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Old 06-26-2014, 01:43 PM   #1
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I will preface this by saying I've never had a dog or a cat, and have always been terrified to get comfortable in a house where there is a pet that may get near me. I have a real fear that a dog or cat will try to scratch or bite me in the face, so I try to stay standing in houses with pets.

Okay, so now I have an amazingly awesome boyfriend and he has a cat. His cat and I have always pretty much kept our distance, but we were fine. The cat moved in about four months ago (boyfriend followed about a month later), and other than my fear, we've been okay. She had been repeatedly been attacking my ankles when I would walk upstairs, especially in the morning. I got used to it, so I was able to avoid being clawed by waiting until she was across the room, and running up the stairs.

A few weeks ago, I was standing in my kitchen and she came up to my leg and bit me. I didn't expect that. I literally wasn't doing anything but standing and all of a sudden, BITE!

Last weekend our friends came over and she hissed and tried to REALLY attack one of our friends for absolutely no reason. I witnessed the entire thing, it was bizarre. When my boyfriend came over to break it up, she hissed at him.

So...now I'm terrified to leave my bed, especially in the morning. She wants food around 4-5am and likes to rub on my legs, but I'm really scared that she will scratch or bite me. This morning I almost didn't make it to the bathroom because I was too scared to leave the bed and my boyfriend immediately jumped into the shower after using the bathroom.

What the **** do I do? I feel like I bought my house and now I can't be in it freely. Help!
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:04 PM   #2
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Sounds like the cat has some behavioral problems, or is still having a stress reaction to the move. Cats are funny like that, they REALLY don't like change. You can get a anti-anxiety thing, like a plug in, that releases some type of hormone or pheromone that can relax the cat. They are 20-30 dollars each.

One of my cats was actually on a prescription anti-anxiety medication for a while after we moved, and the other one ended up having medical problems. All of the constant vet trips and subsequent animosity really got to her, so the vet prescribed amitriptyline, fairly low dose... and 6 weeks of it only cost about $5 to fill at Walmart. The trick is getting the cat to take the pill... mine love the Greenies pill pockets.

I hope you get it sorted out! Being stuck in your own home is no way to live.
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:11 PM   #3
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Did she have bite-y behavior when living alone with your bf? If it's a big change in behavior for her, there's something going on.

Also, how did you react when she bit you? Or when she grabs your ankles? Or with the friend incident?

The attacking the ankles sounds like an attempt to get you to play -- does she get regular playtime? You could try a spray bottle to discourage negative behavior. (Attack - squirt!)

She could also still be stressed about the change in environment; if she hasn't been around people a ton, it could make sense why she freaked out at having people over. I would suggest buying a Feliway plug-in, if you can -- I seem to always suggest that. It's a good thing to try for stressed out kitties, and stress is definitely one reason she could be acting out. She may also sense your discomfort, which may make her feel uneasy... bad cycle.

This was kind of rambling, so in short:
1) More positive interactions with her (playtime, playtime)
2) Direct consequences to the negative behavior (squirt bottle)
3) Kitty pheromones to help her cope

Sorry you feel like a prisoner in your own home. I hope things get better for everyone!
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:34 PM   #4
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My boyfriend noticed the change almost immediately. He always cuddles with her, but she's now resistant and begins to scratch or bite him (since about a month after the move).

It's like she could move in with me and my daughter, but as soon as all three of us lived with her, it was too much.

It was just the two of them for six years, so I can understand. She seems to love the house - it's open, it has stairs, lots of windows, but her actions are just nuts. Maybe it is a lingering anxiety that she has.

When she bit me or clawed me, I'd yell and run. It terrifies me! I tried the spray one time and it seemed to work on her stair behavior. I don't really play with her but maybe my daughter would with a pointer or a ball of catnip.

I guess I have to interact with her a little bit more, but it's just finding safe ways (in my mind) to do that.
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:44 PM   #5
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It's probably related to the move, but could be symptom of a medical issue - just keep that in mind if it continues after making other changes...

I would definitely make a point of playing with her - yourself included! You don't even have to go near her if you use a laser pointer.

Did a cat live in the house before you? Maybe she senses that. Not sure what to do about it if you know that a cat lived there, but it could be a cause.

