New Aggression (toward only one owner)

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Purred: Mon Oct 29, '12 7:26pm PST 
We have had Rambo for 4 years (we adopted him from a rescue at a year old). He's really been a great cat. I didn't care much about cats before, but I love them because of him. He's my little Weasel, Tiny Puma, Stoat...

We recently got a 4-month old kitten about a month ago (my wife's idea)and after a brief introduction, they seemed to be getting along just fine. They played and groomed, and there were no apparent behavioral changes. The Spook (kitten) wanted to play a lot, and sometimes Rambo got mad and chased him off, but that seemed reasonable and normal to me.

Almost 2 weeks ago, the kitten was playing with a paper bag in the kitchen, and managed to get the handle stuck around his waist. He came flying into the next room jumping and hissing pathetically (and hilariously, I admit). When she went to help the little guy, Rambo came seemingly out of nowhere and attacked her viciously. Like a fuzzy ground-to-face missile, he launched himself several times and didn't stop until I was standing over him (it took me a moment to realize what was happening behind me). There was a fair amount of blood. We went to the ER.

We figured it was a freak thing, but it happened a couple nights after that. This time he only had to time to jump once before I chased him off with a piece of PVC (just rapped it on the hardwood floor). That time, she had been playing with the kitten. Ok, less provocation, but still some, conceivably. We then separated the cats, but a couple days later he cornered her in the kitchen, growling and ready to launch, after following her in there seemingly happy and expecting to be fed. Again, I had to chase him off. She freezes.

She has responded by isolating herself from him for the most part, letting him into the room she's in to be fed and receive attention for brief bouts. I didn't believe it until tonight when I saw it, but he's been following he very intently. Almost stalking, and I can see it being unnerving. Tonight, he again threatened to attack her when she was standing about 8 feet away. It wasn't a scared type of thing; he got up and got into an offensive position, lowered his ears, and growled.

This whole time, I have not had a single issue with him. He's been very sweet toward me, and I've been the one moving him around and such. I've let him hang out around me, and he seems the same when she isn't around. And when she's sitting, he'll hop up and cuddle and purr and be normal, but when she's moving around, he seems nervous.

My wife is (rightfully) terrified of him at this point. We have a small place, so he can't be separated from us very well. Even if we go rid of the kitten and tried to let him calm down, she's having anxiety issues over this, and regaining trust would likely take much longer than she can have him being aggressive toward her.

I do not want to get rid of the older cat, but then I haven't been attacked. She may feel better if she were given a good reason for his behavior, and had a solid plan for making him stop this behavior. Right now, she wants him to go.

I wonder if anyone knows why he'd be attacking her, the owner he preferred, and not me. Does her being entirely non-threatening and in fact cowering around him since the first incident have something to do with it? Have I been spared because I'm more aggressive and not afraid of him? Is there a reliable way of ending this type of behavior given we have a 1 bedroom apartment?

Unfortunately, I suspect most owners end up getting rid of the aggressive animal at this point. I love him, but she is more scared with each interaction that even seems unusual. If we have to get rid of him, what can we do with an adult cat who now has a history of vicious aggression? We live in the Chicago area, btw. PAWS? Treehouse?

I could deal with finding him somewhere good to go, but I would really hate for him to be put down over this. Still, my wife is really not dealing with this well at all and it will take a complete reversal for her to trust him again, so I fear we will try a few things, but he will end up going somewhere else in the end.

TL; DNR: new aggression specific to one owner, wife freaking out, can we fix this?

Edited by author Mon Oct 29, '12 7:30pm PST