Clingy cat attacks when put down
Hi! I'm a new poster here; I've done my best to do a quick study of the forums, so hopefully I'm posting in the right spot and I'm not doubling up on any other posts...
I have an 'aggression' problem with my new(ish) kitty that I was hoping the veterans here may be able to help with. I've read a lot of stuff on the net about cat aggression, but nothing seems to quite fit this situation.
Full disclosure, I'm a first time pet owner. I got Cliffie, a big, black 4 year old male DSH cat in August. He's a rescue, so unfortunately, other than his medical history, we know nothing for sure about his past (he was perfectly healthy aside from needing a teeth cleaning.) He's a wonderful cat! He's perfect, so sweet, very docile, except for this one worrying behavior.
He attacks me when I try to put him down. As in, if he's happy and on my lap or in my arms, and I need to get up or get him off me, he gets angry and lashes out VERY aggressively. He never, ever does this otherwise.
When we play, when I pat him, even when we're at the vet, or if he's stressed because of a new piece of furniture, he's a claws-in, mouth-closed kitty, until he feels I'm going to abandon him or something?!
It's not like he's getting tired of me petting him - I've never been attacked mid pat. It seems to be only when the patting's about to end, when I need to take him off of me or put him down, and he's not ready for it to end!
One time, he came up to me on his own accord, laid down on my chest, and started purring and head-butting my hand for attention. I let him hang around for a long while and gave him all the chin scratches I could, but my arm was getting tired in the position it was in, so I took a break. And then he drew blood from my chin >.<
King Cliffie did not say the scratches could stop! XD
It's not that I went to get up, move, twitch, or anything, I just stop moving my hand...
Weirdly enough, my boyfriend gets none of this aggression. But he sees it!
The foster mom we got him from only had him for a week, but said she believed he was taken away from his mother too early, because he licked her shirt while kneading her chest, and seemed to have abandonment issues. Since I'm the female of the house, I wonder if he sees me as his mom and is angry I'm 'abandoning' him??
We 'punish' him the way I've read about - saying 'no' loudly and firmly and then ignoring him for a while (Annnd maybe an uncontrollable, unlady-like squeal from me when his face latched to my chin). But it doesn't seem to be getting through!
I've been bit on the chin, and clawed on the lip so far. I've had plenty of close calls with this type of lash out, too. His aim is getting better (always my face!), which is why I'm getting worried. We give him a ton of attention; cuddles, petting, play time. We feed him properly. He's been checked out by a vet.
So I guess all I'm wondering is, does anyone have any creative solutions? Ideas? Thoughts? Or similar situations?
I shouldn't paint him in such a bad light in my first post. He really is a fantastic cat. The vet and the vet techs are in LOVE with him! When he stayed at the vet the afternoon after his teeth cleaning, apparently he made friends with EVERYONE (dogs, cats, people). When they put him under for the cleaning, he was still purring, while under anesthesia! This is how friendly and comfortable he USUALLY is, which is why his angry 'don't leave me' outbursts are so scary. They don't always happen. It's very unpredictable behavior. Nothing in his ears, tail, demeanor, etc. are obvious enough for me to notice them before it happens...
Just on my way to bed, but I'm wondering if Cliffie is truly being aggressive or if these are "love bites" with a little too much force behind them. I get those from my cats all the time but they've also learned good bite inhibition from their siblings, so they rarely break skin (and they're still young - 6 months). Could be that Cliffie never learned how hard is too hard. I'd suggest being patient and persistent and hopefully he'll eventually learn to (I know, easier said than done when you're bleeding!).
In the meantime, while you're trying to change his behavior, why not try doing something to blunt his claws? regular clipping keeps them a lot duller, just watch out for the quick. Or you could try the plastic sheaths that glue onto the claws, although they do fall off eventually. It won't help with the biting, but at least you won't be getting scratched.
My cat Chico,is the most loving,sweet cat,he gives "love-bites"or scratches when we stop petting him.
He does not clamp down hard,but does go through the skin.
The strange thing is,he too only does it to me,not hubby.
I don't see any aggression though and I have seen real aggression in a cat,where I needed hospital-care.
and thank you for rescuing a big black 4yr-old kitty:grouphug:for some reason most people shun black cats.
I have a black kitty that nobody wanted too,that's my Chico.
Sometimes on your way down when putting a kitty back on the floor they get scared and scratch.
My Mulder (kitten) has got me in the nose, my back (that one was bad) and she uses her claws a lot but I don't think is an aggression problem I can tell when it's been really aggression and many times in cats rough playing can be misinterpreted as aggressive behavior. Have you tried playing with him using a ball? Like a squash ball or a golf ball, throw it around your place and he can seek. I have done it with adult cats and they do respond to playing time in a lot of cases. Or with the light reflected by a mirror or a laser pointer, it could help maybe to give him some ease.
Maybe like SCM said and Chico it could be love bites :D
I would also agree with clipping the tips of the claws. It is fairly easy to do and can save you a lot of pain. I would also suggest that you use a technique that is used with dogs and that is to try not to use your hands or arms at all when removing the cat. I would just slowly get up and keep your hands/arms at your side and hopefully the cat will just sort of slide off.
