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Old 10-19-2008, 08:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default I hit my cat and feel terrible

I know you may not want to hear this, but I hit my cat a little bit ago.

Let me just say that I have two dogs and one cat, and I never hit them. My cat however is four years old and is still quite destructive, he's knocked my HDTV over and climbs on a lot of stuff he isn't supposed to (such as the kitchen table) and I have a very strong bond with him -- just last night he slept half on my pillow and half on my shoulder, so it's not like I abuse him or whatever. I also give him tons of attention and I'm always the one who feeds him, plays with him, etc etc. as he is my cat (I;m 1 and I picked him out and all that. Something else to mention is that he is extremely nice and has never hissed.

However about 40 minutes ago, I went to get a bottle of water and came back to my room to find my cat standing on the screen of my laptop. I have been saving my own money for this ~$2,700 laptop for a long time now, and it's precious to me, but not as precious to me as my cat.

So he's standing on the screen, and he's done stuff like this before -- knocked my HDTV clean off my TV stand (and it landed on the screen) and he's knocked my one bass guitar over. He's also knocked over lamps and stuff, but I've always scolded him, or at the worst gave him a LIGHT smack with an envelope folded over itself or just putting him out of my room and shutting the door.

Anyway, I walked in and he's standing on my laptop's screen. I've been having an off day and I don't know what happened, but I freaked out on him. I pushed him off the laptop (he didn't fall, the laptop was on my bed, so he went on my bed) and I gave him about five LIGHT (and I stress light) smacks with the back of my hand. This is something that would of only annoyed a person, not hurt them, and I hit his backside, towards his butt.

After this he jumped off my bed. I picked him up and put him on it, and flipped the comforter on my bed over him and sort of pushed him down and rubbed the blanket against him, roughing him up. I realize this makes me sound insane but I am torn apart on the inside -- I am not an angry person. Please, I know how this makes me sound -- but it wasn't extreme. I've wrestled with my dogs rougher than this and my cousin plays with his cat much rougher than what I did, but I know that doesn't make it right.

And finally, I hit him (decently hard) with the back of my hand on the top of his head, after rubbing the palm of my hand into his face (not hard, but I covered his face, he could still breathe though and I didn't apply pressure)... this made him jump off the bed and try to run from me. Watching him run from me in terror made my heart sink to a level I can't describe.

Anyway (after I had realized what a terrible thing I did), the door of my room was shut and he went to the door. He wasn't scratching or anything. I picked him up and put him on my bed gently, but he was real limp. Like he made contact with the bed and just sort of let his hindquarters fall to the mattress. After that, I immediately went on the bed and laid with him, trying to pet him and scratch him in every place I know he likes. I put my head close to him, and I couldn't tell if he was shaking or if his heart was just beating really fast... I think it was the latter in all honesty.

I'd try to pet him and he'd back away as if he thought I was going to hit him. I know cats get their security from your tone of voice, so I immediately began talking to him as soft as I could and petting him as gently as possible.

My dad opened the door and the cat bolted out. That hurt too, since before he only left my room to follow me around the house or to eat or use the litter box.

I came out another 10 minutes later after I sat on my bed and thought about what I did. The cat was on the couch (which isn't strange or anything) and I tried petting him, and he backed away. I kept at him and put my face next to him, and after another minute of scratching and petting I got him to roll over on his side. After continuously petting him, I got him to rub his face against my hand like he normally does, which I read is a sign of affection.


OK.
So I know this makes me sound like a terrible cat owner and this is my first post here so I know this doesn't look good, but please understand that I feel terrible and the reason why I did so many different "punishments" to him if you will is because I felt like i wasn't hitting him hard enough to get my message across, so I went for quantity... I never really hit him "hard" just sort of roughed him up and I don't even know.

But I'm posting this because I want to know a few things.

First, how fragile are cat to human relationships? Is he always going to fear me now, or will things go back to normal (like him following me everywhere, sleeping on my pillow, etc)

And what's a better way to scold a cat? While what i did was terrible, I need a way to at least make sure he knows he did wrong for in the future...

I know this one sounds stupid, but is time the only thing that can make it better?


I feel horrible. I know what I did was terrible, and watching my cat look at me scared and try and run from me are just horrific images burned into me, and I want to put them behind me because I love this cat so much and I don't know what got into me...

Please don't tell me that I'm horrible and I need to get rid of my cat because we all make mistakes and I just don't even know. Any advice for this would help me so much.
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

I have found that the best way to stop a cat from doing what you don't want him to do is to startle him. Usually a loud clap or a shout or shake a bottle with pennies in it. It works better than physical punishment because you can time it better. They will actually associate the loud noise with the doing of the unwanted behavior (usually) but in any case, they will come closer to making that association than to physical reprimand you have to walk over to him and pick him up to give him. Plus, cats don't get physical punishment. It doesn't make sense to them, which is why it is ineffective. Some people use a spray bottle or squirt gun full of water as a reprimand, but I've never had any success with this.

As for how bad this will be on your relationship, it really depends on how sensitive your cat is. It isn't that he's mad at you, or he's sulking, he's scared of you. What happened between you doesn't make any sense to him, so he sees you as someone who is unstable and might explode again at any moment. He doesn't understand that you were reacting to his standing on the laptop. Since this is the first time and you've had a good relationship, then I would say he should get over it with time. But then again, I've known cats to get frightened of a particular situation or person and never recover. So its hard to say. Just be calm with him, and don't force him. Let him come to you. Make yourself available to him and wait it out.

