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Should I take her back to the shelter? (LONG)  

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I adopted an 8 week old kitten in May of 2000, from our local SPCA. She was intended as a birthday gift for my then 5 year old son. I knew immediately that she was not "normal" as far as behavior goes. She cried a lot, did not like to be handled at all, and at meal times begged for food worse than most dogs I have seen. It was obvious that the foster family who reared her until she was old enough to be adopted, allowed her to eat from the table, as well as allowed thier children to torture her (a behavior profile written by the foster family, included with her adoption papers, said "she is good with kids, she doesn't seem to mind being spun around in the office chair by my 9 year old son").

I called the SPCA to complain about the conditions she was exposed to at the foster family's home (she was also completely infested with fleas). And they rudely told me I could bring her back in and pick out another kitten but that's all they were willing to do.

A few weeks later she began to vomit on a daily basis, and we subsequently learned that she has an extremely sensitive stomach, and cannot digest most brands of cat food, we now feed her Science Diet. Her sensitive stomach does not, however, stop her from aggressively pursuing table scraps, garbage, dog food, or anything left out that is edible. She once started eating a Taco Bell burrito on the table while my back was turned, and instead of running away when she was confronted, like most cats would do, she grabbed the burrito in her mouth and RAN. I chased her throughout the house before the burrito ripped in two, and she made off with the smaller half still in her mouth, and tried to eat it under the couch. I had to physically remove it from her mouth.

She is aggressive, and unfriendly. She only allows my son to hold her, and even then it isn't very often. She is extremely anxious and will lose bladder control in high stress situations, bathing, trip in the car, etc.

If she wants to get your attention when she is hungry, or otherwise in need, she will stand in front of you while you are walking, then attack your leg if you try to go around her. If you get up from the couch to go to the restroom or kitchen, she will immediately take your spot, and when you come back to sit down, she will challenge you for it (threatening to bite, loudly wailing, etc). She does not engage in play or respond to toys unless she is alone in a room, and will not play with the other cats. Her biting has become more aggressive in recent months and most of the time is not provoked (she will bite the kids if they sit next to her or even attempt to touch her).

She has been declawed because of excessive, destructive scratching in response to not getting her way, or being given a bath. Her biting response was present prior to her being declawed, but has gotten much more unpredictable.

She will sneak into the pantry to steal food at every opportunity, which in turn causes her to vomit within a few minutes. Though she is not permitted on tables and countertops, she will hide in an empty chair, pop her head up next to the kitchen table, and try to snatch food of your plate right in front of you.

She sneaks into "off-limits" areas of the house, refuses to leave, and will try to bite you if you physically remove her.

She will deliberately PUSH items off of tables and shelves (countless pots, bowls, vases, and a small fish tank) simply beacause she wanted to occupy the space they were in, get my attention, or was fustrated by not having access to the contents.

Today she has already bitten my son twice. When she bites she hasn't ever broken the skin, but that could very easily happen in the future.

I am totally fed up with feeding, vaccinating, bathing, grooming, and caring for an animal that shows me and my family nothing but animosity. Am I being too demanding in my expectations of a pet? Would she be better off going back to the shelter to be placed with new owner, or should I just deal with it until she gets old and dies?
post #2 of 13
She is acting out all fronts because of several issues. One, is being tormented by a child in the foster home, and now she has had to endure being declawed (de-toed) where she had to deal with an extreme amount of unnecessary pain. She had to learn to walk all over again, as a cat needs its toes and claws for balance and she no longer has them. Cats are very stoic even when they are in pain, and it takes a lot of pain to prompt a cat to bite.

I wish you had come here or researched how to work with this cat prior to getting her declawed. If you take her back to the shelter, chances are not in her favor that she would be adopted out again, she would be one of those cats who keeps getting turned back for behavior problems. Some shelters are even shutting their doors on declawed cats because they are such a problem.

