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Major cat issues... scared and worried

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi! I'm new to the site and I figured this would be the best way to get advice about my cat. I'm sorry in advance for the length of this post... My cat's name is Jaga, he's a year and half old, and has recently (week and half ago) been neutered. He was not previously neutered because of money issues. I was forced to neuter him though when he attacked my dog and, when I tried to intervene, attacked me (in a slight sense of the word).

Starting off, my dog Bear is a German Shepard mix at about 45 pounds. He is very sweet and gentle with the cat, since he was raised with one when he was younger... He understands and adheres to the commands "gentle" and has always been that way. Bear is 5 yrs old and really doesn't play much with the cat. He's passed the puppy stage I guess. He is also male. About 4 weeks ago, the cat started doing this low growling/meowing sound that sounds like something out of Pet Cemetary He had done that before but just while walking around the house, and maybe only 2-3 times. This time, he did it when I brought in a new cat house for him and placed it in his litter box room. Bear poked his head in the door of the room and Jaga started. He got low to the ground and stalked toward Bear. I started saying Hey and the cat howled and attacked Bear. I'm not sure why, but Bear did not fight back. He tried to run/get away. The cat's howling, biting, clawing and Bear's trying to retreat and yipping. I don't know what to do so I think if I clap and yell that would startle the cat out of it. To no avail. I push a box toward them and the cat just jumps over it and continues to pursue Bear. Then I push another box toward him (I had brought in Christmas presents and some were in boxes) and get a little close. This time, I get his attention. I'm standing up and he jumps at me. He claws me and then goes back at Bear. By this time, I'm bleeding pretty bad. Finally, I got a broom and squirt bottle. I tracked them to my dining room and the cat was meowing at Bear, who was in the corner, trying not to look at the cat. I squirted the cat and backed him away from Bear. Once I got Jaga to retreat with the water and broom threat, then I got Bear to come and we retreated to my bedroom. The cat finally followed us and meowed/growled outside the door. Jaga eventually calmed down and went to other parts of the house. I seperated the animals and herded the cat into the extra room with the broom. I got rid of the cat house, thinking that was it and it was territorial issues.

Jaga was fine for about 5 days, even while being around Bear and sleeping on the bed with us like normal. Then he struck again. This time, he pierced Bear's ear through and through and yanked a chunk of hair from his skin. Bear again did not fight back but just tried to get away. I was able to intervene pretty quickly with my Swiffer pointed at the cat. (He gets freaked out by any broom, mop, vacuum, etc.) Since then, the cat has been neutered and I have been seperating him and Bear. I plan on declawing Jaga ASAP, as soon as financially doable. Unfortunately, this whole episode has taken a toll out of all of us, including me. I have anxiety anyway, and if the cat acts odd one day while I'm visiting with him in his room, I come close to a panic attack. Jaga has also hissed at me while cleaning his litter box since this whole situation so I'm afraid that it's not over. My big question is, "What do I DO????" I really want to let Jaga roam and not keep him in the back room all the time. I do visit with him and let him out while Bear is outside. I can continue this but I don't see it in Jaga's best interest. I'm trying to calm myself down for the sake of the animals which are as close to children as I can get at this point in my life. It is only me and them in the house and I really want it to be reletively peaceful. I cannot afford emotionally, physically, and financially to have another fight. Please, any suggestions are welcome!
post #2 of 19
Hi, what a scary time you're having! Well, I'm first going to tell you that declawing Jaga won't help the situation (or only maybe save the dog's other ear should it get in the way). It won't help, because the problems are that it's probably unnecessary as Jaga's hormone level will settle down within a month (it does take that long), and that if that was the problem, it'll be resolved, BUT if instead Jaga continues to confront the dog, unfortunately the dog may finally 'snap' one day (I've seen it happen) and claws will be the least of Jaga's worries. However, if all goes well and the neutering 'takes', you'll have subjected the cat to possible chronic pain (declawing is just not that reliable), infections, and to inability to defend himself forever more either indoors or out, as well as inability to climb. It's something no one recommends as an answer - it won't resolve (in itself) a cat's potential 'attack' tendencies (but could provoke its early demise) and will create new problems. I strongly urge you to wait at least a couple of weeks at least, if necessary keeping the two separate (at least when you're not around) and see what happens. I do think though, that you need a strategy not to fend off the cat if he gets angry again, but to remove the dog as fast as possible behind a door - though I hope it won't be necessary.
post #3 of 19
First, welcome to TCS. Sorry about the difficult situation that you're having.

When Jaga was neutered a week and a half ago, was he also thoroughly checked over by the vet? I would assume that the answer is "yes" but I ask for the sake of thoroughness. Between the "low growling/meowing sound" and the attack on Bear, there were clearly behavioral changes prior to the neuter. When cats are ill or otherwise in pain, they sometimes act abnormally aggressively. This might be Jaga's way of telling you that something is physically wrong with him. Did you mention these episodes to the vet at all?

