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Play Aggression Nightmare

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I adopted my beautiful cat, who just turned 1, from a shelter when he was 4 months old. I had just lost a 5-year-old cat to a vaccine-associated sarcoma, and was devastated.


Meanwhile, my new kitty adjusted very well to his new home, and has an adorable personality, plus is usually sweet. However, he bites … hard.


Two weeks ago, I landed in the hospital for three days, because he bit my leg so hard that I developed a severe infection. A week later, he bit my leg again, and I bled like the dickens. Then, we went to visit my parents this past weekend, and he bit my mom on her wrist (just missing the bone) while she was petting him, and she landed in the ER.


Meanwhile, I took him to the vet this past Saturday, to have him tested for any possible medical issues. Turns out he's as healthy as a horse. The vet, who is holistic, says he suffers from acute play aggression. He told me to change his diet, and gave me a bottle of flower essences for him. He further suggested that I get a kitten for him to play with. He also said that, if it came down to it, he would work with me on re-homing him.


After he bit my mom, my family and I initially thought that trying to re-home him would be the best option. We can't run the risk of winding up in the hospital again. But we are now having second thoughts, because we are attached to him.


I am supposed to hear from the vet today. Otherwise, I am at my wit's end, and heartbroken.


Enlisting a cat behaviorist is out of the question. I live in an isolated area, and the closest cat behaviorists are many hours away. Plus, they are very expensive, and I have very little money. I also contacted Jackson Galaxy from "My Cat From Hell," who I happen to know personally. But I received a form e-mail, saying that he is too swamped to help me.


I would greatly appreciate any insight and advice.

post #2 of 4

Hi @Alissa and welcome to TCS although I'm sorry for the circumstances.


Before we can help you we need to know what kind of situation causes him to bite and if it really is play aggression

- Play aggressive is when their natural tenancy is to play very rough.  You swish the feather toy and they want to KILL it, and if you're playing with them using your hand they do the same thing.

- Over simulators love being pet but then they reach a point during petting when they've had enough and they lash out.

- Redirected Aggression is when they see something (not you) like a bird out the window and then they redirect by attacking you.

- Defensive Aggression some cats are generally fearful and they easily lash out.


So is it Play Aggression in you mind still? 

Can you tell us the circumstances when she bites? 

What caused her to go for the leg?

Does she give warning signs before she attacks like tail swishes, ears back, eyes dilated?


More help identifying the cause is in this article:

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply. His vet identified this as play aggression. Except for the time he bit my mom, the attacks are totally unprovoked. I will be sitting at my desk or walking through the house, and he just goes for my legs.


Anyway, I just spoke to the vet tech, and we are going to get him a playmate and hope that this works. If not, I will have to re-home him. 

post #4 of 4

Ah the out of the blue sneak attack artist.  A cat friend is a good idea, make sure you get one who can handle him.  The cat should not only be very playful but must love other cats too.  You can also try using feliway pheromones to help calm him down.

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