Found this online... "If your cat likes to grab your feet as you go up and down the stairs or hide under things and ambush your ankles or legs as you walk by, carry toys with you and toss them ahead of you to redirect his attention. Try to get him to focus on chasing the toys instead of attacking you."

My cat is playfully aggressive (as in, he's just trying to have fun, he doesn't mean it!) so I'm not sure if this will apply, but when he gets too aggressive with me, I tell him NO and I stop interacting with him - I either leave the room and ignore him or lock him in a room (a "time out") until he calms down. Usually during his aggressiveness his heart rate has skyrocketed and by the time I let him out, he's back to normal.

When moving to a new place, you should gradually give them access to the house, one room at a time, to get used to it. Obviously you've been there for a while, but I'm wondering if you should backtrack? Not sure if that would help.

Good luck. I'm sure this situation isn't helping your fear of cats at all but I really hope you can find a way to all live together peacefully!
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Old 06-26-2014, 03:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FeraFilia View Post
Sounds like the cat has some behavioral problems, or is still having a stress reaction to the move. Cats are funny like that, they REALLY don't like change. You can get a anti-anxiety thing, like a plug in, that releases some time of hormone or pheromone that can relax the cat. They are 20-30 dollars each.
http://www.feliway.com/us/

It works wonders. We took our cat to the vet the other day and the had towels scented with feliway. They put it over her carrier and she calmed down immediately.

You might want to have you bf put her in a cat carrier while he's in the shower and cover it with a towel scented towel.

Also you can get diffusers which might make a big difference as well.

In the meantime, be the treat giver. And definitely throw toys around when your moving around to distract your cat. Cats can be really lovely and sweet animals, but when stressed they live by the slogan "misery loves company."
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:22 AM   #7
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I don't know if your problem has been solved already, but if it isn't (and knowing cats, it probably is far from solved), here goes.

I'm a crazy catlady and have five cats living in my household. So I know a thing or two about crazy cats. We've also moved around a bit, and yes, cats are very territorial. They do not like changes at all. They are like the psycho-autistic creatures of the animal kingdom. Any move will always go with some odd behavior from cats, from being extremely cautious to downright "aggressive" behavior (actually, it's merely defensive). However, as soon as the cat notices she can go on with her daily routine and nothing besides the territory has changed, she'll slowly learn to adapt. Feliway helps wonders for this process.

Another thing about cats is that they are hypersensitive to how others behave around them. They will notice instantly when someone doesn't trust them and for them, that can only mean one thing: If you don't trust them, it means you cannot be trusted. The solution then, seems simple: Just trust the cat! Of course, if it was that simple, you wouldn't be in this mess, right? You obviously have issues with cats and need to learn to trust them. There's nothing wrong with that, it's quite understandable even, but it means the two of you (you and the cat) will need to work on trusting one another.

Now, although cats are crazy and slightly psycho even, they are also quite simple creatures. They love to eat, be left alone when they want to sleep or wash themselves and... Play! This means, feed the cat (give her treats that only YOU give, not your boyfriend) but also find ways to play with her... From a distance. Now, a laser is a good start for you, but not for her, unless she's smart enough to realize you are the one making the red dot appear (some are, some aren't smart enough). But there are plenty of toys out there that will ease the two of you, since you can handle the toy from a long enough distance, but close enough for her to realize it really is you playing with her. These are toys like feathers on a stick, or long, wired toys held by a stick. You can easily get over a meter length (your and her comfort zone) with these toys, while actually playing with her.

Another part of cats that is simple, is their body language. This is really important to know about cats and differs quite some from humans and dogs. So, let's go over this:
Very slow, barely wagging tail: Happy, content cat
Quicker wagging tail: Anxious or unhappy cat, to downright pissed (the quicker it waggles, the more likely she'll end up lashing out)
Slow blinks: Signs of trust, it's like saying "I love you, I trust you". If she does this to you, just imitate her behavior! You'll just have told her "I love you, I trust you as well!". When the cat is looking at you and seems in a neutral/happy mood, you can even take the first step. If she responds, well, you just spoke cat!
Laying on her back while showing signs of agitation: She is ready to pounce
Laying on her back but not straight on the back, more to the side with a slow, wagging tail: She is at ease with you and trusts you. Trusting you often means she trusts you NOT to touch her tummy! ONLY touch her tummy if you know the cat really, really well and you know she loves and trusts you more than anything in the whole wide world. Or she WILL lash out (seemingly without reason). You need to understand that, for a cat, her weakest place of the body is her tummy. So showing that to you is a huge sign of trust (or just a position in which she can easily pounce, but yeah) but letting you TOUCH her weakest spot... Well, that takes a special kind of trust, huh?
Tail high up in the air: Sign of confidence or even arrogance/dominance

