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Jackie Cat = Crazy Cat

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have a few questions regarding cat behavior and maybe it will help me understand how to alter my cat's behavior.

First a little background on Jackie (I also call her Kiki, so I might switch names while typing this). She was a very sick kitten at 4 weeks old, found wondering the streets and almost died from her URI. I was working at a vet hospital as a Vet Assistant so I nursed her back to health. She was raised by my ferrets and my little dog, Heidi. She was spayed at 5 months since she went into season early and was declawed since she was destructive and wouldn’t allow me to either clip her nails (it would stress her out and me too) or put on Soft Paws. She’s currently 2 years old.

Fast forward to when she was a year old. We had some friends over. We all were hanging out, Jackie was on the couch with us and a friend was petting her. Jackie all of a suddenly turned on my friend. She lashed out, trying to bite her, claw her and was just vicious. It wasn’t a "stop petting me" thing, it was a "die!" thing. As suddenly as it started, she stopped and ran away since she was getting yelled at. Thank God that she doesn’t have her claws because my friend would have been torn up. She has done smaller like episodes to my boyfriend's mom and my roommate. They were walking and since Jackie is a follower they leaned down to pet her and she freaked out. Yesterday morning, she had another "episode" towards my boyfriend (has been around before I got her, so she grew up knowing him.) and growled at him. He wasn’t trying to pet her since they are each other nemesis. I am at a lost trying to figure out a trigger to set her off since last time no one was trying to pet her. She just does this. Only once was I around when she flipped out. I know that she’s attached to my hip, but I am waiting for the day that she lashes at me.

My other question regarding behavior with Jackie is with her playing nicely with others. She was raised without other cats around, but she would come with me and my dog to my parents' who had 3 other cats. So she was exposed to cat behavior/speak. Last November we moved into a new house with some roommates who have 2 cats themselves. They were introduced when they moved into the house. We figured that it wouldn’t give any of the cats a feeling of defending their "territory" since this was a brand new house. They haven’t gotten along at all. Well the other two are fine with one another, but my cat is a bully. She picks on the one female whose a lot smaller than her and isn’t spayed. She stalks her, waits on the other side of the inside cat door that allows them into the laundry room where the other cats have their bowels, (Jackie's is upstairs and same with her own litter box since I put her in my room during the day to keep her from being naughty in the house while I am at work.) and they will fight. She’s just plain ole mean to these cats. She leaves the male alone for the most part since he just hisses at her and runs away giving her no fight. My roommate is getting frustrated since these are her babies, and she’s resorting to locking hers up to get them away from my cat. We tried the water bottle, keeping her restrained when the other cats are in the laundry room, and we have tried yelling at Jackie when she’s doing this, but you know cats, only one ear turns. Unless you get up and walk towards her is when she behaves. She is has the cats at my parents' house all worked up since when I used to bring her she would bully them. Only cat she’s had any respect for was my old tomcat who I had to leave with my parents who went outside and was the dominate male cat. He passed away last June and she’s gotten worse.

Jackie also picks on my dog since they are the same size. Only my remaining ferret has her trained. She runs away from him since he will bite her. Its rather amusing.

Thanks for reading my rather long post, but any suggestions would be openly welcomed. Any questions welcomed too. Please help me.
post #2 of 12
Well, all I can think is that you need to keep her out of the way if company's over, and somehow keep her separate from the other animals otherwise, which seems unrealistic. Don't know what else to tell you.
post #3 of 12
It's purely speculation and is just my opinion, but from what I've read I think Jackie's problems are twofold:

(1) She's declawed.
(2) She was more or less orphaned and never learned how to properly interact with other cats.

Regarding (1), what was Jackie's behavior like before she was declawed? I know that you said that she was destructive and she was uncooperative when it came to nail trimming, but both of those are quite typical of kittens. Sadly it is all too common for cats to undergo serious personality changes following declawing surgery, which is one of many reasons why this procedure is not recommended. Without her primary means of defense, it sounds like Jackie is now quick to bite and might even be launching pre-emptive strikes (with your boyfriend, guests and other cats) because she feels more threatened than she otherwise would if she still had her claws. You wrote "Thank God that she doesn’t have her claws because my friend would have been torn up." Maybe it would never have even gotten to that point if she hadn't been declawed in the first place. Does this theory sound plausible when comparing her overall behavior pre- and post-declaw?

(Understand that I am not judging you for declawing her; I'm just mentioning some common "side effects" of the procedure and how they might play a role in Jackie's case)

Regarding (2), you had mentioned that "she was exposed to cat behavior/speak". But maybe she didn't get nearly enough of this interaction during her formative weeks/months as a kitten. One of the reasons why breeders typically do not adopt out kittens until at least 12 weeks is because they recognize how important the kittens' being around their mother and each other is to their long-term development and personality.

