Dilute tortie Lucy and tuxedo Damian had been friends for four years when, one sunny July day, everything changed. Damian saw another cat out in the yard and had a displaced aggression “conversation” with Lucy, who yelled “them’s fighting words!” and the two rolled through the house in a screaming ball of fur. Despite attempts to slowly reintroduce them, the fights continued, and 10 days later Lucy came to visit Dr. Buxton. That was the start of a 9 month process of reintroducing the two cats. It’s taken medication (a few changes, to get the right type and dose) for both, ongoing advice and assistance from Dr. B and from her colleague, animal behaviourist Dr. Rebecca Ledger, and a great deal of slow and patient retraining — because pills alone can’t rebuild the trust needed to resolve ingrained behavioural problems. Some key parts of training were ensuring both cats “space shared” so each could smell the other throughout the house, and using removable Plexiglas doors with sniffing holes between rooms, so each could observe the other playing, eating and sleeping with a safe barrier in place. Gradually, Lucy and Damian were able to view each other without growling, hissing or panic attacks. In February, they started having short supervised visits in the living room — many “Temptations” made it an event to look forward to each evening. Things started improving fairly rapidly after that, with increasingly longer supervised visits. By mid-March, the kitties were left alone together for longer and longer time periods; in April “sleep overs” started. Now, near the end of April, life is pretty much back to normal, to the huge relief of Andy, a gentle ginger tabby who’d watched with great concern until his two buddies were reconciled again. Not all displaced aggression problems are as serious as Lucy’s and Damian’s was, but if it happens to you, it’s important to stay positive, patient and loving with all of the cats – and to get help, because it CAN be solved!
Thank you to Lucy, Damian & Andy’s pet parents for your tale (and all your hard work getting the kids to play nicely!!). Congratulations on a happy home!