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Help, my cat just attacked my roommate and her dog!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone. I am dealing with a strange behavioral problem with my cat, and am hoping that you all might be able to give me some insight into the situation, and perhaps some suggestions to prevent this from happening again. This is a bit long, so please bear with me...

My cat Izzie is a 2 year old spayed female, and I’ve had her since she was a kitten. Izzie lives with me at my apartment (I’m a college student) and is an only cat here, but she has had lots of contact with my dog Delilah (who is living at my parents’ house at the moment) as well as my parents’ cat. Izzie and Delilah get along great, they are best buddies and they love to chase each other up and down the stairs, and wrestle all over the place.

Izzie can be a bit temperamental, but she is generally a good cat. She is extremely affectionate and lovey with my roommate and I, she LOVES to cuddle and demands our attention at all times. She’s also very playful and a bit hyper, I think she will be a kitten forever. When meeting new people, Izzie is hot or cold. With most people, she is very sweet and affectionate, similar to how she behaves with my roommate and I. I have had several people tell me that she is the sweetest cat they have ever met! With other people, she will hiss and scratch and/or bite for seemingly no reason, although she usually comes around eventually. I always yell at her when she behaves this way, and we have a spray bottle that we use on her when she misbehaves like this.

We recently had a new roommate move in with her dog, a 4 month old Chihuahua/Yorkie mix. Jess discussed the dog with me before moving him in, and I told her that Izzie gets along well with my dog, and that I didn’t think it would be a problem. I did tell her that Izzie might initially be mean towards the dog, but that she would most likely get used to him eventually. Jess has been in and out the past few months, so in Izzie’s defense she hasn’t really had a chance to adjust. Jess has only slept here a handful of nights, and she mostly stops by to pick something up or drop something off. (She will be living here more regularly once classes start back up at the end of the month)

Izzie had been aggressive towards Jess, her boyfriend, and the dog since she has met them. Every time either one of them is near her, she will start hissing and if they try to pet her, she will scatch/bite. We have tried to slowly introduce Izzie and the dog to one another, but all Izzie does is hiss and try to scratch him. The dog is very nervous and easily scared, so we’ve kept these visits between them to a short duration. Jess has told my other roommate and I that every time she comes to the apartment when we are not there, Izzie “attacks†her as soon as she walks in the door. Apparently she jumps up Jess’s leg and starts scratching her, and chasing her up the stairs. I have suggested to Jess that she try giving Izzie treats each time she sees her, so that Izzie associates Jess with something good, but it has not seemed to help. Despite this, I have always felt like Izzie would eventually come around.

Today I received a phone call at work from Jess that Izzie had attacked Jess, her boyfriend, and the dog after they had walked into the apartment. She said it happened immediately after they entered, the dog was still in her arms and Izzie “pounced†on the dog and would not let go. This dog is half the size of Izzie and was apparently scratched up pretty badly (as was Jess and her boyfriend), and I can imagine the poor dog must have been terrified. The dog had to be brought to the vet, he is okay but was given some ointment for his scratches. Jess and the dog will not be back until sometime next week.

I am at a complete loss here, and I feel SO bad for what has happened. I know that cats often need time to adjust to new people/pets, but I just can’t justify why Izzie would feel the need to behave this way. I have NEVER witnessed her acting this way before, and if I had I would have warned Jess that the dog might not be a good idea. It’s frustrating because I love my cat, but I can’t have this happen again. Jess has suggested getting her de-clawed, but I feel strongly against de-clawing cats, and if she’s aggressive now I imagine she will continue to be aggressive even without nails. The only option that I can think of is to keep Izzie in my room and away from Jess and her dog, but ideally I would like everyone to get along peacefully. How can I teach Izzie that Jess and her dog live here and that she needs to at least be civil around them?

I would greatly appreciate any advice that you might be able to offer me!

Thank you in advance,

post #2 of 7
I am by no means an expert but perhaps to start with soft claws/paws would help the situation by stopping the scratching from doing so much harm.

post #3 of 7
Whew, that's quite a situation you have there!

People more experienced in this sort of thing will be along, but my first suggestion is either Feliway diffusers - http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...fm?pcatid=8906, or Bach's Rescue Remedy - http://www.bachflower.com/Pets.htm.

These are both natural remedies that help cats calm down and relax them.

Some other ideas - if there's a bed or blanket that the dog always sleeps in, give it to Izzie so she can used to the scent, and vice versa - let the dog have something that smells of Izzie. Leave them with those scents for a few days, then try introducing them again, but from a carrier. Have the dog in a carrier first, and let Izzie sniff the carrier, watch the dog, and maybe even give Izzie a tasty treat somewhere near the carrier.

Next time, have Izzie in a carrier, and let the dog sniff Izzie.

You may get some bad reactions at first, but continuing to do this until they get more used to each other should help.

Getting your room mate to give her treats is good - make sure she always walks in with treats, and either have her BF come in with the dog after she's come in, given Izzie treats, and given her a chance to settle in, or come in with the dog in a carrier so it seems less threatening.

You will need to keep them separated for a while though until they get used to each other - unfortunately Izzie cannot be left with the dog at the moment

Declawing is definitely a bad idea, and I'm glad you realise that. It definitely wouldn't help the situation - she'd jut get more aggressive, and use her teeth instead which cause more damage!
post #4 of 7
I will add that the inconsistency of the situation probably is making things a bit rougher too. Neither is having time to get used to anything before they are ripped apart again so to speak. It will need to be gradual but consistent.

post #5 of 7
What a cute innocent looking face! She's a doll. Sorry this happened. She could have been just defending her territory. Try starting over with the introductions.

This is a link about how to introduce cats. Maybe you can pick up some tips to reintroduce the dog to her.


My latest cat rescue hissed and swatted at my dog. Fast forward several weeks, now he head bumps and rubs all over the dog for some love. Hang in there. Lots of info around here regarding introductions.
post #6 of 7
I think trying the introductions again as has been suggested by Sarah is a good idea just take it nice and slow

I think the soft claws might be a great help until everyone finally gets along I'm thankful and relieved you won't have your baby declawed Your new roommate may not always be with you forever, but your baby will.

You know, I think too, that animals are like us in the sense that there are people they meet that they like automatically and others they don't so don't punish your baby for the people she doesn't like. Why not just pick her up and move her into your room instead of spraying her with the bottle when she hisses at someone. It's just that if water gets in her eyes or ears she could end up with an infection.
post #7 of 7
It's also important to remember that cats and dogs identify each other by smell, not by sight very much. So, even if she got along with the dog once, if the same dog comes in smelling different, it can be like it's a entirely different dog.

I would have had to see this incident to know for sure what happened. But the constant changes could, indeed, add to the upset in the mind of the cat.
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