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War between my boyfriend and my cat - please help

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
I've been battling this issue for the past 6+ months.

I've had my two cats for almost 6 years now. My female cat in particular was always the sweetest, kindest cat i've ever seen. I tend to be a very calm, quiet person and mostly speak to them in a very quiet, loving tone. We had moved back home to live with my mom about 3 years ago and since that time, its been me and them.

About a year ago, my boyfriend moved in here with us and his 2 yr old daughter is here part time as well. In the beginning my boyfriend got along wonderfully with both my cats, no problems at all. Both cats are truly wonderful with his daughter. Suddenly my female cat starting acting odd around my boyfriend. She is still to this day, she is so loving to me and everyone else like nomral, but whenever she sees my boyfriend she hisses and freaks out. Needless to say this is really starting to get him angry, as it would anyone. He is literally the only one she does this too. I've asked him time and time again to just ignore her, but now its getting out of hand and he is just getting more and more angry.

After months of this, when she hisses and flips (never biting) he starts yelling and screaming about it, which in my opinion is just making things worse for her. He and I discussed today him trying to just ignore her for a while and not react to her when she does hiss, hopefully in an attempt to regain her trust. If this doesnt work, do you think medication would be a good alternative to calming her down for a while? I can't bare the thought of getting rid of either of my cats or my dogs and I personally won't entertain the thought. Especially sicne she isnt aggressive towards anyone else at all. I also don't want to love my boyfriend and end my relationship over something like this either. The cat is clearly frightening of him. He really isnt a quiet person at all, he's loud. He's tried hard in the beginning to get affection from her and it was going great, she would sleep on his chest and go to him like normal, but something about him now just scares her.

Can anyone offer me any advice or words to help me feel better and let me know this isnt hopeless? I hope I havent painted him as a monster, he isnt. My male cat loves him. I really dont understand what it could be. I do have a vet apt for her this week, hopefully they can help me out as well.

post #2 of 38
Cats do not just suddenly develop an aversion to someone. There's a reason. It may be as simple as something she smells on him, maybe from work. But it may be that he is mistreating her when you don't see it.

Now, the crotchety uncle talk. This may be an indication of how this guy would deal with your children, or you, if you happen to disagree with him. I see warning signs here, not that it's any of my business.
post #3 of 38
Good luck with the vet appointment!

My spouse has never gotten along well with one of the cats (and my spouse and I were together when we adopted them as stray kittens!). I'm really lucky that he doesn't take it personally/doesn't get mad about it. She doesn't hiss at him, though, and never did unless he was heading in her direction. She simply doesn't let him touch her (although this summer she got a little friendlier towards him!).

Does your cat hiss at your boyfriend whenever she sees him, or whenever he moves in her direction? If he's sitting in a chair, and she enters the room from the opposite end of the room, will she hiss at him? (Assuming your boyfriend ignores her) what happens after she hisses at your boyfriend? Does she move towards him, or just go somewhere else?

You're right, ignoring her sounds like the best thing to do. How big is the house? Could you separate her from your boyfriend, at least until she calms down again, and then do a human re-introduction?
post #4 of 38
I get the feeling your boyfriend is lying to you and he's doing something to your cat that you have not caught him doing.

You might SERIOUSLY consider your relationship with him. Most time animals pick up on things about a person that's a warning.

The cat is not the problem, he's the problem - I would not medicate the cat.
post #5 of 38
Thread Starter 
I asked for opinions and I don't mind the honestly at all, I appreciate anything anyone has to offer.

I really don't see any anger or violence on his part. I sorta remember this starting when he was having a heated conversation with his ex and he was yelling quite loud. I had thought for a while that may have been the cause and it just esclated from there.

I don't know, I guess anything is possible, I could be wrong. (I hope i'm not) He lives in the house, with me, my mom and my brother. They have witnessed it also. I think it they saw anything violent about him, they would flag it as well.
post #6 of 38
Thread Starter 
If he is sitting on the couch or at the computer, she will come in the room and act normal. When she is under the bed (where she chooses to sleep) and he walks by, that's mainly when she'll do it. Or in the morning, he leaves at 3:45am, if she is in the closet where his clothes are, if he opens the door, she'll run out and hiss. Most times she'll do it and run away, if she isnt already under the bed.
post #7 of 38
Thread Starter 
One last add... my male cat and 2 dogs, absolulty adore him. The minute he walks in the room and sits on the couch, my male cat is all over him, purring and nuzzeling. I would think if he were acting violently towards the cats when I wasnt around, my male cat wouldn't be so friendly with him. He is always trying to give them treats. My male cats runs from anywhere he is too see him and eat the treats. My female cat will just sit and glare at him from the doorway. When he goes to sit down, she'll come in and eat a few.
post #8 of 38
That sounds like he's simply startling her. She's hiding in a safe place, under the bed, and she's suddenly woken up by movement coming at her. So she hisses to make the scary go away.