As for what to do with rambunctious cats who tear things up and knock things over....if YOU figure that one out, let me in on the secret. I've just learned to live proactively. SInce the time i had to call tech support to fix the screen on my lap top (which the cat who walked on the keyboard managed to push the special key combination that turned the screen UPSIDE DOWN!) I learned to always close my laptop if I was walking away, even for just a minute. I hide cords, I bold things to the wall, I reinforce everything...I just try to anticipate what mayhem the cats are going to cause, and do what I can to prevent any damage. Its part of living with cats. There are some things you can train them NOT to do, like getting up on counters/tables, etc, but it takes consistency and patience to achieve those results.

Good luck with your kitty. I'm sorry you feel so terrible.
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

The fact that you posted this and feel horrible means, I think, that you won't do it again. I must said I've felt tempted to give my twins a smack or two before, but they're just so tiny. Just this weekend, they've discovered how to open my cupboards. I walked in to find them batting things one item at a time out of my spice/food cabinets. OMG!!! And I'm standing there, telling them to stop, and Cali looked at me and BAM! Down went the vanilla. I finally just had to laugh. They don't know what they're doing. They thought they found a new game and new toys. BRATS!

They've destroyed things that I'm going to have to pay for when I move. My first two adult cats never bothered anything, never jumped on the counters, never chewed anything. But these little girls.....

I understand your frustration and anger, but cats are just little kids and they don't do anything out of spite.

I think if you give your cat time and let him come to you, he will.

What's his name? Pictures, please.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

I can tell by the tone of your post that you feel terrible.
An abusive person would not experience so much pain and guilt.
Trust me when I tell you that Bosco will forgive you. He certainly senses your sadness, but probably doesn't understand the deep pain that you feel or where it comes from.
Give him time and some space, and try giving him some extra treats fed from your hand. And give him lots of extra loving.
Also, try to give him a little more choice of what he does. Try to let him come to you, instead of scooping him up. Let him jump onto your bed on his own, instead of picking him up.
Cats like to live their own lives, and have free choice in their actions. That is part of their wild, independent spirit, and the reason a cat can be a true friend to a human, in a way that a dog never could.

Enough philosophy. Your heart is in the right place, and Bosco knows it.

You asked for advice, and what comes to mind is a cliché. When you feel yourself becoming angry like that, count to ten, and use the counting to calm yourself down and let your reason regain control. I hope this helps.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

Thanks for the replies. I never really pick him up. He always jumps on my bed/goes to the pillow, goes on my desk's chair (and sometimes the desk) on his own. I pick him up occasionally but I don't think he likes it in general. In fact I probably pick my one dog up more than him (she's an American Dingo and is just weird, sometimes she looks confused when trying to get on a bed so I sometimes just pick her up and put her on the couch or whatever).

In fact I never really go to the cat, he always comes to me. He'll often try climbing up my back or whatever if I'm sitting in a chair in my room (he can get on the bed and then go from the bed to my back or chair) or he'll come into my room and cry if I'm not paying attention to him. According to the SPCA he was left alone as a kitten in a house when the owners moved out and they locked him in the basement, so I think that's why he always wants attention. It would just hurt me if my bond with him was anything less than what it was. I'm close to my dogs, but they're more of my dad's pets and are more loyal to him than me and the cat has always been the other way around, potentially because my dad has hit him (like pushed him I should say, since sometimes he'll climb on your leg while you're eating and he'll almost beg) and often raises his voice to him. Not to say my dad doesn't like him, he just more or less treats him like he would one of the two dogs.

I don't know what I'd do if my cat wasn't as close to me as he was. It'd seriously be a big deal for me since my family has gone through a lot of stuff and at some points in my life I was closer to my two dogs and especially the cat than either of my parents and they helped me get through a lot (especially my cat).

At any rate, my cat's name is Loki (pertaining to mischief) because of his destructive/playful nature and my fascination with different mythologies and religions, and Norse mythology in particular.

Also, I don't give my cat treats. Would trying to get him to play by having him chase around a string or something be a good idea?
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

You can use almost anything to play with your cat, a shoe lace, a string, anything. All four of my cats just LOVE a simple black ribbon that was wrapped around a present two years ago.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

Yeah, I just meant if playing is a good idea at this point in general. However I walked into the living room just now and as soon as I got in the room he perked his head up and he started purring when i sat next to him. Best sound I've heard. I actually might get some pictures although all I have is the laptop's webcam.

But for what it's worth he's an orange tabby.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

Awwww, see? All's forgiven.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

I'm sorry that you had such a rough night. I am also glad that Loki is doing ok, and that she didn't get hurt. I have written several different things trying to share my great wisdom, but it all sounded stupid.

I just wanted to say that I think that your relationship with Loki will mend. Now you just need to mend the relationship with yourself.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: I hit my cat and feel terrible

Sorry I was calling Loki "Bosco" in my last post.
It sounds like he has already forgiven you.
Play with a cat is a good idea anytime. And playing now will give you a good chance for a quick physical checkup on Loki. Having a little extra bonding time won't hurt, either.
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