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Glad I found this site, I NEED HELP!!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm new here, obviously, and I hope some one can help me. Three weeks ago I took in a mixed breed two year old female. She was naturally very scared and somewhat aggressive when approached in the beginning. This behavior has tapered off a little, but she often hisses, bats at me ( although she has no claws ), and tries to bite me ( been too quick for her so far ). Is this "normal" behavior for this situation? Any sugggestions to gain her trust? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I'm in the process of reading all the threads and posts, but so far I think this is a great site! I look forward to getting to know everyone. Talk to you soon.
post #2 of 19
Welcome to our site, I know you'll like it here!

I've never had any problems with my girls being aggressive towards me...to other cats Yes, but not to people.

Since I have no experience in this matter I'll leave the advice to our experts ...we have many knowledgable people here, who are very friendly and helpful, I'm sure someone can help you.

Just wanted to greet you, and reassure you that you've come to the right place for a solution...probably many!

post #3 of 19
Sometimes declawed kitties are aggressive simply because they have no defense as far as claws. Do her feet bother her? Kitty litter can be especially irriating to declawed kitties. You said you took her in- as a stray or did you get her from a shelter? Sounds like she has learned not to trust people and you can gain her trust, but it won't happen overnight. She also sounds like she might of been abused or feral at one time, batting and hissing are common signs of a feral kitty.

Just sit with her, don't make a move toward her, confine her in a room and go in, sit on the floor, take a book and read aloud to her. If she makes a move towards you just don't reach for her. Let her do all the instigating. I usually buy those special treat tidbits for the newest member of my group and I sit down and put treats on the floor near me. Then I read out loud to the cat (who is usually under the bed or hiding elsewhere in the room) Just be patient with her, and she will come around. Has she been vet-checked? Just because you offer her food, water and shelter, does not mean you will automatically have a purr monster on your hands. Some cats just take more time than others.
post #4 of 19
A two-year old cat has a lot of history to overcome, and many of them never get it all out of their systems. You said "took her into my home" so I assume this was a stray. That she will stay around to hiss or bat at you is already proof that she has lived with people. That's half the battle. Most ferels will not permit you to get close enough to be clawed!

Hissy's formula is very good. But I had one cat that I fed, talked to, and sat near for almost a year. Finally one day, as I was watching TV and no other cats were on my lap at the moment, he came up and sat near my leg (which I had propped up on a table). About a week later he actually lay down in contact with my leg. Several weeks later, he tentatively put his forelegs over my leg and rested his head there. It was about a month after that that he actually climbed up on my legs and came up onto my lap. He sat there nervously for a few minutes, and jumped off. That seemed to be the end of it for another month, but at last he actually curled up on my lap and, provided I did not touch him, slept there for the length of a movie on TV. After that he occasionally came up on my lap when things were quite (no other cats trying to take his place; the dogs outside or sleeping in the other room...). If the phone rang or I had to get up for some reason, he would panic and I ended up with claw marks from his hind feet. By the end of the second year, he would let me rest my hand on his back and also massage his neck, skull area, and scratch under his chin. But if he wants to move, I drop my hands and make sure he has an open flight path!

If you are getting hissing and batting, then perhaps you should try to examine your own body language to see if you might be unintentionally threatening the cat. Strays and ferels usually have had bad experiences with humans, and even looking at them will sometimes frighten them. Hissing is a distant touch-me-no warning. Batting means you are too close for comfort. Hissy's quiet, patient approach is the only way to overcome this problem, keeping in mind that even such long-term patience won't work. In that case you will end up with an outside feeder -- a ferel cat who happens to come for food and might rarely let you touch it.