I would suggest to your boyfriend that he talk to the bed as he walks by and to the closet as he opens it. I'd say something like "I'm just walking by, I'm not coming under the bed" and "Excuse me, I'd a like a shirt, I don't mean to bother you." It really doesn't matter what you say; the point is that you're communicating to the cat that you know she's there are you aren't planning on hurting her. Maybe she'd figure out that he's not talking to her, just to the bed and the closet, but, unless he can see that she's somewhere else, I'd tell him to do it every time he goes by the dangerous places.

You might even want to move the bed (so it's not close to a walkway) and put his clothes in a place that's not otherwise a safe hiding place (like keep that closet closed at all times).

Maybe cats don't hate people unless they are aggressive, but loudly clomping by a sleeping place and getting into a closet can certainly count as aggressive.
post #9 of 38
if you are absolutely certain that he's not doing anything untoward... & your girl checks out as healthy w/her vet [oh, you might have your boyfriend see a doctor!] then i have a suggestion that might help.
have him get a t-shirt good & sweaty [mowing the lawn comes to mind!] & put the sweaty tee under her food dish. feed her w/that as a placemat for awhile, so she'll start to associate his scent w/good stuff.
post #10 of 38
With the additional information, it may be that the raised voices were enough to frighten her. I wouldn't rule out other possibilities, but cats are extremely sensitive to emotions and sounds. Especially sounds. Their hearing is very delicate.
post #11 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the advice. No one wants to think someone they love is abusing thier animals. It would be beyond hurtful for that to ever be the case. Rest assured if that were the case, I wouldnt be thinking twice about kicking his a$@ out of here, faster then it moved in.

I am as confident as I can be that he isnt abusive. But I guess life isn't always that way. Please don't think i'm being foolish and naive to think the thought hasn't quickly crossed my mind that he may be doing something. But like I said, i'm as confident as I can be that he isnt. and I doubt my other pets wouldnt be showing signs in some way or another.

Its hard to describe situations like this, cause like me, I go right for human error, since I feel animals are innocent and defensless. There is no one that loves all thier animals more then me, trust me. I'd like to think I am a good judge of character, but even the best of us can be wrong at times.

My boyfriend is a really great guy, good father and hard worker. Never once laid a hand on me, his daughter or my animals. He just kinda loud is the best way I can say it. Loud talker, laughs loud, sneezes loud, loud walker... its hard to really explain. Total opposite of me, but it works

Again, i'm not defending him and I want everyone to know I do appreciate your honesty, opinions and concern. I wouldnt ask if I didnt. If you think of any other options or things that might help, please let me know.
post #12 of 38
I kind of have the same thing, except its with my brother, I have 9 cats and I live with my older sister, she moved in with me after my husband passed away. So its very very quiet in my house, we just go about our business we take care of my cats, we play with them talk to them, so its a very quiet life. When my brother comes over it gets very loud, he happens to be a very noisy person, its always been his way, but the cats stay clear of him when he's in the house, he's a very kind person who does love animals he's just very noisy.
post #13 of 38
My nephew has been around my cats since they were born and have been taught to respect the cats in every way. My nephew is at my house daily, so is around my cats ALL OF THE TIME. Sometimes, just from the way my nephew walks (he walks with heavy feet) it will scare Tino. Tino will growl and hiss.

When that happens, my nephew will immediately stop walking and start talking to Tino in a very soft, gentle voice until Tino is calm again and will approach my nephew rubbing his head and body on him and peace is made.

If only my nephew would always walk softly but that hasnt happened.

But it is something that simple. Sometimes cats are just scared of certain things. I swear if I wear all black, my cat Laura, will be scared until I get down on her level and pet her. Ducky doesnt like me in heels and Kiko gets scared when some people wear hats.
post #14 of 38
One other possibility if he's not being abusive to her. Does he wear any kind of colone? Or maybe what he's using to shave with? Some cats don't like certain smells and will hiss and react negatively.