Your kitty is very young to have gone through all of this, and I feel so badly for her. She is agressive and unfriendly, because the people who she hoped would love her, have turned out to not really be her friend. She gets chased when she has food in her mouth, and you remove the food from her forcibly, making yourself more of her enemy than her friend. In other words, you need to back track a little bit and re-think how you handle her. Her perspective is she has to always be on guard around you lest you cause her more pain.

You can teach a cat to not scratch furniture, to accept bathing, to accept claws being trimmed, without having to be so excessive with her.
post #3 of 13
With everything you have given me, and I will try and be as nice as possible here. This is a cat, and getting into things, and knocking things down are part of normal behavior. 5 weeks old is too young to be taken from a mother cat. Your cat was probably just doing normal kitten things, and because she wasn't trained she continues the behavior. I am afraid to ask what methods you have used to teach her right and wrong. Cats use thier claws, its a natural part of life for them. They DO get more aggressive and can have permanent damage from being declawed.
I think your expectations are much too high for her. Cats don't know "off limits", nor do they do things to get back at thier owners. They have no way to tell people that they are unhappy, and it can come out in behavior.
Although I NEVER like to see cats get put into shelters, I think it may be best for both of you to find her a new home. It sounds as if she is too much of a hastle for you.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
I disagree that her being declawed was a contributing factor to her neurotic behavior. I have had cats over the years, some more "destructive" than others, and have NEVER had a cat act like this. Her behavior started from day one. The two other cats in my home (also declawed) are not perfect, and I don't expect them to be, but they do not exibit this type of behavior.

Of course cats are going to get into things and knock things over, but to say that they never do things to get back at thier owners is false. I studied animal psychology at the University of Washington, and most well trained animal behaviorists will agree that animals are intelligent, and have the capability to be motivated by actions of thier caretakers. I don't chase her with food in her mouth to be mean, I chase her because she has a medical condition that causes vomiting (violent, painful vomiting) if she ingests certain foods. She of course does not like her yummy stolen treat to be taken away, and in turn acts out in certain ways to let me know she is ticked. Most animals respond with innapropriate elimination (peeing on your bed, etc.) Her method was scratching.

Her "normal" scratching that all cats do, was done on the scratching post or on various rugs laid out for that purpose. She ONLY scratched the furniture in direct response to being bathed (which I have done regularly since she was 8 weeks old, not 5, and she just does not like it, plain and simple, so if she was going to "accept it", she would have done so by now), and in direct response to a vet visit or being removed from an off limits room, by the way, I remove her by picking her up, walking out of the room, and simply putting her back down somewhere else. I tried alternative methods (claw trimming, squirt gun, furniture repellant, foil, plastic wrap, soft paws, alternative scratching areas) for two years to no avail. She STILL "scratches" the furniture as a response, but without claws there is no damage.

To say that a cat does not know "off-limits" is to minimize its intellgence. How many times have we seen cats gleefully running about in a friends house, driving them crazy, and the owner sighs and simply says, "Oh cats are stupid you can't teach them anything". NOT TRUE. My other two cats know thier boundaries, which they were taught along with the other cat, by simply telling them "NO" when they went somewhere they shouldn't, and rewarding good behavior. When I walk in and see her where she shouldn't be she usually jumps down, or leaves, if she did not "know any better" she would not have acknowledged any wrong doing, only recently has she become stubborn and had to be picked up. My cats have been trained to come when called by thier NAME, not "here kitty kitty", they each know thier names independantly, and can follow several simple commands. This cat is actually the most intelligent of the three, so to say that she cannot learn whether or not to go into my husband office when he opens the door, is ridiculous.

I researched declawing for a long time before I decided to go ahead with the procedure, I had always said I would never declaw a cat, and I agonized over the decision, even cancelled the appointment a few times. In my case alternative measures did not work.

I am not mean to my cat, or treat her in any way that is harmful, I only intervene with physical force if she has food in her mouth that will make her ill. I only pick her up if I have to, and I am gentle when I do so because I know she is grumpy, and does not like to be held. I feel sorry for her, but at the same time feel very fustrated with her attitude.

