Cat in new environment becoming very skittish/aggressive... - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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Cat in new environment becoming very skittish/aggressive...

Female Siamese, ~1 year old.

My cat used to live with me in a smaller 1 bedroom apartment, and recently moved into a 2 bedroom with my gf. She had a cat herself (which went with her sister when she moved into her own place) we vacuumed and cleaned the baseboards with bleach, etc. When we bought my cat over she was extremely scared and defensive. We shut her in one room for a couple days along with her necessities so she
can get used to that small area first, and after about a week we opened the door to the rest of the place. She's become ok in her new surroundings with just us there. She has never been the overly affectionate type and usually stays just 1" past an arms distance at all times except in the mornings. However she hasnt quite gotten used to my gf yet. And when my gf tries to pet her she will swat at her and run away.

Recently we've started inviting people over to see the new place and my cat is 110% NOT ok with that. She is of course curious but what first started out as swatting people and running away like usual has turned into hissing, growling, biting, and scratching. At one point she ran up to someone, attacked their feet, and when I went to toss her into the bedroom she then bit myself and gave me a nice 6" scratch on my hand and I couldnt even get 3' away from her without her growling/hissing at me. I know shes not used to more than myself being around and I'd like to change that but I cant have her running around attacking people, and i feel like shoving her away in a bedroom is just gonna make things worse.

Other than the random attacks shes catbox trained, she doesnt scratch or eat anything, claws at her little clawbox thingy, has plenty of toys, a tall scratch post, a nice ledge next to the window where she sits in the sun and watches outside and is usually a pretty well mannered cat.

Any tips?
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 03:52 AM
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Re: Cat in new environment becoming very skittish/aggressive...

Welcome to Cat Forum.
What *I* would do, is *handle* that cat.

It seems to me that she has been allowed to do as she pleases for far too long and when placed into this new situation it has exacerbated her fears and anxiety level to the point of her acting out so badly against people. She sounds poorly socialized. This isn't a slam against you, it is just an observation based on what you have described. I think she needs to be handled and desensitized to various handling methods. Doing this, creates a cat who is relaxed and confident in its' home, with its' people and it can also help the cat to quickly accept visitor's handling, too. Perhaps not at first, but they should be able to become confident enough that it will take less time for them to 'warm up' to guests and visitors.

None of my cats are allowed to stay just out of my reach after they have been incorporated into my home. Oh, they may move out of reach if they don't care to be pet/handled right then (food or playing) but I *will* pick them up and handle them at random other times. I have NO cats who are afraid to be handled and I can pick up and hold their feet and pet their bellies with no fear of a cat going 'wild' on me. My cats are handled in such a manner that they become desensitized to all manner of handling and it just becomes part of what they learn to be acceptable and it causes them no fear or anxiety. The are happy, relaxed and confident because I am consistent with them and have earned their trust with my consistent manner. I am not full of surprises, they know what to expect from me.

It is a process. You have to be persistent, consistent and gentle while seeking forward progress. I work very hard to attain my handling goals and I absolutely do not want to frighten my cats or cause any bad experiences. I try to create numerous good experiences and consistently build on them to increase the cat's confidence.

Here is a link to a program I call "kitty cat boot camp":
I use these methods to work with my own cats, but mostly I utilize them in taming and socializing foster cats who come to me as ferals or poorly socialized and need handling skills before they can become suitable for adoption.
Not all of this information will apply to you and your situation with your kitty.
If you feel uncomfortable using any of these techniques, go back to areas you *do* feel comfortable doing with your cat and build on those.
There is no right or wrong way to reach the goal of a well-socialized cat.
...but you cannot GET a well-socialized cat unless you DO handle them to allow them the opportunity to get used to BEING handled.

This will involve a little insistence on your part. It isn't 'forcing', but it is helping the cat to work past an area they are 'stuck' in by using short and frequent handling sessions. By handling them consistently in this manner it gives them time to realize nothing bad happened, it didn't last for-ev-er, it really wasn't a 'terrible' experience and they may actually come to enjoy having the closer contact and attention...once they have moved past their "OMG I can't believe he *touched* me attitude" is when you can start building on their approval and incorporate more or different handling techniques or experiences.

My KCBC has a lot of information that won't specifically apply, but the overall THEME is one of consistent handling to build on good experiences and create a happy and confident housecat who enjoys the people in its' home.
Good luck!
heidi =^..^=

Other websites you may wish to Google that have great information about handling cats of various temperament are:
MuttCats and LittleBigCats
I would trust any articles, adivce or tips from those sites.

Heidi n Q is offline  
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