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5 years ago I got a cat from an animal shelter for my mom after my dad died. He was just under a year old and had been a street cat that ran with a pack of other cats and dogs. A lady brought him in to the shelter with some other cats and dogs that had been hanging around her house but said they were not her animals. Socially, he was the nicest cat we "interviewed" at 3 different shelters. He is neutered.

He was a great cat for the 1st month and then got very weird. He would dominate her by biting or scratching her if he was on her lap and she had to get up for something. She learned she had to be very careful when moving away from him. As for me and others, he would hiss and growl. He even ran and jumped up on my niece, gave her a whack and then ran off, and it was absolutely and totally unprovoked.

During the past 5 years he has gotten progressively more aggressive with others but less with my mom. He slept beside her on her bed but was no longer a lap cat. She could pet him but no one else could. The only time he let me near him was when my mom was away for 6 weeks with a broken hip. He was lonely and he even let me brush him, but I had to be very careful, he would hiss at me and then look at me like, "I really like this brushing, hiss, I really like this brushing."

My dilemma: We just had to move my mom to a nursing home (she is 90 and weighs 94 lbs.) and I now have this hissy aggressive thing of a cat and I don't know what to do with him. He won't let anyone pick him up and he stiffens up and makes this guttural growl and hisses anytime I try to go near him. Now, this is not new, he's been acting this way for 5 years, but now it is a significant problem for him and me. In this case his bite is as bad as his bark. I pet his head "very carefully" and talk very sweetly to him, all the while he is hissing and growling at me.

He has always been a free feeder, but I have taken his food away and only when I go to him does he get fed, hoping that he will find a dependence on me and be nicer. I give him the food then he looks at me and hisses! I am aware he is going through a difficult transition of adjusting to not being with his person, and I am sympathetic to that, but I am convinced that it will take more than patience with this cat.

I do not want to keep him because I already have 2 dogs and 2 very sweet cats and they are plenty. But in order to find him a new home and owner I have to find something nice inside of him. I feel an obligation to help this cat find his "nice side" before I resort to taking him somewhere else. He was actually what made me want 2 of my own.

I really believe that there exists a relationship between a cat and its owner that sometimes the animal is the alpha over the human. Because he saw my mom as the weaker being, he took on the role of the dominant aggressor. I wonder if a person with a stronger personality, who has had experience with cats and has time, could turn this cat around or if he'll always be a weird cat.

I have used Feliway plug-ins in the past but haven't had time to get a refill yet. That and the food trick is all I have right now due to time constraints. In a couple of weeks I will have more time to spend working with him but I need help knowing what to do then.

I would really appreciate any expertise in this area, especially from someone with a similar experience.

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

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Hm, what a strange kitty. My next door neighbors have a pure bred Chartreux- the meanest thing you ever saw. I used to babysit the kids over there, and Sparky would sit in the small hallway and growl and hiss while I tried to put the kids to bed. If I'd walk past, I was sure to be attacked.

With the mom, Sparky was quite nice. With the kids she was tolerant. With anyone else, she was completely evil.

You can continue trying to get him to associate you with food. Have you tried giving him catnip? Some cats revert to a kitten-like state when they smell cat nip. You could also see if he in interested in toys. Da-Bird is a great one!
 

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Thanks for the reply.

Actually catnip was the first thing I tried and he did enjoy it for a short time. Then back to his usual self. And I tried the birdy thing, but made the mistake of letting my cats play with it first before I took it over to him and he just hissed and growled at it. He did play the first month we got him but hasn't shown any interest in much of anything. He did like to bat around toilet paper rolls. Maybe I'll see if I can scrounge one up.

I googled "aggressive cats" and came up with a lot of people who have or have had cats just like he acts. It appears it is more of a genetic disposition which all makes sense. When he was running with a pack, he was an underdog and he was also young. But when he was separated from the pack and went to live with my meek little old mother, he then became the alpha and the leader of the pack. So if he is to survive he will have to find a home probably without other pets and someone who will take over the alpha role and put him in his place. And I don't mean physically, but in theory. Someone with a strong voice that towers over him to present a bit of intimidation without physical pressure. Just an emotional readjustment.

I got out the Rescue Remedy today and put it on his food, put a drop on top of his head and rubbed a drop in each ear. Then I had to leave, so I didn't get to see if it made a difference. I also have some Quiet Moments powder that I might try on his food, but as bad as it smells he may stick his nose up at it. I've never had luck getting my cats to take it (one of mine gets car sick) but the tablet form seems to help my Aussie with separation anxiety and storms and fireworks.

So at this point I will be patient, and in a couple of weeks I hope I can have the time to see what I can do with him.
 
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