I've had female cats turn up their noses and hiss at certain scents while their brothers loved the smell!
post #15 of 38
My aunt's cat acts all scared when I go over to her house. I've never done anything to her. My aunt says that it is just because I have such a big, heavy voice (my late mother was an opera singer, and I inherited some of that quality; I'm told that even when I speak softly, my voice carries more than some peoples' when they yell; it has something to do with my nasal passages being abnormally large so that my voice resonates in them); my cat doesn't mind, but he's used to it--my aunt's is not.

Is your cat susceptable to catnip? If so:
Make some catnip tea and have your boyfriend rinse his hair with it when he shampoos. Make up some sachets of dried catnip and put them in his underwear drawer, and give him one to keep in his pocket.
Macerate some in rubbing alcohol and get him to use the extract as aftershave.
For his pre-dinner cocktail, make catnip julips. (Just like mint julips, but with catnip instead of mint leaves.)
post #16 of 38
There are some great suggestions here. I don't think he sounds abusive, but you had mentioned he can be loud, even if not directed towards the animals. Example Maia is extremely sensitive to me raising my voice, if I yell say cheering the Yankees on the tv, she runs up to my face. If I scream, even playing around, she comes running, and if I'm playing she bites my feet! kitty!
You mentioned in the beginning they got along great, she would lay on his chest. Maybe she became jealous of shared attention? Someone mentioned cologne, or some other scent that might set her off, another possibility. Also if he has unknowingly taken something away from her that she considered hers..............place to sleep, clothing to sleep on, any change in territory.......
Even changes in your daily routine, especially related to her.
Would he be willing to feed and change her litter? The most personal, daily interaction with her would be the best, besides trying to give or receive attention.
post #17 of 38
Are you certain the kitty isn't hard of hearing? My deaf Ophelia Rose will wake up like that sometimes, in a rage/defending herself.
post #18 of 38
I think the cat is interpreting his loudness as aggression.
But he also needs to take a chill pill here. It is a cat. Animals can be puzzles that we have to figure out sometimes.
He should check his anger because it is only making things worse. He is taking this waaay too personally. He needs to get some perspective and stop feeling slighted. Now that he is angry the cat picks up on this. Add this to his loudness and the conclusion the cat will get is that he is a meanie. If he wants to get along with the cat he needs to change his 'energy' around her.
I am also concerned that because he has personalized this so much that he may one day do something to hurt her.
post #19 of 38
One of my boys is very nervous of men when they are standing up. He adores Nate, but when he stands up Jacob hisses and runs and hides under the bed or sofa. Nate is very gentle with the cats, he can't recall ever accidentally stepping on a paw or tail in the dark even, and I know for a fact that Jacob has never ever suffered abuse or mistreatment. Nate finds it quite upsetting.

The cause became more clear when I realised that he reacted in the exact same way to my dad and to other males. As soon as they sit down he is all over them, but when they stand up he runs and hides, often hissing. He was raised in a home without any human males present, and I think that explains it. He is simply not used to the heavier step of the male of the species, and finds it threatening.

I do find it worrying that your bf yells because of this - to me it's indicative of a lack of compassion and understanding, and a short fuse. He either doesn't realise that it's going to frighten a small animal even more, or he doesn't care - neither of which is good.

He needs to calm down about it. It is his problem, not the cat's, and to my mind, medicating the cat because of this would be close to abuse. It sounds as if your bf may find therapy and medication more useful, if he has trouble controlling his temper.
post #20 of 38
Other than the loud argument he had has there been anything else that would upset your cat? a change in living quaters or some one the cat was famialir with leaving? i mention this because my BoBo was the sweetest thing until within 3 months her big cat sister died and my fiancee (her only human daddy) left us. she got very aggressive and only attacked humans. the first time she met mmy now husband she did this hiss snort hiiss snort and acted like she wanted to eat him alive . fast forward 4 years later BoBo now loves her daddy but still hates any other human,even though, like my mom, she see's quite often. even my land lady who see's alot is terrified of her cause once when the circuit breaker tripped and she came in to reset it BoBo actually attaked her and chased her.
dont know if it helps but sometimes its alot of little things that can get our babies upset.
post #21 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thank you to everyone who has responded to my post.
I really do value everyone's opinion, regardless of it being hard to hear or not. I've had pets my whole life... dogs, chinchillas, rabbits and my cats. I'm also a pretty quiet mellow person (unless provoked) so I guess in the case of my boyfriend, all I can really say is... opposties attract.

