9 month old cat keeps attacking me! Please help!

IMPORTANT: If your cat is in any distress or discomfort, please consult your own vet as your first priority.
Post Reply
New Cat Chatter
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:31 pm

9 month old cat keeps attacking me! Please help!

Post by Lianne_30 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:57 pm

I have a beautiful 9 month old neutered female kitten who I love very much. She's a BSH cross with a ginger tabby. She's got lots of toys to play with (and I play with her), a cat tree, scratching post and she loves going out in the garden. There's just one BIG problem... If I say no or stop her from doing something like jumping into the fridge or tearing up toilet roll, or I speak to someone on the phone, am making my dinner or sometimes just even when I am stroking her she attacks me!!

When I say attacks, I mean she comes at me full pelt and grabs my hand, leg or foot with all 4 paws dug in and her teeth and grips on for dear life, drawing blood! It's very different to the playful way kittens can grab you hand or feet. It's really painful and I'm covered in scars and scratches from it.

I've tried staying still until she gets off but she tends to momentarily let go and then grab right back on. The only 2 things that have any impact are when I call out in pain (ouch! Etc. ) she'll get off then I shut the door for a couple of minutes and she calms down before I let her back in or to avoid her being near me in certain situations which I know provoke her behaviour e.g. when I'm taking a phone call.

It's creating such tension because now I'm always on the look out for her body language to try to avoid being attacked. I never know if I'm affectionate towards her whether she'll be happy to have it or go for me because either she purrs and provokes the affection either way. I also feel guilty because in a desperate attempt to limit the times I get attacked, I'm having to separate her from me at key times like phone calls and when I'm make dinner as these are when she attacks the most frequently.

I really am at a loss as to what to do. I love her so much and am desperate to find a solution.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

User avatar
Ruth B
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 1327
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:31 am
No. of cats in household: 3
Location: Wolverhampton

Re: 9 month old cat keeps attacking me! Please help!

Post by Ruth B » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:16 am

I am no expert but it does sound like controlling behaviour, she is trying to make you let her do what she wants. She does something she knows she shouldn't and gets told off, she attacks you in hope that you won't tell her off next time, you pay attention to something else, a telephone or cooking, she attacks you so you pay attention to her. The only one that seems slightly odd is her attacking when you are stroking her, the question is does she want to be stroked or are you stroking her while paying attention to something else, such as a TV.

If this is the case it needs to be stopped or it will get worse, cats are very intelligent and can be very manipulative, it can become something of a battle of wills as to who actually rules in the house (we all joke about it because we know how close to the truth it is).

If you know you are doing something that will provoke an attack then do shut her out and don't feel bad about it, she will not take any hurt in being away from you for a few minutes. You might want to give her a couple of treats just as you shut the door so being shut out doesn't feel quite so bad to her, if she behaves when you open the door, a big fuss and a couple more treats should help her associate being shut out as something that happens not as a punishment. If she starts to accept that then try it with the door open, but give her the treats outside the door as you would if you were shutting her out, if she attacks you put her out and shut the door without giving her a treat.

When she attacks at other times then get her off you, put her down and walk away, try not to talk to her, or even look at her, just ignore her. If she follows you ignore her, if she tries to attack try and have a cushion ready to put in her way. Once she has calmed down then start to pay her attention again.

It is not so much a case of punishing the bad behaviour but rewarding the good.

However as I said I am no expert so I would also suggest a trip to the vets just to make sure there is no physical reason for her attacks, and if it continues you might want to ask about a referral to a behaviourist who could hopefully tell you why she acts like she does.

User avatar
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 3637
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:00 pm
No. of cats in household: 1
Location: West Yorks

Re: 9 month old cat keeps attacking me! Please help!

Post by Lilith » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:32 am

Hi and welcome :)

I've got one like this. She's 8 next month but I've just laid a hand on her tail and she's jumped round at me with claws out ... only momentarily though. She's learning. She still goes for my ankles in the bathroom though, and like your girl she used to hate me talking on the phone. Her answer to that was to wee in a corner!

What's worked for us is, like you, to keep still if possible, and to withdraw for a minute once you can get yourself to yourself. I tell her 'No' in a low, hissy, growly tone and make it clear that I'm Very Angry; I glare and snarl, but only for a second, but for that second I'm Senior Cat lol - but after the cooling-off period I ask her if she's going to be a good girl ... in fact I tell her all the time that she's a good girl. She's a loving, possessive little soul but she's still a headache, and when she was your girl's age it was like living with a poltergeist. A poltergeist with claws and teeth. Stroke the wrong ear and she'd have me!

I don't know why some cats just are like this. My girl, Molly, has always been very head-shy; I'm only just now being permitted to stroke her face - sometimes! Luckily approval seems to mean a lot to her and quite often she'll respond to a telling-off by coming to purr, but they're hard work aren't they?

One toy that has helped Molly let off steam is a thing called a 'Wiggly-Waggler' - I got it from the store on CatChat; don't know if it's available elsewhere. It's like a long knitted banana and she grabs it and kicks hell out of it - though I still have to watch my hands when giving it to her. She HAS learned to inhibit claws and teeth, but, like you, I've always got a scar or two.

I hope your girl calms down as she leaves the kitten stage - they're exhausting. It's a bit like having a naughty puppy - you have to be pack leader and keep telling them, and praising ... not like bringing up a normal cat at all.

Good luck with her and hope this helps for now, and agree with Ruth's advice too. All the very best with your poltergeist and please give her a fuss from me if she'll let you. :)

User avatar
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 538
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:58 am
No. of cats in household: 1
Location: UK

Re: 9 month old cat keeps attacking me! Please help!

Post by Mollycat » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:09 am

I have a cat from a previous relationship who doesn't live with me who is 20 years old and was a walk-in adoption job. She bites and sometimes claws without warning, often still purring as she does. I did some intensive sessions with her some years ago when she was really bad. when she attacked I would stop absolutely still until she let go then move my hand away very slowly while talking to her in a soft upbeat reassuring voice. I would also watch for the tiniest change in her expression or tail, and stop stroking befoe she knew she was going to attack, which would frustrate her as she couldn't figure out why I had stopped!

Molly who does live with me is a traumatised rescue, she can also lash out without warning but thankfully more often she spits and hisses. But I was millimeters from losing my left eye, she has the potential to be a dangerous cat if not handled right. I knew I was pushing a boundary that day and I very nearly paid dearly for it.

Attacking while being stroked is quite common and should be preceded by a lashing tail or at least twitching violently. It's a kind of sensory overload that snaps if human don't stop, where they are in raptures being stroked but it's too much and the cat hasn't learned the self control of walking away, or doesn't feel it can walk away. That last bit is where you can change things. Firstly watch for a warning sign, there always is one even if it's subtle. But the cat probably needs to know that you will leave it alone when it wants to be left alone, and it's a very hard thing to prove to them but worth the effort. I believe telling off is not effective unless you already have that kind of relationship with the cat, it can escalate things.

Attacking at other times is different, often a behaviour that was learned in play and not dealt with when it was funny cute and harmless. It gets a response and is its own reward - fun - that escalates into something more serious.

A bad response to the phone - I would want a vet check on her ears. Cats' ears are very sensitive and modern phones both ring tones and the sound of the other person speaking often hit precisely the high end register that we can't hear but are loud and extremely unpleasant to a cat or dog, especially if they are oversensitive and this can be just them or can be an ear infection or problem. My cats are fine with the phone but the dog hates it and becomes anxious whether I'm dialling out or someone is ringing. And he is prone to ear infections.

Understanding what's going on will enable you to tailor how you deal with the problem.

Post Reply