a human but otherwise leave them be. After a few weeks they'll chill about the newcomers and within a few months they actually can become attached to the kittens.

    My older cat Carmel acts like someone is just killing her when the kitten, Squeak, attacks her tail. When I first got squeak carmel flipped out, yowled constantly, lunged at squeak repeatedly hitting her everytime she saw her, was always hanging on me and trying to get my attention, and also took out her frustrations on the dog. Now while Carmel will act all annoyed when Squeak is being hyper and stalking and pouncing on her she also was really bored and lonely when squeak went into the vet to be spayed. She tolerates Squeak in the room now and only whacks her when Squeak actually attacks her or shoves into her space. Same thing happened when I got a puppy. Carmel flipped out, whacked Zami constantly, started fights, was pissy with me, yowled constantly, etc.... Now she just ignores Zami and will walk right under her belly without paying her any attention. That's just how cats are. You change something or add a new animal and they will freak for several weeks to months. After awhile they will chill on their own. There's not really anything you can do and they don't really have a pack order you can deal with. Just try to keep the older cats as happy as you can while they adjust and reprimand them if they get too rough with people.
  9. WriterofWords

    WriterofWords Has Fainting Chickens

    Dec 25, 2007
    Chaparral, New Mexico
    Swats with claws in means they want the attention. Claws out means they are upset about something. Don't punish, find out what's wrong the best you can. If you swat back and hurt them, the next time they swat it's harder because now instead of trying to tell you something, they are afraid of being hurt by you.
  10. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits...

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    I have 6 cats..and i have a definate "top" cat in my pride of cats....and if the younger boys challenge his place..he lets them have it..and good!...AND..when he was really sick recently..(he almost lost an eye), they were trying to take his position...attacking him..etc..while he was i seperated him..and kept him away from them until he got better....first thing the boys did when i let him be around them was try to challenge him again...he beat the crap outta them..[​IMG]..(and he's de-clawed..and they arent)... so i honestly believe there is a alpha cat in a pride of dont always fight...once the young ones submit he's fine with them..he even lets them sleep in his bed with him..(when he's feeling[​IMG]

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