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How come she's not friendly anymore? *LONG*

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi all, I'm new here and just wanted to find out some information about one of my cats.

I recieved Tags from a friend of mine. I don't know where she got her from, so I have no idea what her parents were like.

Ever since she had come home to me, she was by my side every second. She cried if I was not around, and was always wrapped around the back of my neck.. asleep on my shoulders. She'd sleep on my chest at night, or cuddled into my neck. She was the most lovable kitty.

Well, I had not gotten her fixed in time - and my dad was/still is careless about the cats going outside. She finds any way that she can to escape. Well, she had ended up getting pregnant when she was about 9 months old I know, I know. I should have been a bit more responsible about it, but she was spayed immediately after her litter.

The reason I explained that part is because once she had gone into heat, and had gotten pregnant, her personality took a COMPLETE change. She no longer wanted you to touch her. She would hide a lot, growl when picked up, heck she'd even swat at your face if you weren't careful. I was hoping it may have just been the hormones from pregnancy. When she came closer to giving birth and once I returned from a vacation, she followed me everywhere and never wanted to be left alone. She'd come when I whistled for her (she still does to a certain degree), and was this way all up until she weaned her kittens. Once she started telling them their limits, she turned back into the "feral cat".

To this day, she is the same way. She doesn't like human contact. I try to keep her indoors, but she attacks my other cats when they aren't even near her, and she's just not happy inside. I try loving on her, but she doesn't want any part of it. On a very RARE occassion, she will come up to you and want to be scratched. But that lasts for maybe a minute at the most, and she runs off hissing and growling. However, if she gets scared (she is terrified of thunder and is immediately brought in when it storms) or isn't feeling well, she cries for my attention, but the minute I touch her she gets nasty. I can call her outside, and she'll happily come to me. She's playful outside, and a bit more "attentive" towards you. She will follow me around the block while I walk the dogs, and meows if I get too far.

I'm sorry this is so long and drawn out, but here's my real question:

Why do you think she's so reserved even though while she was a kitten, she was handled nearly 24/7? The best way I can describe her personality is that of a feral cat. Do you think it may be possible her parents were feral? I love her to death, as she's my baby kitty. She's approx 1 1/2 years old now. She's just so miserable indoors and unhappy, but she's slightly different outside.

Any advice, or input is appreciated. My knowledge on behavior lies mostly with dogs, but my soft spot is for cats. Hehe.

post #2 of 6
The first question that I have for you: how many cats and dogs are in your household? And what general age / sex are they?

My entire household of cats came from feral colonies and for the most part, you can't tell it from their behavior. Once a feral kitten has been fully socialized, they typically won't revert back to feral behavior unless they return to a feral colony environment.

In all my years of dealing with ferals, I have had 2 cats that at about a year old, became skittish and shy. They were bouncing happy kittens until they hit maturity. My theory is that 1) they lived in a large household of critters where they might not get as much ongoing attention as a cat in a single cat household, and 2) it was in their personality in the first place. These cats were littermate brothers.

Tell us more about the makeup of your house and we might get more ideas about your situation.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
When she was a kitten, there were only two other cats in the house and 3 dogs. She was very close to one of my dogs who I had to have PTS, and it actually was not long after that she started to show this behavior.

Currently, I have 8 dogs and 7 other cats. Only recently has that number increased due to two cats from 3 others we took in.

She loves the dogs and rubs all over them. I sometimes think she's a dog. Hehe, but the cats are as follows

3 Males ages 11 months (her son), 6 months and 6 years
4 females ages 22 years, 5 months, approx 2-3 years, and 7-8 weeks.

The dogs
5 males - ages 8 years, 7 years, 4 years, and two 1 year olds.
3 females - ages 5 years, 4 years and 1 year.

The dogs she has no problem with, it's the other cats. I have seen her play with her son sometimes. They chase eachother through the house, but as far as the others she wants nothing to do with them.
post #4 of 6
Yikes, your household is as big as mine!!

When you have as many animals as we have, you start to see a lot of alliances going on between them, and you will typically find one cat that is singled out by many of the others. I've seen cats respond in 2 ways: it isolates itself to stay out of the way of the others (and can lash out if confronted), or it gets very clingy to you and their allies. Cats are far more subtle about it than dogs.

So 2 things happened to her at the time her behavior changed: her dog companion crossed, and she had a litter of kittens (e.g. she reached maturity). Either one of these could cause a change in behavior. When a cat who is fitting in normally changes behaviors, the others will change the way they respond to them - thus the tiffs between her and others (and it sounds like she still has an alliance with her son). She might also feel over crowded in the house so she is lashing out to anything in her way.

What I do with my cats are the "odd man out", is to make sure that they have their safe place(s) in the house. Make sure that they can find a sense of security somewhere. If they don't feel secure, they will always either hide or lash out. If you can't do that, and their life becomes constant conflict with those around them, then you have to look deep into yourself and consider rehoming them. I had to do that once and it was agonizing because I felt I failed her. I didn't - all cats involved were calmer afterwards.

Does this help at all?
post #5 of 6
Cats will typically not stay in the same 'pecking order' in a house full of animals their whole lives. Her status in the house will have changed when she matured, when she had kittens, and when she was spayed. How long ago was she spayed? It could be that she's still trying to find her place in the household heirarchy, or it could be that she lost the 'top cat' status when she was spayed (intact females can tend to have a more dominant position) and she isn't happy about it.

I think it's a great suggestion to give her some safe places where she can go to where she doesn't have to interact with the other animals if she doesn't want to. And give it some time before considering any other options, it can take a while for everyone to settle down after a change in the heirarchy, but if it looks as though she'd going to remain unhappy then she may be better off in a single cat household.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your responses.

Yes, it does help and it makes sense what both of you have said. She does come into my room if she wants to be away from the others, or she has a particular chair she likes to sit in when she's inside. There are times where she's okay with being indoors, but 90% of the time she prefers to be outdoors.

It's like I said, I know more about dog behavior than cats, so I just wasn't sure what the problem could be. She seems to stick and stay close with the dogs.

Oh, and Epona - She was spayed Jan 10 2007. She had her kittens August 17, and she had completely weaned her kittens by the time they were about 13 weeks. I had just gotten my new job, too, so it was a relief to have my own money to get it done. So we opted to have her fixed so nothing like this would happen again. I had hoped she may have calmed down some, but even while she was groggy she was growling in the crate LOL But the minute I left the crate she would start her "Please Mommy come'ere" so I'd have to sit next to her crate most of the time -- or atleast until she fell asleep.

I never thought about the way the other cats and dogs reacted to them. They all stay clear of her now, but if they're running and playing and they get too close to her. She'll lash out at them (I guess cause she's unsure and afraid they are coming at her?).

She's a pretty happy cat. Just a majority of the time when she's indoors, she's not thrillled to be in. I don't she's bad to the point of rehoming, and I'm sorry if I interpreted it that way. It's just the biggest part was the indoor thing.

Could constant changes in the household also upset her to be this way? We have cats and dogs coming and going, whether they're fosters or new additions, even people come and go here (my mom had a couple of her friends staying with us when they were kicked out of their own home). Kinda as if she just doesn't know if that cat has been here, or if they're new.
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