Vet tells me Calicos are typically independent! - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Vet tells me Calicos are typically independent!

Since Calicos are derived by many breeds this seems strange. She said it was especially true of Torties.

Cali does have white on her belly, front legs & a little white on face. Her back is black with small streaks of red/brown.

Since I got her end of November she doesn't let strangers hold her and likes to snuggle against me at night & will bit if I don't pet here just right. She goes from purring to ears back tail tip swinging & she bites me in a split second. She never has broken skin but if it were up to me I would have returned her to the shelter within a few days because of this behavior. Sometimes it's a love bit but I really think she is warning me to back off as she does everyone else. Since the last cat I had for 11 yrs never touched her teeth to me & loved to be picked up by anyone. I never worried about others getting bit or scratched (grandchildren visit).

The bad part is that Cali's undesirable behavior has not changed a bit in the 1 1/2 month we have had her so I believe this will continue & maybe get much worse till she dies of old age.

I feel like I need to find her another home (being honest) and be done with it. I'd rather have a cat that enjoys people more that I don't have to worry about bits progressing to puncture wounds if they make a mistake handling her. I feel terrible but I think I should stick to my guns, find her a home and be more careful selecting another kitten. I can't handle 10+ years of this.

Am I missing something here? I'm about to throw in the towel.

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 02:26 PM
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I really hate it when people attribute behavior to fur color. It's not a breed, it's a color. I'm not directing the complaint at you, it's meant towards your vet.

My calicos are the sweetest girls in the world, very loving, even to strangers. I've had them since they were 9 weeks old and they're 7 now.

You'll get some really good advice about behavior here from other members. I would say to hang in there, because I think this is fixable, plus who's going to want a cat with behavior issues?

Cali, Cinderella, Cleo and Charlee

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Always in my heart, my sweet Cali, running free at the Bridge.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 02:43 PM
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Seriously, get a better vet.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 02:58 PM
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I'm sorry you've been getting such horrible information from your vet. I think I'd start seeking another vet in your area...the one you've been seeing is obviously not doing you or others any favors with comments from bad food advice to behaviors based on coat coloring. That's sort of like saying most red-heads are hot-tempered? Lol. Sounds ridiculous, right?

My kitty Maya will sometimes cuddle with me in bed some mornings, yet bite me (though softly) sometimes if I try to pet her. Mind you, she's also purring like crazy at that time, too! Lol. I think she's just enjoying the warmth of my body against her in the blankets. But I do stop petting her and say "ouch!" or yelp in some way, just so she knows I don't appreciate her nips.

She also hates to be held but does tolerate it a bit better than her younger kitten years. I give her a treat to try to make it more of a positive thing for her, and play with her daily. She's always been more independent, but having a play buddy helped develop her socially, I think.

Cats show you love in different ways, it's just a difference in their own personalities. Maya has never physically brushed her body against me like a lot of cats do against your legs, but she often vocalizes with meows when she wants me to play "fetch" with her or when she is ready on her own time for pets and scratches on her head and tail base. It's funny, she'll sometimes fall to the floor, knock her head on the tile, and roll around, belly up to me, looking very pleased and content with purrs when I pet appropriately her during her "moods". So she likes being pet, but it has to be when she's feeling up to it. Maya is now almost a year and a half, btw.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 03:03 PM
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Hmmm . I had jokingly talked about Gypsy's "tortitude" But really that was just her! She loved people and wouldn't have hurt a fly.. well maybe a fly but not people. She loved snuggling both people, and other cats. and was loving to my dogs.

Torti's and Calicos are just like any other color of cat. they either really like people or not. I find most cats have specific ways the prefer to be pet.. and will let you know.

Sounds more like she has sensitivity issues (ears back, tail swishing) and may need to build up to it. I had a ginger girl that would get over sensitive if pet certain ways. You might want to search the forums for dealing with over sensitivity. It happens BUT can be dealt with.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 05:56 PM
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A lot of people seem to hold to the strange and completely unfounded belief that fur colour somehow correlates with

