I've had my guys for almost 3 years now and for the most part they get along. They have differing personalities (Havoc is a pansy and Toby is very self-confident) but they usually coexist without issues. They're not all buddy-buddy but they don't hate each other either.
My problem is that my beloved little nitwit Havoc doesn't like strange cats coming around his territory and I think there is one somewhere near my house. I carried in some firewood a few weeks ago and both cats sniffed at it for several minutes like they do everything else before Havoc got all crazy-eyed and fuzz-tailed and started growling as soon as Toby came into view. Toby is generally laid back, but let me tell you, he ain't gonna take ANY crap from Havoc. My boyfriend grabbed Havoc because he was the closest and as soon as Havvy started making a fuss, Toby attacked my boyfriend. Havoc went into the big cage (kitty time-out) and I put Toby in his carrier. After about 20 minutes I moved the cages next to each other and eventually let Toby out and Havoc was fine.
That was a few weeks back. Today I ran some errands and when I got back Havoc got all crazy-eyed again, but I put him in the cage before Toby noticed. I guess there was cat smell on the firewood that got on my jacket or something, I don't know. I washed my jacket just in case.
Tonight was a different story though. Both cats had been curled up in my lap for about 2 hours. I had to get up so I gently shoo'ed them to the floor. Havoc jumped down first, then Toby right next to him. That's when I noticed that they weren't just stretching- it was the beginnings of a staredown. I grabbed Havoc because he was closer and proceeded to put him in time-out. Havoc protested loudly which set Toby off. He came at me several times as Havoc was moaning and fussing. Fortunately I was wearing heavy blue jeans and thermal pants because I had to deflect him several times with my leg. I kept yelling at Toby and finally kicked him far enough away for me to get Havoc into the cage. (I didn't kick Toby like I was hurting him, more like he was already on my leg and I flung him across the floor). Toby finally ran into the bedroom as I was trying to calm Havoc down. I looked under the bed to see that Toby's paw was bleeding...great Got him out (he was acting like nothing ever happened) and saw that he lost a claw on one toe- nothing I could do about that.
So here it is about 30 minutes later. Havoc is still in the cage, looking a bit apprehensive, but being quiet as Toby is trying to make friends and playing footsie through the bars.
How can I prevent this? I never know when or why Havoc is going to go berzerko, but Toby isn't going to back down from a fight. Ever. There are other cats in the neighborhood, but I have to bring in firewood. I don't know why this last incident even happened, I hadn't been outside for hours and didn't bring anything in.
I don't want to lock one in a room forever. That doesn't seem fair, and like I said 99% of the time they're fine. I sometimes think that I need to re-home one of them, but it makes me cry and feel like a failure as a cat owner to think about it. I don't know if the issue will ever resolve itself on its own, especially since my neighbor just got married and his wife will be moving her cats into his house eventually, which means they'll both have cat smell on them every time they come over.