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Pets: Help how do you get a cat to behave

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shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

February 23, 2010
4:11 PM

Post #7581472

A beautiful black and white kitty was left in our flower bed in October of 2008. We took her in she was a tiny little thing with black hearts all over, and a perfect one on her left front paw. Short story is she is mean to everyone. Attacks even me and I am the one who feeds her. She just attacked me and it hurt. I have to wear jeans in my own house forget shorts in our hot summers. She has just returned home from the Diva Cat Care where she stayed while we were on a nine day vacation. She seemed calm and happy to be home but she is being mean again already. My daughter loves her and gets along ok with her. Everyone else in the family hates her calls her a devil cat and I have to lock her in the bath room when they visit. I think she is a feral cat that the mom brought to us. Is it possible to make her a house cat or do I just let her roam free and let her take her chances with the dangers. Would she be happier as an outside cat. We live in the country with traffic whizzing by and hawks flying over and dogs roaming. I cannot continue to let her abuse me. She literally had me crying today. Tell me what to do in this situation . It is really causing me a lot of stress. Shirleyt.

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AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

February 23, 2010
4:42 PM

Post #7581545

My Wallingford is a rescue and the first day I brought him home, he bit me. He continued to bite me at every opportunity. What I did to (mostly) end the biting was to clicker train him to do tricks. Seems silly (OK it is) but he learned that we could communicate. He got treats for non-biting behavior like turning in circles, sitting on command, shaking hands, etc. I also make sure that he has very active play time on a regular basis. His favorite toy is a fishing pole with a mousie lure that I can cast across a room. He gets the mousie and brings it back to me over and over and over again. He joined one cat in the household and she still won't talk to him - (she calls him Hissssssssssssss). When a dear friend died and we adopted his (much larger) cat into the house, Wallingford had someone to play with and someone to put him in his place (YES!). I still get bitten - but it is rare and Wallingford and I are dearest friends. Good luck with your girl.

Did she seem to care that you were crying?
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

February 23, 2010
6:06 PM

Post #7581769

I would try a combination of positive and negative reinforcement. First, I would hand feed (if that can be done safely, perhaps using tongs if necesary) any food that she adores and not leave food out that she eats on her own. If she growls or shows any dominant behavior during the feeding I would stop feeding immediately and try again later. I would wear gloves or anything that will make you calm and confident during the process.

I would also try to get into the habit of carrying a spray bottle filled with water (I realize that's very inconvenient but hopefully its temporary) which I would use any time she menaces you in any way, rather than waiting for a full blown attack. She probably views you as a "weak" member of the family unit and thinks you're fair "game" for alpha behavior. At this point, I'm guessing you're understandably fearful around her which emboldens her negative behavior even further. Also, if you can discern any pattern to the attacks, I would try to predict them to the extent possible so that you can be prepared to thwart them in a calm assertive manner.

If she did not act like a "land shark" at the boarding facility, it shows that she's territorial and acts like this when she thinks she's in charge and can get away with it. I realize this sounds silly, but like wearing gloves at feeding, I'd wear any type of clothing during the training process that's heavy enough to protect you and will make you feel confident that she can't actually hurt you.

(I obviously don't know if she's feral, but I have rescued dozens of feral cats who have become devoted loving pets, so please don't think this is just a feral cat acting like a feral cat.)

Alternatively, if she likes your daughter, then have her live only in your daughter's room. You certainly should not be a hostage in your own home! Good luck!
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

February 23, 2010
7:14 PM

Post #7581925

thanks, I do have her stay at night in the room with my daughter because she likes to prowl if you leave her in the main area. She breaks things and checks out every area of the space. She can be loving for just seconds at a time. The vet wants us to keep her inside. But she wants to go out so bad, it makes me feel mean by not allowing her to do so. Sometimes I cannot tell if she is playing or attacking. All I know is sometimes she draws blood and I literally have to doctor myself from the claw marks and sometimes the bite. She has lots of toys and a scratching post that she loves. She is truly a Diva around here. Maybe she does see me as the weak link. I know she is jealous of my daughter and wants to be in the room with her when she is home,and lets me know I need to leave. Yet she is not cuddly with her either. When she is at the vets to stay no one can handle her but the Vet. The workers call her the beast, because she hisses at them every time they pass her. She has only hurt me once today so maybe there is hope. lol thanks again. shirleyt
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

February 23, 2010
8:27 PM

Post #7582082

Shirley, You're very kind to have put up with such disagreeable behavior. Most people would have dumped the "problem child" long ago.