I can understand your frustration, but it's important to realize that, just like people, cats have different personalities--they're individuals, and comparing a new kitten to a very well-rounded adult cat that you shared years of your life with isn't exactly a fair comparison. It is, of course, a completely normal thing to do, especially when you find yourself frustrated with the new cat's antics (which is typically when such comparisons are drawn), but try to avoid comparing Cali to your old cat because it will only increase your negative emotions, leading to more frustration, stress, and resentment. It's also important to note that the personality of a kitten will change as it matures into an adult cat. Some kittens are a real handful, but they do tend to mellow out a bit as they get older. Kittens go through stages, like human children do, and, as with human children, they can be very difficult to live with when they're going through a phase (like biting, or roughhousing, or being an anti-social teenager). You can't reliably judge what a cat will be like as an adult from what they're like as a kitten, in the same way that I'm not the same person now as I was as a 6 year old. Some aspects of my personality are similar, yes, but I don't, as an adult, behave as a 6 year old. My experiences as a child did, however, play an important role in making me the person I am today. In the same way, you can improve Cali's chances of growing up to be a friendly, well-adjusted, adult cat by training her now. How old is Cali? Is she spayed yet? Certain physiological developments, such as increased hormone levels and adult teeth growing in, could potentially be contributing to her behavioural issues. I know you've had other cats and dogs, so you probably know all or some of these things already, but sometimes it's hard to take a deep breath and approach a problem calmly and rationally when faced with difficult, frustrating behaviours that you may or may not have encountered with previous cats.

I socialize semi-feral adult cats, and, when I first take them in, these cats want absolutely nothing to do with humans. They're fearful and sometimes aggressive because they instinctively regard people as predators; even cats who were at one time domestic but have been on the streets for months or years typically revert to a state in which humans are perceived as dangerous, or at least potentially so, and therefore something to be afraid or very wary of. 3 of my own cats come from feral cat colonies and were very wary of people when I first brought them home, but, despite that, all 3 are now normal, well-adjusted house cats--granted, they each have their quirks, but no more so than any other house cat might. All 3 are now loving and affectionate towards people; Ramona (a calico) is super well-adjusted and sweet, very low maintenance, and is friendly and affectionate without being needy; Choco-cat loves to play: she brings me her toys in bed as gifts, she greets me at the door when I arrive home from work, wants to be in the room with me wherever I am in the house, and sleeps with me every night--even if I end up falling asleep somewhere other than my bed; and Autumn (tortie) constantly trails around after me, rubbing against my legs, asking for me to flick pieces of food for her to chase, and she very much enjoys her daily lap time. I'm not trying to hijack your thread to talk about my previously feral cats, I'm trying to point out the fact that, for those of us who don't win the kitten lottery, having a well adjusted, gregariously friendly, fantastically behaved cat takes time and effort. When I set out to socialize a semi-feral cat, I know that it will take months--usually 3 at the very least, just to get them to trust me enough to allow me to interact with them as closely as I need to in order to be seen as "safe", at which point I move on to getting them used to other people and situations outside of the isolation room. It's a long and very intensive process, but it's well worth it in the end! Luckily, Cali is already decently socialized to people and is a kitten, so while you will need to work on socializing her to other people and teaching her what behaviours are and are not acceptable, it shouldn't require quite so much of your time and energy as starting from scratch (although, as anyone who's trained a "naughty" kitten knows, it will still likely require plenty of both ).

Try not to get too discouraged by Cali's bad behaviours, a month and a half is not a long time, although it can certainly feel like it when dealing with problems like biting or litter box issues. Cats don't automatically know what is and isn't acceptable behaviour, especially kittens--you have to teach them, and there's a lot of repetition involved. In the same way, you can't expect a cat that doesn't like to be picked up by strangers to just "get over it" without exposing them to other people in small doses first. I'm not trying to sound harsh, so please don't interpret this that way, but cats are living feeling beings with their own agendas, not stuffed animals that can be picked up and played with whenever people feel like it and then put away in the toy box. It's actually really important to be cognizant of this, as stupid and obvious as it sounds, because it's so much harder to train a cat if you can't acknowledge or understand what they're feeling in a given situation. For example, not all cats want to be picked up by strangers. Sometimes you can train them to be happy and relaxed about being held regardless of who's doing the holding, sometimes you can only train them to tolerate it, and some cats are never going to feel comfortable with being picked up by a stranger. The fact that cat's and dogs have personalities is a big part of what makes them worth inviting into our homes, looking after, and loving--even if there are things about their personalities that bother or frustrate us. Chances are that, as a kitten, Cali can learn to at least tolerate being held by your house guests, if you show your guests how to approach her, which will be a lot easier if you're understanding of Cali's feelings and are willing and able to put in the time and effort to help her get there. We're more than happy to help you figure out how!

