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Sudden Sustained Aggression Towards Wife

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
My cat, Pinball, is a mostly-black DSH. She's around 5 years old and has been spayed since before her first heat. Lately, we have been having a problem with her viciously attacking my wife whenever she gets near the cat.

Prior to this, she's been sweet, even protective of my wife, even though she has always been a little mischevious and willful. We had a two-cat household for awhile, and now we are down to just her. We moved around the end of February, and there was an attack shortly after that, but nothing between then and the past week. Her behavior has been a little worse of late, and a sprayer has been used to try and modify this behavior, primarily by my wife.

Last Friday, things came to a head when my wife went to check on Chekov, our guinea pig, when he let out a distress scream. Pinball was sitting on top of his cage, dangling her paw in to try and reach him. My wife tried to shoo her off verbally, then with the sprayer, at which point Pinball bared fangs, hissed, and stared straight at her whilst defecating in Chekov's cage.

Since then, it's been a nightmare. She won't attack me (I raised her from a kitten, R is a more recent addition to the household than Pinball is), but she has ripped the unholy heck out of R on more than one occasion, including a 'go for the eyes' attack in which she almost nicked R's jugular.

She starts growling whenever R gets near her, though, whether she's running around the apartment, or penned up in her carrier, which is the only way we've found to stop her from attacking. We are giving her food and water, and letting her out for using her litter box, but at this point, we're both more than a little scared of her. Letting her have some space to calm down doesn't seem to work, either, as she starts growling and hissing anytime R gets into proximity.

We've got calls into a couple of vets, the SPCA, and our local animal shelter for advice, though we're waiting for callbacks. I'd appreciate any advice you may have as well.

Thanks,
Steve
post #2 of 25
I would say your cat is highly stressed right now. Either by illness or environment.
How long ago did you lose the other cat? It seems like the move was a trigger. Are there other cats around? She could see them out the window or smell them in the house if they lived there before you, even if you can't? It could be redirected aggression. Could also be sick? You may want to have her looked at to rule out any illness. (This would be my first idea) cats don't act out for no reason.

I would recommend stop spraying her right away. It doesn't stop her and makes her even more aggressive to protect herself. Get some feliway, get a blacklight (they sell them at pet stores) to check for remains of other kitties that may have lived there before. This could be enough to set her off.

Bach's flower essence's can be put in the food or put on her ear tips. It works as a calming agent.

Your wife should be the one feeding her so she associates her with food and her survival. She will be less apt to attack her. The spraying may have caused some bad associations that will need to be repaired.

Can you put her in a room instead of a carrier? Where she has access to the litter and water at all times. Are you still playing with her? Interactive play can help reduce stress as well in cats. Schedule some everyday.

I hope you can find the solution to this probelm. I am sure others will have some more thoughts for you.
post #3 of 25
This is why I have always thought that having predator and prey species as pets at the same time was a bad idea.
post #4 of 25
Changes in behavior often signal illness. She needs to checked by a vet ASAP.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
We called several vets around town, and they all gave more or less the same opinion: Pinball may have a brain tumor that is causing dementia.

Unfortunately, the only way to confirm this is an MRI, and we just don't have the $2,000 it would take to run the procedure.
post #6 of 25
Wow. I am so sorry. How old is Pinball?
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
Wow. I am so sorry. How old is Pinball?
I got her when she was around eight weeks old in October of 2003, so she's almost six years old.

She is my favorite small black cat.
post #8 of 25
If it is a tumor, there may be ways to help. Has your wife changed perfumes or does she wear a strong fragrance? This might be irritating Pinball's senses. They are so sensitive to smells, it may also be the new house. Try keeping her in a room or section of the house without a lot of furniture, which is usually just jammed full of smells.

I agree your wife should be feeding her and please stop using the sprayer. Under normal circumstances it might work but it sounds like its only making things worse.

