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How do you handle you cat when he/she attacks?!

May 17th, 2007, 09:06 AM
THIS WAS POSTED ON ANOTHER THREAD... but I'd like to resume the chat here... :) Before I go on, please know that I understand that 'cat attacks', even vicious ones, are normal for our kitties... though it can be hard on us humans sometimes. ;)

I had a white cat, Snowball (RIP 1991-2005) who was extremely close to me, still miss him to the point of tears, but I could not trust him. He slept with me EVERY night of his life, but a few times would jump up on the bed while I was sound asleep and viciously attack my arm, causing bleeding. Every once in a while he would do this while we were watching TV, but then I could see the look in his eyes and stop him in the act. Very strange, sometimes I thought he may have Schizophrenia because the look in his eyes was very distinct when he was in this mood.

Awww...:rip: Snowball... :angel: My Luna can be exactly like that - may I ask you something? How did you stop him when you saw that look? I try to catch Luna before she gets going, and give her a time out in the bathroom to cool down which often works... I'm always open to other ideas too! It's been five years with her and when she's in that mode its really hard to calm her (without 'rewarding' her with attention for undesirable behavior, if you know what I mean.)

No matter how much he attacked, I loved him dearly and would never think about putting him down. I would not allow anybody to pat him though, especially children.

Agreed, I'm the same with Luna - and we can abandon totally the putting-them-down part of this chat, I don't think ANYONE here would consider it. :eek:

I tell everybody that comes into my home that Luna bites and to be vary wary, not to pet her and let her approach and sniff you (though in five years she's only ever gone after two other people, one who spooked her). Its her home too... :love:

May 17th, 2007, 09:19 AM
Have you ever had a behaviorist look at Rocky? Or tried feliway or Rescue Remedy???

Has anyone had a good solid and helpful experience with a cat behaviorist? How does one find one? (If you haven't, please see above post about my Luna).

I was given some Rescue Remedy, but don't know how its best used, or really what I should expect... and users of that here? Good or bad results?

Thanks everyone! :thumbs up ~Scary

May 17th, 2007, 09:36 AM
I had a psycho cat many moons ago, a black female... she would jump up on your lap to get petted then, without any warning, would just growl, hiss, turn and bite or scratch you then jump off - no rhyme or reason. You'd walk past her and she would either rub up your leg for a pat or swat you with her claws. She was mental. In the end I had NO trust in her and just didn't want her around anymore, it was too stressful and we were sick and tired of being attacked. She also loved to piss on our bed, right in the middle of the mattress. :mad: (yes she was spayed and had no health issues).

We went away on vacation one summer and a friend of mine took her in, no cat when we came back: the cat had apparently pissed on the roommate's bed and how coincidental, the next day the cat had "escaped through an open window". I never believed it... i was sad for about two hours but then felt great relief, it was good riddance. Never knew what really happened to her though. :shrug:

May 17th, 2007, 09:56 AM
Ok, now I think its hilarious that I keep posting to my own post, LOL! I forgot to say this (to hopefully save others some time)...
I read just now the posts from a few weeks ago "when is the biting too much"... similar thread, and that OP had the same experiences I did.
Getting a second cat for me at this point isn't an option...
I DEFINATELY have learned Luna's signals (about petting, over-stimulating, likes and dislikes, etc), but there are times where there really aren't any, it just happens!
"No!" is a word she knows... but when she's wound up, doesn't heed.

and finally...
Ignoring her/walking away when she's attacking rarely works, and she just comes after me unrelentingly and with stronger attacks. I have gone into other rooms but don't want her to think she can chase me away and rule the roost with that behavior either.

Despite how all this sounds, YES I totally love my cat! :love:

May 17th, 2007, 10:49 AM
We have an "evil" little black female (what's up with the naughty black girlies???) who was prone to violent, unpredictable attacks as well. We tried many kinds of behaviour modification, products such as Feliway, etc, with no success. Eventually, with the blessings of our vet, we started her on an anti-anxiety prescription medication. The name of the stuff escapes me at the moment (I'll try to remember to look it up when I get home). It is inexpensive, we have no problem administering it, and the difference is huge. The frequency of attacks is significantly reduced, almost nil, she rarely goes after our other cats (which she used to do constantly) she is content and relaxed and happy, and there seem to be no negative side effects (i.e. no nausea, drowsiness/dopiness etc.), with the possible exception of a bit of weight gain. We still watch her closely around other people, just to be safe, but things have been fine so far. It worked for us, and is a possibility you could explore with your vet.

May 17th, 2007, 12:20 PM
I have fortunately never needed one - well, I did have some ferals who were not overly friendly but they never attacked me or anyone else and I did give them Rescue remedy or use soothing music and it worked. They tended to keep their distance and then sleep with me at night or if I was sitting on the sofa, they'd lay there too.