You asked for suggestions but unfortunately I don't really have much beyond agreeing with what Larke said. Some cats are meant to be solitary cats and really only bond with one or two creatures, people included. It sounds like Jackie might be one of those cats. You can try using a few Feliway plug-in diffusers and/or Rescue Remedy, and see if that calms her down a little bit. If not, I suppose you could discuss her behavior with your vet and she can perhaps be put on some anti-anxiety medication. Obviously that's a big step and is not something to be rushed into, or taken lightly.

Speaking of the vet, when was her last vet visit? Is it possible that she's had some chronic health issues which are manifesting themselves in poor behavior?
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
I would put her away when company is over, but most of her attacks have been on people who live with her. The one on my friend was her first and would have put her away if I had known that she was like that. Her "episodes" are really spratic, dont happen often. Her last episode was almost 6 months prior to her freaking out on my boyfriend. I am almost convinced that shes got some wild cat in her. lol. As far as I know shes a regular DSH in need of prozac. At the same time, shes a social cat. She hates being away from where people are, and is really friendly. She doesnt hide when people are over. She likes to come into the bathroom with you and is nosey about what you are doing.


Her last vet visit was for her annual PRC and Rabies last August. I was thinking of buying a Feliway diffuser hoping that it would help her and the other cat from peeing in the house (Jackie isnt peeing, the other cat is, to make it clear). Pilling her would be really hard. She sees a syringe or smells a pill she runs away. Shes gotten smart on me. I always thought that her being raised without much cat interaction might have something to do with it. I call her "socially retarded."

Its funny about declawing. I never really thought about what it would have done mentally on her since the vets that I worked for recommended it since they were there during the nail trims. You come to trust your vet and know that they wouldnt recomment something awful. Makes sense what you are saying. But before her being declawed, her personality was pretty much the same. She already would bite if she could get away with it. She now uses her back claws pretty well, shes gotten me a few times with them.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
I made a vet appointment for tonight to discuss her behavior and ways to manage it without medications.
post #6 of 12
Originally Posted by Lustra View Post
I made a vet appointment for tonight to discuss her behavior and ways to manage it without medications.
Please keep us updated!
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
The vet that I went to is known for her behavioral consults in both dogs and cats. She believes that all of Jackie's behavior is boiling down to Jackie feeling that her dominate status is being attacked by my roommate's cat Littles, the unspayed female. Since being able to reproduce is a dominate animal ability she feels that Littles needs to be constantly reminded of where she is in the pecking order.

Jackie attacking my friends viciously happened because they weren’t reading her body language. She's subtle and since it’s hardly noticed, she reacts more violently because she feels that she communicated and wasn’t heard the first time. My friend, roommate, and boyfriend's mom must have missed Jackie's message. My boyfriend, on the other hand, since he wasn’t petting her was being challenged.

I bought two Feliway diffusers to help. I was also given reading material on how to redirect intercat aggression and status related aggression. I am going to sit down with my roommate and talk to her about what she can do to help the cats live peacefully.
post #8 of 12
oh thats so sad.
From everything ive read on declawing... it might have been that.
You say "Thank God that she doesn’t have her claws because my friend would have been torn up." but it might be she went mental because she doesnt have her claws. kinda an over compensation thing.

Still its done now, no point considering contributions to the behaviour that cant be altered.

Good look with the feliway. Im sure there is no problem that cant be made better somehow.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry that you feel that Jackie's behavior is because of me declawing her. Her personality has not changed one bit, and shes always been over the edge about her reactions, even before. I brought it up to my vet about declawing and personality changing she said that this has nothing to do with it, even if declawing changes the cat's personality. Working as a veterinary assistant, I met plenty of cats with claws who bite.

Please dont try to flame when you dont know the whole story. Jackie was getting to the point where she would have to sedated to get her nails cut. It took 2 techs holding her down and one to clip. We tried the "less is more" trick when restraining her, but she takes a mile. So to elimate stress to all of us, she was declawed. She was on good pain meds and bounced back really fast. Our relationship is a lot better now that I am not the bad guy anymore.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Pictures of the Terror in Question.

fyi: she cant see out of her right eye because her retina detached when she was really sick as a kitten. She does really well without. I played lots of games with her to help her focus and follow the "prey".
post #11 of 12
DING! The people getting bitten, unfamiliar with her retinal problem, may have approached her (with just their hand) from the 'wrong' side and startled her! Or am I way off base here?
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Could be part of it. Although she compensates well for not being able to use that eye. Its almost like she can see out it. Thinking about it now, my friend was to her right.

Shes never bitten anyone. I want to correct whats going on before she bites anyone.
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