So here's an update. My boyfriend and I disucssed this issue to death. When faced with the reality of losing me, he agreed to modify his behavior to see if it makes a difference, which he should have done int he first place. I really do understand his frustration, but still he needs to chill. I did take her to the vet right away to have her checked out, full work up, shots, blood work, etc. and she turned out perfectly healthy... as expected. She's 9.5 pounds, I thought that was kinda cute... but anyhow, she was suprisingly awesome in the office, I was preparing myself for a stressful day. She seemed to love the vet so much. The place I took her is strictly a cat hospital, so they only treat cats and the staff was awesome with her.

The vet said to see how she does with him modifying his behavior for a few months consistently, if she didnt get better there were options for medicition. Which I ovbiously wanted to avoid. He think the aggressive behavior towards him may have to do with her being territorial and since she is a generally shy cat, her hissing from under the bed and in the closet is her way of showing him "who's boss." Also, the change in her seemed to start when he officially moved in. That was the same time, I stopped letting them sleep in the bedroom with us. Mostly because his 2 yr old stays here and I know my male cat would end up sleeping on her face, couldnt have that. So I guess he was leaning more towards her being like this because she may feel he came in and took her place and of course him being just a loud kinda guy, doesnt help. Really it could be anything I suppose.

The first month, nothing changed... which I had expected. The funny thing is, I noticed the hissing more when he came home from work... so I thought of the possibility of a smell from his job bothering her. In any case, he really did make a drastic change. He has been watching football at my brothers so that he wasnt here in the room when the Giants scored (thats when he seems to yell and jump around the most) The hissing subsided just a little, but she was still running from him and wouldnt really be in the same room. Mostly avoiding him, but still hissing from time to time.

So the next few months, same thing... but I will say, she doesnt hiss as much and he has really clamed down and makes attempts to speaking softly and nice to her. I let him feed her and give her treats, still she avoids him. She is however staying in the same room as him. If i'm on the couch and he's at the computer, she'll come and sit on the couch with me, lay down and fall asleep. She watches him from the corner of her eye and runs if he gets too close. She'll eat her dry food in the same room, but again, if he moves towards her, or gets too close, she bolts. She didnt seem nervous or anxious either, just kinda normal. I thought things were progressing, when just a few weeks ago, one night, he leaned over the foot board of the bed to kiss his daughter good night and out of no where she lunged up, hissing and swating. Scared the life out of his daugther and i'm sure really startled him.

Where I am now: I took her back to the vet 2 weeks ago. Explained the situation, the boyfriend came too. The vet suggested trying her on cat prozac, just for a while to see if the hissing stops and she becomes more open to accepting him. He said again, she is a very healthy cat and doesnt seem to have any physical illnesses. I wasnt very happy to make that choice, but i'll try anything to make the situation better. I am planning on just doing this for a few months then weaning her off. The vet said lets just see how things go... and told me lets try to fix this one step at a time. Oh also, the feline-away plug in, I tried it before and didnt notice a change, but i'll try it again.

So I get the medicine in the mail tonight, I ordered fish flavor, thinking... "cats like fish, this should work perfectly!." Of course, because this is the story of my life, she didnt take it very well. Wouldnt take it in any of the wet food I tried, I tried kinda holding her and tilting her head back, hoping her mouth would drop to ease the liquid in her mouth and that she HATED! I didnt even get 1/2 of it in and now she's glaring at me from across the room. I tried tuna too thinking I was a genius and still nothing. I think between the little bits she got from food and the little I got in her mouth, she's had enough for one day and i'll try again tomorrow.

I am still frustrated, now about getting her to take the meds mostly, but i'm also equally relieved that the BF is easing up and sees how much its been hurting me to stress over this. I'm sure its going to take longer then 4 months for her to warm up to him. And who knows if the cat prozac will even make a difference. Although I did hear alot of good things about it from people who give it to thier cat.

In any case, I just wanted to write a follow-up, so that everyone doesnt think I'm this terrible girl who lets this eveil, abusive man run around the house yelling at her cats. I promise you I would never dream of being with anyone who didnt respect what I love the most in this world.

If anyone has any recommendations for getting a picky cat to take the liquid meds, I'd be so grateful! Otherwise, will update you soon on the progress.

Thanks for listenin to me ramble
post #22 of 38
I am surprised that your vet would recommend anti depressants for your girl when it is not a depression issue. Any type of medication will only temporarily alter her mentally without resolving the actual issue.
post #23 of 38
I missed this thread when you originally opened it.

