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Catsitting a hissing cat

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My boyfriend and I are subletting a great apartment until the end of August. We moved in April 1st. The guy has two cats that we are taking care of while he is away. When we came and looked at the place initially, both cats seemed pretty nice so we thought that would work out ok. I'm a cat lover whereas my boyfriend doesn't care for them so much. Anyways, one of the cats is fine and loves us both, my boyfriend especially (they are like best friends now!), but the other one, George (who is a female - they both are), is ok with me but hisses at everyone else, especially my boyfriend. It's causing a lot of tension because we don't know what to do. I can't leave him in the house with the cats because George will hiss at him and attack him. And my boyfriend, not having any experience with cats, his first reaction is to hit the cat or throw something at it. That is yet another source of conflict because I think that is only making things worse and so I try to stop him from reacting like that. George just keeps getting progressively more hostile towards my boyfriend and anyone else that comes over to the house. We've tried punishment and that only makes things worse, but we've tried just letting it go and that hasn't worked either, so what do we do? This cat is driving us nuts!
post #2 of 14
First off you never punish a cat, that only escalates the behavior you are trying to correct. If your boyfriend is throwing things at this cat, he needs to stop. The cat is stressed (probably because her owner is not around) and adding stress to an already stressed cat is not a good idea. You may need to find someone else that can come in and sit with these cats (with the owner's permission of course) If you have to, keep the cats isolated from you and your boyfriend until the owner gets back, to protect the cat and to lower the stress level. Find a fairly large cardboard box, cut the flaps off cut holes in the side (big enough for the cat to pass through, weight down the top of the box with some books and give the cat a nice safe dark place where she can hide and feel safe. But please stop punishing this cat for reacting like a normal cat who believes her owner was probably taken away by you (because you are in the house now and the owner is not)

Another thing you can do is find another very large cardboard box, leave it upright, cut some holes in it as well (not ground level) throw a few ping pong balls in it, and let the cat play in there to relieve the stress. Cut the flaps off that as well, make it into a ball bin for the cat.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
The thing is that we are both new people and yet she is fine with me but not with him. And that's what I would think too, that she is just stressed out because her owner is gone, but I mean how long will that last? The place that we are in is not huge but there is an upstairs and she does primarily sleep up there and I think it is a bit of a safe haven. Although we want use of the whole house, we are more than willing to leave her alone upstairs until things calm down. But she comes down here and just hisses and snarls while we are watching TV or making dinner or doing whatever. When my boyfriend walks past the stairs he has to stay close to the opposite wall because she will try to claw him through the railing. His frustrations and the way he has dealt with them haven't helped at all, but even before that started and after that stopped, this cat just hates him for no reason despite how nice he has tried to be. I mean I'm afraid to have people over because the cat will hiss at them and try to bite them. So it's not about it not having a safe place to go hide, because it does. If it would stay upstairs, we'd be pretty happy considering the way things are now.
post #4 of 14
Does your boyfriend wear cologn/smoke? Perhaps he smells like someone from her past that was cruel to her. Have him change his soap, aftershave, smoke outside, etc.
Buy a Feliway plug in for upstairs and downstairs. This should calm her. She is scaired and stressed out.
If you can, get her claws trimmed at a groomer or vet it will cut down on the scratching damage. She is just trying t protect her home. I wouldn't invite friends over either. She is already very stressed out and that would make it much worse.
Are you using your own furniture, or the previous owners? Your things would also have a different smell and add to the stress.
Please let us know how things turned out!
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks Dragon Lady. We are actually using all of the owner's furniture and everything. He just went to France for 5 months and left everything here. And my boyfriend doesn't generally wear cologne and never smokes, so I don't know. Also, can you tell me what a Feliway plug is and what it does? Sounds interesting.
post #6 of 14
Feliway is a scent that calms cats. It fools them into thinking everything smells just as it should be! It has worked wonders for others on this site! I believe you can pick it up at Petsmart. I hope everything works out for you two! Best of luck!
post #7 of 14
Is she eating, drinking normally and only reacts negatively to bf? If she is off in any other way, it would be a good idea to take her to the vet to be sure she isn't coming down with something, or that it isn't pain related.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well I don't really know what eating and drinking normally is since we just moved in a little over a month ago and the owner didn't give us too much information. But she is eating and drinking, so I assume it's normal. It's only my boyfriend that she reacts so negatively to, and then with me she's fine most of the time. When we have guests, she is somewhere in between with them. And with my boyfriend or guests, she's much better when I'm in the room, but still can be pretty crazy.
post #9 of 14
Then I would venture a guess here and say that he has inadvertently hurt or scared her, so her back is up (so to speak)

Have him start feeding her, and tell him that no matter what don't look her straight in the eyes (cats that are scared consider this a threat) Get a toy on a string, or a peacock feather, and have him sit on the floor and try to engage her in play. He may not even be aware that he has hurt her, but he has done something to upset her, or his scent reminds her of something unpleasant. He needs to gain her trust if all of you are going to be getting along. Find an online Bach Flower Remedy website and order the flavor Holly. Give her two drops on her tongue once a day to help calm her down. And invest in a Feliway Comfort Zone Room Mister, that will help her as well. You can find the link here, just scroll down to Farnum Pet Products.


Also if there is no cat post or condo in the house, adding one will help her out as well. For some reason seeing him, and being on the floor makes her feel insecure, putting her higher on a cat condo, will help to settle her down as well.

Good luck!
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know where I can purchase Feliway in Canada? I mean I know I can buy it online, but I'm trying to save myself some of the shipping and exchange costs. I'm just a starving student, and these costs are all coming out of my pocket and these aren't even my cats. Thanks!
post #11 of 14
Princess I don't know, but I am sure if you call a local vet they should be able to tell you.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just to give an update, I ended up ordering the Feliway diffuser from Biovets.com. It's been plugged in for a few days now and I haven't really noticed a change yet, but I know that it could take awhile. Again, if anyone else has any other suggestions as to my original problem with George (the hisser) hissing at my boyfriend and everybody, please let me know.

However, now I have a new problem with precious little George. Last night the other cat, Sam, snuck out onto the balcony while my boyfriend was bbqing. Normally this would not be a problem since she is not too adventurous but somehow she managed to get up on the railing and then proceeded to either jump or fall down to the balcony below us. All of a sudden there was just this thump and she was down there. The people downstairs were not home or asleep (it was late), but in any case they weren't answering their door, so she was down there for awhile until my boyfriend came up with the idea of lowering a laundry basket down there with some rope like a makeshift elevator. We put a blanket and some treats in there and eventually she wandered over and jumped in and then he hoisted her up. We were so relieved! But as soon as she was back in the house and George saw her, she started hissing like crazy at poor scared little Sam. Usually they get along really well aside from some play fighting, certainly nothing like this. Even today still, Sam can't get near George without being hissed at really agressively; and George won't back down, I have to pull her away. Sam is terrified and George is clearly upset, which isn't helping to calm her down towards any of us either. I am assuming that Sam picked up a smell when she was down on the other balcony, but I don't know. And I don't know what, if anything, I should be doing to make George like Sam again. Any advice?
post #13 of 14
Use the ol' Vanilla trick. Take a tiny bit of vanilla extract on your finger, and put a touch on each cat at the base of their tail on their back, and under their chins. This will make them both smell the same to each other, and George won't smell whatever Sam got into.
post #14 of 14
Is Sam okay? If she is injured or hurt in any way you may not know it but George would pick it up quick enough. my concern would be the fall- cat's don't always land on their feet- how long a drop was this? I would also put some sort of netting or screen up on your balcony to prevent this from happening again.
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