I did not come here to be attacked, especially about my decision to declaw, but to share fustrations, and see if anyone had pratical advice.
post #5 of 13
We too adopted a kitten (Aiden) from a shelter that I volunteer at when he was 8 weeks old. This is our first shelter cat. Right from the start I could see he was quite different from most other cats I had dealt with. He was extremely rambunctious, even for a kitten. He would also go after any and all table food like a starving wolf! He scratched everything when we first got him, as all cats do. But like our other cats we set about training him on a scratching post immediately. He was very, very, very difficult to train. It took him 3 times as long to catch on and we had to go through about 6 different scratching post materials to find one he would actually scratch. But we finally hit on the right one and with a LOT of patience I am happy to report that he now scratches only his post. He also bites a tad too much and loves to chew. His chewing behavior is very destructive, and to this day we continue to battle the problem. He has calmed down on the food aggression quite a bit, but he still loves to steal himself treats whenever possible and requires much patience on our part when we are trying to eat. And he eats literally anything. Even citrus!! He also had and still has severe abandonment issues. When we first got him we literally could not leave him alone for more than 5 minutes or he would get very stressed out and start to scream. But we tried to work on this with him too. Now we can leave him for several hours, but not much longer or he does destroy something because he is insecure. And we don't dare leave him overnight! :\\ But, we have tried to shower him with nothing but love. Yes, you could say he his quite spoiled now. He is a royal pain sometimes and has been so very trying at times, but he is a living doll and we just adore him! I also would never dream of bringing him back to the shelter because I know that there are a lot of people out there who would not have the patience for him and he would most likely be mistreated and returned time and again. I hope that with love, patience and time you can discover and enjoy the unique and special friend you have in your life. :-D
post #6 of 13
Let me see if I have the facts straight. You would never declaw a cat but you have 3 that are? You studied animal psychology and you couldn't figure a way to work around your cat's normal behavior instead you had her toes cut off? You gave a 5 year old boy a kitten and then reacted badly when the kitten bit and scratched?

If you came here hoping to find pro-declaw people you fell on the wrong board.

Read our board rules #3 is posted here:

The majority of our forum members are anti-declaw. Please do not declaw your cat. Declawing is a cruel and unnecessary procedure that is outlawed in most Western countries. It causes the cat tremendous pain and often leads to major behavioral problems. Please note that the majority of cat owners find declawing to be very offensive. We encourage open discussion on all issues, but if you support declawing on the forums, expect some harsh criticism. Please learn more about alternatives for declawing here. We hope your time with us will change your views on this very sensitive issue. Hopefully, those of you with claw-related problems will find solutions by spending time in our Behavior Forum.

Again, you are giving this cat human attributes and they do not react like we do. If they pee on our items, it is not to get back at us, it is to calm themselves down from stress in their life. If you cat is vomiting as much as you say it is, then you need to take it to the vet and have some blood work done to find out why.
post #7 of 13
hissy, that bothered me too. I have a 5 yr. old son, and he's very gentle with Willie. BUT! I would NOT give him a cat, much less a tiny kitten! They are not made by Fisher-Price, and a kid who thinks "this is MY cat!"... uh-uh, no way. And saying a cat is doing things with malice? Look, you don't want this cat. Frankly, this is one of those "if you have to ask..." situations. Find a different no-kill shelter where someone else can work with kitty on his problems.
post #8 of 13
Or if you live in Oregon, I will take the cat. I have a friend that has dedicated her life to declawed "behavior driven" cats. This just makes me really sad for that kitten.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
I did not hand my son a kitten on a silver platter and say "here kid, do what you want to it". He is not responsible for her care giving, he is a child, nor was he allowed to play unsupervised with her, when he was that young, nor has he EVER harmed her intintionally or unintintionally. I have seen people's children treat animals like toys, and that is not the case in my home. He is the only one in the house that this cat actually seems to like. Her biting of my children, like I said before, has been totally UNPROVOKED. He was not even allowed to pick her up until we had her for over a month, and even then only with permission and supervision.

