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Litter Mates – Can’t We All Get Along?

Oct 16, 2012 by     14 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Reader Question:

“I have two litter mates that are 2 years old.  They get along great.  My previous cats were also littermates, and got along famously until they were 3.  Then the fighting started and lasted over 15 years.  Why did this happen and what can I do to prevent it?”

I am sorry to hear that you had fighting between your last pair of cats.  Thank you for your question and trying to prevent the problem for the 2 kitties you have now.

Cats who like eachotherFirst, for the record, adopting siblings together is a great idea.  They are already bonded together, and they have similar energy levels so that they can play as much as they wish.  People often ask which is best to get, males or females.  Both are great, but there is information to suggest that 2 males are best together, followed by a male and female, and lastly 2 females.  This is of course a general statement and I personally have seen 2 females, Cleo and Sheba, get along well for the 20 years that they were together!

There are some steps that we can take to provide the pair with the best situation, but unfortunately, there are other situations that we may not have control over.  For example, I saw one pair of female cats that were so affectionate together until they were 11 years old; at that age, one of the cats saw a strange cat sitting outside a window and screamed.  The sibling came running to see what was the matter, and a case of redirected aggression occurred – the cat that saw the strange cat attacked her sibling since she couldn’t get at the cat outdoors.  For the rest of their lives, they avoided and even hissed at each other.  Other examples of situations we cannot avoid are often a loud noise outside or something else that frightens one of the cats that we have no control over  – and often it happens when we aren’t present to recognize what caused the problem.

Sometimes kittens that have been best buddies will prefer not to be together (or at least as much) when they reach social maturity, which in cats is between 2-4 years of age.  Providing separate cat beds and more than one place to perch will allow them to have their own space, and choose when to be together with the other.

In addition, reward them for any positive interactions together.   Never force the cats to be together or look at each other because that will only backfire!  And I can tell you from my own experience early on that pampering a cat that “gets picked on” can reinforce that cat to act the victim so that they can get the attention.  Once, I came home early from work because I was sick.  I saw my cats sleeping together.  As soon as they saw me, they hissed at each other and went their different directions!  From that day forward, I ignored the one when she acted like the victim, and rewarded any positive interactions, and they became best buds.

Do your cats get along?  If not, questions are welcome.

 

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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