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Hello.

How can I change/correct cat behavior?

Here is the situation/problem:
I have female cat, which was taken (as a kitten) from streets by my mother in 2005.
Exact age unknown, but in 2005 veterinarian said that cat was 1 year old, so right now she should be 5 years old.Breed (if any) unknown, probably mixed breed, visually resembles "turkish angora" (all white), but this is probably just a coincidence. The cat is not neutered.

The cat is easily scared (can jump because of sudden noise of plastic/paper bag, etc), and easily offended. Also she frequently uses claws (which are razor sharp) for any reason and often bites (and not always playfully), hunts fingers (cat sleeps under the lamp which is placed behind the LCD monitor, and I can't press a button on monitor without a chance to get another scratch). When she is in bad mood (for example, doesn't like food), she can attack ankles/feet (claws+bite), and attempts to "hunt" my mother. She also seems to bite my mother (hands) occasionally. If really angry (rarely happens, I remember 3..4 such occurrences during the whole time), she can pretend to be relaxed (i.e. sit on my lap, or hide behind monitor) and wait for a moment to do some serious shredding damage on my arm/hand. Also the cat knows that shredding my arm makes me angry, so when she goes for it anyway, it tries to do damage quickly and then run away. And about "easily offended" part - cat doesn't tolerate when someone pet it's back (neck/head/chin/cheeks are allowed when cat is in the mood, and cat sometimes allows to rub belly), sometimes if you simply touch the cat while it is lying somewhere, the cat takes touch as a serious personal offense, starts staring at you with dilated pupils and then goes for the ankle-hunting/arm-hunting or starts grabbing you when you walk by.

The question:
Is it possible to make the animal (at this age) more "relaxed"/friendly, and make it learn to avoid using claws that much? The animal isn't generally violent - it is pretty friendly/"talkative", frequently comes to sit on someone's lap, purrs, plays, etc, but sometimes you just touch her, and she grabs your hand with both front paws (which is unpleasant because of claws) and starts chewing it. Or sometimes if you touch the cat while it is sitting somewhere, sometimes she takes it as a personal offense, starts looking at you with dilated pupils (which generally means she is planning something which isn't good for you) and then goes for the arm-hunting/shredding.

So, any recommendations/ways to improve cat's behavior?

P.S. I'm not located neither in USA nor in Europe so it will not be possible to use something that is sold in those regions. I'm looking for some kind of general advice - my cat is a nice animal, but those rare claw/arm-shredding problems really spoils my and my cat's mood, and today I got "arm-shredding" problem again.
 

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Welcome to Cat Forum and I hope we can help with your problem.

Generally, I feel like she (wait...what is her name?) is not very well socialized. By this, I mean it seems like she hasn't been socialized to learn how to accept handling and attention and also hasn't learned proper behavior and manners. There is a phenomenon called "overstimulation" and I'd love for you to read about it.
http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?a ... aggression

As for her behavior: Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult.
First, her behavior is *unacceptable* and she needs to learn this, fast. Her behavior can be dangerous because cats can do a lot of damage to our skin with their claws and teeth, and cat bites are known to become easily infected, requiring medical attention. When she hurts you, YELL! Say: "Ouch!", "That hurt you little booger!" or "Stop that!" and make her leave your immediate area. If she is in your lap and she bites your hand, shove her OFF your lap. You don't want her to be flung across the room, but also don't be slow or gentle...shove her off. Make her leave your lap.
If she persists, push your bitten part INTO her mouth. Again, don't be slow/gentle, FILL her mouth with what she has bitten and make her back up and/or push her over and make her scramble to keep her balance/feet.
You want to change her from thinking: "Oh, great fun! I am grappling with my prey and it is trying to escape, so I have to grab/bite harder!" ... you want her to instead think: "Oh, no! This isn't what I planned! This thing is getting aggressive and attacking me and I better save myself and get out of here!"
If she *still* persists in stalking and catching you ... well, LET her catch you! But do it on YOUR terms.
This is sort of hard to describe and you MUST use great care/caution before deciding to do this with your cat:
You can't lift an adult cat only by the scruff, but you have to hold her in such a way as she cannot move very well. I grab them by the scruff and pick them up, placing their neck with my R hand holding their scruff, under my L armpit. My L arm curls around their body so my L hand can support their weight under their haunches and/or grab and control their back feet/legs. My R arm is clamped over their back so they can't scoot backwards. Then I just stand/sit there and hold them. Oh, they are gonna be MAD. I hold them until they *sigh* and 'give up', recognizing that *I* am in control of the situation. If they are too wiggle-y and are still able to bite/claw or if their tail is lashing and they are growling/yowling, I contain them like that and carry them to the nearest boring-room and put them inside for a cooling down period.
Another CF member was having trouble with HER cat, who would attack her in the manner you described: ears back, eyes dilated, stalking and hunting her to bite/scratch her feet and ankles. It was SCARING her because he was getting so aggressive every night when she tried to bring him inside from the patio. So ... one night, she LET him catch her, BUT, then SHE caught HIM! She dropped to the floor and grabbed ahold of him and sort of 'smothered' him under her upper body. She didn't squish him, but she 'caught' him and held him down until he indicated that he no longer thought catching her was fun. He hasn't attacked her since.

Now, other things you can try is spraying a nasty-tasting spray on the sleeves/legs of your clothing and use that to deter her biting you, though it wouldn't prevent scratching. As for getting her to accept more petting and being nicer, you just need to pet her more and more. Cats usually give you signs they don't want anymore attention before they scratch/bite, but sometimes the signals cats give are very fast and it doesn't give *us* time to react before they strike. You could also consider holding her on your lap, with her facing your knees, and lightly grabbing her scruff to have control of her, and use your free hand to pet and rub her body. Do this often through the day and for short periods of time (5-15 seconds at first), seeing what she tolerates, and then slowly increase the amount of time you are able to handle her as she gets used to being touched.
I know I've been very brief in my description, and if you have any questions, please ask and I'll answer them as quickly as I can. Also, other members may have some good information, too.
Best of luck,
heidi =^..^=
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Heidi n Q said:
wait...what is her name?
The name is "Vasilisa". Didn't mention it, because it is non-english and is uncommon.

Heidi n Q said:
As for her behavior: Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult.
First, her behavior is *unacceptable* ....
...
I know I've been very brief in my description, and if you have any questions, please ask and I'll answer them as quickly as I can. Also, other members may have some good information, too.
Best of luck,
heidi =^..^=
Thanks, that is a quite a lot of useful information. It looks like you told me everything I needed to know, so I don't have any more questions at the moment. Right now cat is in a non-violent mood (happily sleeps under the lamp), but if(or "when") she misbehaves again, I'll try methods you described. Thanks for the help.
 

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You are very welcome, and Vasilisa sounds like a beautiful name. I hope you are able to modify her behavior and help her to become a more happy and relaxed cat. One you can trust being around and not have to worry about a sneak-attack, unless it is playing.
Good luck!
heidi
 
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