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Increased Agression = Is she lonely?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

My 9 month old kitty, Harriet, has recently become more aggressive towards humans. She hardly lets me pick her up anymore without biting my face; I will put her down immediately and yell out "OUCH!" + leave the room when she does this, but she'll often follow and lunge / attack my leg / ankle. I'm working on behavior techniques, such as rewarding her with treats when she lets me pet her; limiting the time I pick her up / pet her, etc., but I am wondering if this aggression could in part be due to loneliness.

She is a Korat mix, and I've read that Korats are very social cats who need to be around others all the time. When I'm at work, I worry that she's becoming increasingly lonely / bored, which = aggressive behavior. I'm considering getting her a companion kitty. (We only adopted Harriet because our landlord would only allow us to have one cat--we are going to move in the Spring and will only move to a place that will allow us to get another kitty, although I don't want to do both at once--move and get a second kitten--for fear it will be a great stress on Harriet).
I've heard good things about Feliway, but I'm mostly concerned with her social loneliness. Any suggestions?


Harriet's mom
post #2 of 7
If this is new behaviour, I would be inclined to have her vet-checked. Often when kitty's change behaviour it is an indication that something is wrong, i.e., URI, UTI for a couple examples. Is it possible that she ingested something she shouldn't have and when you pick her up it hurts her belly?

Cats are notorious for not showing illness, so personally before I tackled any behaviour issues, I'd have her thoroughly checked out by your vet.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestion; I've made an appointment to have her checked out on Wednesday, and I'll discuss with the vet what might be going on. As far as I know, she hasn't ingested anything; we are very careful about keeping the floor clean and any household supplies locked up. She eats fine and passes regular bowel movements, and she doesn't always bite when I pick her up--just sometimes.

I'll keep this thread updated.

Any suggestions on the best age for a second kitty if we do get a companion for Harriet?
post #4 of 7
I honestly don't think there is any age requirement. The most important thing IMO is to make sure you do the introductions properly. At the top of this forum you will find a great thread on proper introduction of new cat to existing cat. Some folks will have less trouble than others - it really depends on each individual cat.

For instance, when our daughter moved back home with Mika, we kept her and Bijou separated for one full month if we were not home - mainly because Bijou is 16+ lbs and Mika was only about 8 lbs at the time and we didn't want her getting hurt. In the evenings/weekends we allowed supervised visits. If Bijou got rough or there was any fighting (hissing and making noises at each other didn't worry us as long as they weren't getting physical), we would immediately separate them again. At the time we were renovating and my hubby didn't have the outer part of the door frames on yet so there was a gap between the door and the interior frame. The kitties could see each other and put a paw through the opening but couldn't get at each other. Now they are buddies. They still play rough occasionally, but you'll more often find them cuddled together having their nap.

It varies according to who you ask, but the general consensus seems to be that if you have a female, a male would be a better choice. Of course they should both be neutered which I'm sure you already know.

I never thought I'd have more than one cat in the house but I must say having 2 really does double the pleasure and joy in our home.

I hope your baby is not sick and that things work out well for you and her too, of course. Keep us posted please after your vet visit.
post #5 of 7
Hi, just wondering, do you spend any time playing with her? Playing with kitties is important because it helps them to get rid of excess energy
post #6 of 7
When I first moved with Zoe (she's about 6 months older than yours), she wasn't used to being alone at all and I was gone most of the day.
She started attacking and following me to bite my feet when I got home too. If I tried to play with her while she was in one of these moods, she'd just get worse (temper tantrum). She's gotten better, and I've gotten better at making room for time with her, plus I've gotten her a buddy, but she'll still do this once in a while at the end of the day if I haven't paid any attention to her that day.

If you can, try to play and interact with her as much as you can in the morning and when you get home, if she gets in a mood, she might not respond to you though and just keep attacking. You don't even have to play with her and get her all wuond up, just pet her and chat while you're having breakfast and going through your morning routine, involve her as much as you can in whatever you're doing around the house. I think it's important not to punish her for this type of behaviour. Imagine a little kid trying to get your attention by acting out - if you react to it, you're just telling her that attacking you is the best way to get a reaction, even if it's negative.

Hope things work out!

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Thanks for more advice about Harriet and her biting. Yes, I do play with her a lot; in the morning, in the afternoon (when I'm home), and in the evening before bed. We play to the point that she tires out and burns off her excess energy. She does follow my everywhere when I'm at home, and I always talk to her, pet her, praise her for good behavior, etc., and yes, of course, I NEVER punish her for any biting / adverse behavior; I might say "ouch!" out of surprise, but I do not punish her as cats do not understand the concept of "punishment" (plus I think it's cruel; I am an advocate of positive reinforcement for good behavior--for both pets and children). I will discontinue interacting with her and leave her alone to calm down when she bites; this seems to work out the best so far.

I took Harriet to the vet this AM, and she is fine physically; very healthy. The vet suggested that I take her to a behavior specialist for a consultation. Has anyone tried this? I have a couple of references from the vet that I'm going to call. I also put a call in to the behavior specialist at the humane society where I adopted her (and where I also volunteer).

Thanks for everyone's advice...
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