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Rescued Boy Too Wild!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi, all. I just had a bad experience with a cat we rescued 3 days ago. I guess I'm looking to vent and get some support. Here's what happened:

My sister-in-law was given a kitten nearly a year ago. She started trying to give him away a couple of months ago, but we couldn't take him as we already have two middle-aged FIV+ male cats. She was leaving town Monday night, but when she took him to her local Humane Society, they said they would be euthanizing him right away, so she brought him home again.

Now my DH surprised me when I told him the situation with our SIL. He wanted to go and get the young one before her flight left that night! We had seen the cat a few times in the past and he was pretty friendly, although he was a bit aggressive and had been taught to play with hands with tooth and claw. We brought him home Monday evening and kept him away from our boys until we could assess their compatibility.

So I was able to get the cat an appointment with the vet to be neutered on Wednesday. Tuesday went pretty good, although he did nip at my hands a few times, and he also got aggressive (biting and hissing) about a quarter of the time when I picked him up. I stayed calm and expected that we could train him out of this behavior over time.

On Tuesday night, however, he had what I considered a little fit after my husband got near his face with his own face. The cat started huffing, barking somewhat like a dog, sticking his neck out real far and making a weird sucking sound, all at once. Very strange. We thought maybe he was allergic to my husband's toothpaste. When we tried to get near him he hissed and yowled. So we backed off. Emailed my SIL to find out if he had done this before. No response so far.

Well, the neutering went fine the next day. But then today (Thursday) he had the fit again a few times. I started to theorize that it was actually a frightened behavior, probably due to seeing the other cats and the all-new environment. I had kept him in a separate room Monday eve., Tuesday and then Wednesday eve. Today we tried him being out with the other cats and that went pretty well. No all-out fighting. My two big boys were relatively relaxed and patient.

Unfortunately, tonight when he was on the dining room table, my DH told him to get down, provoking another weird "fit." I walked over to intervene, and the cat jumped straight off the table and sunk his teeth into my forearm, then landing about five feet away and continuing the huffing/barking/yowling fit. My DH was livid, but I kept him from retaliating, and he went into his office and shut the door. I went to the bathroom and put hydrogen peroxide on the punctures, then moved around the back of the house a bit. The cat followed me and continued the behavior. I ignored him, but after about 2 minutes, I passed within a yard of him near a doorway. He jumped on my leg and bit again. I backed him into his separate room and shut the door. My leg was lacerated clear through my jeans!

So after a few vet/doctor telephone conversations, I spent the next few hours at the urgent care center getting my wounds cleaned, a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics. DH's first reaction was to put the cat down, but I'm hoping to find a no-kill shelter or possibly a feral colony where he could live. He just got neutered, so maybe after 4-8 weeks he would lose much of his aggressiveness and then the hand-nipping and any other remaining behavior could be worked on. I'm planning to make some calls tomorrow to shelters in my area. Is it realistic to think I can find somewhere to take him? This was very traumatic for everyone, although I certainly don't blame the cat himself for the way he was raised. I don't think DH would consider keeping him and working on the behavior here, as he now sees the cat as a physical threat to both himself and to me.

Thanks for letting me ramble! Any advice/thoughts are appreciated!

Sara in Seattle aka Goldfinch
post #2 of 7
Welcome Sara. Wow it sounds like you've got a real problem on your hands.

The first thing that comes to mind is that when you get face-to-face with the cat he sees you as a threat. In the feral world, anything looking him in the eye is a direct threat and he either has to flee or fight. Obviously he chose to defend himself. The best thing right now is to try to ignore the cat, give him space and a safe place to hide (under a bed, a box with a small hole cut out, something like that).

I know it's a very long read, and Lucky wasn't aggressive, but please read through the thread at the top of this forum, "Socializing a Feral: The Story of Lucky". There are a ton of tips for working with feral cats, or really any cat who hasn't been socialized or has been mistreated and doesn't trust people (I'm not saying SIL mis-treated this cat, but it's a common problem unfortunately.)

Hope this helps you!
post #3 of 7
Please keep us posted as to your progress! We look forward to your posts!
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply! Well, I called the shelter from which I got my two FIV+ boys, and they are going to talk to the guy who runs their feral barn to see if he can take in one more.

I also talked to my mom, and she thinks the barn cat life would be pretty good for this guy. Any idea how I find folks willing to take on another barn cat?

Both the lady at the shelter, my husband and my mom are all in favor of putting him down if I can't find a feral cat area for him like immediately. I guess that is logical, as he is quite unpredictably agressive toward humans, but I have never done that before. It is hard to imagine taking that responsibility.

Thanks again for listening,

Sara aka Goldfinch
post #5 of 7

My first thought is poor kitty. Whoever raised him, either taught him, or allowed him to get away with inappropriate behavior. He is the type of cat I deal with a lot as I rescue ferals, and specialize in ones who have behavior problems. My suggestions are as follows. Do not make eye contact with this cat, do not put him with your other cats, wear thick socks and shoes all the time. Do not put your face near him, or show him your hands. Don't yell at him, squirt water on him, blow on him. Something is triggering him to attack and until you find that trigger don't have all that much to do with him. Put him in a room, give him places to hide, food, water, toys, litter box. Play classical music for him (don't laugh, it works) and invest in a Feliway Comfort Zone room mister and put that in his room. Give him a cat carrier with the door off and covered with a dark cloth, mute the lights, and just let him chill.

If you were in Oregon, I would take him and work with him and give him back to you when he is settled. He has had some sort of traumatic event in his life take place, and something you have, or that you smell like or that he hears is triggering this response on him.

Please feel free to email me anytime maryanne@thecatsite.com and I will do what I can on this end to help him and you.

I would also suggest you get a book called Psycho Kitty- that will help you as well to deal with his behavior. Another good one is called Twisted Whiskers- author is Pam Johnson Bennett
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Just another update. I found a no-kill shelter (Purrfect Pals) with a feral cat barn willing to take him in two weeks! I also left messages with several farms and different rescue organizations, so possibly one of them will call with a barn cat spot for the little guy.

He continues acting somewhat aggressive toward me, and whenever my husband appears the cat yowls and hisses. He must have been abused or at least handled roughly by men in the past. Too bad I decided to put him in my office instead of the garage! I have a small business I need to run out of there, so we will have to think of another solution if I don't find a spot for him pretty quick. There's no way I can go without my office for two weeks - LOL.

At the feral cat barn he would have the choice whether to stay with other cats and avoid humans or socialize. This shelter would watch to see if the cat becomes more sociable and could be a pet someday. It's the same one from which we adopted our two FIV+ boys. The lady I spoke to on the phone remembered each of our special needs kitties, even after a year and a half!

So I'm going to call the vet tomorrow and get him a vaccination for FeLV and upper respiratory disease, as he can't go into the barn until three weeks after them anyway. The shelter would do them, but I can cut his quarantine time down by doing them now. Hopefully a farm will call and we can get this resolved soon, but otherwise, looks like I'll be making yet another donation to Purrfect Pals!
post #7 of 7
Hi Sara! My heart ached for you and the poor little boy when I read your post.

Thank you for caring enough to neuter and vaccinate this guy! Neutering alone will help calm him down a bit. But I'm so glad you've found a no-kill shelter. Hissy is a very special person - many of us do not have the time, space or patience to work with these very difficult and misunderstood animals. I'm glad you're taking care of him the best you can, and that you're so concerned for his welfare. Thank you on behalf of all feral and/or abused cats for being his kitty angel.
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