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Garfunkel attacking me

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

An extremely distressing new behavior popped up in the last few days. While I am cleaning Garfunkel comes out of nowhere spitting and growling and attacks me with his claws. Not in the "swipe swipe I am trying to get whatever you're messing with" but legitimately AT me, my body. He sinks in his claws deep and draws blood. It's like something out of a Jackson Galaxy show.

 

It's happened twice, in two different rooms on two different days. On the first day I was sitting in a chair and sorting through papers from my wallet and putting some on a table and some in a plastic bag. Then tonight I was sitting on the floor of our bedroom cleaning out tissues and stuff from under the bed.

 

It's not play behavior, and he doesn't sit and watch while his tail flicks or his eyes get big like hunting behavior either. It's like he's somewhere out of my line of sight completely and then runs at me and attacks.

 

I can't tell you how upsetting this is, and you probably don't need me to tell you anyway. It's actually heartbreaking. It makes me sob. I know that he will feed on my behavior and my emotions and I know it's irrational to take it personally but it's like your child attacking you. I would understand if I were playing, or even if I was messing with something he thought he was "hunting." But he doesn't attack the papers or the tissues or the plastic bags, he attacks my hands and arms and he's looking directly at me the whole time.

 

Other than a recent UTI-like episode (no actual infection, just symptoms) about a month ago, there haven't been any stressors that I can tell. Litterboxes are clean, diet is the same, nothing's changed. I haven't even taken down the Christmas tree or done any serious house-cleaning other than cleaning out my wallet and cleaning under the bed like I mentioned. Nothing out of our ordinary routine, whatsoever. We had a flea treatment done in the house but that was 2 months ago.

 

The only other thing I can see different in his behavior is he has become much more insistent about "grooming" Joni, which is usually a precursor to an attack on her. Instead of random fights here and there he is sort of following her and licking her aggressively, repeatedly. Usually I can just separate them with a foot or a hiss but he's become very persistent about it and goes back to her repeatedly. He's not actually attacking her, per se, just the aggressive grooming.

 

Any ideas? I feel so sad. And I'm scared of him now - I had to put him up in the spare room while I finished cleaning because I was scared he'd do it again. And I know being scared of him will make it worse. I feel like we are going down a terrible road and I want to fix it now. :sigh:

post #2 of 18

Hey Annie.  Wow, this must be incredibly distressing to everyone :sigh:

Is it literally only when you're cleaning? Is it some kind of product that is setting him off? A sound? 

Is he pretty ok with you as long as you're not cleaning?

Could it be Joni that's the problem? Sometimes cats can sense health issues in their housemates. Could you try separating them for a few days and see if Garfunkle calms down?

Throwing some stuff out until someone else shows up.

post #3 of 18
I think I'd get him in for a full checkup and bloodwork. Could be some kind of imbalance or pain.
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post

I think I'd get him in for a full checkup and bloodwork. Could be some kind of imbalance or pain.

 

Yeah it sounds like a bigger issue. If it was just a cleaning smell or an action he didn't like, it wouldn't explain why he's going after the other cat as well as attacking parsley.

 

Coming from out of sight and attacking randomly also sounds weird, probably not the kind of thing that's triggered by any physical action.

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks, you guys. I will take him in Friday.

 

No, there's no cleaning smell - I was sorting papers the first time, and the second time just cleaning up the detritus that ends up under the bed. Tissues and that sort of thing. Not actually using products or sprays or anything. It's so strange and painful because he doesn't go for the plastic bag like he thinks he's playing, he goes for me. And he comes up with his eyes wide, straight up to me, looking me in the eye, before he does it. Not like a pounce action like during hunting. It's clearly aggressive toward me in particular. It's just awful.

 

Not sure how I could separate them. We had to remove some of our doors to let Patrick's wheelchair fit through after he got hurt. Only the bathroom and the guest bedroom have doors now. I could keep him in the guest room but experience tells me he'd scratch at the door for hours, likely all night long. He's not doing it constantly like all day, just whenever he happens to see her he'll run up to her licking on her. Which used to be normal but again is just more aggressive than usual.

 

He's very sweet to me otherwise. He's sleeping next to my feet while I'm typing this. He cuddles on my lap when I'm in the recliner. I took this photo yesterday.

 

 

 

I thought the first time was just a freak occurrence, that somehow something I'd done with the papers or the trash bag had threatened him. Now I'm truly worried.

post #6 of 18

This might be a bit of a reach, but could he be reacting to the sound of the plastic bags?  A quick google search put me on the trail of something called FARS, and it's something that happens to cats as they get older where they become hypersensitive to sounds and suffer seizures in response.  Garfunkle's behaviour doesn't come across like any type of seizure I've heard of (At least in cats) but perhaps it could be a bit of a clue to what's setting him off.  Keep an eye out for any sort of odd twitches or repetitive movements, though, since that might be a sign of smaller seizures going on.

 

I agree with the sentiment of bringing him in for a checkup, and it doesn't seem like seizures, but it might be worth mentioning to your vet!  Make sure to give them all the little details too, even ones that don't seem important, since your vet could pick up on something none of us have.  I hope things work out well for you and Garfunkle!

post #7 of 18

I'd bring Joni to the vet also, just in case the problem is originating with her. As we've probably all seen on Mr. Galaxy's program, it isn't always the cat you think it is causing the problem.

post #8 of 18

It does seem to me that in his way, and clearly not a good way, he is trying hard to get your attention, sure wish they could just tell us!

Attacks are very bad, and obviously scary and intimidating, which is unacceptable, I would start with a vet visit for sure. Be sure the vet hears how aggressive and unprovoked these random attacks are too.

