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Problem Cat

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm a new poster here and am in need of some advise.

My wife and I got our first cat together about six years ago. We named the little female Bailey and we were very pleased with her. The first night she snuggled into bed with us and just sort of ran around doing all sorts of cute kitten things.

As she got a little older, she began developing a little more of an attitude. We'd play with her with string and she'd get so wound up that she'd feel the need to bite. It didn't break the skin but you could tell she was mad. Her little head would :censor::censor::censor::censor: to one side and she'd stalk towards you to bite. If she couldn't bite the person that had made her angry she'd literally seek out the other person and bite them. Thus mollified she'd stalk off and do her own thing again.

At about 5 months she started to claw. We gave her a scratching post which she largely ignored in favor of the couch or carpet and then she worked up to clothing. We consulted with the vet and they recommended a number of things including trying to make loud noises out of her range of vision so she didn't know we were the ones doing it or squirting her with the water bottle.

Didn't work, in fact, squirting her with a water bottle seemed to enrage her. She'd start hissing and stalking us and clawing us when the opportunity came available.

I must admit, I was concerned at this point and we grudgingly decided to have her front claws removed. I'm not fond of this option and in truth would never do it again nor would I advise anyone to do it. It was a really traumatic experience for everyone involved. She also began to bite more frequenly now that she couldn't pull a Zorro on us.

At this point, we got another cat. A male named Archie. Archie was like the anti-Bailey. He was so laid back that when I first met him I thought he was sick. Bailey and Archie absolutely loved one another and we thought that maybe she'd take out some of her rougher instincts on him. He didn't seem to mind and was better equipped to physically handle her as when she got completely out of line. On such occasions, he'd pin her and rip out some hair. This apparently got his point across.

Unfortunately, she was still uber aggressive to us and began to get more so. We consulted the vet again and we tried kitty Prozac. Almost no effect whatsoever. We brought in a cat behaviorist and she stated that we do in fact have an aggressive cat. She suggested the water bottle again. Problem, you can literally soak Bailey with the water bottle and it makes her insane with rage.

Things came to a head when my wife became pregnant and Bailey began to try and attack her. She would fly into rages. We entertained getting rid of her but who would want such an animal. Despite her temperment towards us, she was even worse to strangers. The vet has hostile cat written with stars all over the top of Bailey's chart. On one visit to the vet she had to be gassed to calm her down.

When our son was born she calmed down. She seemed a little better temperment wise and we thought we'd be set. Unfortunately, as soon as our son became mobile she began to get aggressive again. I'd understand if he'd go after her but he doesn't. He'll walk by her and she lunges and bats at him. She sits under the bed and hisses and lunges at us too. In fact, the only time she's pleasant is at night when we hop into bed and she wants to snuggle or when everything is sitting in a chair across the room and is not moving at all.

She lunged at the boy again yesterday and was vicious today and we're unfortunately faced with the fact that she may have to be destroyed. We've called all the no-kill animal shelters in the area and no one has room. I'm not sure I'd feel right turning her over to someone who doesn't know what she's capable of.

I'm posting here as more of a last resort. Is there anyone, I mean anyone, with any thoughts or insights? I'm faced with having the cat destroyed and I feel like I'm completely betraying a family member. Granted she's a psychotic unpleasant family member but I'm concious of the fact that I'm the one who raised her.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
post #2 of 16
I am moving this to the Behavior Forum so that the behavior experts will be sure to see it.
post #3 of 16
It looks to me like you have two separate but related problems:
1. Bailey becomes overly stimulated easily.
2. Bailey becomes aggressive when overstimulated.

The first thing I would do would be to invest in a Feliway Comfort Zone plug-in. This diffuses a friendly cat pheremone which calms agitated cats. If your house is large, I would invest in several.

The next thing to do will take some detective work. You and your wife should watch Bailey closely to determine what behaviors signal that she has become overly stimulated. Sometimes these behaviors are very subtle, but ALL cats will do something that signals that they are getting too much stimulation. One of my cats who has a similar aggression problem will twitch just the very tip of his tail when he has had too much. Another of my cats rarely becomes overly stimulated, but when she does, she always turns to look at my face and her pupils are very wide. Some cats may lay their ears back or forward, some may twitch their skin. The list goes on and on. I guarantee you 100% that Bailey does something to signal overstimulation, so your task is to determine what this signal is.

Okay, now that you know her signal, figure out what is going on around her when she gives the signal. Is she being petted? Is the baby running around? Is there a loud noise inside or out? Determine what is happening around her that overwhelms her so much.

