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Crazy foster Momma cat attacking my family!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I need some input from someone with some experience. I got a new foster kitty Saturday. She is 1-1/2 years old. She has six 3 week old kittens who are totally tame and loving. She was nice at the vets office (with her prior owner there) for an exam and shots. She is reported to be a nice tame kitty, who became even nicer after having kittens. She was nice in the carrier in my car, even rubbing against my fingers. The moment the carrier crossed my doorstep into my house, she began growling and hissing...and has been a crazy girl since then.

She is closed into a bedroom with the kittens who are loose. When I or dh enter the room, sometimes she hisses or growls, sometimes rubs against our legs. If she is calm, and I talk to her nicely, she hisses and growls. She seems to not like hands, in fact attacked dh's hands today-he was sitting on the bed, with her and the babies rubbing on his legs. He reached a hand down to pet her and she attacked scratching him badly.

I have picked up the kittens...so long as they are about 1-2 feet from her...but petting her gets her growling.

The walls on the room are made of weird material so light shines through from the hallway. Today (following the attack on dh's hands) she is hurling herself at the wall as we walk past, and she sees our shadows.

It is so bizarre...like there is this nice kitty inside, but she is so overreactive to sounds and motion. She is also overreactive to scent...smelling my pants, etc. By the end of yesterday, my pants smelled (safe), and she rubbed against me. I had been working outside in the grass, so probably smelled different. She scares me...I mean she is viscious, but it doesn't match with how she was in the car and at the vet.

I go into the room with a towel so I can shoo her, and once she attacked the towel.

She is going to another foster home within a few days, because my kids aren't safe with her in the house. But what can I do in the meantime? What is wrong with her?
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just clarified with dh, he was just sitting, with her rubbing on his legs, when she noticed his hands laying still on his lap and attacked them. He is a farm boy, who is used to animals.

I went in just now to give her fresh food...she was growling and hissing pretty bad. She tries to come out through the door when it is opened (she seems to hate the loud noise of the door opening). I shooed her with the towel, but she returned to me after I was in the room, acting aggressive instead of calming down. So I was afraid to go into the room and take out her old food. She still has water, and now fresh food.

I just don't understand what she needs. Any ideas?
post #3 of 16
Beckiboo----- NO ideas just wanted to offer some (((((((((((((HUGS)))))))))))
post #4 of 16
Gosh, Becky! I have some experience with aggressive ferals, but I've never worked with a nursing mom before. I can tell you how we deal with the cats who attack people, but my guess is that since she IS a feral, she's just protecting her kittens and there's a chance she'll be a LOT easier to socialize once these little guys are weaned.

But yeah, iwe normally think of cats who are feral as being scared, but there are other who react this way. A few things you can do...
1. Keep you hands out of the way. There's a chance she's had to defend herself against hands in the past and therefore, she becoms aggressive. Wear a sweatshirt when you're in there with her and keep your hands in the sleeves.
2. Avoid direct eye contact
3. Just go right inside the door, sit quietly and read to her in a soft, but high voice.
4. I know you use the spray, but I've had the best luck with the actual Feliway diffuser. There's an onling store called Pussycat Galore (you can google it) that sells them CHEAP and USPS shipping is cheap because they're based in the Chicago burbs.
5. Once she's stopped growling at your mere presence, play therapy is important. It helps to redirect their aggression and puts their focus and energy on something other than you.
6. I like to even stroke the cat with a wand from a wand toy such Da Bird to get them used to being stroked. Once they'll let you get this close, of course.
7. WHen you DO make eye contact, be sure to frequently blink. This is a friendly gesture and avoids direct eye contact, which is seen as a challenge.
8. Generally speaking, when cats are abused or threatened by humans it's by men. Also, since cats think high noises are friendly and low noises are threatening, this might be why she particulalry doesn't like your DH. I'd have him hold off until she can accept you 100%.

Is there a possibility she can smell your previous fosters and their litters and that's what's making her nuts?

Hope some of that helps! I'm sure you know most of it already, but it's about all I could think of.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
I still have Sarabi, and I gave her catnip saturday, so she had a little nip party and was calling out from the bedroom next to Natalie. Natalie is in a new bedroom, no kitties in there before except my kits as they wander through. They don't really like that room, though. But the dog likes to sit in there and look out the window, so it probably smells strongly of the dog.

Natalie is not feral, she is a pet, but just went crazy at my house. I'm wearing protective gear now, sweatshirt and leather gloves. (If she doesn't like hands, I won't let her see them!!)

I tried a wand toy with her, and initially thought she was playing with it. (I think kitties can't be playful and scared at the same time, so I love my wand toys.) Then I realized she was just attacking it when it touched her, so I quit using it. I don't want to jazz her up anymore.

I did leave the radio on all day, and maybe that is making her worse, but it is all the way in the room, and I can't get to it without going past her...so it will be on all night!

Thanks for the great advice...I'll try a higher pitch to my voice when I talk to her.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
And Festus likes to play under the door with the foster cats...she left Sarabi a crinkle ball...she usually never shares those. But she may be making noise outside Natalie's door, to. The doors are on the same side of the hallway, about 6 feet apart.
post #7 of 16
She is responding to the smells in your home. You traffic a lot of cats in and out and she is scared. I would purchase several feliway comfort zone room diffusers and plug them into the room. I would put a cardboard box inside the room with holes cut in the side, and extra bedding inside where she can hide and feel safe. I would play harp music to her on a CD- there is a CD called Soundscapes that is excellent for soothing aggressive cats. I would keep the lights low, my voice soft. Avoid direct contact with her, use a broom handle to push her food bowl toward her- have one end with a padded glove duct taped to the handle, and let her attack that. I would also talk to the shelter and get her spayed right away-

Buy a bottle of feliway spray and spray your clothes prior to going into the room. If you have to, use a large cardboard flap to stop any attack- use it like a shield-

Good luck
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Hissy. I just talked to Gayef, and she explained that although Natalie has been a tame pet, I need to treat her like a feral since she is so rattled.