Bottom line, you can never tell. She may never be a cuddly, purring cat. On the other hand, I have had very hostile ferels and strays that, within a relatively short period, couldn't get enough cuddling.
post #5 of 19
So nice to meet you, sosa21, I am from Iowa too! I hope you get the help you need, because I am sorry that I really have no advice to give about this subject, but others here who are more knowledgeable in cat behaviour can help you...and I see several of them already have! Welcome!!
post #6 of 19
Hi Sosa,

If your cat was in fact a stray and declawed into the bargain, you've got to wonder how on earth she survived - declawing is a totally terrible thing to do IMO but perhaps THE biggest evil about it is that sometimes declawed cats find themselves dumped or abandoned and they must have the most incredibly difficult time surviving if they survive at all. One can only imagine the awfulness of it - their main defence mechanism gone as well as their main method of catching and holding food, not to mention everything else they use their claws for like digging and grooming. Full marks to you for taking this cat in, she's not going to be easy, but I've no doubt, as others have posted here, that the declawing explains why she is so extremely wary and scared, also the biting is the only defence she has left and she no doubt learned the hard way to respond to anything that scared her by biting at it. But it sounds as though you are gradually getting on sides with her. She could well be a cat desperate for love and affection and just needs time and understanding, which you are giving her. Good luck with her.
post #7 of 19
Mary13 has the right of it, as to the others who, unlike myself, noted that you said the cat HAS NO CLAWS!!!! That means that she is not at all ferel, but has lived in a home that at least gave her a measure of safety and affection at some point. Declawing is a real atrocity. It means that she has had to develop her own protective and food-gathering behaviors with a very fundamental handicap. She is lucky to be alive. Patience. It may take her a while, but is her heart she remembers a home with walls and steady offerings of food and water and she will learn to relax somewhat in you affection and ensured safety. But don't expect her to completely throw off the terror she must have experienced when she had to face her first dog or aggressive cat without her basic protection of claws.

It would be nice to hear from you about how she gets on over the next year.

Meanwhile, I am trying to integrate a full tomcat (only neutered three days ago, so his hormones are still urging aggressiveness) into a multi-cat household with 5 dogs (one of the a very inquisitive puppy) that already holds 5 neutered males -- all of whom would really like to be first in the pecking order, not to mention one matriarch who will slash any cat or dog (or human) dumb enough to try her patience or usurp her private sleeping spot or eating bowl. Not to mention the various younger females, who sometimes resent the crowd. The integration of a new animal is a study in behavior in itself. The dogs will accept (after some sparring) a new dog into their pack, but the cats have had to change their entire instinctive way of life -- to give up their God-given solitary, territorial life-style and accept constant intrusion and restriction from human, dogs, and cats. The fact that they can and do adapt without too much mental trauma is a tribute to their intelligence and ability to analyze situations. The few who have not managed to come to terms with such a multi-species household have moved to the neighbors' to eat, but their ambivalence shows in the way they greet me when I go out of the garden. But I am bound to respect their choice to be solitary. After all, I am almost entirely solitary from my own species...and that, too, was a personal choice.
post #8 of 19
Sosa - Welcome and I do hope that you will make good progres with your new child. Please let us know how things are going along. I think Hissy and others gave your great advice. Jump into the lounge forum and introduce yourself there! You'll get lots of blobs, etc to welcome you!
post #9 of 19
Hello catspride

Glad you picked up on the fact that Sosa's cat was declawed and that this probably explains a lot. And yes, the poor thing must once have known a home and maybe some sort of affection. How anyone can dump a declawed cat is beyond me. This operation should be outlawed all over the world, there are alternatives like "Soft Paws", also, of course, the provision of scratching posts for indoor cats.

I've had some interesting "integration" experiences, though I've never had as many animals as you at the one time, and no dogs at all for some years now. Last year I got two young cats (6, 7 mo) from the refuge and they were as close as close could be - a joy to watch together, actually. Then when they were a year old a ginger kitten landed on my doorstep and it was amazing to witness the changes in the group dynamics. The kitten drove a wedge between the two uncles who both wanted the kitten exclusively, and in fact they started fighting with each other. It took a few months for the whole thing to settle down, too. I have an older cat as well, the original "cat that walks alone", and she will have nothing to do with any of the three younger ones.