So, now that you know her signals and know what makes her feel overly stimulated, it is time to modify her environment so that she is no longer pushed to aggression. For example, immediately upon seeing her signal STOP doing whatever you are doing. If that doesn't calm her down, try to distract her by tossing a little fur mouse or ball across her field of vision. This will allow her to vent her aggression without attacking you or your child. Also, once you get a hang of when she is overwhelmed, you will be able to change things to keep her from ever getting that overly stimulated again. (Such as only petting for a few moments at a time.)

You might also try getting some liquid St. John's Wort and putting some on her food daily (as long as the vet okays this). It will take a couple of weeks before it kicks in, but it should help calm her.

It takes work, but you can modify this kind of behavior.

Good luck!
post #4 of 16
I would try flower essences

post #5 of 16
I second the notion of using Feliway. I've seen the spray be very effective although the plug-in is effective too. One of my adopters (I adopt out cats for kittkykind in nyc)had a cat that stalked and bit her at random times, and within 2 hours of spraying feliway wherever her cat sat or slept the agression was gone, and gone for good. Not everyone will have that dramatic an effect, but I'd try it. Pet stores carry it and you can get it online. Do a google search on feliway.
post #6 of 16

I read your post with growing sadness for you and your cat. I wonder where you are located? Just the state please? I work with problematic cats all the time, and if you are in my state, I would take her from her.

She had aggressive tendencies early on and unfortunately because of the declawing, this procedure just made her tendencies worse. She sounds like a high energy, high maintenance kind of cat who has been to stressed out in her short life to deal with all the changes.

Ideally, she belongs in a special needs home, with just one person who can devote time and attention to her needs and help her get along and have a comfortable life.

The feliway plug in may or may not work for her, but you can at least give it a try. Also has she been spayed? Has the vet checked for neurological damage with her yet? High energy cats are prone to getting into trouble and falling (they don't always land on their feet) and injuring themselves.

Put the water bottle away please, that causes more problems then it ever solves. A deep resonating hiss from you will startle her out of any behavior.

Does she have cat condos? Though, she can't really climb sans front claws, you could get a small one that she could leap up on and feel safe.

I would also suggest you make her a ball bin. It is really easy to make and helps a high energy stressed out cat take off a lot of aggression. Get a very large cardboard box and cut the flaps off it. Make some large doors in the side of the cardboard (off the floor level) big enough that she can get in and out of easily. Throw about 3 ping pong balls inside the box and show her where it is. She should do the rest.
post #7 of 16
Any updates?? I really hope this works out for Bailey AND for ur family. Pls keep us updated..
post #8 of 16
gee I am sorry to read this post, any news on Bailey? Please don't give up before trying some of the suggestions already given...
post #9 of 16
Maybe you can try to take your cat for some Reiki. It's quite effective for calming cats. But if you have problems with taking her to a vet then you had probably ask a practitioner to come to you instead.
post #10 of 16
I'm sorry to hear about the problem with you cat. IMO, if you're really worried the cat will harm the baby and take it to a no kill shelter it is best. They don't have to lie to prospective owners. Usually what they do is adopt them to someone with no children.

I adopted my kitty about 7 months ago. She had been declawed (front) by her first family and she bites. The humane society had a file on each cat and Peaches' file mentioned biting and that she needs a family without children. That was me! And I'm not sorry. Peaches has become predictable and I know when she's pissed off and about to bite! So if you do end up having to give your cat up to a no kill shelter, don't worry. They will find an appropriate home.

post #11 of 16
Instead of starting a new thread, I will ask for help here as it is along the same lines.
My new baby is a biter and clawer(?) from the very day I got him. He is a very high energy cat I think. He does not like to be held or petted unless it is his idea. And that doesn't happen often. Most of the time he is racing around the house, climing anything and everything he can to my consternation.Thank heavens for Teako as he takes most of the brunt of this play. I was wondering if he will outgrow this. He has calmed down some. For a day or two after the neuter he was a very mellow kitty. But now he is back to demon cat. :goodbad:
post #12 of 16
Hissy and I just created a new thread which focuses on stopping aggression toward people. Please click here to read lots of ideas on how to get your wild child to be a little less aggressive.
post #13 of 16
Thank you. Will try the flower remedies.
post #14 of 16
Ok, all you wonderful, smart people. I have the Rescue Remedy. Now how do I get it into a cat????
post #15 of 16
LOL!!!! You can put the drops in their water bowl. But if you want to target only one cat, I find it easiest to mix the drops into about a teaspoon of their favorite canned food. Mix it with only a small amount of food so they will eat the whole amount.
post #16 of 16
Another senior moment!!I finally realized that I could do that as I do have some canned food that is really smelly and should hide the medicine and remedy.
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