I have cats that steer totally clear of my husband. He has a very heavy gait and he can shake the floor when he walks. None of them actually hiss at him, and they will only approach him if he is sitting down calmly either reading or watching TV. Football games have them heading for cover on the other side of the house. Morning has him stumbling from sleep. Coming home in the evenings, they can tell when he's had a bad day at work.

Something set her off initially, and she hasn't shaken it since then. I'll be very curious if the meds work for her.
post #24 of 38
Yeah I second the comments that its weird that the vet recommended Prozac when the cat doesn't seem to have a problem with depression. I appreciate that you're trying everything that may have a chance to improve your bf's relationship with your kitty, though. But it seems to be a behavioural issue rather than a mental one which can be fixed by medication. She's feeling something she doesn't like from your bf, and is probably getting even more upset now that she has to take medicines. I really hope you find a solution to this soon. Perhaps an animal behaviourist instead of a vet?
post #25 of 38
Vets do use Prozac for behavior modification. The idea is that if a cat is showing signs of fear, aggression, even spraying, the meds will "lift" the mood somewhat and help them move past what it is causing them distress. Then they will wean the kitty off the meds and hope the behavior has been modified.
post #26 of 38
Have you tried Feliway/Comfort Zone? It has really done wonders for my kitty... she is much more relaxed than before I started using it... I would give it a try before giving her Prozac... Also, I think that cats have very unique personalities, and that maybe your boyfriend just needs to give her space to feel what she is feeling, without forcing himself onto her... Just giving her the opproach would be much more effective than approaching her when she is scared... I hope this gets better soon; it can become a vicious cicle... Good Luck!
post #27 of 38
Thread Starter 
The vet explained to me that there are certain medications that might make her less fearful, which may lead to her possibly becoming more aggressive, thats why he started with the prozac. At least that was my understanding. I have used the comfortzone stuff and I didnt notice any difference.

I know its not the ideal situation, but i'm sorta at my witts end at this point. I'm just trying everything I can.
post #28 of 38
I haven’t read through this whole thread so I am not sure what was suggested here. I just thought I would add my own thoughts to this.

Tell your boyfriend to chill out. A cat hissing isn’t all that horrible. My German Shepherd hated my Father…. HATED him… My father would scratch her ears, rub her chest, talk baby talk, take her for car rides, walks, he never once hit her or scared her… yet she hated him. For 12 years every time he walked in that door she would snarl, growl, snap, and bark obnoxiously at him. He would always mumble something about a stupid spoiled dog and ignore her. He was annoyed at first but got over it really quickly.

We are the humans, we can adjust our thinking and behaviors. Cats are cats… they do kitty things, they are harder to change then humans.

Why is your boyfriend so angry at this that you think it would ruin your relationship? Its only a hissing cat…its not like she is attacking his face and ripping his arms off.

Maybe I am just too laid back a person but if my cat hated my boyfriend… or actually, as I said my Shepherd hated my Dad but she hated all men… including boyfriends. If they complained I would just tell them to get over it. The boyfriends didn’t complain too long when they realized I really didn’t care and nothing would be done about it… This was with a snarling German Shepherd, I just don’t see how a hissing cat would matter.

The boyfriend needs to relax and realize he shouldn’t take it personally.

EDIT: I also wanted to add that its great at least your guy is trying, going to the vet and such. That’s a good thing.
post #29 of 38
Sometimes the harder you try to win the affection of a cat, the more difficult it becomes. As long as he has not hurt her in any way and she is only hissing at him, maybe the best thing he could do is ignore her and let her come to him on her terms. I am sure it is a very stressful situation for you, it seems that you have tried everything in your power to have harmony in your home. Try and spend a little quality time with her everyday to reassure her and when you become more relaxed, she may too. It's only been a few months, I think, just give it a little more time and things will work out. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
post #30 of 38
Originally Posted by KRZ View Post
Sometimes the harder you try to win the affection of a cat, the more difficult it becomes. As long as he has not hurt her in any way and she is only hissing at him, maybe the best thing he could do is ignore her and let her come to him on her terms. I am sure it is a very stressful situation for you, it seems that you have tried everything in your power to have harmony in your home. Try and spend a little quality time with her everyday to reassure her and when you become more relaxed, she may too. It's only been a few months, I think, just give it a little more time and things will work out. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

I have to agree that if they are not hurting each other the best thing for him to do is ignore her. Sounds to me like you have a very sensitive cat and his moving in was a lot for her to handle. I think you are in a very difficult situation because they are not hurting each other, but her stress level is not good for her either. I guess I have nothing to add other than to wish you luck.
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