Also, keep the pig away from the cat. No sense in adding fuel to the fire. Good luck with her. I'm praying for her and you!
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ondine View Post
If it is a tumor, there may be ways to help. Has your wife changed perfumes or does she wear a strong fragrance? This might be irritating Pinball's senses. They are so sensitive to smells, it may also be the new house. Try keeping her in a room or section of the house without a lot of furniture, which is usually just jammed full of smells.

I agree your wife should be feeding her and please stop using the sprayer. Under normal circumstances it might work but it sounds like its only making things worse.

Also, keep the pig away from the cat. No sense in adding fuel to the fire. Good luck with her. I'm praying for her and you!
Thanks... we've already stopped using the sprayer, and she's been isolated in the office, or when there is just no other recourse, her carrier. The guinea pig has been moved to the living room/dining room.

Having R feed her may not be viable, as anytime R gets near, she goes on the attack, even when R has been feeding her.

Apparently, she has also been listing to one side occasionally over the past couple weeks, and her eyes have not always been pointing in the same direction. Occasionally, she's been sounding off with very strange-sounding meows and yowls, like she's lost us, even though we're right there. She also made some very subdued chirps on Saturday night. Last night, she kept tracking on me even when I was out of the room, despite R trying to get her attention with a laser pointer, or her favorite catnip "crack-mouse."

I don't want to believe it's a tumor, but it's one of a very few things that fit. R's not been using perfume. She dyed her hair the other day, but that has been washed out already. We had a cold front sweep through, which made R's arthritis flare up, but that's happened in the past without any of this occurring.
post #10 of 25
Your vet could probably do a blood test. It's more likely a urinary tract infection, or something than a brain tumor. Also, your wife might want to just make sure SHE is ok. There have been times I've read of here, where a cat starts treating someone differently and that person turns out to have a medical change somehow.
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kluchetta View Post
Your vet could probably do a blood test. It's more likely a urinary tract infection, or something than a brain tumor. Also, your wife might want to just make sure SHE is ok. There have been times I've read of here, where a cat starts treating someone differently and that person turns out to have a medical change somehow.
That is a possibility. I know she started acting different when R was pregnant last year, but as far as I know, there have been no major changes in R's health.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdscott01 View Post
That is a possibility. I know she started acting different when R was pregnant last year, but as far as I know, there have been no major changes in R's health.
This is about a dog, not a cat, but my aunt's dog started getting really interested in her breasts, and shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with breast cancer. (She's OK now, thank Heaven.) But with the other symptoms described, it sounds like there may be some neurological problem with the cat.
post #13 of 25
Has a vet actually examined your cat or have you only spoken on the phone?

Without a physical examination, blood tests and urine sample....I don't see how a vet could come to ANY diagnosis over the phone. If it were me, I would get her checked out as soon as possible.

Instead of having your wife feed her, get a sweaty shirt your wife has worn and put it under her food bowl. I would NOT put her in a closed in carrier with food and wife's shirt. That is too closed in. The best would be to give her a space of her own, even a bathroom, until an exam is done by a vet.

Keep everyone updated. You never know when an idea or suggestion might help. I hope she gets better soon.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well, Pinball's going to the vet today. We'll see how it goes.

I've noticed that she seems to be flipping back and forth between the cat I know, and feral 'jungle kitty' mode. We approached her last night, and she let both of us pet her, and even purred a little... then not ten minutes later, she shredded R's hand again.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
The vet has confirmed that it is an advanced tumor. He said that he didn't know how long Pinball had, but that it wasn't long, and that her erratic behavior will worsen as the cancer progresses.

He gave us medication to help her pass easily at home. I just need to figure out what to do with her remains.

Thanks for the advice, everyone.
post #16 of 25
Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry - how did they confirm it?
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kluchetta View Post
Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry - how did they confirm it?
Physical examination, some motor-neuro response tests, watching her movements, and testing her visual acuity, from what I understand. I would've liked to have been there for the testing myself, but my job has pretty much cut all vacation time for the next couple of weeks.

