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post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm home for Spring Break, and my mom's cat is hissing at me.

That's right--hissing. That's only the second time in my life, and the first one was a feral.

Maunzi is a 5 year old spayed, black DSH. She's an only cat (though she lives with a dog and a bird), and she's currently indoor-only except for a few minutes spent sitting on the porch stoop.

She lives downstairs. And, while I visit, so do I.

She's allowed upstairs, but downstairs is her turf, where the dog (an easy-going mixed breed) isn't allowed.

As soon as I came down, dragging my suitcase, she looked at me and hissed. And it didn't stop when I went to my bed--which, apparently, is Maunzi's chosen sleeping spot!

No wonder she thinks I'm taking over her territory.

It's been two days. I've taken over her feeding; and I don't look her in the eyes or make any aggressive moves--y'know, like picking her up or trying to scratch her belly (as in, "I'm not stupid--she's got CLAWS, man!"). She's let me touch her; but she's still hissing, especially when I'm downstairs.

You think she'll warm up?
post #2 of 11
Maybe. I had a neighborhood calico who decided one day that she didn't like me. I've been hissed at for 15 years by her.

BTW, I wouldn't show submission to get her to respond. I'd do quite the opposite. Hiss back. If you show submission, she's just going to keep hissing until you leave.
post #3 of 11
Don't forget you brought home a lot of new smells with you, and cats can't always tell us apart by our faces well, so you'll have to give her time.
post #4 of 11
I'd be hissing right back at her! Who's the dominant one, the human or the cat?
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by GingersMom View Post
I'd be hissing right back at her! Who's the dominant one, the human or the cat?
Uhm... hehe... I did kinda do that just now, just because I was frustrated with her and hadn't had a lot of sleep. She hissed at me, I hissed at her; she growled so I growled... We had a regular hissing match--you know, the kind that happens when a new cat comes into the house? She finally backed off and looked away, so I backed off and looked away too.

It wasn't exactly some thought-out effort to get her to understand me. More an expression of frustration: "Hey, kitty, I'm here for two weeks and you better get used to it!"

Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have done that. But it sure felt good not to pretend anymore. At least cats are straightforward about not liking you--not like humans! A refreshing difference.

I don't dislike Maunzi, really. Her hissing kind of amuses me... Still, I wish we could come to an agreement. I feel bad about taking her turf. It must make her feel really insecure. Her little kitty world just got turned upside down, and everything's different--no wonder she feels scared and angry! (Her hissing has always been angry-scared, not angry-aggressive. She leans back and puts her ears back and fluffs her fur, so I can tell she's scared-angry.)

Anyway, I'm done with the hissing now. At least we know where we stand--competing for territory, as two females in the same area will. I'll just act casual, keep feeding her, and hope she gets used to me. I'd like to be able to pet her--she's an awfully beautiful cat, black and graceful and a little chubby. But I'll settle for calm coexistence.
post #6 of 11
If she's accustomed to sleeping on your bed, why not invite her to continue? At bedtime, you could let her smell some treats and then place them on the bedspread, slide under the covers, and pat the spread to let her know she's welcome to join you.

I did this once about a year ago with Dylan, one of my mom's cats, because I knew he resented my kitties and me for taking over the spare room. He hopped up and sprawled out, and we've been buddies ever since!
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, I think she's afraid, for some reason. When I approached the bed, she'd always leave it. She doesn't seem to want to be in my room at all--I'd love for her to be on the bed with me, but she's not around to be invited up.

We've made progress, though. Upstairs--the common area--has become a place where Maunzi isn't so scared anymore. There's not as much territory for her to protect--it's where, if the family were cats, their territories would overlap. Yesterday my sister was petting her and I was sitting nearby; Maunzi looked really relaxed, so I extended a hand for her to sniff, which she did; then she let me pet the side of her face--even leaned into it. That happened more than once, so I know it's not a fluke. I think I heard a very soft, brief purr... I know it wasn't a growl, because I've heard those and that wasn't it.

Downstairs, she's let me pet her; but she's also still hissing. That happens whenever I come near her food bowl--even to feed her! My mom's boyfriend says she does the same thing to him. I think maybe she's got food issues--as in, scared somebody's going to take her food away. Maunzi's got quite a paunch (12 pounds on a small frame), so she's on a diet; she must be slightly hungry more often than not. Maybe that contributes.

