Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

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Kim205
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Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

Post by Kim205 »

Hi. I have had my cat now for about a year. He was adopted as a few month old kitten, and was adopted alone. For the first few months he was occasionally aggressive, launching himself at me and biting and scratching. Over the past few months it has become much worse and happens almost daily. In the beginning he would come after me when I laid in bed, but now it could be something as simple as walking past him.

Now that he is bigger he is able to launch himself at my arms or face. I have dealt with this for a year now and hide under the covers or in the bathroom, but I am tired of being afraid or unsure of my animal.

When he isn’t aggressive he will likely be in the same room relaxing as me, but does not cuddle or sit on me. He will generally be in a close proximity. It’s just him and I in my apartment, so socially he does not deal with many other people, but when he does he’s as sweet as can be.

When I first got him, I did have a roommate so the cat and I spent a majority of our time in just my bedroom- I have no idea if this sparked aggression towards me. With work from home we are basically together 24/7- so I’m not sure if it could be that too.

I have already taken him to 2 vets and they ruled out any physical conditions that may be causing this.

Really, I just wanted to see if others have dealt with something similar and what they did. Sadly I have been thinking about rehoming him, as I am getting bit daily and just cannot live like this anymore.
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Mollycat
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Re: Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

Post by Mollycat »

Sorry to hear you're having so much trouble with your cat, it sounds very difficult for you and wearing.

Could you give us a little background? First off what's your feline friend's name? Do you know what his past is, was he born in the shelter, found as a stray, handed in ...?

What was he like when you first brought him home, was he playful, cuddly, indifferent? Did he seem to connect with you?? How did you play with him? Can you remember the first time he attacked you and what you were doing at the time and how you responded?

How do you react to his attacks now, do you punish him in any way, or shout, talk us through it.

Hopefully we can help you get to the bottom of it and turn this relationship around.
Kim205
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Re: Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

Post by Kim205 »

Oliver! Can’t believe I didn’t mention that! I have no idea of his past actually. I do know he was with siblings at his foster and then came to me at about 3 months. Another thing that I am not sure about is when he was younger I was very afraid to sleep in bed with him (deep sleeper who moves around) so I would keep him in my connected bathroom with water, food, etc. In total he probably slept in there for a month and as he got bigger I was more comfortable with him being loose in my room. Again- no idea if this triggered anything


At home he was very friendly and cuddly. I really cannot remember when things started changing. I did get him a large cat tree which he ended up spending more time in versus next to me.

The first attack I really cannot remember but I am going to say I was laying in bed before bedtime and he came to lunge at me.

After the attacks I read online that they recommended saying ow and getting away from the cat. I had tried that and it never worked. I’m not going to lie, not that the attacks are so frequent and are obviously painful I have lost my temper and shouted No. On occasion when he won’t let go of my arm or leg I do push him off of me. I always stay away from him after, go into another room and close the door. He does his thing and within minutes is scratching under the door (much more calm) to get in.

I have been recommended a behaviorist, but in all honesty she is extremely expensive and it would kill me to spend hundreds of dollars on treatment that may or may not work and this behavior continues. But as time goes on I am considering it more and more.

Mollycat wrote: Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:13 pm Sorry to hear you're having so much trouble with your cat, it sounds very difficult for you and wearing.

Could you give us a little background? First off what's your feline friend's name? Do you know what his past is, was he born in the shelter, found as a stray, handed in ...?

What was he like when you first brought him home, was he playful, cuddly, indifferent? Did he seem to connect with you?? How did you play with him? Can you remember the first time he attacked you and what you were doing at the time and how you responded?

How do you react to his attacks now, do you punish him in any way, or shout, talk us through it.

Hopefully we can help you get to the bottom of it and turn this relationship around.
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Kay
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Re: Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

Post by Kay »

it is very unusual for a cat to show a lot of aggression towards his owner, especially in a one on one situation for months at a time

are you sure his attacks are aggression, and not him trying to engage you in some interaction because he's bored - do you play with him much? If he is clinging on to you because he wants you to notice him, your walking away from him and hiding is bound to make matters worse

you say he had a large cat tree which he took to, but has that now gone?

Before you seriously think about rehoming him, I would try to treat him as a bored and frustrated cat, rather than an aggressive one, as I do think the aggression is secondary
Kim205
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Re: Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

Post by Kim205 »

I am going with aggression as his ears are pinned back and just the look in his eyes. Typically I play with him an hour a day, and then have other battery operated toys that are used throughout the day. Maybe it’s not enough?

When he clings he is biting and scratching, which I assumed as aggression but i suppose it could be boredom?

The cat trees are still here, and my roommate is gone so he has basically taken over the second room. He spends a lot of time laying by the window looking out.