As a multiple cat owner, you may be interested in the discussion group in the About.com Cats forum (link is one of the TheCatSite links on top of this page) for multiple cat owners. I'm sure you'd have a lot to contribute, you sound like such an interesting person anyway, besides your animal involvement.
post #10 of 19
I will check out the link. I cannot learn too much about multi-cat and multi-species households. Like most people, I never expected to grow into the proverbial little old lady with cats, but so I did, and here I am...getting gray hairs on top of my gray hairs trying to reconcile a half-grown male who is still hormonally a tom for a few more weeks with a community that was just learning to be settled in the matter of me as boss and they rest of them as betas. I will be glad when things sort out.

Here I thought I was rather far away from the majority of the forum drop-ins. I always wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand, but with so many animals and no volunteer babysitters, I guess I'm stuck here on the edge of the Negev Desert for the rest of my life -- or at least for the rest of my animal friends' lives.

post #11 of 19
Catherine, the part of the world you live in sounds fascinating, made me do some research on the Negev area, and particularly interesting are the efforts to revitalise the desert wildlife - as one site said, shot out so indiscriminantly in times gone by. Makes you realise things are much the same the world over. I always drool over the history of places like Israel, Australia is such a young country, though not in geological terms.

I sure know what you mean about not being able to leave the animals, I've got the same problem. I'm married but have no family living at home now, a house sitter doesn't work very well with cats, they are so nervous of strangers, and I'd feel terribly mean shoving them in a cattery, so I'm more or less stuck home with them. But they're worth it, they have given me so much, even kept me sane at times. Up until a few years ago my husband and I took separate times away mainly because of the cats and other animals we had like horses, hens, but he is developing Alzheimer's and can't be left on his own now - at least, he'd probably look after himself okay for a few days, but I wouldn't trust him with the animals. But one day it will all sort itself out. I want to get a small acreage area again (we're just on a house block here) and operate a halfway station for abused horses and maybe run a no kill shelter for cats. Hopefully it's not just an idle pipe dream.
post #12 of 19
Dear Mary13,

I want to thank you for the suggestion to try the About.com link. I didn't have time to go very deeply into it -- I primarily use my computing time for work, which I do from home these days, and time that I consider recreational is often scarce.

I suspect we are close in age -- I am in my 60s, as well as having similar touch-points. I came to Israel 15 years ago to help my sister take care of our father, who was in the last stages of Alzheimers. When he died, I was already established as the copyeditor of an academic journal, and just stayed on.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed looking at the About.com site, and will check out the cat fora after July. Meanwhile, I am enjoying your post and appreciate the benefits of your experience.
post #13 of 19
Hello Catherine

Alzheimers is a dreadful disease and it's going to touch more and more people as the population ages. My husband's not too bad yet as far as day-to-day functioning goes (still drives and all that), with him it's mainly been personality changes and mood swings, he's not someone I know anymore, almost like he's died. They say you lose AD sufferers twice.

I'm not quite 60 yet but sometimes feel years older. I think we'd have a lot in common. You might get the chance to come to Australia one day, you never know, so you must keep me in mind in case. Email is berrime@optusnet.com.au

We live in a semi-rural area about 20 minutes from Toowoomba, the second largest city in Queensland, though it's only 80,000 people and is more like a big country town. The Toowoomba City Council is pretty progressive, they recently introduced cat registration amongst considerable controversy but it's a good thing IMO, it has elsewhere led to a decrease in cats ending up at refuges. TCC was also about the only council I've ever heard of that was game enough to ban the keeping of pitbull terriers - always being talked about in Australia but no action.

Nice talking to you - and I know what it's like, trying to use your computer for work purposes but getting caught up in forum discussions and such like instead. Before you know it a couple of hours have slipped by.
post #14 of 19
Just FYI: studies on cats have shown that domestic cats are more along the line of lion prides - not solitary animals at all...

Just a note

post #15 of 19
What is FYt? Do you have some website sources for the studies? I would like to follow up on the subject.

