Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Ontario, Canada
First of all, whenever you use the squirt bottle, you mustn’t let Vincent see that it’s you spraying the water. One reason (as you’ve noted) is that he might learn to fear you if he knows you’re continually spraying him with water. But, the other reason is he needs to learn to associate what he’s doing (chasing) with the negative consequence (getting wet). So, he needs to start thinking “When I chase Leo, I get wet”. If he sees you doing the squirting, he will think “When I chase Leo, Colin squirts me with the bottle”. So now he associates the negative consequence with you. In part, that might cause him to fear you and, in part, he’ll be smart enough to realize that if Colin or the squirt bottle aren’t in the vicinity, it’s ok to chase Leo! So, the water needs to appear out of thin air, so to speak, whereupon Vincent will, over time, start to think “When I chase Leo, I get wet”.
However, he will only start to think “When I chase Leo, I get wet” if he gets wet every time he chases Leo. And that’s the second problem with the squirt bottle. Even if you could squirt him without him knowing it’s you, it’s difficult to achieve 100% consistency. Half the time when he chases Leo, you’ll be somewhere else or the squirt bottle won’t be handy, etc. So, half the time he chases Leo, he’ll get wet and the other half of the time, he won’t. As a result, he’ll never learn to associate his behavior with the negative consequence.
In order to reduce the chasing, I would try to distract him…not so he learns to associate distraction with chasing, but just so as to reduce the chasing and calm him down. So, if saying his name and petting him to calm him down is working, I’d continue with that…along with the re-introduction as you mentioned.
As for dealing with an aggressive cat, I don’t have much experience with that. My cats have only been aggressive with me in play (play biting, etc., when they were kittens). I would just say “No” and then ignore them for a while. But, they’ve never tried to scratch or bite since they passed the kitten stage.