by Lisa
(Hendersonville, TN)


We have a rescue cat, Fifi and a Maine Coon cat, Simon. Both have been together about 9 years.

Lately Simon has been acting very strange. He will hiss and spit at Fifi making Fifi attack him. Fifi hasn't changed, as lovable as ever, until the other cat comes out of hiding and then she acts like a lunatic.

Simon is okay around my husband and me, but is always looking around to see where the other cat may be. If he sees her, he runs and hides.

This has happened once before but resolved itself (about 2 months ago). This time Simon hasn't come out from under the bed for 3 days and I have had to take him food.

He did come to the bed with us last night with Fifi sleeping at the foot. No problem. But as soon as Fifi moved, Simon began the hissing and ran back upstairs under the bed.

We don't know if anything out of the ordinary has happened, but we have to leave for 7 days. I'm worried they will kill each other or Simon will starve to death under the bed. We have a "cat sitter" but she says they never come out when she is around anyway, so she won't know the difference one way or another.

Should we take Simon to the vet? Should we get him some drugs? Will it resolve itself again? Help!

Lisa and Keith

Dear Lisa and Keith,

Something has obviously happened between the two of them for them to be acting this way with each other. You may never know what. It could be as simple as them sitting in a window together and seeing a squirrel or bird outside and out of frustration at not being able to attack the bird, Fifi turned around and attacked Simon. Things like that happen a lot.

That's just one example. It could be all sorts of other things. Again, you may never know what the original instigating event was.

Meanwhile, yes, this can resolve itself, but it doesn't sound like it's going to on its own. In particular, I would be concerned about going away for a week if that is anytime soon. It's not that they will kill each other or even harm each other very seriously. That's extremely unlikely.

However, Simon may hide the whole time because you're away and because he's already hiding. If he doesn't eat or drink from being so distressed, he can become very ill.

You need to do a couple of things, one of which is take both cats to the vet. You really do not know which one might have a health issue that started this. We all too often assume it's the aggressive cat that is the problem. However, sometime it's the other cat who has a problem and starts to cower and run away for whatever reason and just the act of acting scared and running away will make the other cat attack.

Therefore, they both need to be checked out by the vet to make sure there is no underlying health issue that is causing the problem.

Secondly, I wouldn't leave the two cats with a pet sitter coming in right now if you are away. It would be my recommendation to find a reputable boarding facility, preferably in a vet hospital and have them stay there where they can be monitored while you are away.

These are the first two things you need to do. Tell the vet of course all about what is going on and see if anything comes up medically and what he then recommends for the behavior. There are various environmental things that can be done that may help and yes, there is also medication that can be used if absolutely necessary. First, however, any medical causes need to be ruled out.

If you need to write back after that has been done and you're back from being away, I would be happy to hear what you found out and and how it's going and offer further behavioral suggestions if you need them.

Thanks for writing!
Dr. Neely

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