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Help -stressed out cat gone aggresive

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi, I have a 6 year old male who is shy around new people but will growl at the door when someone knocks. He has always been a bit aggressive towards people, except for me. But lately he is getting worse. I am thinking it is because I just moved and children have been introduced to the picture. I have asked the children to try to be calm around him and not run or yell. Whenever they are over he becomes extremely aggressive, hissing and meowing at them and lately scratching at them, as well as their father, who he always had gotten along with before. I don't want to punish him too much because I don't want to make him fearful in his own home, nor teach him not to defend himself. Any suggestions on what I can do besides keeping him in my room -- which is his safe zone, no kid area -- when they are here? I really do not want to have to restrict him for their poor behavior. Help!!!!

Thanks, TShoobe
post #2 of 6
How about giving him some Bachs rescue rememdy to help him adjust.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Forgive me for asking but what is Bachs rescue remedy?
post #4 of 6
Well, first bachs rescue remedy is an all natural relaxer. It can be found at most health food stores.
This guy is over stressed. The one thing you can do is try to desenseitise him. Give him about 10 minutes with the kids while they are calm and then put him in his safe place. You would have to keep doing it every time the kids are there. After the first few times, keep him out a little longer and let the kids get up and walk around. Do you see where I am going with this? You can also have the kids give him treats. You can also work with the knocks on the door in this way as well. The only drawback is that it can take months and lots of work on your part. He really does not mean to do this. It is a sort natural defense. He is upset and confused and so he tries to elimate what is making him upset. The one thing most people have found very effective in these cases is drug therapy. If you can find a behaviorist or a vet who is familiar with cat behavior it really helps. They can put him on medication that isn't harmful in the least and help desenseitise him that way.
post #5 of 6
Reading between the lines, it would appear that the move to a new situation is actually new to all of you -- the father, the kids, and you. So everyone is, perhaps, a little off -balance. Children and cats have in common a difficulty in handling dramatic changes, and both are quick to pick up on tension or uncertainty.

I apologize if I have read your original note wrongly, but I suspect that what is needed is training for the children as well as the cat. If you could engage them in a game (and daddy, too, if you can get him to join), you can do kind of group sensitivity sessions, all joining together in a single room with the cat (an area on a chair or the bed or his special basket can be to one side), and then have some kind of very quiet activity -- board games that everyone can join in, individual activities like working on a computer, reading books, reading a book or story telling to a younger child, coloring books for the kids, etc. The main idea is that all the activities would involve sitting on the floor (except perhaps the computer work), in something akin to a circle. Comfortable cushions or pillows would be a plus.

Part of this activity period could include a snack time (also taken sitting on the floor), which would include a few tablespoons of the cats favorite canned food at the end of the session. You could start by giving him the food near his resting place, and then gradually move it nearer to the human group until it is right in your midst. Throughout this period, no one should attempt to pet the cat. If he comes near, you can speak soft sillyness to him, and if he rubs against someone, they can run a hand gently down his back. But no grabbing, serious petting, hugging, or picking up, and never more than a few seconds at a time. Wait for HIS invitation to touch. He may suddenly find that lying in someone's lap or stretching out along their leg and taking a nap is just what he always wanted. At first he should be able to do this without being touched by your hands, but eventually you might give him very gentle pats from time to time to let him know you love him. A component to this game would be for everyone to pat everyone else very gently on the upper arm, for instance, to show how to do it without disturbing the cat or posing him a threat.

Maybe you could sell it to the family by saying that the cat is very stressed, and that it needs very quiet and structured companionship for a while so that it will get happy and well again. By gradually bringing the cat into the assembled children and adults you will be helping him to adjust to the new situation. But you will also be exercising a strong therapeutic component for the children as well. You will be training them in the patience and quiet that is not only good when they deal with cats, but also good when they interact with adults. They will be learning self-restraint and how to be sensitive to other people's (cats, too) needs and problems. If you and the father are into meditating, you could use a part of this time to have a family meditation, teaching the children a simple mantra method or imaging of appropriate objects. Progress that the children would make in learning patience and quiet would also be very beneficial to the cat (my cats often meditate with me, and it has a very calming effect on them).

If you can make this a regular thing and dress it up with special cookies, cake, mixed nuts, good fruit juice, etc. to add a festive component, and play a little on the sensitivities of the children so they can feel that they are all working to make the poor kitty well and happy, then the rewards could be very great.
post #6 of 6
I also have a cat who has become quite agressive towards children. It ends up Jasmine had actually been abused by children. We adopted her after she had been brought to my vet's office. She had been shaved and her whiskers cut off at 5 weeks (yes someone actually let their kids do this to her). She was fine but then recently started to actually charge at my neighbors son. It ended up he admitted to throwing her and kicking her when she scratched him as kittens do. She is fine with adults and gets along well with my 2 dogs and many other cats but when a child enters my home she gets wild eyed and actually jumps at them and tries to scratch them. I am glad someone mentioned Rescue Remedy as I think I will try it. I have read that there is a North American Flower Essence~~Tiger Lily which is for agressive cats and/or dogs. I am going to have to send away for it as I can not get it locally. I am hoping this problem can be rectified as I hate locking her in a room when kids are visiting.
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