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Aggressive Cat

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know how to make a cat less aggressive besides a labotomy? We've tried everything - flower essences, feliway plug-in... I think she's bi-polar, really. One minute she's being a little snot, the next minute she's on my chest purring like crazy. I think she's nuts
post #2 of 16
Have you discovered the reason why she gets aggressive? I think that will be key to 'reconditioning' her behaviour. Does she get aggresive when you pet her? Is she aggressive to other cats? Is she aggressive during play? There is also a medical condition that can manifest as aggression - I will have to go and look up the name.

You may wish to talk with your vet. Sometimes there are medical options that are available but they have to be used in conjunction with behaviour modification.

Kathryn
(who has been dealing with redirected aggression since mid January - a slow but steadily improving situation)
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
She hates our newest cat who was a stray. I bopped her on the nose last night for swiping at the new cat and she swiped back at me! Three times! She leaves the other two cats alone. We haven't given the new cat a bath since we brought her inside. Do you think if we gave them both a bath and used the same shampoo that it would help since they would smell the same? We already tried Brewer's Yeast and vanilla.
post #4 of 16
I sympathize, believe me.
We used to have a cat named Jezebel who was, I swear, the devil's wife. She was mean as a snake and didn't really like anyone except my husband and she only tolerated him. Healthwise there didn't appear to be a reason for it. Her mother was a feral and we bottle raised Jezebel. A co-worker I had at the time said that in her experience bottle raised kittens grew up to be really sweet, but she never met Jezzie. She bit, scratched, growled and once she pinned my stepson in his room and wouldn't let him out - we thought that was funny and so did he, luckily. She was like that from the time she was a tiny kitten until she died at the age of eleven. I guess some of them are just like that. You'd have thought from her behavior that we beat her on a daily basis and starved her as well. Naturally we were kind to her but there was just no getting on her good side. She'd even sit with you occasionally, but you better not try to touch her or she'd rip you a new one just for the fun of it.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by goosehazel
She hates our newest cat who was a stray. I bopped her on the nose last night for swiping at the new cat and she swiped back at me! Three times! She leaves the other two cats alone. We haven't given the new cat a bath since we brought her inside. Do you think if we gave them both a bath and used the same shampoo that it would help since they would smell the same? We already tried Brewer's Yeast and vanilla.

Ok, It sounds like you may need to go back and 'introduce' the newcomer into the family. Hissy has some excellent advice in this forum at the beginning where it says "Behaviour Problem - check here first" on the thread "Introducing New cat to Old". What you have is a type of territorial aggression. Your stray is the 'intruder' according to your other cat. The one who is aggressive is probably the 'alpha' cat of your original three. Bopping her on the nose won't work. Cats don't respond to punishment the way we expect - instead of stopping the negative behaviour, they associate the bop with you and instead start to avoid or fear you and you end up with 2 problems - the original one and the new one. That is why she swiped at you- in her eyes, she was defending herself.

How long have you had the new cat? How did you introduce her into your household? How much room do your cats have inside the house that they can use to set aside their own personal territories? Do they have access to high, percy places as well as safe hiding places? Id on't think bathing the two cats will make much of a long term impact if the vanilla and brewer's yeast didn't work. It would just add another level of stress to your two cats, which is the last thing you want to happen.

Is all she doing swiping at the newcomer? Or is she 'stalking' the newcomer, lying in wait for her and then attacking her? If she is swiping, then that might be part of the regular 'working things out' between cats that happens while they determine territory and dominance with each other.

There is a really good book written by animal behaviourist Pam Johnson-Bennett called "Cat vs Cat'. She has an excellent chapter on the process of introducing new cats into an existing cat household and one of the things she emphasizes is that it needs to be a slow process that happens at the comfort level of the cats involved which may turn out to be weeks or sometimes months, with you as the referee using a lot of positive reinforcement for good behaviour (treats, petting, etc.) and time outs for bad attitudes. It is important to pay attention to the body language of the cats involved to determine if they are really 'fighting aggressive' or 'working things out aggressive' which is different and a natural and expected part of cat interdynamics. Another excellent book to help you understand why your cat behaves the way she does and how to use her behaviour as a tool to get her to do what you want her to is "The Cat Whisperer" by Claire Bessant. I would highly recommend both of these books as I think you would find them helpful in her present circumstances.

Good luck

Kathryn
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by goosehazel
Do you think if we gave them both a bath and used the same shampoo that it would help since they would smell the same?
This method works for me!
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
To answer all of your questions Kathryn, We've had the new cat since August. We keep her in her own room with all the necessities including a nice scratching post that is also a perch and hidey hole. We have a two story home with plenty of high perches and safe hiding spaces.
She stalks the new kitty, swiping and kicking. She will attack her if she moves. Both have come away bleeding a couple times. The funny thing is - the new cat acts submissive but she usually gets the better of the other cat. The one doing the attacking (Lucy) isn't even alpha cat of the house, Annabelle is.
Thank you for the book recommendations, I'm going to go to amazon and order "Cat vs. Cat" today.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by goosehazel
To answer all of your questions Kathryn, We've had the new cat since August. We keep her in her own room with all the necessities including a nice scratching post that is also a perch and hidey hole. We have a two story home with plenty of high perches and safe hiding spaces.
She stalks the new kitty, swiping and kicking. She will attack her if she moves. Both have come away bleeding a couple times. The funny thing is - the new cat acts submissive but she usually gets the better of the other cat. The one doing the attacking (Lucy) isn't even alpha cat of the house, Annabelle is.