I have many scratches from capturing ferals (to have them spayed or neutered and find them homes) - this was when I was young and foolish and thought all I had to do is lift up the kitty, lol Some are still faintly visible!

I think a large part of the trick is anticipating an attack and if you can judge that, you will ldo well.

My sister sought a behaviorist - actually someone who was a cat psychologist in Boston - after her divorce when they had 5 cats and she got 3 and he got 2 and the separation caused anxiety in one cat especially. (I would have tried to keep them together but I gave my advice and they did what they wanted I guess, lol)

The psychologist did help - she talked to the cat and prescribed some medication (tho I imagine the vet would have to give it to her since psychologists cannot prescribe meds). There are also people who can sort of talk to cats - without sounding like a new age spiritualist and it does seem to work with some cats. (even cats who run away from situations they do not like and I know at least 2 people who have gone that route.)

I believe my sister found her psychologist from her vet and as for the cat person or I am not sure what title that would be (behaviorist maybe?), it was essentially word of mouth. I would think anyone who is involved with cats in some way - at cat shows, pet detectives (there are a few actually good ones online - I think there is a cat behaviorist online too if I can find the url after work.)

Anyway - that's my experience. I do know it CAN help and is worth a try.

I actually think it would be a near job, lol (and as someone who seems to be able to communicate with what some call the "wildest of ferals, I think I'd love to try it sometime. But I don't know how one starts it - I suspect it is one of those things that you fall into.

Good luck with your Luna!!

Luna isn't declawed is she? That could explain the biting since many many declawed cats have so little to fight with that they become fearful and bite.

May 17th, 2007, 12:52 PM

When I could predict one of his attacks I was able to say NO and stare him down and if he still made a move my hand would come up in his way to stop him from jumping up on me (just to be clear, he was not hit, he jumped into my hand). I always worried that he would attack my face, but he never did, only my arms and once my leg. His eyes did get a weird stare prior to attacks. The stun of him falling back down seem to clear his head. As for the attacks in the middle of the night, I couldn't prepare for it so my first reaction would be to try to get him to let go of my arm. I could not pick him up to put him for time out because my hand would look like Chico2's foot.

I really think that he would have a type of brain seizure or type of schizophrenia. I was the only one he trusted in the world, he could only be handled by a vet if I was holding him and talking to him, and the only one that could pick him up when he was in a good mood (99.9% of the time). He was never, never abused as far as I know, we had him since he was 6 weeks old. Neutered at 6 months.

The attacks were not often, perhaps 3 or 4 a year. I didn't get any background on him as he was from the humane society and he and his siblings were dropped off at 6 wks of age.

May 17th, 2007, 12:58 PM

Snowball only attacked one lady in his life because she cornered him while he was tied up outside and he was scared. He never bit anybody else, but did not trust him so I didn't let any children pat him and warned all adults. I have a beautiful, gentle Himalayan that I would get for the children to pat when they saw Snowball and wanted to pat him.

May 17th, 2007, 01:26 PM
many times when cats are that way it is because they have not been properly socialized with other kitties, i.e. taken away from the mother too early, not all the time but some. Usually the mother will give a sharp nip, swat early on to let the kitten know what is inappropriate behaviour so they learn.
Sometimes too it is just boredom, cats are nocturnal and just want to play, spending five minutes sessions or more if cat wants it with a cat dancer or toy can help take that edge off, so they dont see you as the prey :)
Some people say that squirting a water bottle, once, helps deter that, for the cats that dont like water, not something i would do, but then it wouldnt hurt the cat, maybe just startle them enough that they knew their action was innappropriate?

May 17th, 2007, 01:39 PM
I have a declawed black female cat (Annie) who doesn't attack me, but she really goes after my other cat (Micki) on a frequent basis. Usually the worst that happens, besides the psychological trauma to my other cat, is clumps of fur get torn out. However, one time there was an ear that got ripped open. I would love to be able to stop this, but rarely see it coming in time. I tried this stuff called 'Feliway' and also Bach flower remedies in their drinking water, to calm them, but these didn't work at all. Annie will stop if I scold her and start walking in her direction, but this is not ideal.

I also had a cat growing up who pretty much only liked me (not black, but calico). She terrorized my little brothers, often attacking their legs as they walked by her on the stairs. I'll never forget the shock one of my brother's friends got who didn't know my cat, and before anyone could stop him, actually picked her up (she didnt' even like me doing that)! He did end up with some wounds but was ok. Not a smart idea to pick up a cat you do not know!!