Even a low-grade blood test would've run $600, but this vet is rather good, and was willing to work with us on a physical exam. He put it at around a 98-99% chance that she's got some pretty bad intracranial pressure from the mass, which is causing lack of coordination, severe dementia, loss of visual tracking, and the problems with her not knowing where her food, water, and litter box are over the past day or so, the litter box especially.

I used to be a medic in the Army - the symptoms are fairly similar to what you might find in a similar situation in a human, or possibly someone with a major concussion.
post #18 of 25
I am so sorry. It sounds like you were very close to Pinball. May his passing be peaceful.
post #19 of 25
I am so so sorry about Pinball. I just had to have one of mine put to sleep so I know it isn't easy. He's probably in a lot of pain.

I hope you don't mind me offering suggestions at this time. As far as not knowing what to do with his remains, one feral I had outside I took care of also died a while back, I really loved him so I just buried him in my back yard. He didn't have a home in life so I wanted him to have one in death. My little one now I had them cremate him and I will probably bury the ashes in the backyard under a little memorial stone. If you don't want to do either one of those the Vet can help. Again I am so sorry.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aswient View Post
I am so so sorry about Pinball. I just had to have one of mine put to sleep so I know it isn't easy. He's probably in a lot of pain.

I hope you don't mind me offering suggestions at this time. As far as not knowing what to do with his remains, one feral I had outside I took care of also died a while back, I really loved him so I just buried him in my back yard. He didn't have a home in life so I wanted him to have one in death. My little one now I had them cremate him and I will probably bury the ashes in the backyard under a little memorial stone. If you don't want to do either one of those the Vet can help. Again I am so sorry.
I don't mind the suggestions... I appreciate them. Unfortunately, we live in an apartment, so burial isn't really an option. There's a place almost two hours south of us in New Braunfels that will do the cremation for under $100 if we bring her to them, though.

I guess we need to figure out whether or not we'd want to keep the ashes, though.
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdscott01 View Post
I don't mind the suggestions... I appreciate them. Unfortunately, we live in an apartment, so burial isn't really an option. There's a place almost two hours south of us in New Braunfels that will do the cremation for under $100 if we bring her to them, though.

I guess we need to figure out whether or not we'd want to keep the ashes, though.
If I were in your shoes, I'd go put them somewhere where you were both happy and healthy ^_^
sorry for your loss
post #22 of 25
I am so sorry to hear that.

Don't go getting another cat too soon! Be sure you've properly said goodbye to Pinball first.
post #23 of 25
I am very sorry for Pinball's discomfort and your loss.
Please be sure you can provide a safe, healthy home before adopting any other pets.......
post #24 of 25
I'm so sorry about Pinball. What a heartbreak.

I live in an apartment, too. I cremated my cat last year and have his ashes in a tin in a drawer along with his collar, all wrapped in the shirt I was wearing when he died. At first I felt very weird with his ashes being here but now I don't think of it often. (When I do think of it nowadays, it's still kind of strange -- and yet when I open that drawer, I sometimes touch the tin and say hey. Yep, I'm crazy.) If I lived in a house with a yard, I would have buried him in the yard.

And this may sound strange, but because he was a rescue and had a hard city street life before he was rescued, I sometimes find it comforting on cold winter nights to know that "he" is home and warm. (Yep, definitely crazy.)

I also, soon after he died, bought a locket at a street fair and put some of his ashes in there and wore it till his one-year anniversary came and went. That was comforting to me, too.

Anyway, if you can, since you live in an apt., I'd recommend cremation. You can always scatter the ashes or bury them later, but the immediate aftermath is a hard time to make a decision. Having the ashes will allow you time to see what you want to do.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. It's a hard thing to go through. You probably feel like your heart's being ripped out.
post #25 of 25
I am so sorry for Pinball, and for your family - you are all in my prayers.
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