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Sadie attacks

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have a 7 month old calico that I adopted from the Humane Society
2 1/2 months ago. All I was told about her was that she was given up because she didn't get along with the little girl she lived with. About 3 weeks ago she started attacking me when I was lying on the couch, especially if I fell asleep. She normally wakes me up a couple f times a night too but she started to jump on my face and grab my head and start biting the back of it (while I'm sleeping!). I started keeping her in a crate at night which seemed to work okay for both of us. Now she will stalk me and attack by grabbing my leg and biting as hard as she can. I tried water, clapping and walking away. nothing works and she keeps attacking repeatedly sometimes lunging 4 times in a row. HELP!
post #2 of 10
This might sound off the wall, but I'd take her to the vet to see if there is a chemical imbalance. Although I've never experience it myself, I've seen it in dogs (greyhounds mostly) where they get weird when they have a Thyroid imbalance. Just a thought. If not, I'd call a behaviorist (Anne hope you can help with this part).

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have been thinking of getting her checked out. I've been asking all kinds of cat owners about this (Sadie's my first cat) and no one has ever experienced this. It's like someone flips a switch in her head and she goes into attack mode. I also thought it might be that my job hours got a little longer and that was upsetting her. My parents and friends think I should take her back but I'm afraid no one will want an aggressive kitty and don't want her to be euthanized--she's real sweet most of the time and I love everything about her when she's not attacking--I'd hate to give her up if this is fixable.
post #4 of 10
Please don't give up on her and give it a try. First, get her to the vet like I suggested earlier. Complete check-up with blood work is necessary. After that, if all is well, contact a behaviorist. I'm sure she'll be a good girl.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks Frannie, I'll take her this weekend and see how it goes
post #6 of 10
We cared for a feral cat who was exactly the same way...the sweetest angel most of the time, but then out of the blue he would attack so violently that I had to go to the doctor for a tetanus shot and antibiotics. We named him Spike The Killer Cat From Hell. I will share what seemed to work for Spike.

First, as Frannie said, take your girl to the vet. It is likely that she has some sort of medical problem that is causing this behavior.

If it is not medical, then try this....

Talk to your vet about putting your girl on Prozac or St. John's Wort. Do not use valium as it may make her more aggressive and will cause her to be drunk and woozy. The St. John's Wort is best (if you can find the liquid) because it has no uncomfortable side effects (Prozac usually causes a queezy tummy and general yucky feelings for a few weeks, though these side effects typically go away fairly quickly). Note that it may take up to three weeks before these medications kick in AND note that you MUST give the meds to her EVERY DAY.

But....don't stop with the medication. You also need to modify her behavior -- that is, you need to help her learn that attacking is not acceptable.

In order to modify her behavior you need to follow the following steps:

1. Most importantly...learn her pre-attack signals. All cats will do some specific behavior right before an attack. Some cats twitch their tails quickly, some lay back or perk forward their ears, some make a little growl, and almost all will dilate their eyes just before an attack. Watch carefully to see what your cat does before an attack. Since she attacks when you are sleeping I strongly encourage you to keep her out of your room (or in the cage) during this process.

2. Now that you know what she does immediately before an attack, you will have to keep a careful eye on her whenever she is around. The very instant you see her do her pre-attack behavior IMMEDIATELY grab her by the scruff of the neck (she can't attack if you have her firmly by the scruff) and then put your other hand under her back legs. Carry her with all of her weight on your hand under her legs -- Although you still have one hand holding the scruff, all weight should be on her back legs. Now GENTLY toss her in the bathroom. (PLEASE just drop her into the bathroom far enough away from the door that she does not immediately run back out and attack -- don't throw her in.)

3. Leave her in the bathroom for no longer than five minutes...just long enough to get out of attack mode.

4. Finally, keep a very careful eye out to see what kind of things are going on around her when she attacks. It could be that she does this every time a cat walks outside the window. Or, it could be in response to a noisy car or motorcycle going by. Or..it may even be something like the heater turning on or some other sound that bothers her. If you can figure out what triggers the attacks, then you can change things so that she is no longer bothered by whatever is bothering her.

This will take a lot of patience and persistence. I wish you much luck!
post #7 of 10
Many years ago, I had a cat with very similiar behavior. This was a male cat who was aggressive from the very beginning. Neutering didn't calm the cat down at all. I was trying to work with the cat and correct the behavior, and I wasn't getting any help or advice from my vet. My son was only five years old at the time and he was attacked every day, his arms were covered with scratches. Eventually, the cat started attacking my son when he was asleep, and going for his throat. At that time, it was recommended that I put the cat down, and that is what I did.

I really hope that the people you got your cat from don't have a similiar story, and that there is help available.
Good luck!
post #8 of 10
I was rereading your post, and you said your cat came from a shelter. My local shelter refused to deal with this type of animal, and they were among those who recommended putting my cat down. Also, behavior modification in animals was still a relitively(sp?) new idea, and not accepted by all vets. There have been many advances in veterinary medicine over the years, and hopefully, you and your cat will benefit from them!
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your advice, esp. lotsocats. I have tried the timeouts already and when she comes out of the room, sometimes she comes attacking again--so I do it again. Then sometimes she does not have any warning signs before an attack, I've been watching for them. I've been trying for three weeks to see if she is fixable by reading books and articles on the web and by asking long time cat owners--I know all the signs of an oncoming attack and about petting aggression and redirected aggression. I even called a cat only clinic to ask about theis behavior and the only answer I got was "unfortunately some cats are just like that".
An example of one of her non-warning sign attacks happened today. I was rubbing her cheeks, which she loves, and she fell asleep. I then stopped and was watching her. Nothing changed position--no tail twitch, no ears perking and no dilated pupils as her eyes were closed and she was still purring. She reached out her legs, grabbed my hand and started biting. I have bite scratches all over my hands and arms and recently she'd been attacking any bare skin she can find (like when I get out of the shower). When I take her to the vet this weekend I'll ask about the St. John's Wart and Prozac. I just hope she isn't a lost cause like Lorie D.'s attacking cat.
post #10 of 10
Also ask your vet about seizure activity....some seizures cause aggression rather than body tremors. If there truly are no warning signals, this may be what is going on.

If you put your cat in the bathroom and then let her out and she still attacks, it means that she wasn't in long enough. The key is to keep her in the bathroom until she is out of attack mode. It might take your cat 10 minutes (or more) to mellow out!

Also, try your best to put her in the bathroom BEFORE an attack occurs (or during the attack) rather than after. Many cats don't respond to being put in time-out after being naughty, but if you can put them in when you know naughtiness is about to occur you can break them of the behavior.

Also, if you carry around a spray bottle, a quick squirt of water may break the spell.

Finally, if the Prozac or St John's Wort don't help, please hire an animal behaviorist. They are experts in this kind of problem and will come to your house to actually witness the problem in the environment in which it occurs.

Good luck!
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