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Possible behavior change after spay? (cat)

June 19th, 2008, 03:18 PM
I'm taking care of a stray cat I found last March until my sister can adopt her in a few weeks.

Roxy likes to be petted but certain areas, like the belly, are a no-no. At times, for some unknown reason, she will attack and try to bite. She attacked my foot once as I walked by her and on another occasion, she hissed and swatted at my father-in-law who had been petting her calmly for a few minutes. She wanted to pounce on his hand to bite. I really don't think it's play behaviour. A couple of days after we took her in, she would sometimes growl at us but it doesn't happen often nowadays.

It's something I'm not used to. Kira and Jadzia (our 2 cats who have no physical contact with Roxy) were spayed as kittens and never ever swatted or growled at us.

Since May, Roxy is in heat for a week every other week. Well of course she becomes very very affectionate when she is in heat and will happily accept a good belly rub! As a matter of fact, it's sad to say I like her personality better when she is in heat. A real sweetheart, no aggression whatsoever. If all goes well, she will be spayed next Thursday.

My hubby thinks after the operation Roxy's personality will mellow out and she will lose her aggressive steaks. In my opinion, her normal personality and behaviour are when she isn't in heat. So even after spaying her, she will always be a little aggressive.

What do you think? Thanks!

June 19th, 2008, 03:57 PM
Hmm.. Even my Jake, who's generally a friendly fellow, will eventually grab and bite my hand if I'm giving him one too many belly rubs. He stops the moment I say "Ow", and I think it's just from over stimulation.. Some cats have a lower threshold for petting and it just starts to bug them (kind of like how we might not mind a gentle pat on the head, but after 10 I'm telling the other person to :censored: off :laughing:)

Jake was neutered when he was 6 months, btw.

June 19th, 2008, 04:36 PM
"Petting induced aggression" is actually somewhat common in the cat world. Here's some good info on the subject:

Petting induced aggression: what is it and how can it be treated?

Some cats bite while being petted. Some cats are intolerant of all handling, but most cats with petting aggression accept a certain amount of petting but then become highly agitated and attack when they have had enough. This can be difficult to understand since many of these cats seek attention and at the outset seem to enjoy physical contact from the owner. It seems that these cats have a certain threshold for the amount of physical interaction that they can tolerate. Although the aggression may be a specific form that arises from arousal related to petting, fear and social status may also play a role. First, identify and avoid responses that might increase your catís fear or anxiety (e.g. punishment, uninvited approaches and handling) and make all handling experiences positive. When handling, physical restraint must be avoided as cats that are placed in a position where they feel constrained or unable to escape might become aggressive. The cat that assumes a leadership role in relationship to a family member may bite or attack that person, while avoiding aggression to a person who is more "dominant" in the relationship. (For diagnosis and treatment of social status aggression see below).

In order to resolve petting induced aggression, make sure that the initiation and termination of petting is under your control. In addition your cat needs to learn that petting is not associated with excessive restraint or anything unpleasant but rather with rewards. Do not approach, confront, or lift your cat, unless it approaches for affection. At this point call the cat onto your lap (perhaps with a command, or bell), and begin light stroking without any physical restraint. After a brief session put the cat on the floor and give a reward such as food, play, or a catnip toy. At each subsequent session, when the cat is ready for affection, call the cat onto your lap, and pat or stroke a little longer before putting the cat down and providing the reward. Be aware that as you approach the limit of your catís tolerance of petting, anxiety and aggression will recur. This limit can often be evidenced by a change in the catís demeanour. Usually the cat will begin to rapidly move the tail back and forth, the pupils may dilate and the ears go back, or the cat may begin to lick or act agitated. Try and stay below this threshold and cease petting before the cat becomes anxious. Although shaping may greatly increase the number and length of petting sessions your cat will accept and enjoy, you will need to learn and accept your catís limitations.

It is possible that spaying could eventually minimize the behaviour as your cat mellows out and maybe becomes more tolerant, but there are no guarantees.