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sudden aggression, please help

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
first of all hi to everyone, i'm new here

i've had cats all my life, and have never been afraid of a cat before, but i've been having problems with my cat Wonton for a couple weeks now.

(this is kind of long, but i feel like if i tell the whole story i'll be more likely to get helpful feedback).

my bf and i rescued Wonton about three years ago-he was a stray living on the streets. we brought him home and i gave him some food and water. he ate a ton, drank, and right after eating, hopped up on my lap, curled up, and promptly went to sleep. i'd been planning to bring him to a no-kill shelter the next day, but i just couldn't do it-i felt he was meant to be mine.

he has been the most affectionate cat i've EVER had, and i've lived with a lot of cats. always wants to be on my lap, always wants to be petted. hates being alone, to the point where he cries if im in another room and he cant get to me. sweetest kitty you'd ever want to meet.

about 7 months ago, (i think?) my bf petted a male cat outside, and then came in and petted Wonton. after a moment, seemingly out of nowhere, Wonton attacked him, like a real attack, no messing around. he called me to come get him, and i did, and when i set him down, he attacked my leg, too. i now know that this is redirected aggression. i backed away slowly and he was yowling at me, tail puffed up, and he was coming AT me, no fear, wanting to attack. my bf managed to lure him into the other room- we put him in the other room to calm downfor a while, and he was fine.

a few months later, i was walking by Wonton carrying a big basket of laundry, when he suddenly lashed out again. i can understand him lashing out cos of smelling the male cat, but the laundry thing-its just odd, cos he's never done that before. there were two or three more instances where he lashed out when suddenly confronted with large objects.

fast foward to two weeks ago. i was playing with him with his favorite toy, a small stuffed cheshire cat. he has a fixation on this toy, that i always thought was cute. he carries it around in his mouth, meowing as best he can...tries to kill it..if i move it slowly towards him, he'll growl at it. i've played with him like that soo many times with the cheshire cat, and it was never a problem. anyway, two weeks ago, i played with him with the cheshire cat for a while, then put the toy cat down, stood up, and went to walk by Wonton-and he lashed out again, scratching and biting my leg. when he lashes out he's SCARY-his eyes get huge, he growls, and his hair-he puffs up as if someone just blew him full of air-his tail goes to about five times its normal size, and all the rest of his hair stands on end. anyway, he lashed out at my leg, and i jumped back. he was growling at me and puffed up, so i grabbed a pillow. here is where i think i made a terrible mistake holding the pillow in front of me, i advanced towards him slowly, only wanting to herd him into the other room til he calmed down, because i knew if i didn't he'd attack me. he backed up normally at first, even tho he looked angry. he stopped in the doorway, and i gently nudged him to get him in so i could shut the door, and he suddenly tried to attack again-i shut the door just in time, but he was practically SCREAMING yowling, and threw himself against the door trying to get to me.

i let him calm down in the other room for a few hours, thinking that, like the other times, he'd be ok after a little while. my bf came home, and let him out, and i told him what happened. he picked wonton up and petted him for a bit, and put him down. as he walked past, wonton lashed out, puffed up again, and scratched my bf's leg. back in the other room we put him (i should mention its a large room with food, water, and a litterbox, and a place to sleep). we tried again a couple hours later-we let him in and he seemed fine..he got in my bf's lap and went to sleep. sometimes when he's on my bf 's lap he play-bites. he woke up, my bf petted him, he started to play-bite, and then, as if that playing had upset him-AGAIN he freaked out, puffed up, attacked my bf and scratched his arm, and then turned on me. i was really scared-i was sitting on the bed and he came at me, i grabbed my purse and held it in front of me as he attacked, and luckily my purse got the worst of it. my bf shut him in the other room over night.

for the last two weeks, i've been unable to be alone with him. he seems ok with my bf now, but when he sees me, he would growl and hiss immediately. also, if i even looked at him wrong, he seemed to get upset. i felt terrible, cos my bf would go to work, so i'd leave the cat in the other room, cos i didnt feel safe with him by myself, and he'd cry to come in and sound so pitiful, and i'd feel really bad but at the same time, i knew he wasn't safe, so..what was i supposed to do?

after a week or so i began opening the door a crack and scratching his head, and he started to let me...and finally, this past weekend, i finally spent some time in the same room with him. im able to pick him up and pat him now, and he seems... better, but i KNOW he's not all the way ok yet. earlier i peered around the corner to see if my bf was awake-he wasnt, but the cat was there, and when he saw me look around the corner at him, his eyes got huge and his hair started to stand up..i casually backed up and shut the door.