If it's not a physical issue, then it must be a behavioral one. For starters, you might want to purchase a Feliway diffuser and/or Rescue Remedy. Feliway looks like a plug-in air freshener but in reality is a synthetic pheromone dispenser that mimics the "happy" pheromones that cats leave when they mark objects. Apparently it was designed mostly to curb inappropriate elimination but it is usually effective as a general way of calming a cat down. Rescue Remedy is another example of a calming agent. It is typically added to drinking water, though it can be given orally as well. There's no guarantee that either of these products would work for Jaga, but they're worth trying.

And Larke was absolutely right regarding the declawing. At the very least, you run the very good risk of turning a scratcher into a biter which is no improvement whatsoever. At the very worst, you have that issue anyway PLUS litterbox avoidance, personality change (and not for the better), increased risk of arthritis later in life (because Jaga would now be forced to walk abnormally), etc. Honestly, the chance that you will get the result that you want simply by declawing is, in my opinion, extremely small.

I'm sure others will be along to share their thoughts and experiences.
post #4 of 19
Please read about declawing before considering it. Like the others I do not think it is any sort of solution for Jaga. I feel it will only add to the problems your having. Quite honestly, if the 3 of you can't at least co-habitate with out incident I think the best thing for all involved would be to re-home Jaga. You said you have anxiety issues and these could be adding to Jaga's out bursts. I firmly believe that cats sense our mental/emotional states and act at least partly based on them.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
Hi, what a scary time you're having! Well, I'm first going to tell you that declawing Jaga won't help the situation (or only maybe save the dog's other ear should it get in the way). It won't help, because the problems are that it's probably unnecessary as Jaga's hormone level will settle down within a month (it does take that long), and that if that was the problem, it'll be resolved, BUT if instead Jaga continues to confront the dog, unfortunately the dog may finally 'snap' one day (I've seen it happen) and claws will be the least of Jaga's worries. However, if all goes well and the neutering 'takes', you'll have subjected the cat to possible chronic pain (declawing is just not that reliable), infections, and to inability to defend himself forever more either indoors or out, as well as inability to climb. It's something no one recommends as an answer - it won't resolve (in itself) a cat's potential 'attack' tendencies (but could provoke its early demise) and will create new problems. I strongly urge you to wait at least a couple of weeks at least, if necessary keeping the two separate (at least when you're not around) and see what happens. I do think though, that you need a strategy not to fend off the cat if he gets angry again, but to remove the dog as fast as possible behind a door - though I hope it won't be necessary.
Thank you for your imput!! I will hold off on the declawing as you have raised a good point. Unfortunately, I have tried to get Bear out of the way before (the 2nd time) and actually found the strength to raise a 45 lb dog with one hand by the collar!!! It didn't hurt Bear, but when the cat started meowing, I didn't have the broom, swiffer, etc within easy grasp so I tried to get Bear in the next room. We were right next to the door and by the time I turned around and closed the door, the cat shot through the tiny gap and threw himself onto Bear. That is when the ear piercing happened. So, unfortunately, getting Bear out of the way doesn't work because I don't have enough time between the warning and the attack. Man, Jaga is fast! Maybe I can walk around with the broom, ready to point it at the cat? That seems to work so far, thank goodness!
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertM View Post
First, welcome to TCS. Sorry about the difficult situation that you're having.

When Jaga was neutered a week and a half ago, was he also thoroughly checked over by the vet? I would assume that the answer is "yes" but I ask for the sake of thoroughness. Between the "low growling/meowing sound" and the attack on Bear, there were clearly behavioral changes prior to the neuter. When cats are ill or otherwise in pain, they sometimes act abnormally aggressively. This might be Jaga's way of telling you that something is physically wrong with him. Did you mention these episodes to the vet at all?

If it's not a physical issue, then it must be a behavioral one. For starters, you might want to purchase a Feliway diffuser and/or Rescue Remedy. Feliway looks like a plug-in air freshener but in reality is a synthetic pheromone dispenser that mimics the "happy" pheromones that cats leave when they mark objects. Apparently it was designed mostly to curb inappropriate elimination but it is usually effective as a general way of calming a cat down. Rescue Remedy is another example of a calming agent. It is typically added to drinking water, though it can be given orally as well. There's no guarantee that either of these products would work for Jaga, but they're worth trying.

And Larke was absolutely right regarding the declawing. At the very least, you run the very good risk of turning a scratcher into a biter which is no improvement whatsoever. At the very worst, you have that issue anyway PLUS litterbox avoidance, personality change (and not for the better), increased risk of arthritis later in life (because Jaga would now be forced to walk abnormally), etc. Honestly, the chance that you will get the result that you want simply by declawing is, in my opinion, extremely small.

