So. Four cats, two are siblings and came to the house at the same time, two others added at different times and with different backgrounds.
As you can imagine, the cat shenanigans are myriad and numerous. And that's what it was - shenanigans - for a solid 7 1/2 months of all four of them living together unrestricted with full run of the house. As I mentioned when I introduced Bella in a previous post, she's easily the most skittish of the four. Rather than jump in and join in, she watches the others as they go about their cat activities. She doesn't particularly want any of the cats up "in her business". Her business is strictly off-limits. The other three would occasionally chase her as well, and she'd run and then hiss at them, swat a little, and everyone would go back to what they were doing before the interruption.
Before I can talk about three weeks ago, I have to go back to April. I'm petting Feats, and I see a smallish (size of a nickel) bald spot between his shoulder blades. My cats are strictly indoors, so they don't get Frontline or Profender or anything like that. I was concerned, though, because I still volunteered with homeless animals (I always washed my hands carefully before coming home and petting my own cats, but you never know), about the possibility of some kind of fungus that could a) spread on Feats; and b) spread to the other cats (and potentially the humans!) in the household.
Feats was packed off to the vet. By this time the bald spot was the size of a quarter. The vet took a scraping to test for fungus and prescribed me a topical antibiotic ointment just in case. I brought Feats home, and a few days later that bald spot was the size of a half dollar. WTF?
About a week after the vet visit, I'm watching Feats just walk into the living room. I hear the galloping of feet coming up - Rufus. Rufus runs up along Feats' left side and while still slide behind but alongside of him, Rufus slings his front right leg across Feats' back, wraps him up, forces him to the ground, and commences biting and ripping Feats hair off between the shoulder blades.
So let's digress and just talk about Rufus for a moment. He is hands down the most neurotic of the four. He's a beautiful kitty - truly striking. But the only way I can describe him is obsessive compulsive (OCD). I don't use that lightly. He's a chronic woolsucker. Multiple times a day he gets on a soft blanket or a towel or a particular kitty bed or one of the humans and commences sucking and making biscuits. He's uncannily focused as well. You can tell he knows when he's either about to or in the middle of doing something he shouldn't. But he won't break his concentration on the thing he's doing or about to do - he can't seem to help himself. It's like a pathology. Rufus seems to get on "jags". Ripping Feats' hair out was one jag. Another is the occasional fixation on toilet paper and the shredding of it.
Now I should mention - Rufus weighs 12lbs. Feats is 13.5lbs. Meatball is 12lbs. Little Bella is barely 8lbs. She's the smallest of the four.
So on June 18, I'm getting everyone's breakfast ready. My cats eat twice daily, and they each get fed the same thing in the same amount into their own dish. I'm in the kitchen getting the food ready and I hear Rufus chasing Bella upstairs. From upstairs I hear Bella screaming. I run upstairs and find Rufus on her. He's not attacking and then backing off - he's on her, biting. She's completely frozen. I have to yank Rufus off of her and put him into the spare bedroom and close the door. When I go back to check on Bella, she's freaked and she's so scared that during the attack she let go of her bladder.
I separated them that day, putting Bella in my office while I went to work. I let them out together, but only under my supervision. Rufus was chasing her a bit, but nothing like that other day.
Until about a week and a half ago.
I could see Rufus staring at Bella while Bella was on the stairs. She seemed to sense something bad - she started to take off. Rufus pursued and attacked her again. I tried to grab him as she freed herself and went into the bedroom, but I missed. He chased her into the office and attacked her behind my desk out of my reach. She was screaming the whole time, and Rufus was on her the whole time. I finally managed to grab hold of Rufus' leg and yank him off of her. He went into the spare bedroom and I shut the office door and coaxed Bella out from behind the desk. She had, again, let go of her bladder in fear.
That's when I started Googling "feline aggression" in earnest. One thing was clear - once something like that starts, it will keep happening. I decided to keep them physically separated until I could get my arms around the issue and start trying to address it.
I called the vet and made an appointment for Rufus.