I don't have any great suggestions, but if the cat is attacking you, if possible carry around something to defend yourself with (a squirt gun for example, or something that makes noise to startle the cat and stop the attack). Other things to try that may or may not work: pet psychic, someone who does Reiki on animals, or as suggested, a psychologist for pets (you never know, if nothing else is working might be worth a shot to try something non-conventional).

May 18th, 2007, 03:59 PM
Thank you SO MUCH to everyone for their detailed and thoughtful responses! I'll try not to get too wordy with mine... :) It sure IS funny that many tales are about the black females! :rolleyes:

Technodoll - Um, I'm sorry to hear about your experience, though mine won't be the same as I could never live without her (and Luna doesn't go outside her litterbox either thankfully).

Bendyfoot - What is Feliway please and how is it used? As for other anti-anxiety drugs, my vet is aware of her behaviors and has never suggested such a thing... but I will ask him on our next visit. Glad that helped your kitty, and I'd be interested in the name if you find it!

CyberKitten - You sound brave with ferals, maybe you ought to look into behaviorist work! Why don't you talk to one near you about it? I'll keep my ears and eyes open for a well-reputed behaviorist near me (a friend did ask a pet psychic about Luna, PM me if you're interested in the tale - too long to post if not!)
How do you use the Rescue Remedy, and how often please? I have some but haven't used it... Also, no, Luna is NOT declawed and I never would (but I do understand why you'd ask.) She was also spayed at 6mo.

Love4himies - Luna was a shelter kitten too, feral they thought, and 8 weeks old at drop-off (I took her home 2 days later). My big difference is Luna's attacks are 3-4 times a WEEK. When I 'time-out' her in the bathroom, getting her there often results in my bleeding - she latches on to any limb but especially fights my hands; but if I don't take lock away (5-10 min, i'm not mean to her), she doesn't stop coming after me (blocking her doesn't work, she clings...) Hmmm...

Loopoo - True - she was at the shelter only two days with her brother, dropped by a woman who had 'seen them in her backyard and thought they were old enough' (who knows, the shelter said ppl say this when sometimes they just don't want black cats around!) At 8 weeks, she'd had no socializing. I wish now I'd taken her brother too, but she was my first cat...
Also - Luna loves water so the spray has no effect (tried years ago, she got soaked chasing the spray, pretty funny!)... I will try to play with her more often (before attacks, not so she learns attacks = play.)

Kristen7 - THanks for your thoughts and stories.... and yes, I'll try just about anything!
Weirdly, sometimes its as soon as an hour or two before or after an attack that she hops up and lays on my chest while I watch TV to get some love and petting... which she always gets when she 'asks' that way.

Maybe she really is bipolar or something. :shrug:

OH DEAR I GOT WORDY AFTERALL! :p Further thoughts are always appreciated! Thanks for reading and happy weekends to all... ~Scary

May 18th, 2007, 04:19 PM
Scary,In my looong life with cats,IMO females can often be a bit more snippy and independant.
I've had mostly males,find them more laid back and loving,of course that is just my experience.
My Rocky would never attack me just like that,there is always a reason,strange cat outside,that he can smell and hear through the screen and in this case Bailey the Cocker,it's happened 3 times in 5 years,otherwise he is always the nicest,cuddliest tabby.
As for picking up cats,I don't usually do that,I believe most cats do not like to feel confined or restrained in any way.

May 18th, 2007, 04:20 PM
What about having a few cans full of pennies around. Perhaps if you can shake the can, it will startle her and snap her out of that mood?

Kodiak Bear
May 18th, 2007, 09:52 PM
Scary, Good luck. I have a feral, and find rescue remedy works. They can be the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.

May 23rd, 2007, 01:47 PM
My Rocky would never attack me just like that,there is always a reason,strange cat outside,that he can smell and hear through the screen and in this case Bailey the Cocker,it's happened 3 times in 5 years,otherwise he is always the nicest,cuddliest tabby.
As for picking up cats,I don't usually do that,I believe most cats do not like to feel confined or restrained in any way.

Hi Chico2, I responded on your 'emergency' post too... I totally believe you about Rocky! Luna is just... different. I love her, I believe she loves me too... A psychic once told me she didn't understand being separated from her Mom and brother as a kitten and has trust issues. ?? Who knows, but rest assured she's mine as long as she lives!

I pick Luna up once a day for maybe 20 seconds, less if she squirms - a habit I started to get her used to being handled as a baby. Now I do it only when I get in from work, and no carrying, just holding (different!) Its not her favorite thing, but she's used to it and now sometimes she cuddles me back... and I love the short daily ritual. :D

TeriM - I used to use the can of pennies, but they're never where I need them! I carried a can for a day years ago but then she just avoided me, and besides, I don't like spooking her. Thanks though!