I'm sure others will be along to share their thoughts and experiences.
Actually, I had bugged the vet to death for many days before this event! Physical illness was my first thought, having been a vet tech before and seen what some of those illnesses can do. They checked Jaga over throughly even though he is up to date on all shots and has never been out of the house without being in a carrier.

I want to try something like the Feliway, I'm just worried about cost. I'll have to check into that.

Well, I suggested the declawing as not an answer to this problem, but as a way to avoid further injury to Bear. Unfortunately, the cat is already a biter, since the vet said that Bear's unwanted ear piercing is from a bite.... I was unfortunate enought to witness that event and it was the cat biting the ear and Bear throwing him off by yanking his head. Thus the large hole. But, as you said, it could lead to further problems so it's been moved down to the bottom of my list...
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by twstychik View Post
Please read about declawing before considering it. Like the others I do not think it is any sort of solution for Jaga. I feel it will only add to the problems your having. Quite honestly, if the 3 of you can't at least co-habitate with out incident I think the best thing for all involved would be to re-home Jaga. You said you have anxiety issues and these could be adding to Jaga's out bursts. I firmly believe that cats sense our mental/emotional states and act at least partly based on them.
Re-homing Jaga is my biggest fear out of all this. I worked at the Animal Shelter here and it greatly effected me. I have never given up on an animal and I hate to start. But your right, in all interests of safety, it may be my last choice. I'm trying to even myself out emotionally but I am unfortunately very sensitive to animals. I've had nightmares for days.... It's getting better with time though and hopefully, the neutering will "take" soon....
post #8 of 19
My Brother had fixed Male Cats like that. They even locked jaws and he had to seperate them. Sadly Frisky went to the pound because he attacked my brother too and bit hard. I woud never declaw a Cat. I have seen what it did. My brother is still haveing trouble with 2 of his other Males. they try to kill each other. My Coco once attacked our Dog but it was because she had Kittens and she warned the Dog not to get to close but the Dog didnt listen and was a cut up. It happened a few times until the Dog got the hint. A few years ago one of the Neighbors here let there pets out and they fought with mine through the Window. I got home and Stormy was haning by her back paw tanges in the blinds screaming. Her paw was almost broken and Meeko and Coco were having a big fight. Cocos paw was almost broken too. After that Coco was very mean to al teh other Cats. n fact i can not put her in that room anymore and it was over 2 years ago. She hisses if I put her in there. she is best friends with the other Cats again just like nothing happened. Those people moved away .
post #9 of 19
I had some aggression problems with Tiny. He'd get anxious, and then attack the nearest moving object... Eventually I learned to keep a toy (usually a stuffed sock) with me, which he could attack, frantically claw and bite, and work out his anxiety. Nowadays he's more easygoing--his neuter worked wonders for him, too (he wasn't neutered for a month after he came in from the street; I finally got the Humane Society to help me pay for it). I should note that Tiny also had some play-aggression issues--he had the idea that peoples' feet were for pouncing!--but I could almost always tell when he was attacking because of I-want-to-play boredom, or because he was scared and wanted to fight something, anything!

Anyway, fear can make a cat lash out like that; and if yours is afraid, he may decide a pre-emptive strike is in order. (That's why a sick cat is often aggressive. He wants to look tough because he's afraid others will see his weaknesses and take advantage.) An anxious kitty can be calmed in various ways--Feliway has already been suggested; and I'll add lots of play sessions to that list. Some of the hard cases have responded to Prozac or some other human antidepressant/antianxiety medication.
post #10 of 19
Why do people always suggest rehoming aggressive animals? Its hard enough to find a home for a nice, sweet cat, let alone one that has a history of attacking...

To the OP, I hope that the neuter helps, and that the Feliway diffusers might be able to help as well.
post #11 of 19
Well, my cat Diablo hates dogs. He simply wants it known he is "top cat". Your cat may be expressing pain, fear and or simple dominance.

Hence the attacks on the dog.

I would caution however, if you have recently ADDED another animal after the neuter that might be cause of the problem?

To deal with the behavior, you can correct the problem by nipping the behavior in the bud:

I would get some Feliway, I would use distraction (toys) AND a spray bottle of water handy ... also good... a can of pennies to shake
to provide an unexpected noise works well too. Head off the attacks if you see them coming, spray the Feliway and also use the toys. If attack in progress, use a small fog horn and/or pennies in jar to provide a "shocking" noise that will cut thru the cat's focus on the dog.

Then remove dog from cat.

Sometimes the agression is directed to the dog, but triggered by something outside (like another cat) ... that can account for some of the agression.

Just my 2 cents. Declaw is not the way to go. Possibly you may have to rehome the cat. Or the dog.

