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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-30-2009, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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help with aggression!

Hi! I'm new here! My one cat (well my mothers cat) is having problems with aggression. We have two cats, snowy and oswald. I have had snowy since I was 12, and now I am 22 and away in college so she is living with my mother. Oswald is a 3 year male neutered cat. We have had him since he was a kitten. He has always been playful, but was never mean. I am not at home a lot so I don't get to interact with him much, usually once or twice a week. He started getting aggressive towards my mother and my younger brother last year. He would scratch them and swat at them if they went to pet him, and he would jump out and try to get them. My mother would yell no, and he would run off. My brother is just scared, and to this day will not go near the cat. My younger sister will play and pet him, but he has gotten aggressive towards her now as well.

Oswald has always been an indoor/outdoor cat, and about three months ago my mom decided to make his outdoor stays more permanent and he's only inside now for about and hour or two a day. My mom has been telling me to find a home for him because she hates the cat and doesn't want anything to do with him. I have had two incidents with him myself. Once I should have known better, so I don't hold him against him as he was outside and I went to pick him up and there was a strange cat nearby. He got upset and bit me and scratched me. Then today I was petting him, he started to purr then bit me quite badly and scratched my whole arm up and down. I grabbed him by the scruff and yelled "no", and he ran off when I let him go. He has also started doing this to my younger sister, so she will only pat him on the head and call him a good kitty and then leave him alone.

So what should I do? Is there a way to help this behavior when two of the three people that reside with him are scared of him and won't go near him, and I am only there one maybe two days a week? Would he be better off in a new home? Or as a permanent outdoor cat?

The cat in question.. Oswald
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 12:44 PM
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Re: help with aggression!

My recommendation is that you get an apt where you can have cats and bring them both with you. Poor Oswald. He's getting no attention and what he IS getting is negative. I kept my cat with me starting my soph year in college -- she stayed w/ my dad my freshman year but neither of us (me or Lenny, my cat, not my dad) could stand it. So after that I found apts where I could have her, and we were never separated again.

PLEASE do not try to rehome a cat this age. It's hard enough to find truly GOOD homes for kittens! And please don't make him stay outside.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: help with aggression!

Thanks for the reply. Getting an apartment that allows cats is not possible for me right now. In a little more than a year and a half I plan on getting that apartment, in which case I would be bringing snowy and oswald depending on how things go between now and then with oswald. Until that time... I don't know what the best option would be. I am over at the house as often as I can be. When I am there, I always let him in the house, and he will hang out for about 30-40 min, then mew to go back outside. Then want to come back in again in about the same amount of time (typical cat ). Any suggestions with how to help the situation with him and the rest of the family would be very appreciated.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 07:44 PM
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Re: help with aggression!

You have a real problem, one that might require a professional behaviorist. A cat bite can be quite serious. I wish I could give you a magic potion, as I understand that you're fond of the cat. You might try Feliway to calm him down. I would ask for an opinion from a vet. I hope there IS an answer. So sorry.

PS I assume he has been neutered?




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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 10:43 PM
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Re: help with aggression!

My cat, Elfie, went through an aggressive stage around the age of 3. At that time, I was about 10 or so years old, and my sisters were 9, 6, and 3. He has always been a strong willed, proud, and independent cat. I think he got to a point where he was like "you know what? I'm tough, young, and strong and so TOTALLY awesome, I don't have to take this crap!" Sick of all the harassment he got from living with so many little kids, he began attacking, biting, and being totally rude to everyone but my mom. Granted, he never drew blood or actually REALLY hurt us badly, it still hurt and startled us when he would attack!

The solution? My mom worked very hard to make sure that us kids gave him space. We got kitten Rusty, so us girls could have a kitty to love and let Elfie get over himself. He got affection on his terms- when he sought it out. Ten years later and he's just a perfect gentleman. He hasn't bitten or swatted anyone for years now, and he's very mellow and laid back.

I would have a talk with your family. Tell them, yes, Oswald has a little issue but that it can be managed as long as everyone ignores him. When he comes seeking attention, give him a few pats. Leave him wanting more! Never let it get the point where he gets sick of the petting. While most cats would get up and walk away, some cats feel that it is necessary to lash out or bite to let their owners know they have had enough. Watch for his early warning signs: tense posture that may be accompanied by stiffening of his muscles (especially in his back/haunches) dilated pupils, sudden stop of purring, a change in ear orientation, staring intently instead of relaxing with narrowed/closed eyes, and a big one to watch for is the thumping, lashing, or maybe even twitching tail. These are all warning signs that kitty is getting annoyed. Some cats are very subtle about their warnings and will lash out without you having noticed the signs. You must be watchful, and remember that the less attention you force on him, the more he'll come searching for your attention later!

