Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from leckalou. Show leckalou's posts

    Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    About a month ago, I adopted a 4 year old female cat. She is affectionate and receptive to petting almost all of the time, but sometimes out of nowhere and with NO warning that she is stressed, she will aggressively swat whoever is petting her. She does not seem tense or angry before it happens - in fact, she's purring and sweet as can be. Sometimes, after she lashes out, she will reach out and continue to swat at the person even if s/he tries to move away.

    As a cat lover and volunteer at a shelter, I understand that not all cats are naturally affectionate, and I will keep and love her just the same. However, it concerns me having a cat that I am not comfortable handling. I don't dare try and pick her up at this point, and forget about trimming claws, brushing, giving her a pill, etc. 

    Do you have any theories as to why she suddenly lashes out? I cannot figure out at all what triggers it, because again there is no warning and she seems so relaxed and happy before she strikes. Is there anything I can do to help her build trust and be more receptive to handling? It breaks my heart that I am afraid of my own cat!


     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from leckalou. Show leckalou's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    Thank you for the advice. I agree completely, but the weird thing is she DOES approach me purring and seeking affection. I generally do not approach her just yet. This morning, for example, she woke me with purrs and nuzzles. She is very sweet until she decides that something I did angers/scares her, and then the claws come out. She is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! I guess it's just a matter of time and identifying what, if anything, triggers her reaction.


    In Response to Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people:
    [QUOTE]Give it more time,  you don't know what trauma or abuse she has suffered.  Don't handle her at all for now,  let her come to you.  My friends adopted a 7 year old cat about a month ago,  and she is just now beginning to show affection.  Mostly she hides under the bed and stays in one room.......baby steps.    She has a good appetite,  uses the litter box.  Has bonded with a female member of the household and approaches her in an affectionate way when she wants to be fed.
    Posted by robingirl[/QUOTE]
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    I would give her a little more time to adjust. When she comes to you purring and looking for attention, pat her for a bit..but stick to her head area and under her chin..and keep it brief. I have found that while male cats will let you pat them until you tire from it...females tend to be a little bit more testy. Even my female who is hysterically funny and affectionate and adorable in every way does not like to be petted for too long, only likes to he held when at the vet..and rarely will climb in anyone's lap. It's just the way she is and after a couple of years, I now know just how to handle her and just how long to pet her. You've only had your kitty a month..give it time, watch for her signals however subtle they may be they will be there and give her plenty of exercise and opportunity for mental challenges. Female cats get bored very easily.
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    I think she's just expressing that she's had enough affection inappropraitely and I wouldn't let the fact that she came from a shelter allow her to continue that behavior.  How do you correct cat behavior in a gentle yet effective way?  I don't know, but I'd find out.  I can tell you I wouldn't tolerate that being her way of letting me know she doesn't want to be petted at that time anymore.
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    An effective and gentle way of controlling cat behavior( discouraging unwanted behavior) is to give a quick spray of water when the cat is doing something you don't want. This is how I trained  cats not to claw furniture, jump on kitchen counters, etc. I have never yelled or raised my voice to any of my cats. I fostered kittens for years and by the time they left my home, they were very well socialized and about as well trained as you could expect a kitten to be..lol..
    Of course, my go to method has never worked on my female. She loves..and I mean..to play in and with water. So, with her I just had to reward the good behavior to encourage more of it. ( and keep her busy with mental challenges).
    That being said, in this situation, I would do sort of the same thing. If your cat comes to you and wants to be petted, pet her for a short time only and avoid the situation that triggers the aggression. At least until she's more settled.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    The cat comes to you already, asks for and happily receives affection.  When it's tired of you, it swats.  Give it more time, and you'll simply reinforce that that behavior is OK.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    We disagree.  Respectfully.  You don't have to keep repeating yourself.  The OP can decide based on everyone's opinions and all the information she has what she wants to accept and dismiss.  I'm not going to go back and forth with you.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from leckalou. Show leckalou's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    Thank you very much for the feedback. Robingirl, that articled actually made me feel SO much better because it sounded exactly like my situation. I do notice that she usually does it after the petting has been going on too long. What's funny is sometimes she'll swat, and then come right back for more petting, but I move away because I know she's had enough. My other cat is a huge cuddle bug and wants to be pet, held, etc. constantly, so this has been an odd adjustment. Anyway, that article was great - thanks!

    Kargiver, I have questioned constantly whether it is something I should handle with discipline. I think ultimately a combination will be best, because - in my experience - cats are so difficult to train! What I have been doing is saying "no" sharply (not yelling) and just leaving the room. I've read that the sudden absence of attention reinforces for them that the behavior is inappropriate. Hopefully between that and her gradually trusting me, she will eventually be easier to handle!!

    Miscricket, I hope that in time I am able to pick up her cues better and handle her more appropriately the way you experienced. That's my ultimate concern - not that I can turn her into a snuggly cat, but that I can handle her for practical purposes. The thought of trying to put her into her cat carrier and take her to the vet terrifies me, haha.

    Anway, thanks everybody!!
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    Good luck and keep us posted..lol.. Actually funny about the vet. My female..for as much as she doesn't like to be held does not want me to put her down at the vets. If I do, she scrambles back into my arms and buries her face in my elbow. The vet and the techs get such a kick out of the fact that she's so "timid and shy". I tell them they should see her at home..cats..they really are an enigma..lol
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from mezzogal1124. Show mezzogal1124's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    Are you certain the cat is angry when she swats at people?  I know you used the term "aggressively," but does she hiss, and/or does her tail get inflated, for example?  My parents' cat swats when he's previously been docile sometimes, but it's clear now that he doesn't do it out of aggression, he just wants to play.  He swats and purrs simultaneously, in fact!  He doesn't swat with the intention of hurting, he bats because that's how cats use their paws to play.  Basically, our cat sees people as interactive toys.  Of course I don't want to get scratched, so I just back off, say "No!", and toss him a nearby toy.  Usually I find that he comes running after me anyway because he likes to follow people around.  I just thought it was worth mentioning that she might not actually be angry when she swats.
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e. Show 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    We had a rescued cat when we were children who didn't like to be handled or petted, but he did like affection. So he'd wrap himself around your ankles and purr but nip you if you gave him a pat. We could pick him up briefly to put outside. He didn't like that but he didn't bite. He did like to sit at the end of the couch and keep you company, as long as he stayed near your feet and away from your hands. He never got worse but he never got to be a cuddly cat that you could brush or otherwise handle. We were very fond of him and accepted his eccentricities with one exception. He hated small children and we had to put him outside when they were around. He would not come back to the house until the little dears had gone home.  My sister had a cat that attacked people, running out of nowhere and jumping on them. The cat had not been abused; just had a screw loose. So, this is a long way of saying it make take some time of living with the cat to find out just how dysfunctional the cat is, how much potential it has to change, and if the two of you can tolerate each other.
     
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    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    Oh, and the punishment thing? Spraying it with water? I don't think cats respond well to punishment.
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from Coopflyer. Show Coopflyer's posts

    Re: Adopted cat with unpredictable aggression towards people

    I took in a litter of kittens, but was so busy with work and such that I never spent the proper time sociallizing them as kittens.  Three of them remained pretty feral, but now that they are cats, they have grown to trust me.  It is the most wonderful thing.  One of them, Tom, is so awkward when he hunches up his back looking for his petting.  It's really cute.  Like a schoolboy who is not used to girls.  It has taken a long time, but it has been so worth it.  I firmly believe that cats can grow to trust and communicate with you completely. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to hold this bunch, but just having them love my affection means all the world to me.
     
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