I don't like the way my mom handles Maunzi, though. Maunzi's a rather scared cat to begin with (she's always hiding, taking circuitous routes, slinking); but my mom picks her up, which it's evident she hates, and then ruffles her fur. Some cats would love that kind of treatment, but it's obvious Maunzi doesn't. She wiggles, she's not relaxed, and the tip of her tail twitches. Mom says sometimes she's petting Maunzi, and Maunzi smacks her with a paw "out of the blue"... I think Mom just has no idea Maunzi's personal space is being violated, she's been warned and hasn't listened, and Maunzi just decided to step up the warning! She does know Maunzi hates to have her belly touched. At least there's that much.

I can already tell Maunzi likes to be petted along the sides of her face. That's what she let me do when she let me pet her.

I think maybe if I stayed for longer than two weeks, Maunzi might actually get to like me. The fact that I'm willing to pet her the way she likes it, and not continue past the point when she likes it, could be my secret weapon in Maunzi-diplomacy!
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Okay, just one more update. I can't stop talking about Maunzi; she's such an intriguing little creature--easily overstimulated, territorial, and over-cautious, but fascinating. She even purred for me today!

Today I played with Maunzi with a dangle-toy--one I made with a piece of rope and some yarn attached to the end in a pom-pom. She got into it, rolling around and rabbit-kicking--and boy, that girl is fast!! No wonder she got her claws into my hand the day we met. Her paws were moving faster than I could swing the toy, and I couldn't keep it away from her if I tried! (Usually you have to let the cat catch the toy sometimes... Maunzi is different.)

We had a bit of a power struggle over lunch. Maunzi gets fed her food in three portions per day, so as to make the diet easier on her; so she was crying for her noon meal. As soon as I followed her to her bowl, her "protect my food" instinct kicked in, and she hissed at me. So I put the scoop back in the bag and walked away. That happened three times--I finally got the food into the bowl when she was out of the room.

I was able to feed her dinner without her hissing. So maybe... lesson learned: "If I hiss at the hand that feeds me, it won't feed me!"

I might be able to get a pic or two of Maunzi. She's a chubby black cat with shiny fur and the prettiest deep golden eyes. Depends on if she sits still and lets me get her picture, or whether she's weirded out at the camera and hisses at me! (That seems to be her philosophy: If in doubt, hiss at it!)
post #9 of 11
Maunzi sounds so beautiful! We'd love to see pictures!

You're so right about your mom... mine is the same way, just can't resist snuggling them even when they don't like it. We've talked about it a lot, though, and Mom's getting better about it -- and the reward is that now and then, the kitties come to her! It makes her feel great.

You mentioned scooping the food, which suggests that Maunzi is eating dry... have you thought about putting her on a high-protein wet-food diet? They say that's generally healthier, and really helps with weight loss, too. (I can't say from experience... just quoting what I've heard.)

I think you're doing exactly the right things. Maybe by the time you go back to school, you'll have made friends.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
I tried her on some wet food we had lying around the house--she tried it, licked a little, but walked away from the rest. We'll leave it out for an hour and see if she goes back to it.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
OK, Maunzi won't take wet food. Well, it was worth a try.

I got some info from Mom: Apparently, while I was away at college, Maunzi spent a year with a friend of the family, who made her an outdoor cat. Before that, Maunzi was a real lap cat: Got into your lap, purred, stayed there, didn't hiss a bit. Afterwards, she hisses often, hides, slinks, spooks easily--I've gotten a hiss just walking past her, and I'm not the only one. I am seriously thinking something traumatized Maunzi when she stayed with that man.

Also, Mom says her spay operation worsened her temper a bit; I asked her whether she could ask the vet to be sure she didn't have any scar tissue or anything causing pain, but Mom says she doesn't have the money for a vet unless Maunzi's sick. So she will ask when Maunzi next goes in for a rabies booster, as mandated by the state.

But I've discovered something Maunzi likes--I call it "nose-tapping". When we meet, I hold out my hand; and if she's feeling sociable, she stretches towards me and taps my hand with her nose! She still hisses if I startle her; if I didn't know better, I'd think she was an ex-feral... But that method of greeting seems to allow her to have control of the interaction, which is what she wants--otherwise she feels threatened.
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