Another thing you can try is hand feeding him part of his meal, kibble by kibble. This is a good way to strengthen the bond between you and your cat. Get his bowl of kibble and walk around the house, encouraging him to follow. Give him a kibble every few steps. (This is also a good way to teach your cat to come to you when called!) The idea is that Oswald will see your hand as something really good. When you reach down to him, he gets a tasty reward, and he'll come to like your hand.

Another thing I do with my cats when they bite me is I'll go "Ooooowwwwweeee!" And then I'll pout and walk away from them. I might even toss a hurt, devastated look towards them over my shoulder before I leave the room and proceed to ignore them for a while. It doesn't work with all cats, but at least with my kitty Nito, he can't stand it and he'll come find me, jump up next to me, and act all cute

I know it can be hard, but be patient with Oswald! A lot of cats can go through a "terrible teens" phase, sometimes even during their adulthood and not their adolescence. Most cats calm down with age and patience.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-02-2009, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Re: help with aggression!

Jeanie, Oswald has been neutered, and I am thinking of talking to the vet next time I see him (which should be soon).

RachandNito, thank you for all the advice. I talked to my family about petting him only for a little bit and to leave him wanting more. My younger brother and sister seemed to understand it very well and started to pet him for only a pet or two then leave him alone. We will try the food thing as well, and hopefully that helps. Thank you for the great advice!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-02-2009, 01:16 PM
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Re: help with aggression!

I'm so glad your family was so willing and quick to accept your advice! Sometimes, especially with younger siblings, it can be hard to get them to understand the concept of giving kitty his space. They just love those cute furry animals so much! Can you blame them!

Oswald is very cute, it would be a shame for him to go to a shelter. I bet he is a sweety, deep down underneath all his 'tough guy' attitude. I know Elfie was! I wish you the best of luck!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2009, 01:13 AM
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Re: help with aggression!

Alright, by no means am I an expert in this subject. But, I have researched and researched cats aggression towards humans, because I have had the same issues with my cat, Brandy. Brandy reached a year old in May of this year, and about a month or so later, she started acting out. At first it was was jumping at legs, then she outright started biting/scratching people. A little while later, we got Bella, our new kitten, and the first time we "introduced" Bella to Brandy. Our Bella was in a cage, Brandy got so mad she turned and attacked me, hurting my foot.

Sounds like a setup to get rid of this cat, right? Nah, I'm to stubborn, and I believe in owning animals for their lives if possible. So, I read numerous resources on help towards cats. This is what I have grasped: My cat was bored, hormonal, jealous, and affectionate from afar. I assumed her staying away so much was her not wanting "affection". She got attention at that point in her life, but not overly much for her. So she acted out and learned her getting "NO!" was SOME sort of attention. So, I did the reverse. I am now smothering her in attention, but her kind. She loves to sit on my lap, but she always bit me after a while. I learned her cues by watching her very closely. Everytime she got irritated at me and started to be hostile, I would squirt her with the water bottle. Stand up, and walk away... ignoring her. After longer and longer periods of time in my lap, I'd fed her treats and learned what spots she'd allow me to scratch. After about two weeks of doing this daily for a couple hours, it seemed to start working wonders. I also played with her for about 15-20 mins at a time a couple times a day. Basically giving her special time to just bond with me. She's almost a new cat these days after about 5 weeks of doing this. I can not say for the long run, but she has not tried to "lash out" at me in a while, and she's actually gotten friendlier towards everyone in my househould during this process. Only issue I have with her now is Bella, she still doesn't like her. But I am working on that bit by bit.

I'm not saying this will work with your cat, but have one of your family members starting being overly nice towards this cat. Play with him, feed him treats by hand, let him learn it's good to be with his humans. Whenever he "acts out" perhaps using waterbottle/air can method will work with him. Just some ideas for you guys.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2009, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: help with aggression!

Thank you ChelleBelle, I will try that as well. I will talk to my sister about being overly affectionate. She still really likes him, and is there all the time. Thank you for the advice!
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