Mother cat wants to pick fights with daughter cat! Please helping-stop the kitty-fights!
March 7, 2012 2:03 PM   Subscribe

My two cats are 6 and 5 years old, mother and daughter. They don't get along, especially now that the daughter is spayed. Is there any way to get these two cats to bond?

We adopted the cats a few months ago, and they're both pretty great. However, even from the very beginning, the mother had always batted and hissed at the daughter.

We had spayed the daughter recently, though, and per the vet's instructions, we kept the mother elsewhere for a week. Ever since she's come back, the mother has been especially afraid of and aggressive towards her daughter. The mother hisses at the daughter whenever they cross paths, and she will even make odd grunting sounds when she sees the daughter. They've all-out fought twice or so, complete with yowling. This odd behavior seems much more pronounced than it had been.

As for the daughter, she just seems genuinely curious about her mother, and there's no indication that she behaves aggressively towards her.

Thankfully, there have been no injuries in these fights. They seem to be more about making statements than about hurting anyone.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what to do, to put this broken kitty family back together?

For illustrative purposes: mother picture one, mother picture two. Daughter picture one, daughter picture two.
posted by Sticherbeast to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have two cats, sisters, both spayed...they do not get along except when they both dip into food bowls...then they never bother each other...finished, they separate, go their own way in the house, and this has been going on for 14 years.
posted by Postroad at 2:10 PM on March 7, 2012

Our two cats hated each other, we used Feliway (2 diffusers x 3 months, refilling every month) and now they adore each other.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:21 PM on March 7, 2012

No advice here, but holy hells those are two beautiful cats! May I ask what breed?
posted by blurker at 5:53 PM on March 7, 2012


Are the cats generally stressed out, or only when they interact with each other? Are there particularly situations where the fighting arises, or is it every time they see each other? Do you know anything about their prior home life? Is the mom spayed as well? What do you do when they fight?

Pheromone products, like Feliway, may help curb the aggression, but I think the important thing is to try to figure out where it's coming from, lest it come back whenever the Feliway is gone (if it works at all, it didn't do jack for my fur monster) - that's why I'm asking so many questions. The mom sounds like she might be territorial, though - if she does a bit of posturing before trying to attack (the hissing and grunting sound like it).
posted by sm1tten at 5:55 PM on March 7, 2012

The all-out fighting with yowling makes me wonder if you need to re-introduce them to each other as if they were strangers: keep them physically separated within the house for a week or two while running Feliway diffusers and giving them opportunities to pick up each others' smells (e.g. take the beds or blankets that they sleep on and swap places, or put the cats in carriers and swap their places in the house every day or two). Then gradually introduce them to the sight of each other—for example, put the mother in a carrier with some food and let the daughter into the room to eat from a different dish of food, and let them check each other out for 10 or 20 minutes, then separate them again; repeat a few times until they seem to be at ease around each other. Don't let either of them raise her hackles, growl, hiss, or make other threatening gestures; be prepared to cut off their sight of each other at the first sign of aggression (dropping a towel over the carrier works well).
posted by Orinda at 6:59 PM on March 7, 2012

Agreeing with blurker, those cats are beautiful.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:06 AM on March 8, 2012

My mother had a mother and daughter cat team, about the same age difference, and for the 20 years they were alive together, they always sniped at each other. The only thing that kept the peace was separate food and litter places. They never drew blood, but they would definitely paw-slap at each other. They totally reminded me of the elderly and not-so elderly human mother and daughter couples you'll occasionally see, where they are just constantly bickering with each other.

Part of it, I believe, was the nature and instinct- being non-pack animals, the mothers have an instinct to shove their weaned children out on their own. When this is prevented by us pesky humans, there is some pushback.
posted by gjc at 6:48 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the kind words about the cats!

Answering some questions posed above:

• The cats are British Shorthairs, in this case British Blues. Sweet animals, very different from the Siamese cats I had previously been used to.

• The mother cat has seemed a little more stressed out since her return. Supposedly she enjoyed staying at the SO's cousin for a week, but now she's in a condo where nothing seems familiar. It seems telling that she's not quite as cuddlesome as she once was, and how she's hanging out more in her cat bed, or hiding under a chair. It also seems important that the mother cat had once "owned" our bed, and the daughter had "owned" the living room, but now the roles are switched.

• Their previous home life had featured twin toddlers who liked to pull their tails, yell at them, etc. So, chaos might be something on their collective radar. Weirdly enough, it had always seemed like the daughter had been the most affected by this, but now the daughter is maxin' and relaxin' all cool, and the mother is the one who's more sheepish.

• The mother grunts and hisses when she passes by her daughter, especially when the daughter has placed herself in such a way so as to create either a bottleneck, or a situation where the mother will have to pass by the daughter. Seems like a territorial war, with the daughter now the dominant one, which is the reverse of how it had been before.


Orinda's suggestion to reintroduce them seems like a good idea, but we live in a one bedroom condo, where it's not really practical to keep them divided. We'll have to be more muted about how we "reintroduce" the cats to one another.


I've never heard of this Feliway stuff, but I'm intrigued.


A theory I'm working on: what if I were to rub the daughter cat with the mother cat's scent, so that the daughter gradually smells more and more like the mother? Is that psychotic? It might be psychotic.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2012

A theory I'm working on: what if I were to rub the daughter cat with the mother cat's scent, so that the daughter gradually smells more and more like the mother? Is that psychotic? It might be psychotic.

Not at all - I mean to suggest this as well, especially if you're considering reintroducing them. Grab something that the mom likes to lay on, and something that the daughter likes to lay on, and rub em down/put in their favorite spots. Or, you can rub one with a towel, then rub the other one with the same towel. (gently of course) It also sounds like the mom might need re-introducing to the condo. Cats tend to hate change, especially in routine/living space.
posted by sm1tten at 7:54 AM on March 8, 2012

Thanks for the advice, everyone! We employed a mixture of Feliway and rubbing their scents onto one another with a petting-sock.

Enclosed, please find photographic proof that the cats are now fairly habituated to one another. (They are drinking cat-safe "milk," by the way.)

They are now able to hang out on the same bed and to do all the other things that normal cats do. They still sometimes swipe at one another, but only in passing. No more kitty freak-outs!
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:01 AM on March 16, 2012

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