Infrequent (but severe) Unprovoked Aggression Towards Kids - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Infrequent (but severe) Unprovoked Aggression Towards Kids

Hi all, I'm new to the forum, but joined specifically because of this issue I'm having.

I have a 3yo neutered male tabby (part maine coon?) named Gatsby. We got him at 8 weeks old. He (along with mom and litter mates) was rescued off the street shortly after birth. He's an outdoor cat (couldn't stop him if we tried). He has always been super snuggly and cuddly, liking lots of affection and sleeping in bed with people. But would also randomly attack me (never hubby and rarely the kids - two girls 5 and 8 ). His pupils would get very big and ears would go back and then we would just spring at me, often over and over again until I put a blanket over him and he'd calm down and crawl out. He'd even attack my arm or face while sleeping. And this wasn't playful attacking, it involved teeth and claws and he meant it. I should mention that I was his "person" and also the one that took the most care of him and also medicated and took him to the vet etc. I did some research and took some steps to try to stop it, but it continued.
Then last spring while we were away on holidays (he had a live-in cat-sitter for the week) he dissappeared. He was gone for 5 months before he was found and returned to us. It was obvious right away that he hadn't been on the street for the entire 5 months and had been cared for by someone. Since being back he has mellowed considarably. I also took a step back from him and let my hubby take over medication and vet duties, the kids do some of the feeding. He now sleeps more in their rooms than mine and hasn't attacked me since he's been back.
But the issue is that he's now attacked each of the kids completely unprovoked and quite seriously. Both times involved him striking at their face and biting or scratching dangerously close to their eyes. The latest one had him put a claw in each ear and bite the eye leaving blood at all three sites. This is twice in 3 months, so not crazy frequent, but extremely concerning. Our thought is to re-home him, but it's such a shame considaring that 99.9% of the time he is lovely and cuddly and affectionate and very attached to our family.
Looking for any advice as to what might be causing the behaviour, if there's a way to stop it without putting my kids at further risk, or if my only option really is re-homing him

Last edited by marie73; 01-02-2018 at 02:30 PM. Reason: fixed autocorrect
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 03:30 PM
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This might sound rough but after reading this I would not want that cat. In what situation would you re-home him? I think getting to the bottom of the attacks is essential. What reason does he not attack your husband? Is he threatened by females in some way? This is an issue.

Those attacks, however rare are real concerns. Perhaps a behaviorist can help you.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 03:49 PM
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Is he neutered? If not, that could make a big difference.
I know you say you can't stop him from going outside, but I can't help wondering if this is territorial insecurity transferred to his humans?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 04:38 PM
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I joined this forum for help with my problem cat too. He was just like that when we got him, except he'd attack multiple times a day. He'd go straight for our ankles so we had to wear shoes around the house. He's 11 now and he's mellowed out a lot with age, but he's still bad sometimes. We have a strong love/hate relationship. No vet has been able to tell me what's wrong with him, but my guess is that even though he's neutered he still has too much testosterone. I highly recommend watching "My Cat From ****" on Animal Planet. That will give you some ideas for what he needs. I also picked up some CBD oil today to help calm him down when he acts out. I haven't tried it yet, but I'll let you know if it helps.

Last edited by marie73; 01-02-2018 at 04:39 PM. Reason: language
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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@DizzysDad


I think now that he has mellowed he would do okay in a kid free home. I think an adult would be less likely to be attacked and better able to read the signs ahead and deal with it appropriately (I can see when he's in "a mood" and just distract him or put him out). Like I said, it's incredibly infrequent now and wouldn't be near as concerning if it didn't involve the kids


@ Nuliajuk


He is neutered (it was done quite young, before we even got him). For real, keeping him in is not an option unfortunately (it was originally our plan). He's been dashing madly for the door every time it opens since he was a few months old. He hears the key in the lock and stalks on the other side waiting for it to open wide enough for him to squeeze through before you even open it all the way. With two kids coming and going through the summer months there really would be no way to keep him in

Last edited by marie73; 01-02-2018 at 06:28 PM.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 06:44 PM
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Well now from what you're saying he resents not being able to go in/out. In that case someone who can allow for that would make a suitable candidate for re-homing. It may also explain his aggression. That is certainly a situation that can be remedied. Good Luck!

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Last edited by marie73; 01-07-2018 at 02:28 PM.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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Oh no, sorry, miscommunication (that should have been written more in the past tense). We gave up trying to keep him in by about 8 months and we freely open the door for him throughout the day (many many many times throughout the day). On days that we're both at work (three per week) he is stuck on one side of the door or the other, but more often than not, that's the outside. He'd probably would be happier with a cat door, but unfortunately we're unable to put one in. But given the timing of his aggression, I don't think that's the answer unfortunately.

Last edited by marie73; 01-03-2018 at 01:40 AM.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 12:27 PM
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This cat is dangerous and a menace....your kids were very fortunate that he didn't catch an eye in his claws and possibly cause blindness. The fact that he is erratic and you never know when he's going to attack is a danger to anyone. I certainly wouldn't re-home him to give this problem cat to someone else. I'm going to suggest that he should be euthanized because of his unpredictability; his attacks are in earnest with claws out and hard bites that draw blood. There are many cats that deserve a good home that are sweet and of good stable temperament.
As a long time breeder there was one time I had an accidental breeding of brother and sister, and one of the kittens out of the three in the litter was like that---truly a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde---one minute sweet and purring and then suddenly a vicious attack. I kept the kitten for five months to see if his behavior could be changed or modified--it couldn't, and vet couldn't explain it either, and so I had him euthanized. I think because of the close breeding, it affected his brain...he just wasn't right in his head and there was no way of fixing that. This possibly could be your boy's problem too, or maybe a brain tumor, who knows? You are responsible for the safety and protection of your children, that's your #1 priority.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 04:27 PM
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I am not an advocate for giving away an animal but what you described with your children. Bye bye kitty. You could try getting him calming pills from vet but then is the cat as safe outside? My male was living outside and he would not attack for no reason but he definitely bites and scratched me more than his mom who had a home before they dumped her as a pregnant cat.
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