I would be very interested to ask the vet why she can handle the cat but no one else can. Obviously, she does something different and I'm betting that it's calm assertive handling which is definitely easier said than done, especially when you have a history of attacks.

If this cat's behavior does not improve with "training," I would let her outside to see if she can burn off some steam which might improve her temperment. Although the outdoors is unsafe, she may be one of those cats that cannot happily adapt to indoor life. If she's constantly unhappy inside, making her an indoor cat is not fair to her, even if it results in a much longer life. One of mine literally climbed the walls and I made the decision to let him outside despite the risks.

If she continues to be nasty even if you let her outside, I'd see if you could re-home her as a barn cat where she is not required to be a pet. Best wishes!
momcat
northeast, IL
(Zone 5a)

February 24, 2010
6:08 PM

Post #7584535

Even if she was born feral, if you took her in as a baby kitten, she shouldn't have any feral tendencies. I had a kitten that was born outside to a feral mother. I caught her in my garage, and within a week, she was the sweetest little kitten I ever had. She was probably 5 to 6 weeks old when I cornered and caught her. I got bit and clawed, and she would puff herself up as big as she could for the first few days, but within a week, she knew where the goodies came from, and I never had a problem with her biting or clawing after that.

No ideas on how to handle your situation, but just because a kitten is born feral, does it mean that it can't turn into a wonderful pet.

Deb
tomatofreak
Phoenix, AZ

February 24, 2010
6:10 PM

Post #7584539

Shirley, I have an indoor feral cat that brought her three babies to my yard when she felt unsafe (rightfully so) where she came from. The babies were wild as March hares, but they all tamed well. I had hoped mommy would, too, but she didn't. She wants to be loved and petted so much, but all I can do is reach down when she sidles up and stroke her back and tail.

Your 'heart' kitty (what is her name?) is adorable. Having been bitten and scratched a lot myself, I understand your frustration. My recommendation is going to be different. (I do like the clicker training idea.) Please do NOT just turn her out. Despite the fact that she seems to want to go out, she is in no way capable of dealing with the dangers you mention. She's an indoor cat with an outdoor wish. I can't tell you how many times I've had that same problem. So what to do?

Build a kitty habitat. It doesn't have to be terribly large, just escape-proof. If she can go from indoors to outdoors safely, she may decide that the outdoors is her queenly domain and the indoors is yours. I say "may" because I can't say for sure. However, it would give you some relief if she decides to spend a lot of time out there. Here are links to a few products you can buy.

http://www.purrfectfence.com/

http://habitathaven.com/cat-enclosures.html

If you have someone handy, you can build your own; it's not that difficult. For the simplest one possible, you can position a large dog cage outside a window that you can open for passage back and forth. I have one in my office for my inside cats who want some fresh air. They love it. Let me know if you have any questions about how we made either the window one or the large outdoor enclosure.

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Illig1
Redwood City, CA

February 24, 2010
6:33 PM

Post #7584591

Tomatofreak, Good suggestion re outdoor enclosure attached to a window. When I move to the "country" I'm going to have to figure out some similar type of setup since predators will abound and some of my ferals are adamantly opposed to being indoor-only cats.

Shirley, Although you mentioned your cat has lots of toys, she may still have lots of pent up energy which manifests itself in aggressive behavior. I exercise my cats in the house with a laser toy. It's very easy to just sit on the couch and point the laser all over the house and watch the mad careening. I don't know if you have a second story, but it's really good exercise to point the laser up at the top of the stairs and have them fly up and down the stairs.