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by catwoman707 View Post
 

It does seem to me that in his way, and clearly not a good way, he is trying hard to get your attention, sure wish they could just tell us!

Attacks are very bad, and obviously scary and intimidating, which is unacceptable, I would start with a vet visit for sure. Be sure the vet hears how aggressive and unprovoked these random attacks are too.

 

But coming out of nowhere with apparently nothing preceding it?

 

My cat is a biter and scratcher. I hate to think what would happen to him if anything happened to me, because I'm not sure anyone else would deal with it. But I know it happens in very specific situations, and only those situations -- when he wants something and doesn't get it, or when he's prevented from doing something he wants to do. (But knows he shouldn't be doing.)

 

In other words, he's a spoiled brat. He never learned to moderate his behavior when he was a kitten, and he throws tantrums sometimes. But his outburts are clearly tied to those instances when he doesn't get what he wants. It only happens once every few months. And I'm at fault for spoiling him lol.

 

But OP's situation sounds like there's no particular "trigger" causing her cat to attack. Or if there is, it's inscrutable to her as a human. Also, apparently the cat doesn't have a history of doing this.

 

So yeah...hopefully a vet visit will help clear up the issue.

post #10 of 18

Exactly, is this his way of telling her something isn't right or is bothering/hurting him?

 

I also had another thought of possible misdirected aggression?......

 

If a vet visit does not give you the answer, maybe consider an animal communicator? 

A good, solid, excellent genuine one, call me a very skeptical person, but have found one who is real.

 

There are others mentioned on this site too who have outstanding reputations, tried and true.

Something to think about.

 

EDIT-I just looked at his photo again, harder.

Does his face look stressed to you or his natural expression?

It caught me off guard, something is troubling him is what I saw.

How old is he?

post #11 of 18

Sounds terrible! Garfunkel and you may be suffering from codependency. It tends to happen more with dogs, but a cat that associates you 100% with his diet is likely to develop a rewards-based relationship based on being fed for good behavior and may taint the pet-parent relationship. Whether you give him food based on his behavior is irrelevant, but that's his perception. And if you're his only source for diet, he may be allergic or sick of the food you've been giving him. I've separated myself from the food portion of our relationship using an automated cat feeder. I've seen some differences in behavior more so with the females than with the males but both have responded well to it. The feeder also has an app that helps you figure out how much food your cat needs based on several factors including breed. They also have a really good line of pet food.

 

Many cats actually develop allergies to the food which can cause problems for them. So a good idea is to read the label on the package. If it has ingredients like "meat and animal derivatives" or EC permitted derivatives, you could be on your way to finding out the problem. Hope this helps!

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone. He slept under the covers next to me all night and has been very sweet to me today. I will still take him in on Friday.

 

@catwoman707 He will be 6 in March. That is a natural, sleepy-face photo of him, although I caught him right as he swiveled his head around (I was kissing at him trying to get him to look at the camera). I don't see anything strange or stressed in his face in that particular photo.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by parsleysage View Post
 

Thank you everyone. He slept under the covers next to me all night and has been very sweet to me today. I will still take him in on Friday.

 

@catwoman707 He will be 6 in March. That is a natural, sleepy-face photo of him, although I caught him right as he swiveled his head around (I was kissing at him trying to get him to look at the camera). I don't see anything strange or stressed in his face in that particular photo.

 

Okay good, you know him and his normal face, maybe it was the forehead wrinkles :)

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by catwoman707 View Post
 

 

Okay good, you know him and his normal face, maybe it was the forehead wrinkles :)

 

Ah, I understand! Those are actually just markings. Light/dark fur. Maybe it's just because of the light or shadows that they look like wrinkles.

 

In addition to a vet visit, I'm also going to increase play. Maybe the change in seasons or another environmental factor is causing some pent-up aggression.

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by parsleysage View Post
 

 

Ah, I understand! Those are actually just markings. Light/dark fur. Maybe it's just because of the light or shadows that they look like wrinkles.

 

In addition to a vet visit, I'm also going to increase play. Maybe the change in seasons or another environmental factor is causing some pent-up aggression.

 

Your issue crossed my mind last night while at work and I thought I would mention some extra play time might be helpful, plus wear his energy and change his mood as exercise does for humans. A laser light is always good for wearing them out :)

Any positive time with him extra should prove a good thing.

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

Everything checked out with Garfunkel's exam and bloodwork. She recommended Feliway... which I *think* I had tried before, but not sure. I'll give it another go. Garfunkel has been as sweet as ever in the last few days, sleeping under the covers with me each night and no signs of the random attacks. After a day or two my heart had mended and we seem to have our trust back again. I'll try to be more mindful of his presence next time I am doing any sorting/cleaning of the kind that set him off before, just to see if I can track down what may have upset him. All is well for now. :rub:

post #17 of 18
Honestly his behavior sounds like redirected agression to me. One cat grooming another is typically a display of dominance.

Could there possibly be any other cats outside your home that could be bothering your cat? Sometimes cats see/smell/hear other cats outside and then become frustrated that they can't get to that cat to defend their territory so they take their agression out on other cats/animals/people in the home.

A tomcat's smell is particularly strong. So if there were a tomcat outside your home, your cat would most likely smell him.
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

He did it again tonight as I was cleaning off a table in my craft room; I was sorting through large construction paper cards. There's something specific about this type of sorting/moving things that sets him off. Maybe something to do with the back and forth motion as I pick up, look at, and sort/toss the items? I got upset, but not as badly as before, since I feel that now I can be confident it has something to do with my movements and not an actual random attack. I don't know what to do about, still... but at least I have some more data.

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