Dogs are easier to rehome.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet72947 View Post
Why do people always suggest rehoming aggressive animals? Its hard enough to find a home for a nice, sweet cat, let alone one that has a history of attacking...

To the OP, I hope that the neuter helps, and that the Feliway diffusers might be able to help as well.
Perhaps because the cat would do well in a single cat family?! He's only attacking the dog from my understanding so logical reasoning says that he should probably be the only pet in his home.
post #13 of 19
He was only neutered a week and a half ago, give time for his crazy male hormones to leave and give him the chance to become a normal kitty. It won't be until around a month before this happens.

Unfortunately, if you have been letting him outside unneutered all this time, he grew to learn how to fight and be territorial because that is exactly what he did outside. Just give him time to settle down. And keep him seperated from the dog.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
and to inability to defend himself forever more either indoors or out, as well as inability to climb.
I am against declawing myself, but my parents' previous cat, PurrPuss, was able to climb with only back claws, and Zane has quite successfully defended himself with only his teeth and back claws. That being said, my next cat, after Zane, will not be declawed.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zane's Pal View Post
I am against declawing myself, but my parents' previous cat, PurrPuss, was able to climb with only back claws, and Zane has quite successfully defended himself with only his teeth and back claws. That being said, my next cat, after Zane, will not be declawed.
You have to admit, though, that biting isn't to be preferred to clawing. Cat bites get infected SO easily... I'd much rather be clawed.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by opilot View Post
Well, my cat Diablo hates dogs. He simply wants it known he is "top cat". Your cat may be expressing pain, fear and or simple dominance.

Hence the attacks on the dog.

I would caution however, if you have recently ADDED another animal after the neuter that might be cause of the problem?

Thank you for the post... Those are really good ideas, which I know that I will use. I have not added another animal, I'm at maximum capacity now.. Bear and Jaga inside, and two dogs outside. They do not seem to have any problems with cats as our neighbor's cat is outside and I have seen him go in and out of my yard, without my dogs uttering a word!
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
First off, thank you to everyone that has replied to my original post. I've gotten so many helpful suggestions. Secondly, things are looking up for us all. I have still not introduced the cat and the dog. I figured that I needed to work on my anxiety and relationship with the cat first, so I could be in control. Now, I don't jump everytime the cat moves fast and I'm able to enjoy being around him. He's even started licking my nose again (his signature affection move) and wanting to be picked up. I have cleaned his litter box several times and he has done nothing. He has started playing with Bear from under the door (sans claws) of his room at times. I am still going to give it a month until the introduction, but I'm feeling much more confident that this might work. Again, thanks for all the posts!!
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
, and to inability to defend himself forever more either indoors or out, as well as inability to climb.
Just as a side note, Jaga will never be allowed outdoors for a few reasons. One, I have a few dogs outside and I don't want that to be an issue... Two, we have a few neighborhood cats that belong to a lady down the street from me. Neighborhood gossip is that all of the cats have feline leukimeia (sp?). That is a whole bag of mess that I do not want to subject Jaga to. This is just for further information, as I have heard a lot of awful things about declawing that have swayed me to reconsider that course of action.
post #19 of 19
It's fantastic to hear that things are getting better.

Great as well that you're not planning on declawing anymore Yay!

It sounds as if Jaga got startled by Bear in the litterbox or something like that and that made his hormone pumped self decide that Bear was the enemy. I think this time period has been very hard on all of you. Animals are really good at sensing the emotional state of their owners so you being panicked (which is VERY understandable) probably made Jaga think even more that he was in danger.

Cats fighting in what they see as self-defence can be *really* scary, I have a few scars from Nikita when I've been holding her and something made her panic so she turned into a blender for a few seconds (and I dropped her) and she ran off to hide. They're so agile and strong and usually quite well armed.

Seperating them out so that you can relax and so that hey both can let down their guard as well is definately the right thing to have done. Here's hoping gradual reintroductions will then work and things will be back to normal.

How does Bears ear look? Cat bites can get badly infected very quickly in humans anyway, one of the reason why it's usually not a good idea to declaw an aggressive cat since the cat will just start biting more and the bite wounds are usually much more dangerous than claw scratches. Anyway Bear sounds like a wonderful dog, trusting you and putting up with all this. Give him a hug from me

btw. if you don't already keeping Jagas claws trimmed can make a huge difference in the amount of skin shredding he can do. It's easy to learn how to do if you don't do it already. The claws are still there and can still do damage but they're then more like a blunt kitchen knife rather than a razor and that does make a difference.

Also if it makes you feel better for the reintroductions you could put softpaws on Jaga, those are blunt plastic sheathes you glue on the claws. Some people keep them on their cats all the time but they also work as a temporary thing for a specific time period you're worried about the claws.
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