Ok, thanks for the details. I think since you have followed the correct processes and are still having real aggression you may wish to talk with your vet about medical assistance. There are a number of behaviour modifying antidepressents like amitriptylene available that may prove useful. I actually have a prescription for amitriptylene that I haven't used yet because we seem to be making good progress without it, but it is definitely there for a last resort. My situation differs from yours in that my cats were all very good friends before experiencing the redirected aggression. You may find that the chemical intervention it will ease Lucy's aggressive tendencies towards the new cat enough that the violence stops, although they may never become friends. Some of these drugs are given to the aggressor, some to the 'victim' and some to both. You would use these in conjunction with the continuing behaviour modification. You can also sometimes get these mood altering drugs compounded at a regular pharmacy (not one of the national chains, though, it needs to be a local pharmacy that can make up pills and stuff) into a transdermal gel that you can then put on the inside of the cat's ears rather than trying to wrestle a nasty tasting pill down her throat every day. Usually they require a prescription from the vet which of course can be phoned over by your vet.

I hope this is of use, and good luck in finding resolution for your problem

Kathryn
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for all your help. I will call my vet and find out what they think. Is there any way you can think of to help get Hazel (the new one) to come out of her shell? We aren't sure if she was feral or if she was abused. If she was abused it had to have been by a man because she loves my and only within the past month has she let my husband come up and pet her without flinching. She's scared as all get out of my Dad, but loves my Mom.
post #10 of 16
to cats men are big lumbering things with deep rumbling voices who make lots of noise. she doesnt neccisarily have to have been abused by a man to be scared of them.

women on the other hand tend to speak in a higher pitch and tread a little lighter. we also tend to empathise more with animals and also tend to be thier primary carer thats why its easier to earn their trust.

i would ask your husband to speak softly to Hazel and to be the one who feeds her.

as for getting her to come out of her shell i'd say it will take time. just give her lots of love and food and she should warm up when shes ready
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
She has gotten so much better with me. She plays and runs around her room. I love this little girl and would do anything to be able to keep her.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Our vet referred me to a cat behaviorist. What are everyone's opinions on this? Do they really work?
post #13 of 16
Yes, if you have the name of a behaviourist and a vet referral, definitely follow up on it. There are good behaviourists and some who are not so good so I can't advise you on any individuals, but the good ones are worth their weight in gold.

One of the things the behaviourist will do is to look at the situation and the environment from the cat's perspective, then balance it against a cat's natural tendencies- what motivates them, what frightens them, etc. - and try to gain insight into what is first of all causing her actions, and secondly what can be done to correct them. She has established a 'pattern' of behaiour and a behaviourist will help to develop an approach to 're-pattern' her behaviour into something more appropriate.

The books that I mentioned to you earlier were written by one of the best known and most effective cat behaviourists. You may wish to check into them and get a head-start on what you can expect.

If I had access to a behaviourist, I would definitely have consulted one for the situation I had in my home, and have tried to learn what I can on my own to try and follow the same approach. Someone already trained and knowledgeable would have made the whole thing much easier for me, I am sure.

Good luck

Kathryn
post #14 of 16
When I brought a stray into the house, there already were three house cats - a mother and two of her children. One of them has always been quite aggresive with any strange cat that makes the mistake of wandering around or (worse) into the house.

What I did for the first few days was keep the stray inside a room, door closed. I gave the stray my dirty shirts to sleep on, so he would smell like me.
Then, I placed the used, slept-on shirts at different points in the house, so the other cats would gradually become used to the smell of the stray, without confrontations.
Furthermore, I often went into the room, petted the stray, then went out and petted the other cats, then the stray again, over and over, thereby distributing the odors of all cats involved amongst themselves.

My girlfriend and I made an arrangement during those days so that when I wasn't home, she was, and viceversa. At least, there was always one human in the house.

After four days of this, I let the stray out of the room. Then, I lavished special attention to ALL, being carefull to go by hierarchy - mother, daugher, son, stray. The same hierarchy applied when coming home and greeting the cats.

A special round of affectionate attention was awarded to those who "played nice" with the stray.

The process was a success - little Yeyé became an integral part of the household in a relatively painless manner. Very little anger, either direct or redirected, even by the aggresive one. But it took full time (preventive) attention for a while there.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much. We're going to try these ideas and I'm definately getting one of the books. Any other ideas?
post #16 of 16
I just saw your thread about rehoming Hazel - by reading this thread does that mean you have decided to keep her? what wonderful news if this is the case. Is the behaviourist for Lucy or Hazel? guess they could both use it?

thinking of you
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