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I have two cats, both 10 year old males, same litter. One has been recently diagnosed with small cell lymphoma (but is in remission and doing well); however, he's been getting extra attention from it (trips to vet/hospital, meds, etc.). Also, he's more outgoing in getting attention. His brother is less demanding of attention, but is getting jealous. I try to give him attention, but for the most part he will run off when his brother comes. Is there a way to get him the attention he deserves, without upsetting him?

Requested behavior descriptions:

  • Hissing when his brother is back from vet/hospital (I know this is normal)
  • Giving cold shoulder to his brother when they are near
  • Attacking his brother more often than before
  • Leaving when his brother gets near
  • Glaring at me when I give his brother attention
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  • Could you update your question to include details about what behaviors your cat is doing that makes you think he is jealous?
    – Kai
    Apr 7 at 16:30
  • What have you tried so far?
    – Allison C
    Apr 7 at 19:34
  • holding and petting him, (he likes being held for a little while) giving him full petting when he comes to me (unless at work), calling for him by patting the couch/bed near me. Petting him when I go by him and he's awake. Apr 7 at 19:36
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This is just a partial answer because I don't know how to solve the problem, but the behavior you describe is not jealousy. The relationship between your cats is deteriorating, but the reason for that is not jealousy. The reason is probably that the behavior and maybe the smell of the cat with lymphoma changed and now his brother doesn't like him as much as he used to.

The same happened to friends of mine. They had 2 cat brothers who lived together in harmony for 7 years. Then one of the cats developed a UTI and started peeing outside the litter box. At the exact same time his brother started hissing at him and chasing him from the room. By the time the cat was treated and recovered from his UTI, the cats had to be separated all the time because they only fought each other. In the end my friends had to rehome one of them.

We assume that the peeing outside the litter box started those fights. The sick cat did it to draw attention to the fact that peeing was painful to him. The healthy cat saw this as disruptive behavior, because his brother soiled the house. Maybe his brother also had the smell of the vet lingering on him. We're not completely sure.

I want you to be aware of this possibility and try to avoid the same scenario with your cats, but I honestly don't know how.

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  • This seems reasonable, although it sounds as if it started happening when the vet trips started occuring. The actual health issue which could cause pheromone differences could have existed before vet visits. That's the only thing putting me on the fence about this. Maybe it's the actual treatment that is causing the pheromone changes? But at that point, you'd have to account for how long it takes for the changes to take effect. Hard for me to void "behavior" as the reason due to this - would need more information such as when the behavior occured relative to visits, and what prescriptions.
    – Dioxin
    Apr 11 at 4:00
  • I'm hoping you are giving worst case situation, I don't think I could handling giving up either cat. Apr 11 at 16:46

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