If she seems in an okay-state, you can also offer the back of your hand to her, so she can sniff it. Do not pat unless you are sure she'll be okay with it. This can take a while, but once you think it's okay and you know enough of her body language, you can then, after she sniffed it, slowly move your hand to her head and see if she'll let you pat her. Ask your boyfriend at this stage where she enjoys being scratched. This differs from cat to cat. Some like it on the ears, some more on the forehead, some chin,... I even have a cat that lets most people, once properly introduced, scratch his tummy. As long as he believes there's food involved, he'll do anything, actually.

I hope you still read this and can use this so you and your feline companion can learn to love each other.

Last edited by AngryShroom : 07-10-2014 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:43 AM   #8
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I think it's very difficult to let my guard down. She's also one of those cats that likes to walk directly in front of your legs, weaving in and out and rubbing your legs while you walk. That even made my mom paranoid when she came to fed her last weekend while we were out of town, and she loves animals!

I'm 100% sure it's related to my distance from her, but I'm going to try the treats from me and get some new cat toys. I don't like cat toys because they tend to make them so excited and it can get out of hand (to me), but I'm willing to try anything to get her to stop the aggression. My boyfriend got bit the other day, and he was shocked. I should order the feliway too - I'll talk to him about that.

It seems like the only person she's been okay with is my daughter. So far...
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:32 AM   #9
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I know for people who aren't used of animals, a cat can seem very out of control easily. Like I said, the problem is not just her needing to learn to trust you (she would've done that no sweat). The biggest problem is you learning to trust you. That seems as if I'm pointing all fingers at you and blaming you. I'm not. It's a natural thing and, in a way, I know how you must feel like, around an animal that is so wild and simple in nature.

Also remember that cats are the psycho-autists of the animal kingdom. They will never lose control, unless they're high on catnip (hah) and everything they do, is always fully intentional.

The fact she is rubbing herself onto you, is not really a bad sign. Cats, like most other territorial animals, mark their territory AND possession. Male cats can do this by spraying (though this is usually against other male cats), all cats will do this by rubbing their heads against items. There are glands in front of their ears that release pheromones (as can be found in Feliway). Excessive amount of marking can result in bald patches in front of her ears and is usually a sign of agitation and that she no longer feels in control (her autistic side). These bald patches should, in other words, actually always raise (at the very least) an orange flag.

Another thing that can make a cat feel out of control, is a lack of hiding spots. Hiding spots are, for most breeds, almost always high and certainly covered if low. A scratching tree is therefore advisable and preferably contains a higher spot. Also boxes (a cardboard box will suffice, they adore these) are just very appreciated and can make a cat feel at ease.

If you feel uncomfortable with the toy, watch your boyfriend play with it first, so you know what to expect. This can quite probably ease you into it.

Cats, once they trust you, are extremely loyal, almost more so than dogs, and although they seem unpredictable, will often let you know what they don't like. However, cats can ONLY use their body to express this. Therefore, it's obviously really needed you learn the small signs (tail, ears, fur, body positioning, any kind of vocal sounds), because if those small signals fail, she will result to biting and scratching. Not because she hates you or wants to kill you or whatever, but just because she's had enough and she wants you to listen to her.

We, humans, might first say as well we've had enough. If the other human won't stop after that, we too will end up using fists and kicking and... just to make the other person stop. Animals react just the same!
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:36 AM   #10
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^^^ Hiding spots are a good point. Especially ones that are high up. I put my cats' beds on top of our kitchen cabinets. They love it up there, and supposedly allowing them to be high up like that makes them feel in control and supposedly has good effects on behavior. I don't know that it has been effective with my kitties, but I know they love it up there.

Good luck Munchy. You can do this!
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