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cat attack

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hello all!
I thought someone could give me advice on why my 1 year old kitty named Chunk sometimes attacks my 5 year old daughter. My daughter will be playing with her dolls or walking by Chunk and the next thing you know he has jumped on my daughter. Sometimes it is just a jump and run, then other times it hang on and scratch. My daughter is always nice to Chunky but is starting to get a little scared of him. Chunk has known my daughter all his life and he should be use to her. Chunk has always been very affectionate to me and I call him my baby boy. I tell my daughter that he thinks she is a cat and wants to play, but to swat him away when he gets too ruff. He use to play with his mom and his sister like this when they lived with, so I am thinking he just wants a playmate. Any thoughts or suggestions on how to get him to play nice???
post #2 of 7
First of all, please don't ask your daughter to swat Chunk away. If she is hitting at him he may become frightened and act even more aggressively toward her. You may want to try using a spray bottle filled with water to get him wet instead. This site has an excellent article on cat aggression toward people http://www.thecatsite.com/behavior/aggression.html There are others here who are very knowledgeable and can give you further help. Good luck!
post #3 of 7
If this is a fairly new behaviour, you may want to take Chunk in to the vet to get a check. Sometimes when cats act out, they are trying to tell the owner something. Chunk is still quite young and it could be that while your daughter was playing with him, she inadvertently hurt him and he is wary of her now. But I agree that telling your daughter to swat the kitty away is not a good thing and will add to the aggression.

If it were me, I would spend some time with Chunk just one on one, down on the floor playing with him with an interactive toy like a feather or a mouse on a pole something that will tire him out, yet make him feel special that you are paying attention to him.

There are other ways to stop cats from acting out like this other than swatting at them. Coins in an empty soda can makes a good deterent to unwanted behavior.
post #4 of 7
Sounds to me like Chunk (BTW I LOVE his name) is being a young male kitten. He is 'full of beans'! our daughter is a good girl now to have gone after him for this behavior. She deserves a little extra loving too!

Let us know how he is doing.

(I assume you have had him neutered? Those hormones you know!)
post #5 of 7
I suspect that Chunk is bored and is trying to get attention. He's just coming into full maturity and cats are often at their most playful and frenetic at this time. It's also when, in the wild, a young male cat would be competing for dominence and territory, so they tend to play rough at this time.

Is Chunk neutered? If he isn't, he should be, both for health reasons and because neutering him can ease some of the dominence behavior he is displaying. If he is neutered, there are a couple of ways to deal with his behavior. Whatever you do, you must be completely consistent... no correcting him sometimes and not at others. Cats don't think like humans and can't easily differentiate between times when it's appropriate to play rough and times when it isn't, so it's very important to be consistent with them if you want to break a bad habit.

1) LOTS of interactive play... at least two 30 minute sessions a day, using something like a wand toy that allows him to work off his excess energy with running and jumping. It semms like a lot of time, but with high energy young cats, it's really a good way to diffuse aggressive behavior.

2) When he attacks your daughter, his actions should be followed with a stern "No!" and he should be given a brief time out in another room... no more than a few minutes. Don't plead with him... because that tone of voice signals that he's dominant. Don't shout at him... that aggressive tone with just instill fear in him which can lead to more aggressive behavior.

3) This may not be practical given your circumstances, but you could consider getting a second cat to provide him with company and a playmate. This is only a solution, however, if you are prepared to take on the extra responsibility, but given that he was raised in a multi-cat household, he may simply be lonely and bored.

I want to stress that this doesn't mean that he won't adapt to "single" life: I've known lots of happy, well-adjusted singles. It's just that at this point in his life, he likely needs extra attention from you to vent his high energy.
post #6 of 7
Sounds like male aggressive playing to me. I have three cats who do this flying leap thing. Two of them take a running leap from the ground to my neck and seem to be able to balance themselves so they ca hold on for a few seconds just by curling their forepaws. At that point, one of them butts me on the neck and drops off -- still no claws. The butting is a sign of loving acceptance -- a bit startling the first time a cat does that to you... The other, a very large and heavy male, wraps his forelegs around my neck and butts continuously, purring, for up to 5 or 10 minutes. When I am sitting, this does not present any hardship, because his hind legs can gain stability in my lap and I can support his weight easily. But when I am standing, I have learned to raise my arms to give these attack cats hind-end support so they don't slip and accidentally claw out my carotid artery going down. I have identified the behavior of both cats as I-love-you expressions, and stopped trying to make them stop it.

The other cat is my three-legged wonder. He is still quite small and still has trouble balancing without clawing. I try to anticipate when he will jump and am ready with my hands to support him. His single foreleg is not strong enough yet to give him support without claws. We are having a rather painful time of it, but he is gradually understanding that I will automatically try to keep him from falling backwards once he has jumped. He is also very cooperative when I disengage his claws from my shoulder.

So my tack is, instead of trying negative discipline like water (you may give the cat a terror of being bathed, and you might need to use water on him at some point to save his life) and clackers, I first try (and try again) some kind of positive interaction, since I do not make the mistake of thinking that he wants to hurt me. This is my automatic response to all cat behavior now that I have lived in the middle of so many cats -- household and strays alike. But I confess if a perfectly strange cat leapt at me like that, I would instinctively put up my arms to defend myself.

I think your play sessions with the cat should include your daughter. She is the one who is becoming shy of the cat and she needs some supervised play time with him to restore her confidence. She also needs to understand why cats use their claws, and not to get too fussed if she gets scratched. You might also teach her to avert her face as soon as she sees the cat in the air, since, I can personally attest, a clawed face is rather painful, not to mention the possibility of the cat hitting one of her eyes by accident.

Castration doesn't always completely deaden a male's aggressive tendencies, but while my males may fight among themselves (or have lengthy growling sessions), they have never, since they were past 6 or 7 months, scratched me with intention. They have given me so much confidence that I now feel quite comfortable breaking up the more serious cat fights by either picking one up and carrying it off to another part of the room, or doing my hooding act -- that is, putting my hands between their faces (palms toward their noses) so they can't look each other in the eyes, and alternately massaging their temples and necks and shielding their eyes in a kind of rhythmic way until they become less taunt and their body language indicates they are ready to disengage. I then pick up the most aggressive and walk off cuddling him and cooing until his body is relaxed.

I don't really recommend this technique to most people, because you have to be absolutely unafraid of being scratched. It is the fear of being scratched that often increases the alarm and aggression in the cat.

The final alternative is, of course, to give the cat away to a household with no young children in it. Cats are part of the cat family -- which includes tigers and cheetahs and panthers and lions. Even if they love you and have never lived outside, and have always thought of themselves as people, a cat can revert quite suddenly if frightened or threatened. Hitting a cat, or even shoving or yelling, can be a trigger to an instinctive counter-reaction. I sometimes land a light hand on a butt, or a very, very light tap on a nose to get the attention of an angry cat, but I have learned never to hit. The trauma that causes a cat, coming as it does from the care-giver, mother, loving image, can be irreparable in a cat/human relationship. It can also be a lifelong issue between human parents and their children, when you think about it.

post #7 of 7

Russell used to jump on me. It lasted for 3 days. The cause of it was either male aggressiveness or telling me that he wasn't happy about being sprayed with water for doing something naughty earlier.

I sprayed him everytime he did it accompanied with a loud NO.

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