Proud people-mommy of Galileo, Dante, Cosette, Autumn,
Ramona & Choco-cat (and foster kitty, Poe).

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks dt8thd,
I really appreciate your sharing your experiences, especially with feral cats.

Cali is 4.5 months today and was spayed & received 2nd set of vaccinations including rabies . So glad to get this done so if she scratches someone at least I can tell them she is current on her rabies.

I'm going to hope that she is a late bloomer in behavioral issues even though so far I not really making progress. I have seen friends that own cats that are much worse than her that hiss if you get within 5 feet. Always thought is was the owners fault, now I'm not so sure at all.

I was thinking that she was one of the few kittens that was already named. She also was supposedly caged for 7 weeks. I wonder if she might have been adopted, abused and then returned. The kitten is just too cute to imagine she would have been passed up for 7 weeks.

In the mean time I will keep trying to get her comfortable with me and others without biting. I have heard after a certain point your chances of success go down dramatically. Anyone know what that age might be?

Thanks, Randy
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-13-2015, 11:56 PM
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I totally agree with Dt8thd!
I've got three calicos, and a torti that are all lovers!!:p
Cats personalities are as different and varied, as humans!
Be patient and keep working with her!

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An everyday family name; A particular name;
And the name but the Cat Himself Knows, and will never confess." T.S. Eliot

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-14-2015, 12:23 AM
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Ugh... your vet is one of those vets who spreads misinformation, and people believe to be true simply because the vet said it. Unfortunately tortie's and calicos have had that stigma follow them for far too long. My Tootsie is a tortoiseshell and she is an ANGEL. She is loving, outgoing, super bubbly, and just the sweetest little kitty imaginable. She is very talkative, which some people say is "tortietude", but Ellie is the same way and is white... fur is just a color, not an indicator of behavior. It's one thing to joke about it (I'll even say she has tortietude sometimes) and another for a vet to say it like it's a fact. Sorry for my little rant... this isn't directed to you at all, but your vet! I have to second everyone else and say... get a new vet! I also just realized you are also the one who's vet said to switch to Purina dry food... DEFINITELY find a new, better, up-to-date vet!

How much do you play with Cali? How often is Cali played with in general? How many toys, cat trees, scratchers does she have? It sounds to me like a) she's bored, and b) she hasn't fully bonded with you. The two best ways to get a cat to bond with you are with treats, playtime, and letting the cat love you on THEIR terms and not pushing it. Slowly but surely she will come around. Some cats are harder to get their trust than others... but when you do, it'll be worth it.

For me, Ellie would get easily overstimulated and bite when she was younger when I pet her because she was seriously bored. Getting Tootsie as her companion and playing with her eradicted this behavior entirely. I also avoided pushing her... I let her come to ME when she wanted love and attention. And that became extremely frequently!

By playtime, I mean serious playtime... getting a feather wand toy like Da Bird and running up and around to make it fun. Get her (and yourself! lol) exhausted. I am usually running all around my apartment, around corners to make it fun and like a hunt for them. By the end I've had a workout and my kitties are exhausted!

Another thing that cats adore is cat trees... especially by a window! My kitties adore looking out the window at the birds and passing people for the majority of the day. They run up and down and have a blast playing and scratching. This, playtime, and letting Ellie come to me when she wants love and attention and avoiding overstimulating her totally got rid of her biting. Getting Tootsie as her buddy helped tremendously as well.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-14-2015, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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Cali has quite a variety of toys. Here favorite is a blue soft mouse which hangs from a cord on a 2 ft stick. When she plays with the blue mouse the eyes flash bright blue and it makes a squeak whenever the eyes flash blue. There are a couple more stick, cord and feathers & other toys. We have at least a dozen small cloth mice with tails that she loves to attack and carry off in her mouth to play eat. Several cloth and plastic balls she swats around. She absolutely love to chase and swat the small Dixie cups (water cooler size) and they make quit a racket on our ceramic floor. Got a half dozed small pillows stuffed with catnip for donating $6 to the wellness care clinic. They spay/neuter, do vaccinations including rabies and microchip animals. I paid $45 at the shelter to get this kitten and had all the above services done for a total of $30! I don't agree with their kitten food recommendation but they have done everything else for Cali and all my other pets perfectly. Being retired the low costs are a blessing. A huge thank you for all of you that have helped me out and keep me going in the right direction. Folks here tend to be very knowledgeable and willing to take the time to help others. Thanks again!!
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