This message was edited Feb 24, 2010 7:18 PM
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

February 25, 2010
8:11 PM

Post #7587442

My kitty's name is Goat. My grandson kept asking me to get a goat because I live in the country and he loves goats for some reason. I said no no no every time he asked. When his brother brought the kitty inside I also said no no no. But one look at her and I just wanted to get her dry warm and fed. I told Kris I was going to name her Goat and he should tell Kelly that Maw Maw had him his goat. It was a joke that stuck. She confuses me. I never know when she will grab me around the legs. Sometimes she wants fresh food in her bowls. Sometimes she wants the potty cleaned.(twice a day for sure) or she will not let me alone. Sometimes she grabs me when I pass by. She hurts me sometimes sometimes it is like a hug. She is content in here now climbs in windows lays by French doors to the deck and watches the birds. She loves to lay by the TV. A rug is over a vent and it is nice and warm there. It is her favorite place to sleep. I am just afraid that when she gets to rough with me it might cause an infection. She lets me pick up up and just hangs like a rag doll while I take her where she needs to be. So she is not all bad. I like the Idea of a protected area for her to go outside safely. I will look into that. She is so beautiful I just want her to have a personality to match. lol wish me luck shirleyt
AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

February 25, 2010
9:08 PM

Post #7587591

She needs another kitty to beat up on. Also, I got a toy for Wallingford that was basically an oven mitt with a little pocket for catnip. When he got that look in his eyes - must kill now - I gave him the mitt to beat up on. It was big enough that he could grab it and kill it with his back legs. It had a little jingle bell and making that ring seemed to please him. I haven't seen it in awhile - and I haven't needed it since the new kitty moved in because he and Sampson play "killer" with each other.
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

March 10, 2010
2:10 PM

Post #7619337

I am having some success with kitty. I decided to let her know I am boss around here. My daughter says she lets her know she is boss by hugging her tight and biting her ear. She heard that was the way to do it somewhere. Well I am not going to bite her ear but I am not adverse to hugging her tightly and squeezing her ear while telling her I am the boss around here. It works for several days and then she attacks again. It seems she is really just wanting me to do something I have not done. Like clean the potty, fresh water in afternoon and now she has added, a better feed those birds on the deck, so I can watch them from my window demand. If I keep all this done to her satisfaction all is serene on the home front. lol what a cat. The key seems to be to figure out just what it is she is unhappy about. I adapt a just do it attitude and then she does her thing and I do mine. Oh another kitty is not an option. I do not want kitty fights in my domain. lol shirleyt

This message was edited Mar 10, 2010 4:13 PM
porkpal
Richmond, TX

March 11, 2010
6:52 AM

Post #7620885

Some animals have good dispositions and some don't. I would let the cat live outdoors and take her chances.
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

March 11, 2010
2:32 PM

Post #7621899

Well you see we know what her chances would be. Two three months tops. Been there done that. Do not want to go there again. In spite of a bite too often I will live with her as long as I do not get an infection. All said and done we love her. She is getting better. I still have hope . I will just reinforce who is boss around here. That is me. If all else fails I WILL bite her ear. lol Shirley t

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meezersfive

meezersfive
waukesha, WI
(Zone 5a)

March 11, 2010
5:26 PM

Post #7622297

Throwing a pet outdoors to survive on it's own is not a solution to behavior problems.
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

March 11, 2010
9:36 PM

Post #7622829

Glad to hear that your being a "momma cat" is improving her disposition. Animals are always calmer and happier when the hierarchy is firmly established. I always pick my cats up and give them lots of kisses as a way to show affection and that I'm the mom. Kudos to you for working with her.
AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

March 12, 2010
5:55 AM

Post #7623298

Biting the ear doesn't always work - been there - done that. Rewarding good behavior has a better chance of suceeding in the long run. Keep the nails clipped short to help prevent you getting an infection. Did you try the oven mitt "killing" toy for when she gets agressive? I could tell when Wallingford got that "got to kill something now" look on his face and gave him the mitt. Eventually I would see him suddenly run to the mitt and "kill" it all by himself. Sometimes is the difficult ones that turn out to be the best friends in the long run.