Yes the cats I observe are often more like a pride than like wholly hermit-like individuals, but females, for example, want to be completely solitary when they have their kittens, and won't let anyone -- and certainly not a male cat -- near them until the kittens are 3-4 weeks old if they are truly feral. They also do not naturally create prides as ferals. The fact that I have artificially created a pride atmosphere (with a few untraditional quirks) is acceptable to most of them, but I have lost a number of cats over the past three years because they couldn't stand being in a crowd. They often choose new caregivers who live near me, so that I actually see them from time to time, and they respond to me as if we had never parted. But they are decidely one-cat/one-household characters.

The others -- well, of course all of them are neutered at 8 to 9 months, so it can't be said that they are perfectly natural cats. Up to a year old, they form very close relationships with each other, sleeping entwined in baskets or on the bed or a blanket nest, grooming and cleaning each other (especially those hard-to-get-to places like ears, face and under-jaw. I encourage this togetherness by putting heavy horse blankets on my bed during the day, and most of the dogs and cats can be found sleeping there together at any time I am not using the bed myself.

In the second year, they sometimes change grooming-mates and begin to choose more solitary sleeping places. Now that some of my cats are passing their third year, they have stopped grooming each other and have become very reserved toward each other except for the traditional chirpy greetings with nose touching and cheek rubbing if they've been separated from each other for some hours. This is the same greeting that they give me and the dogs, by the way, which shows a basic acceptance of us as members of the same pride. -- The cats accept me as a larger and rather odd cat, and I deliberately adopt as many of their mannerism as comfortable to foster that idea (cheek rubbing, head butting, chirpy-noise greetings being the main adaptations. The dogs also look on me as something like them, and I am having to try to break them of the habit of "mobbing" me in greetings and planting big sloppy kisses all over my legs, arms and face. I am not able to adopt kissing them (sloppy or otherwise), but I have become stoic about the mobbing and permit it for a few minutes. This behavior is more wolf pack than domestic dog, and so I understand that what we have is a dog pack with me as alpha, and a pride with me as alpha, and all three different cultural groups adopting and adapting to each other like sailors on the old wooden sailing vessels -- you adapted to each other's crochets and customs because a ship that was at sea for 3 to 5 years at a time required that you adapted in order to survive without fighting together. So the dogs have learned not to slurp kisses all over the cats, and the cats have learned not to take offense if a dog bumps into them by accident, and so on.

There is one major flaw in most academic studies of cats. The cats are not personally bonded to the researchers, and they are often kept in cages or small runs under sterile (both physical and mental) conditions. I am not sure how accurate a picture can be formed at such a disadvantage. I think something more like Jane Goodall did with the gorilla is a better way of determining innate or hardwired behaviioral patterns. And then, as with humans, there are a suprising number of exceptions if the study population is large enough.
post #16 of 19
FYI=For your information

my cat is mean to ppl outside of my family, but since she has grown up with me and my family her whole live long she does love us. I don't know what you could do to help you cat, sorry.
post #17 of 19
You have been given a lot of good advice and my posting is almost unnecessary, but I never give up an opportunity to get on the band wagon about declawing - it causes both behavior and/or litter box problems in a good percentage of cats. And it makes people throw them out of their homes (like this kitty you took in) even though they were the cause of the behavioral changes to begin with. Give this kitty time to know you will not throw her out - you cannot give her back her claws, but you can give her some security. Also, using Rescue Remedy which can be gotten from an apothecary or health food store (four drops) will relax her in a non drug way and perhaps help her to get over her aggressive behavior and help with her pain. Because declawed cats are in pain even though they don't understand it because the pain is always there and they think life is supposed to be that way. When you declaw you cut through bone, ligaments and tendons - it hurts and doesn't stop. I hope your kitty learns to trust you and you can help her enjoy life.
post #18 of 19
This is where I read the article about cats being more social than many people think http://www.feralcat.com/sarah4.html.

This site (www.feralcat.com) has a lot of good information.

post #19 of 19
This website looks really promising. Thank you very much for the recommendation. Meanwhile, I am going to add the Bach's Remedy (see that thread) to my arsenal along with soothing conversation or singing, and especially rythmic stroking for the aggressive cats.

So Sosa -- how is your cat coming along now that you have had her a little longer?
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