I'll try to get some calming music for her, and am putting the carrier back inside the room...covered with a blanket and full of soft bedding in hopes she will move into it. If not, at least she won't be so scared when she goes into it to move to another foster home.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I covered the outside of the wall that light shines through, so she won't be seeing shadows pass down the hallway. The carrier is back in the bedroom, with the blanket she and the kittens were on when in my car. (I didn't get a blanket from her owner-shame on me!)

This morning, the alarm clock in the bedroom went off, so I had to go in to turn it off. Same thing happened yesterday, and she seems calmer in the am. Still a little growly, but not like in the afternoon when the house has been noisier. The kids tried really hard to keep soft voices in the house this morning, too. I put a classical music channel on before leaving the house, and dh is planning to stay out of the room.

My hope is that when she has another place to go to, I can get her into the carrier with treats in the morning when she is calmer.

She is so weird...she rubs on the edge of the bed, and even the corner of the covered litterbox. So she seems to be claiming the room as her own. She rubbed against my legs this am. I wear the same clothes every time I go in there, in case my smell is bothering her.

The kittens seem fine, and my plan is to leave Natalie alone until tomorrow morning, so she isn't upset. She has plenty of food and water. Poor girl, I hope we can get her into a better place, where it doesn't smell doggish and it is more quiet.
post #10 of 16
I've been thinking of you this morning and wondered how it was going. Sounds like a small bit of progress has been made. When you speak to her, use a "babytalk" kind of voice and try to end your sentences as though it were a question.

Continued best of luck,

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
It sounds goofy, but I often "purr-meow" at my kits, kind of an imitation of their purr-meow...purr-oww, in a high pitch, and it goes up like a question at the end. Even that makes her hiss!

So if I have to talk to her, I will use the high pitch, questioning tone. Mostly I just warn her I'm coming in, then try to stay quiet! LOL!

She seemed ok this morning, but she was kind of ok yesterday morning, too! I have a feeling hearing the alarm clock go off, then having people moving around, is familiar to her, so that doesn't upset her. Everything else we do does upset her, though!

Thanks for your emergency help last night...it really means alot!
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Well, all day today Natalie has been listening to classical music. She was remarkably quiet this evening. The only time I heard her growl was when 6 y/o ds made a weird noise...it was so odd that Festus ran from one end of the house to the other to see what was happening.

I did go into the room, although logic says if Natalie and the kittens are quiet, all is well. She growled when I entered, but did not try to get out. She stayed away from the "entryway" section of the room, which leads me to believe she has calmed enough not to feel she needs to guard the door.

I let her lick out the empty cat food can, which distracted her enough that I could put the rags from the bottom of the cage (condo) into the carrier, topped with the one they had slept on. Then I was able to put the fresh food in the carrier. She found it quick enough, and ate dinner in the cat carrier!

The kittens are all fine. I picked each precious girl up. After eating, Natalie rubbed on my legs, and even rubbed on my hands a little, which were sitting on my lap. So I tried petting her, because she seemed to be acting lonely, like she wanted attention. A few pets, and she leaned back, and struck at my hand! Thank goodness for thick leather gloves! Then she calmed, and rubbed on my legs again, then swatted at my gloved hand again. Stinky girl!

Anyhow, compared to yesterday, she is so much better. But she is still a nasty unpredictable cat! Being able to catch her easily in the carrier is good news, though.

Thanks Junior, LionessRampant, Hissy, Gayef, and TNR1 for all the advice. She still needs to go to another foster home, but at least she will do so somewhat peacefully. Lets hope it isn't too much trouble for the other foster homes to shift kitties to make room for Natalie. (It IS spring, and everyone is full!)
post #13 of 16
some cats dont like to be petted much. A couple of strokes, than it is enough... If you dont want to get a snap or even bite...

Stroke the back or chins safer than the head.

It seems it is clearly going on better and better. Excellent!
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by StefanZ
some cats dont like to be petted much. A couple of strokes, than it is enough... If you dont want to get a snap or even bite...

Stroke the back or chins safer than the head.

It seems it is clearly going on better and better. Excellent!
Thanks, Stefan. I quit trying to pet Natalie...she is improved in some ways, but still tends to strike at my hands. And the kittens are over 4 weeks now, and needing more care than they can get now.

Today, they go to a new foster home, where they will be confined in a kitty condo. Hopefully Natalie will really settle down there. Either way, the kittens will be able to be closely observed. (At my house, they have been hiding under my son's double bed...only coming out when they feel like it! And I can't handle them much due to fear of upsetting Natalie further!)

Anyhow, a bit of a failure on my part...I'm unable to provide them a temporary home. But a success for my agency..they have shifted kitties so these cats can have a better situation, and my son can have his room back!
post #15 of 16
I think you're being harsh on yourself for calling this a failure. Natalie was unhappy there for her own reasons. She just needs a better fit. Over time she might have improved, but you could not endanger your children by trying to continue to work with her.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by clixpix
I think you're being harsh on yourself for calling this a failure. Natalie was unhappy there for her own reasons. She just needs a better fit. Over time she might have improved, but you could not endanger your children by trying to continue to work with her.
Thanks, Kelly!
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