Kodiak Bear - thanks... How do you use the RR, and how often please? :confused:

May 23rd, 2007, 04:05 PM
Scary,my cats,as cuddly and loving as they are,often when they want no more cuddles,will give a"love-bite"not a chomping down bite,just a little nudge.
With time we all learn their bodylanguage,If Rocky sees an intruder in the yard,I know right away by his stance and his intensity,a warning sign,not to bother him.
A Raccoon,Possum,Skunk does not bother him,but strange cats do.
Luckily it does not happen too often,not many outdoor cats around here.

May 23rd, 2007, 05:51 PM
Luna 'warns' me too when she's had enough... a gentle swat or teeth grip. I get that for sure, and stop what's setting her off! Sadly these 'attacks' I started this post becuase of aren't like that, and I'd say happen 2-3 times a week... about once a week she draws my blood in bites or scratches (though only twice maybe has it EVER been like what you've recently suffered.)
Frustrating for me, but dealable... its the how-part I'm always open to hearing more suggestions about. :)

May 23rd, 2007, 09:43 PM
I am interested in the story Scary and will PM you or OM it to me if I forget - I am about to go to bed (a ,long one of those days, lol). I do think I;d love to be a at or animal behaviourist - it would be a kewl job and yes, for some reason, I feel an affinity with cats -even many ferals. They seem to know my house is OK to come to. I am convinced cats have a sense of what houses are safe - most of the time. (I can hope anyway - tho that does not explain why some cats get treated so badly , sigh! Usually, I suspect it is because they ended up in a home they did not choose - a cat has to choose you!!!).

As for Rescue remedy, the best place to but it (cost wise) is at the heakth food section of a grocery store. I hesitate to give my cats any meds or even to suggest any since I am not a vet but Rescue remedy is a homeopathic remedy that you can add with a dropper (that is part of the bottle) to his or her food. Another technique is to add some on his/her paws since s/he will lick the off and thus ingest it. It does not work with all cats but unlike such medicinal substances as Gravol or Valarian (if I dare call that medicinal, lol), it does not have adverse effects and does not affect a cat in any negative way. My cats are quite calm after taking it - and while YY (my Seal Pt Siamese does not mind visiting the vet), Beau and one of the Sphynx Girls do and the Rescue remedy lets them practically sleep through the drive there. They usually are awake, just not meowing as only a Siamese can as I try to navigate traffic.

This is the official site of Rescue Remedy, I have never read this before ironically - have looked at more academic stuff but I will read it now, lol
and this is another page about it, not as intensive but alsio has some other ideas:

Several vets here also recommend Cocculine - it is made by a French - as in France - company - and has similar results to Rescue remedy. Ironically, I am not that much for advocating herbal products but today, one of my patients said he did not need anything to sleep (he is 18 and suffering from bone cancer which can be extremely painful) because he tried a new kind of tea and it allows him to sleep better than melatonin or any other remedy he has tried. I liste to my patients - if it is an herbal product not on any list of Health Canada's or the FDA for negative or adverse effects and does not interact adly with whatever chemo or other meds one might be on, I may well learn something from them. Alas, I cannot drink tea of any kind but of it is working for him and he can sleep while in pain, I am pleased for him!!!

Cocculine is used to treat nausea (especially during travel) and there is currently a clinical trial to see if it works with chemo:

If you read French or use an online translator, here is a page aout cocculine. It is made by a company called Biron.

I hope this helps!

May 24th, 2007, 08:23 AM
I have an all black little guy Jay, who (like Chico's Rocky) when he sees a strange cat outside, goes into attack mode, and will attack the first thing he sees (be it cat or human) .

We have found talking to him calmly (is't okay Jay, It's okay Jay) has worked well over time. Also we keep many small throw pillows around, and use them if he tries to attack. (before people get mad, please understand the pillows are small and soft and don't hurt him) But they work amazing, they distract his attention from his intended victim.

We are lucky that Jay warns before he attack (screams and howls first)
so we can get the throw pillows ready.

May 24th, 2007, 09:36 AM
WOW CyberKitten, thanks for the links and all the info! I'll read on those sites more in detail when I have some more time. :)

I have some RR, will add some to Luna's water dish on a day when she seems agitated or angry... and we'll see how it goes. If it can't hurt her, maybe it will help.... she hates to leave my apartment for any reason too, so will also think to use it on vet-days. :) I am trying in my own life to regain calm and peacefulness (lower my stresses, etc.) and hopefully that will rub off too. :)

Yes, PM me and I'll write when I can take a few extra minutes and tell that tale... or 'tail' haha... cough (ok, bit lame.) :p