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Help! Cat attacking inanamate objects.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Tonight just about midnight my cat got into a serious brawl.. with her own reflection. She broke my wall mirror in half (it was a cheap one) and wouldn't stop attacking it. I got rid of the mangled mirror in hopes that this would calm her. I understand that it is possible she mistook her reflection for another cat, but find that strange because the mirror has been in the same place since I first brought her home as a kitten 2 years ago.

After her fight with the "other cat," she was paranoid and scared. She would not enter my bedroom again without all of her fur raised, but could not resist sitting in the doorway to search for the "other cat." Myself and my housemate tried to calm her. She had no aggression towards either of us, though she did cry out if she thought we might carry her into the room or hold her in a way that prevented her from seeing the doorway to it.

After a while she seemed to calm down. She explored the room a bit and even let me pick her up and sit with her on my bed. I hoped it was a one time thing and went to bed. At 4am I woke to get medicine (I am on the tail end of strep at the moment) and in the time it took me to get up and get the medicine she searched the room for the "other cat" and then after poking her nose under my dresser got into a crazy battle to the death with a bag of shiny christmas ornaments that has been there since christmas. It was obviously not a fun cat "I found a shiny" fight, but rather she must have thought one of the reflections from the ornaments was the "other cat" and lashed out at it.

After that I took an hour to clean the room from top to bottom, removing all shiny objects but her own toys and picking up all clutter on the floor. Just in case she was reacting to some other ailment, I changed her food, water, and litter (cleaning the dishes as well). I took out the trash in case she could have found something in there. I sprayed a bit of vanilla scent in the room to make it feel familiar, as I usually have a vanilla air freshener.

Once again, the cat wandered in. She sniffed around the dresser, and finding no ornaments was not upset. She then came to me and sniffed happily at my toes. Next she went to eat, and saw a bit of reflection in a glass table top which was near her food dish. Again her fur raised and she started howling, but this time instead of attacking she ran from the room and hid under my housemates bed.

Just wondering.. what on earth could cause a cat to suddenly decide that any reflection in a specific room is another cat?

As a last note, she is a siamese with a SLIGHT cross eye problem. It isn't visible if you look at her but it has always given her a bit of a head wobble as she tries to correct her own vision. Also, she has always displayed violent fearful aggression towards other cats, which is why she is my only cat and an indoor-only pet.

Any help would be appreciated.
post #2 of 9
I would ask the vet about her eyes. Sight is very important to a cat and if there is a problem it could be the reason for her behavior.
Are you also sure that she did not get hurt in the first incident with the mirror? The vet could look into it too.
post #3 of 9
Most Siamese are somewhat cross eyed, it's not 'abnormal' for them, but certainly ask your vet about yours. The mirror thing would be hysterical if she didn't take it so seriously. I've never heard of a cat being SO crazy that way - they will play fight with mirrors, but the Xmas balls and other items really show what good sight they have, yours more than most I guess. Once she gets used to the phenomenon of the 'other' cat being around hopefully she'll forget about it, but if at all possible try to keep very reflective things covered - including 'black' windows at night where she could end up really hurting herself (if not escaping) trying to get at the reflection.
post #4 of 9
As I understand it, cats as a species can't recognize themselves in the mirror, so they will always think it's another cat. So her reaction, while aggressive, doesn't mean there's anything wrong with her. I think everything that came afterward is just her being nervous as a result of the incident. In her mind, that other cat could still be around, so she's looking for it. It ought to fade with time.

In the meantime it might be a good idea not to leave her in that room unsupervised, and definitely don't make her go in there if she doesn't want to.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your helpful responses!

I came home for lunch break today and the cat is still looking for the mirrorcat (like you said) but now she is only a little nervous and is trilling as if she is calling out to it, "Are you still here?"

A friend suggested that perhaps the glass table (which is new) acted somehow like glasses to her when she looked through it, and her usually bad vision became clear enough that she understood for the first time the reflection was a cat shape. They might have something, because she is calling out to the area around the table. I will ask the house mates if they can help me move the table elsewhere.

I guess she just dislikes other cats enough to smash all my stuff. Hopefully I'll laugh about it someday. I was just very alarmed by the sudden crazy behavior from an otherwise excessively patient and calm cat.

post #6 of 9
Also, when most cats play with the cat in the mirror, they don't get any response... no smell, sound or sensation.

Because your cat succeeded in breaking the mirror, sending out shards of glass and creating noise, in her mind the mirror cat actually attacked her back. That makes it worse.
post #7 of 9
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
Most Siamese are somewhat cross eyed, it's not 'abnormal' for them,
Originally Posted by gally
it has always given her a bit of a head wobble as she tries to correct her own vision.
I was wondering about this one. My Skinny is a bit cross eyed too but I have never seen her do anything with her head. She just moves slower or I should say more "carefully" than the other cats.Thanks!
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
I will keep trying to convince her that mirrorcat was defeated. For now it seems she is back to her usual behavior. She is not afraid to come into the room and even rolls over to get tummy rubs. Thank goodness!

The head wobble is a lot like a normal cat will do if it is about to pounce something or make a long jump. It isn't constant, but if she is trying hard to focus on something her head will wiggle back and forth a tiny bit. When I first got her I thought it was abnormal but found out she is just trying to compensate for slightly crossed eyes. Maybe a kitty with more of an eye cross has another way to compensate?

Now that the table has moved she investigates the table, not the room. It is very possible the table helped her discover the cat in the mirror. Her reaction to the mirror is very typical for her reaction to cats, unfortunately. She does not ever warn of attack but rather goes into blind panic. I don't think it would have mattered to her if the mirror cat ever attacked back. She absolutely adores people and other non-feline pets, and grew up around lots of shiny tvs and computers so it is likely the reflection never bothered her until she found out what it was. I will have to be extra careful now that she has found this out!
post #9 of 9
Hmm I find this thread kind of interesting... Oliver is not fond of other cats (he was after all a street kitty to begin with), but when he sees himself in the mirror (or the stove, or the trash compactor, or the glass entertainment system door, etc) he just looks at himself almost like "ooo I'm so handsome!" He's never freaked at his own reflection, but goes crazy if he sees other cats outside (we had a feral problem for awhile and he was like "kitty alarm" in the house going to all the windows to check and then talk when he saw one out there)...
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