im still afraid to be alone with him..and i just feel really bad because i feel im the cause of all this-i shouldn't ahve tried to herd him in the other room that day with the cheshire cat. he obviously took it as me attacking him, and now he sees me as the enemy.

it breaks my heart, because i was the one who rescued him-my bf didn't even want to take him home (tho he loves him now). i saved him, and he always liked to be in my lap, always wanted to sleep next to me at night..and now, i made a mistake, and he hates me

im going to try to find some feliway, since it's gotten some good recommendations, but i'd really appreciate some advice from veteran cat owners, if anyone has any ideas/thoughts.

again, i'm sorry this is so long, but i wanted to give the whole story.

post #2 of 16
Sorry that I can't really say anything that will be of help, but I hope that everything turns out OK!!!
post #3 of 16
OK, this is kind of out there - was the laundry in the basket clean? Cats sometimes think that bleach smells like urine. And along those lines, do you maybe smell too "clean"? Maybe if you smelled more like him. Or maybe you're using a different brand of soap, or laundry detergent or perfume? I think it's the sense of smell that is doing it. When introducing new cats to each other, people put vanilla on the base of their tails (and somewhere else, but I can't quite remember where) so they smell like each other. Something like that to make you smell more like him?
post #4 of 16
Well, compared to some other stories that've been on here, you are lucky because there are reasons for the cats aggression. Wonton attacks when threatened by another cat, large objects (possibly bleach, and I agree with Kluchetta), and being touched too much, and now you as well.

First things first- if he has not been to a vet recently and specifically for this problem, that is the thing you need to do before anything else.
Then the next step is to get the Feliway, and continue caring for Wonton like you always have but don't approach him or pet him. If he comes to you, that's fine but still don't pet him. He should see you feeding him and cleaning his box and such, since you've become the enemy. Nobody who comes into your house should smell like a strange cat, especially you and your bf. If you must carry a large object, put Wonton in a different room first, carry it, put it down, and let him back out.
After this is done, you have to start figuring out the root of the problems so you can fix that. Is there a lot of stress in your life, new changes, etc? Has anything upset your cat?
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
thanks for the replies. i thought of taking him to the vet, but didn't, because i thought i knew the cause of the problem (me herding him in the other room when he was already upset), but it's almost time for his yearly checkup anyway, so i will make an appointment with the vet for next week.

kluchetta-the basket was empty, so i'm not sure what it smelled like... my bf did pick him up (since he seems ok with him) and told me to lift my leg up, and actually rubbed Wonton's cheeks against both of my legs-the idea being he'd get my scent on him and stop seeing me as the enemy. i'm not sure if it worked-like i said, i've made progress this weekend, i'm able to be in the same room with him, pick him up and hold him for brief periods, and pet him..but i'm not sure if that's just cos time has gone by.

Zissou's mom- thanks for your comments. the large objects thing i can work around (tho i still wonder why he never did it before.) its so strange, its like from the time he first attaacked (because he smelled a male cat on my bf), its like, it woke up that impulse in him, and how he keeps doing it. not everyday obviously, but the first two and a half years of his life he never showed any aggression. he's one of those cats who are just SO easy going. you know how most cats, if you pick them up and put them in your lap, theyll jump down-they have to get in your lap on THEIR terms? not wonton. if you pick him up and put him in your lap, he's like "oh, okay-youw ant me to be in your lap? cool". and he goes to sleep he really is the sweetest kitty (when he's not puffing up into a halloween cat).

there's no stress, no changes. i think what upset him is me pushing him into the other room that day-because when i did it, he got really upset. even tho all i did was walk towards him with a pillow in front of me to make him back up. i guess in his agitated state, he took that as an attack.

he's killed two mice, btw..i wonder if that has anything to do with it? He's a large cat (sorta needs a diet). i mean he's not huge, im not one of those owners who feeds their cat so much he waddles rather than walks-but he's just a big guy, he weighs 17 pounds. anyway he caught a little house mouse a couple months ago, and caught another one a few days before the aggression incident.

he's an indoor only kitty btw.

i think i am just going to have to slowly try to win his trust back. he asked to get in my lap earlier, but when i moved back to give him room to jump up, he walked away. still, it's progress's little things like that that are keeping me hopeful.
post #6 of 16
I may have missed it, but has he been neutered? This could also help some of the aggression.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
yep, he's been neutered.
post #8 of 16
Can you try NOT wearing any hand lotion, or extra flowery shampoo, etc. for a while and see what happens? Maybe it's your shoe smell (you wouldn't believe what they react to!), or ??? There's some association somewhere, but it's needs figuring out. Good luck!
post #9 of 16
First I want to thank you for your patience and concern with your cat. Many others would have taken the cat to the shelter to be euthanized. I commend you for wanting to help the cat instead!

