Simple Solution: Spay and Neuter ASAP

A kitten's heat cycles can trigger aggressive behavior in another cat.

By J. Veronika Kiklevich, DVM | Posted: Fri Mar 25 00:00:00 PST 2005

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Q. We have two 3½-year-old female cats from the same litter. Recently, two new kittens adopted us. A month later, our alpha cat died. The kittens were with the other cat for about two weeks and then one of the kittens came into heat. The cat started going after the female kitten. The kitten went out of heat and my stressed cat finally relaxed.

When the kitten went into heat again, our cat became extremely mean. The other day my husband was with the cat and kittens (including the kitten in heat) all day and the cat did nothing to the kitten, until I came home.

Is the cat acting this way because she is now the alpha cat and doesn't know where her sissy went? Is it because the kitten is in heat? Is she jealous of me?

A. You actually have much insight into what is going on and the answer is probably "all of the above." Behavioral problems like this often have a complicated etiology. First, get the kittens spayed as soon as possible. Your older cat is clearly attempting to assume the alpha position and having a female in heat in the same household triggers her aggressive behavior. The longer you allow this to persist, the more likely the behavior will become ingrained, and you may not be able to reverse it.

In addition, you seem to be a trigger for this behavior. To stop the behavior in your presence, create a situation where the kittens are not in the same space as you and the other cat. Provide places where the kittens can hide from your older cat. Perhaps you can call your husband before arriving home so he can separate the cats before you enter the house. Use a behavior-modification application, either on your hands or on the kittens to help calm your older cat. However, the ultimate resolution is to fix all your pets as soon as possible.

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Reader Comments

Meredith    Lexington, NC

10/25/2014 6:08:38 AM

I have on e male and one female ( litter mates) they have lived with me together fine until we just had both fixed at 6 months old. The male came home the same day from the vet and did fine coming home, we brought home the female the next day,and the male hissed at her. The vet told us to keep them separated for a few days to let them heal and adjust. I hope that it is just that both are recovering and just need some time to heal, anyone ever experienced this type of behavior right after being fixed? I will take any advice on getting them back together. The female does have to wear a collar for a while to heal her wound, so wondering if that cone is affecting things, she doesn't look the same right now. Any advice to a new cat mom?

Michelle    Sibley, IA

10/16/2014 11:28:21 AM

We have 3 indoor cats, Boots is 8, Bear she is 2, and we got Pumpkin a few months ago. She was outside while I was feeding our strays she was very friendly, and a male was trying to get to her, so now she is part of our family.. Come to find out she was already pregnant..she had 4, and Bear became the nanny..Then when they were running out house, she got ruff w/them..She wasn't was either, but, shortly after we got rid of the kittens, she got really mean to Pumpkin..So we thought it would help so we got them both..Bear got worse. I keep Pumpkin in our bedroom w/the door closed.. Bear is just evil, she even scares me sometimes..I have no idea what to do.But I am stressed out about this...

Carmen    Fullerton, CA

8/24/2011 2:50:19 PM

I have 2 kittens who recently joined my family, a male and female(siblings). I also have two adult cats both a male and female. They are all neutered and get along very well. :)

Gail    Kansas City, KS

9/28/2010 8:27:13 AM

I love this article. I have 6 cats, all related. 1 female (which we had fixed) and 5 males (not yet fixed)Lately, 4 of the males has started attacking the one cat. Not playing but actually aggressively trying to hurt him. I have to keep the one in danger in a whole other room away from them for fear they will kill him. We plan on getting them fixed to see if this might help solve the problem but until then separation is the only solution.

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