Kay wrote: Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:50 pm it is very unusual for a cat to show a lot of aggression towards his owner, especially in a one on one situation for months at a time

are you sure his attacks are aggression, and not him trying to engage you in some interaction because he's bored - do you play with him much? If he is clinging on to you because he wants you to notice him, your walking away from him and hiding is bound to make matters worse

you say he had a large cat tree which he took to, but has that now gone?

Before you seriously think about rehoming him, I would try to treat him as a bored and frustrated cat, rather than an aggressive one, as I do think the aggression is secondary
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fjm
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Re: Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

Post by fjm »

Cats play-fight as well as fight, and it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference. Did the behaviour get worse when your roommate moved out? Pippin played like this when he was around 9 months old, stalking ankles and pouncing, biting and scratching - he was missing his brother who vanished one morning, and for him the solution was a playmate. Another owner having similar problems with her younger kitten has found having a large, cat sized soft toy to hand to push into the kitten's arms for him to wrestle with is helping. I think it is more probably rough play than aggression - cats usually only attack when threatened. But rough play is still very painful, and needs addressing - a good, qualified behaviourist would be ideal but it is important to choose carefully. In an unregulated market anyone can set up shop, and some do more harm than good. Meanwhile I would try a teddy bear or two for him to wrestle with, play-hunts with toys and tunnels and cardboard boxes, fishing pole games, interesting places to sit and watch the world - generally filling up the day with fun stuff for cats, and working off some of the frustrated energy before it becomes explosive.
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Mollycat
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Re: Aggression getting worse- need help ASAP

Post by Mollycat »

Firstly we've all lost it with an animal when pushed and felt guilty forever about it - it's not about judgement, it's about finding out as much as possible about the dynamics between the two of you to be able to help. My own girl drove me to distraction for the first years by squeaking constantly for attention. One day in sheer desperation I screwed up a ball of paper and threw it at her as hard as I could ... she watched it coming and sat perfectly still looking me straight in the eyes as it bounced off her head. That moment changed something, because she showed me that she trusted me not to cause her harm.

I'm leaning the same way as Kay and fjm, a truly attacking cat is capable of sending you to a hospital. Play fight and play hunt mimick real fight and real hunt very closely because the purpose of them is to learn the skills needed, not to chase a wand toy and beat up a rug, but to kill and survive. Tehre are some very good You-tube clips demonstrating the difference and they can be really subtle - just search "cat fight real or play" and a ton of good helpful stuff comes up. I know in your case it's not between two cats but watching the body language and hearing about it should help you see which it is. But as you describe hanging on with the front and biting, maybe also kicking with the back feet, is typical, but the back feel are capable of shredding or disembowelling a bird so if he really meant it it's not just superficial scratches. My ex had two knuckles broken by his own cat that had flipped out with a brain tumour, with its teeth.

The yelling ow thing I've never been convinced, I don't think I know anyone it has worked for. It's been a very long time since I had a kitten but when my grown up Henry used to clamp down with teeth and claws and his companion Purdy would bite the hand that stroked her while still purring sadistically, this is how we dealt with it. Freeze, immediately. Drop the tone, the volume and the speed and very slowly calmly and gently say no, so all confrontation and challenge is gone out of the situation. What we're doing is asking the cat to calm down because playtime has ended and it's time to let go slowly without losing face, and then very gently and slowly take the hand away. As far as I'm concerned ow and standing up suddenly to walk away and other things highly recommend by behaviourists all serve to inflame the situation and excite the cat more. The gentle calm talk with eyes down helps them to relax physically and mentally, you can even tell them to relax and you might see a response to the word itself.

Sounds like he is an indoor only cat? Could be he is frustrated by a drive to go outside and explore. Some rescues here in the UK won't home a kitten to an indoor only home because you never know how they will turn out and some cats are just too energetic and frustrated for indoor life. That said it's not all about having "stuff" for them, simple things like allowing access to a wardrobe once in a while, treat dispenser balls, catnip, home grown kitty grass, all help. Open windows (obviously only a little bit, for safety) allow them to "read" the air like a morning newspaper. A pile of cushions in a doorway for a few hours and a game of fetch over them. Shut Oliver in one room and hide treats all over the rest of the flat, then let him out to find them all. Molly used to have her treats thrown one at a time in different directions to encourage her to run for them and slow down her eating. My living room is laid out so that she can get all the way around it without touching the floor. New things brought into the house smell different and can be explored which stimulates the senses. Not sure if they still exist but there was a toy called a Kickeroo, that may have been a Kong one. If Oliver tends to go for you in bed, keep one by the bed, when he goes for you, talk him down calm off your arm and when he lets go, encourage him to go for that. Unfortunately a big human in a bed moving mysteriously under covers is pretty irresistible for young cats, so you're looking to offer him something way more interesting. But if you try this, be sure to calm him down and let go of you voluntarily and calmly before giving him the toy as a reward, otherwise you'd be teaching him that attacking you earns the rewards, and you want the opposite.
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