Please click here to read about cat aggression. You will need to focus on the very bottom of the page where the rare, dangerous and violent aggression is discussed. When you read this, you will see that this type of aggression is sometimes medically based, so a trip to the vet would be wise just in case there is an illness causing this violent behavior.

You might also try getting some Rescue Remedy which will calm your cat. You can put it in his water or mix it into a bit of canned food. You can also try liquid St. John's Wort, which can also be mixed into his food. But, remember that you must also modify his (and your) behavior along with giving these herbal treatments.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
thanks guys... i have some good news-i was planning on putting him in the other room again last night when i went to sleep, but i was really tired and ended up just falling asleep on my bed..and when i woke in the morning, Wonton was curled up next to me My bf said he'd been like that for i think things are getting better i don't for a minute believe things are totally normal yet tho. he's still jumpy. this morning i was carrying a radio into the other room, and the side of it brushed against the wall and made a "ZZZZZZZZZZZZ" sound, and he totally jumped,and froze, and stared at it for a minute. i'm trying to change my tactics tho. instead of stop, when he does that, and stare at him, worried he's going to do something, i just ignored him and kept walking. it's true what they say, cats DONT like direct eye contact. im making a point of not looking him in the eye.

lotsocats-thanks. i would never take a cat to be euthanized unless it was absolutely the ONLY thing i could possibly do. i'm prepared to work with Wonton. the way i look at it, pets are like children-theyre your responsibility. you wouldn't give away your kid if it got sick or had behaviour problems or started acting out as a teen...and iw ouldn't get rid of my kitty unlesss i absolutely had to. even then, i probably wouldn't, cos it would just kill me :/ i'd probably just try to find away to work around the problem.

is Rescue Remedy safe for all cats, or should i ask my vet first? i'm going to go buy some Feliway today-i've heard good things about it, and i figure it can't hurt. i'm also going to let Wonton be in the same room with me today instead of shutting him in the other room-wish me luck xx
post #11 of 16
I'm glad to hear everything is progressing. The Feliway should help bring down his anxiety level and your plan to just ignore him when he's feeling threatened sounds like it is working.

Rescue Remedy is really safe - not even sure exactly how homeopathic remedies work, but they are so diluted that they don't pose a threat.

Keep in touch in the future and let us know how it is goes.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
thanks katachtig

EEK...he's sitting on my lap right now-he asked to get up, so i moved back and let him, and he hopped up. he hasn't been on my lap while im at the computer for two weeks-ever since The Incident. I'm a bit nervous, to be honest. Waiting for him to go to sleep, then i'll relax a bit...
post #13 of 16
I agree that it may be smell. Also, the vet visit is also neccessary.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
went and bought some Feliway today, and some catnip and a new water bowl and a little bell-in-the-ball toy for him. i can't get out of the petstore without buying at least one toy for him :p i had to buy him a new waterbowl because he broke his last one. how does a cat break a ceramic bowl, you ask?

his bowl was next to a large dresser. he hopped up on the dresser (even tho the top was very crowded and there was no room for a kitty, and i told him this in no uncertain terms), and proceeded to pussyfoot it back and forth, knocking things over. i told him to get down, but he looked at me as though i was speaking in Greek. i got up to pick him up, and he chose that moment to jump down-kicking off as he did, and knocking a large paperweight off the dresserr, where it hit his ceramic bowl and split it in two.

he went nuts for the catnip when i came home-we ran out a month ago, so he's been without it for a while.

sprayed the Feliway around-am really hoping it helps. he is getting better, but i'm still not totally comfortable around him, and it sucks to feel that way, you know? sucks to be nervous around your own cat. but he's progressing, so i have lots of hope
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
well he's up on my lap again as i surf the net this morning. no real signs of aggression in a couple days now..i think he's getting better. i sprayed Feliway all over the house last night, will do it today and everyday for a few weeks andsee ifthat makes a diference.

thanks for all your help
post #16 of 16
I am so glad he is starting to mellow out. Please keep in mind that cats are very good at picking up on their people's stress levels, so he is unlikely to completely relax until you relax. sure sounds like he is well on his way to being back to his old loveable self!
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