Peace, Plenty and Purrs,
Memory and the cats
tomatofreak
Phoenix, AZ

March 12, 2010
7:32 AM

Post #7623475

Good for you, Shirley! Just so you know, we've tried the ear-biting method with very good results. It's not a hard bite, mind you, just firm enough and held long enough to get and keep their attention. I think it's partly the surprise of being bitten by a human, plus the realization that just maybe the human is top cat that makes it work. I hope you can provide a safe outdoor space for her. I think she'd be very happy and calmer indoors if she had that bit of safe freedom.
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

March 28, 2010
9:08 AM

Post #7661932

Just a quick update. The pinch the ear method is working nicely. She hops on the bed for a wake me up kiss. I rub her gently and then give her a loving hug pinch her ear to let her know I am the boss and our day is off to a nice start. She has only been bad once in the last few weeks. That is down from at least ( four a day attacks.) Key seems to be to keep potty very clean, fresh water always and feed the birds for her. That is her TV.lol She tells me when she is ready for a show. She gives a little special meow and heads back to her door meowing over her shoulder as she goes. I put out the seeds, birds arrive and she is happy, I am happy and all is serene on the home front. lol what a cat. Thanks for your help.shirleyt
blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 28, 2010
10:52 AM

Post #7662143

excellent news.. and High Fives to you for not giving up on her!.. you certially have earned the title Kitty Mom for doing all youve done to make her happy!

9kittymom

9kittymom
Bartlesville, OK
(Zone 6a)

March 28, 2010
6:41 PM

Post #7663130

LOL, I am thrilled to know Goat has you trained so well. Isn't it amazing how they can do that. and she even gets ear love tweeks. Love it!!

and I bet the birds are happy too. ^_^

Susan
=^..^=
welcome to the Kitty mom club!
AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

March 30, 2010
8:46 AM

Post #7666916

I'm making a note of the ear pinch!
blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 30, 2010
10:20 AM

Post #7667155

it works well Ive used it for years when my cats would get too rough playing.. It makes them stop and think...loll
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

March 30, 2010
7:04 PM

Post #7668272

Fabulous news and congratulations on your hard work! Before this thread, I had never heard of ear biting or pinching as an alpha display, but thanks to everybody's informative comments and insights, I can now add this information to the tool box.
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

March 25, 2011
8:26 PM

Post #8450610

I thought I would post an update on Goat. It has been a year now and some changes were made. She was so unhappy inside that one day after a rather brutal attack on me that left me in tears I decided she should go outside and be an outside country cat. She was having such fun outside it was great to see. She goes out when she wants comes to the door to come in when she wants and everything is now fine with her. No more attacks for months. We have learned to communicate. I know when she is ready to go out when she is ready for a snack etc. But I have learned not to ignore her. She is like a baby take care of her needs first and all is right with our world. We have a routine established. When I need her to come in I yell Goat hurry hurry hurry and she comes bounding very fast to the door.When we have visitors I let her go out or put her in the bed room where she naps until company departs. I am really not an animal in my house person but what can you do. I am her chosen Mommy and we love her. shirleyt
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

March 27, 2011
8:01 PM

Post #8454737

Shirley, Wonderful to hear the update re Goat and her new happy life, It sounds like she is one of those cats who have to be allowed outside to be happy, even though that obviously is not the safest option for any cat. You're a great mom and Goat's a very lucky girl!
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

