March 1st, 2012, 12:08 PM
I have a 1 1/2 year old male cat (declawed and fixed at 6 months of age). He always loved people - getting pet, always purring, always wanting to cuddle, play, etc. In the last few months I have noticed that once in a while (when being pet, or when sitting peacefully with someone) he attacks them - launching himself at the person, trying to bite and he has a scary face. It is only when we spray water at him that he stops and walks away. Is there something that we're doing thats wrong? Is it possible something is wrong with my cat? How do I stop this behaviour?
March 1st, 2012, 12:13 PM
Cats can get overstimulated from petting causing this reaction. Usually there are signs before the cat will react in an aggressive way. If this is true for your cat, watch for signs such as the tail starting to flicker and stop the petting.
March 1st, 2012, 02:29 PM
On top of what Love4 said about the overstimulation, I also want to point out that declawed cats are more likely to bite. Not sure if you were the one that had him declawed, but if so, for future reference I'd suggest doing some research on this mutilating practice that is actually illegal in an increasing number of countries:
Does declawing contribute to behavioral problems such as litter box avoidance or biting?
Yes, declawing a cat can be the reason that cat loses its home. Cats may be abandoned by their owners after being declawed because the cats develop behavioral changes or other problems after the declaw surgery. These behaviors include biting and urinating or defecating in unwanted areas outside of the litter box. Declawed cats with these behaviors are more likely to go to the pound, where an estimated 70% will be euthanized (killed). The pain of declawing sometimes causes cats to be reluctant to walk or play, and as a result, owners sometimes neglect them or mistreat them.
Since 1966, there have been several articles in the veterinary literature that have examined the behavioral changes caused by declawing:
■Yeon, et al., (JAVMA 2001) found that 33% of cats suffer at least one behavioral problem after declaw or tendonectomy surgery. The study showed that 17.9% of cats had an increase in biting frequency or intensity and that 15.4% would not use a litter box.
■Bennett, et al., examining 25 declawed cats, reported that declawed cats were 18.5% more likely than non-declawed cat to bite and 15.6% more likely to avoid the litter box.
■Morgan and Houpt found that the 24 declawed cats in their internet survey had a 40% higher incidence of house soiling than non-declawed cats.
■Borchelt and Voith, looking only at aggressive behavior in a retrospective survey of pet owners, found declawed cats bit family members more often than did non-declawed cats.
■Gaynor (in North American Veterinary Clinics, April 2005) described cats suffering from a chronic pain syndrome as a result of declawing that is associated with increased biting.
■In a retrospective phone survey, Patronek found that among 218 cats relinquished to a shelter, 52.4% of declawed cats versus 29.1% of non-declawed cats were reported to have inappropriate elimination.
■Landsberg reported that about 5% of cats developed either biting or litter box avoidance problems after declaw surgery. These figures were obtained by means of a written retrospective owner satisfaction questionnaire, approximately half of which were distributed by veterinarians other than the investigator.
■In a commentary of the Yeon article, Professor Nicholas Dodman, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine writes, "It is amazing that none of the studies to date on declawing has addressed the right questions to the right persons and drawn the right conclusions. This study is no exception. Owners are an unreliable source of information about their pets, especially months or years after the fact….Almost one-half of the cats in the study required post-operative opioids to control pain following surgery, and the remainder would have probably benefited from it. The owners reported that one-half to two-thirds of the cats in this study showed signs of pain after surgery, likely only the tip of the iceberg…. In addition, though the authors were more interested in comparison of the two techniques, it is notable that about 33% of all cats developed a behavior problem after surgery, either house soiling or increased biting. Whatever the owners may have assessed, this was not a good outcome. And, to top it all, 42 of 57 cats (74%) had at least one medical complication following surgery. In light of such findings, it is hard to see why veterinarians don't spend more time and effort recommending alternatives to declawing than these painful and sometimes debilitating procedures. Instead, we seem to keep finding ways of justifying declawing as an essential component of feline practice."
■In the December 2003 issue of Cat Fancy magazine, Karen Overall, DVM, PhD, DACVB, a board-certified animal behaviorist, writes that scratching behavior is a complex behavior that "behavioral biologists have been almost wholly uninterested in" and that "fewer and fewer people favor declawing." She observes that "cats do not scratch to annoy us; they scratch to communicate something and the cues are physical and olfactory. This is one aspect of declawing that has never been investigated, and until we understand how much these elective surgeries affect normal feline behavior, we could do best to avoid them."
March 11th, 2012, 11:12 PM
I agree with suguarcatmom, cats who are de-clawed have a higher tendency to bite, as their natural defenses -claws- are no longer present...
I have 8 cats, none of them are de-clawed and all use scratching posts.
De-clawing a cat has this adverse effect that vets don't always inform about...
As for spraying water on him...well try to remember this; he is only expressing what he wishes to the only way he still can... I am sure there are other ways you can find to avoid having to spray him!
Best of luck.
March 12th, 2012, 03:34 PM
This sounds like a relatively recent behavior change, yes? And it's not a simple 'hey, that's annoying, stop it' bite, but what seems like a full attack? Aside from the excellent advice already offered, I would also suggest getting him into the vet to see if he's sick or injured. for instance, my sister's cat Camaro had a double ear infection that no one had spotted, and he tended for the longest time to be something of a trouble maker - a little bitey, although no full attacks, and he tended to pee outside the litter boxes. She finally got tired of trying to figure it out, and took him to the vet to demand a full work up. infections found, meds, given, and voila! the biting and urinating completely stopped. animals react to injury and illness differently than we do, and this may be your baby's way of saying 'hey, I don't feel good'.