Help with my over protective cat!!!

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pzaslt
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Help with my over protective cat!!!

Post by pzaslt » Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:37 pm

So i took my kitty in when she was about 1-2 and she had already had an intense life. i know she had at least 2 owners before me and experienced seizures and probably neglect. i moved into a home where she was and she quickly became attached to me. 3 years later and she is still living with me but i live alone. anyway, my main issue is her aggression she gets with new comers in the home. the only person she is still okay with coming over is the girl who initially gave her to me. everyone else she will full force attack which makes me either not have people over or have her sit in her carrier so she can still at least see and smell them but can’t attack. i’ve taken her to a vet, she has been on medication, i’ve done as much research as i can, i’ve watched every episode of my cat from hell (haha) and i still have not found any answers to my situation which is why i came here. she is such a loving cat and is so sweet to me which is how i know she is just being over protective in fear that she will lose me because i have been the only constant in her life (please hold as i wipe my tears because i just love her so much) it doesn’t help i live alone and she can’t associate with others daily but what can i do to help this behavior? i know she wants to love and play with others and she wants friends but the other side of her won’t let that happen because she needs to “protect me”

any advice will help! i’ve truly tried just about everything but a behavioral specialist because i can’t afford that but hope there’s other options for me. thanks!

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Ruth B
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Re: Help with my over protective cat!!!

Post by Ruth B » Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:53 am

Welcome to the forum and i hope we can give you some ideas to try.

My thought is to involve some good and understanding friends and family, and start having them visit without her being caged. If possible I would ask if they would be willing to let you have an item of their clothing so she can get used to their scent being around the house, almost as you would when introducing two cats. When they are there make sure they have something they can use to fend her off if she does actually get violent, a cushion or pillow are good options. Try distracting her with a favourite toy or treat, something to make having a visitor over a good experience. I would also ask any visitors not to try and interact with her, a lot of human body language such as looking directly at someone, or something, is a sign of aggression in cat language. Cats have a reputation for always going towards the person that doesn't like cats, the believe now is that the people who don't like cats won't be looking at them, will actively look away, and won't be making any noises towards them or waving their hands at them. All of this means they are displaying no aggressive body language in cat so the cat feels they are the safest person to investigate as they aren't feeling threatened by their presence.

My theory is that she is not just protecting you, she sees the house as her den area and any people who visit are intruders and mean her (and you) harm, and you aren't doing anything to get rid of them so she feels she has to, caging her during the times is just making her feel more defensive and helpless. She has to accept that occasionally strangers will com into the house and if you say it is acceptable, she has to accept them. Try and be firm with her but not to punish or shout at her when she does have a go at visitors but make sure you give her a lot of fuss, attention and treats if she behaves well around them.

Hopefully others will be on with other ideas and theories to try as well and we can help you solve this problem.

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lilynmitz
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Re: Help with my over protective cat!!!

Post by lilynmitz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:20 am

I agree with Ruth, rather than protecting you, she is very fearful of what the people will do to her and is defending her “safe space”, ie your home. I also agree that having visitors completely ignore her is the best way to go. Try to get them to behave in a calm relaxed way whenever she ‘s around, (difficult when they’re worried about getting attacked!) so that eventually she can learn that their presence does not mean she is going to be harmed in the way that her past life has conditioned her to fear.

This will take quite a bit of time and patience, including on the part of your visitors, and must be consistent, but you should some improvement over the coming months (or even years). Many of my rescues have come with baggage, but it’s amazing how I’ve seen changes in their behaviour even years after they’ve come to me.

I reckon the human race owes something to your poor scared little puss, and it sounds like she’s with the right person to help her through this.

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Re: Help with my over protective cat!!!

Post by Mollycat » Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:07 am

Your cat sounds a lot like mine, except that mine runs and hides rather than attack, though she will lash out if people try going to her when she is on her ivory tower, and with a similar history. Rescued at 9 months from a chaotic noisy household, inappropriate handling, no respect for her space or her feline needs, and I believe a young inexperienced mother who didn't protect her. Then I inherited her at 6 years old with the words "Molly will always be Molly".

I would agree it's more likely she is protecting herself than you, but probably as you are the person she trusts picking up your anxiety and acting on it as well. Can you work with the layout of your home so that visitors don't invade too much of the space? Where are her special safe places and can visitors stay well away from them? In my flat Molly's safe place is under the bed, but visitors have to go past the bedroom door to reach the living room, so I learned to give Molly time when there was a knock at the door to reach safety before letting them in and encouraged her to hide, just to avoid her having to panic and run past them. She could then choose to come out and join us if she felt it was safe enough.

The trouble with cats is that their fear responses are extremely hard to change. Whatever behaviour works for them goes on being repeated long after it's not needed any more because unlike dogs aversion therapy does not work, it just makes them even more fearful. Trust in a person rarely goes so far as to believe you will protect them above trusting their own fear - that's because unique among our domesticated animals they do not have a pack mentality. They are loners and trust only themselves. You can work to build this trust and if you're lucky they may eventually come to trust when you say it's ok, but you have to work hard at it all the time for months and years. With Molly, every time she started and tensed up at a noise, I would tell her it's all right, relax, nothing is going to hurt her, but whenever there was a noise that was going to become something more threatening, like the doorbell, I would encourage her to hide. Gradually she came to know that I knew what I was talking about and trust me to some extent.

Your state of mind when visitors come is really important. You need to be calm and not worried about whether she will attack. She knows you are anxious but she doesn't know why, and your tension as her trusted person just reinforces the idea that there is something to worry about. You have a strong bond with her and that is a double-edged sword - she will pick up on your emotions and state of mind extremely well, but you can use this to help her feel more secure and calm. If you're in any doubt about this try this simple exercise - when your cat is relaxed near you but you're not really focused on her, try focusing all your mind on her with loving and positive thoughts. If she doesn't either sigh, start to purr, or visibly relax more, I will be very surprised.

Make the experience of other people being in your home a positive one for her. I don't think confining her is going to be anything other than counter productive, generating more anxiety and reinforcing her anxiety. A cage lets her smell and see them but not attack, but it also means she can't run away or defend herself. Distraction with toys and catnip rather than treats - after the last treat there is a moment of anxiety about whether there are more treats coming, but be careful with catnip as it's not always calming. I know I can't touch Molly when she is high, she is more likely to lash out playfully. Praise and reward the right behaviour with calm and gentle soothing words and your focus on her, rather than a food reward, to show that her calmness brings your calmness. But do let visitors offer a treat to show they mean well and won't hurt her, but not try to touch her at this stage as this is an invasion of her personal space.

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