March 28, 2011
10:40 AM

Post #8456002

On a similar note, I had a very talented Thoroughbred mare who was extremely explosive and would buck me off with some regularity. I had bought her from a pasture and then she was placed in a show barn and a box stall. I didn't know what to do with her because of the bucking so I put her back out to pasture because I couldn't quite bring myself to sell her. I started riding her from her pasture home and she was a totally different horse. She was relaxed, happy and didn't buck. She went on to win many prizes in horse shows, including 10 consecutive blue ribbons in dressage. Animals can't just tell us when they're unhappy so they often respond to their unhappiness by behaving badly. It appears that's what Goat did.
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

March 30, 2011
8:28 AM

Post #8460276

I have come to believe that she is very smart and knows what she wants. If she could talk she would tell me. Since she cannot she gets her wants known the only way she can. Looking back she would attack me only when she was being ignored because lol I was busy doing what I needed to do. Things have settled down so much I can hardly believe it. She loves to curl up in my lap while I have my first cup of coffee. When I am ready for a second she is ready to go outside on an adventure. She stays close and can dart under our deck or up a tree if threatened . I have also seen her stand her ground and back up a large black dog. He was very afraid of her and when I saw him he did not stand a chance. I got the broom yelled loud and he was off the deck in a flash never to be seen around here again. tmi lol We have been letting her go out for months now and she is much happier and so are we. would love to see a picture of your horse. I have not had one for years...shirleyt

This message was edited Mar 30, 2011 9:30 AM
porkpal
Richmond, TX

March 30, 2011
8:54 PM

Post #8461738

I think that cats and Thoroughbred mares (especially chestnuts) have much in common!
BirdieBlue
Winston Salem, NC
(Zone 7a)

April 4, 2011
3:13 PM

Post #8471881

What exactly is a "get" anyway??
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

April 4, 2011
8:35 PM

Post #8472712

Porkpal, I think chestnuts get a bad rap, though you're not the first person I've heard this from. My TB mare was grey, a color often associated with being "hot" due to Arabian ancestry. I love mares and cats because they're so opinionated.
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

April 5, 2011
2:18 PM

Post #8474207

A get is a type o that I did not know how to correct. I have tried to figure it out but no luck.lol
BirdieBlue
Winston Salem, NC
(Zone 7a)

April 5, 2011
5:40 PM

Post #8474650

I figured as much, but just cannot stop that silly streak when it wants to at up ^_^

Oh, & FYI- You can go back to any of your posts and edit them
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

April 6, 2011
3:50 PM

Post #8476612

I know how to edit a post message. A thread title edit I do not know how to do. Believe me I have tried.
BirdieBlue
Winston Salem, NC
(Zone 7a)

April 6, 2011
5:13 PM

Post #8476824

OH, duh to me!! If you dmail admin, they can do it for you. Not that important though.
Have a bleesed day!
AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

April 6, 2011
5:40 PM

Post #8476885

I kind of like the title the way it is...:)
BirdieBlue
Winston Salem, NC
(Zone 7a)

April 6, 2011
6:34 PM

Post #8477048

yep
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

April 7, 2011
8:35 AM

Post #8478211

lol you got it. It does seem to get some attention. shirley
shirleyt
Pearl River, LA

October 19, 2012
8:14 AM

Post #9309681

Hello everyone. Just browsing and thought you might like an update. All is serene... Goat loves me immensely, curls up in my lap every chance she gets. smooches me and makes my daughter very jealous. She chooses different places in the house to sleep. She goes out when she wants and rarely uses the litter box. She has unlimited space outside but stays close and is the force on this corner. She makes anything that comes here wish they hadn't with just her "This is my corner" attitude. They leave never to be seen again. lol Oh and best of all if I am not quick enough to do something she wants she just gives me a gentle nibble. So all is fine with the Goat...lol It can be done

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AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

October 19, 2012
8:15 AM

Post #9309684

Glad to hear that all is well! And thanks for the picture.
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

October 22, 2012
8:16 PM

Post #9312701

Fabulous news! Again, I commend you for working with a difficult animal and it just shows how much their environment affects their disposition.

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