I did not come here to find "pro-declaw" people, as you put it. The youngest of my other cats only started scratching the furniture, after seeing the example the the oldest cat was setting, the third cat did not scratch very often at first, but started to scratch regularly after baths. Like I said before ALTERNATIVE METHODS DID NOT WORK IN MY CASE. Sisel rope, smooth cardboard, corrogated cardboard, plush carpet, shag carpet, berber carpet, corderoy, fabric, wicker, rawhide, suede leather, you name it I tried it. Skinny posts, fat posts, cat tree, Vertical, horizontal, angled, mounted to a corner or wall, NOTHING was working.

I did not want one cat to be defenseless against her fellow felines, by being the only one without claws, but the DECIDING factor was that they all were scratching in innapropriate places.

I never declawed a cat prior to the three I own now, who went in at the same time, and never thought I would. Alternative measures have always worked in the past for other cats I owned, but unfortunately did not work this time. I don't allow my cats to go outside, and provide them with more care than most people.

I do not know why the cat vomits, not because I haven't taken her in for tests, but because testing and X-Rays showed absolutely nothing. The most probable cause is either an imbalance in her stomach chemistry (similiar to lactose intolerance), or an obstruction undetected in X-Rays. I could do exploritory surgery, or just keep her from eating foods that make her sick. What one do you think makes more sense?
post #10 of 13
Well, we can all sit here and give suggestions, but we are not vets.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from the sounds of it, you do not want to keep this cat. If this is the case, please take the time and dedication to rehome it to a proper home who will deal with this cats issues.

Please tell us where you live, so that maybe we can assist you in finding someone who is qualified and has the time to take this animal in. Surely any kill shelter you send her to, and give them the info you have given us, I bet she would be put down.

If you are worried about inapropriate scratching, then cats are not the pet for you.

The behavoir issues run deep with this cat, I have owned and taken care of cats just like this, and possibly much worse, and I can tell you that you can not change all of them. And when that happens, they have to be allowed to live in an enviroment where they can be the only cat they know how to be.

If your other cats don't have behavorial issues, then why are you worried about one cat being defenceless against your others? It doesn't work that way, all normal healthy pet cats are not out to get eachother.

If you have done so much research, then you would know the best alternative for her would to have been to rehome her to a qualified person, instead of declawing her.

Cats can tell if their owner is upset, if they are unwelcomed in a house hold, I'm sure knowing this doesn't make it any easier for this cat of yours.
You have already gotten you answer from several of us, please do what's right by this cat, and in turn you can also get her "out of your hair".
post #11 of 13
i have to agree, please dont subject this cat to further stress.
post #12 of 13
I have a simple answer to your question. Yes, the cat should go back to the shelter or to a rescue organization.

In your first post, you explained a lot of unacceptable behaviours. What makes these unacceptable is the situation this cat has been put in. I do not think that you knowingly did a thing wrong, you have done what you think is best for this poor cat. And the cat has not responded in a way that makes is a suitable member of your household.

I would suggest that this cat can find a successful home with someone who
1. has no other pets
2. has no young children
3. has the necessary time to supervise and train the cat (or, as I seem to do, adapt their life to the cat's temperament)and
4. has a lifestyle that permits more rigid control over food availability.

I think that a lot of responses here focussed on the declawing issue, which you will have realized is a hot button on this forum. However, there is not much to be gained now with saying that you should not have done that.

Your cat will do well in a household that does not subject it to the stress that triggers these behaviours, or in a household where the behaviours are not a problem. This seems to me to be a case where the home simply does not match the needs of the cat. No fault on either side, you are not a bad cat owner, and this is not a bad cat. You are just not compatible.
post #13 of 13
It has become apparent to the administrators of TCS that this thread has become too emotionally charged for any further productive discussion to take place. We have decided to lock this thread to any additional posts. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation. If there are any questions about the action being taken, please feel free to contact a moderator of this forum using Private Messaging. Thank you!
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