Good luck :goodvibes:.
Some cats just get too overstimulated with too much petting. This usually happens if you rub a cats belly, and then it will grab your hand and bite. I don't know if this is what's happening with Cliffie, that he's getting overstimulated. My girl doesn't bite but if she's in my lap and move to get up she groans and complains. I found that by telling her first before I move that "I have to get up now" she actually gets off my lap without me having to remove her. It that doesn't work with your boy. Any time you sit down have a string or toy with you. Then just play him off your lap, and I think he should be so distracted with going after the string he won't think of biting.
Keep his claws clipped every 3 weeks. It's sufficient just to take off the sharp ends and be careful not to cut into the vein. Reward with treats after you clip his claws.
Kittens learn bite inhibition from roughousing with their siblings and momcat from 6 to 11 weeks, so if he missed out on that crucial social development, he doesn't realize he's biting down too hard. Saying a loud "Ow" and "NO!" and then ignoring him hopefully will get him to realize he's bitten too hard.
It kind of sounds to me like he doesn't understand boundaries. He's trying to control the situation aggressively and feels he can get away with it.
This usually happens when you allow a cat to control other situations (though it may have been ingrained by the previous owner).
For instance you mention he comes up and head butts you and stuff and you pet him. So this is telling him that through physical means he can get attention. For some cats it never goes past head butting and rubbing so it's not an issue, for some cats they will elevate their behavior once they get into a more stimulated or excited state as catlover mentioned.
You mention he does not do it with your boyfriend. I can pretty much bet that your boyfriend doesn't give him nearly as much attention in the first place and does not pet him every time he tries to solicit attention. Men often react indifferently to pushy behavior or actually discourage it, whereas woman look at it as the animal being affectionate and want to give affection back
This is often the case where you see a cat that gets very pushy toward one person for petting and not another.
The same happens with dogs where they show the man in the house more respect and distance than the woman. Women like to give affection when asked for it and the animal learns that being pushy will get it, and dogs can be especially pushy. People like to say the dog just respects him more, when in reality the man has simply been discouraging the negative behavior through his own behavior.
Of course I'm not saying this is true of all men and women, but is often the case due to the fact that women are nurturing, affectionate and more hands on to show affection on in general. Mom gently plays with the kids, gives hugs, etc., and dad is often a bit more distant, and many women relate their animals to kids so behave toward them similarly.
But the problem is that animals are not kids so they won't understand you when you say "No I don't like that!". They don't feel empathy and guilt in the same way, so rather than punishing for their behavior once they've already done it, and hoping they understand their mistake, it needs to be discouraged in the first place.
[QUOTE]We 'punish' him the way I've read about - saying 'no' loudly and firmly and then ignoring him for a while (Annnd maybe an uncontrollable, unlady-like squeal from me when his face latched to my chin). But it doesn't seem to be getting through![/QUOTE]
This relates to above where I said cats don't have empathy and guilt in the same way, so this is not going to get through to them.
Does the cat understand what "no" means? Probably not. And besides that, "no" is a command we use on animals WHILE they're engaging in a certain behavior or before they actually do it, not afterward. And they have to have been taught the meaning of the word through other deterence methods that they understand. For instance you teach "no" to dogs by saying "no" then averting the behavior through physical correction/removal, and/or using a loud noise to get their attention. THEN you must reward them for obeying so they know they've done the right thing and have incentive. This is true of animals in general.
So you have not used a redirection and award method with your cat to teach no, and the word will not be understood. For all he knows you just randomly shout in a weird manner every time he does it, and that's just what humans do because they're weird like that.
For animals a loud "no" works on that haven't been taught in the above manner, it's not because the word "no" means anything to them, it's the voice in which the people are saying it. For some cats saying a word loudly will break their attention and the tone of voice will tell the cat that was distasteful to you, but some cats aren't going to understand what the noise means at all. Especially if this cat has not been socialized properly, he's going to have no basis to understand that behavior.
So the behavior has to be prevented by not allowing him to be pushy to get attention. YOU choose when you pet him, not him. If he comes up and head butts and rubs on you then simply ignore him. If he's just been calmly sitting in your lap for awhile then it's fine to pet. When he starts getting pushy (such as head butting, ferociously rubbing, grabbing with paws) to get you to pet him more then stop.
Also you are going to want to practice sitting him on the ground when no petting has occurred. If he's just been sitting on your lap for awhile and you've been ignoring him then sit him on the ground. If he's just been sitting next to you you can sit him on the ground. The association with you stopping petting him needs to be broken.
You need to break the habit, which is what it is now, by breaking the routine. Change the routine around so it doesn't occur in the same order every time by changing your own behavior toward him.
Eventually you may be able to give more free affection toward him, but for now this habit has to be broken.
The things catlover mentioned are also a very good way to break those habits. Use a toy or string to distract him off of your lap or some other method of distraction.
I had one that did the same thing. A stray who showed up at the cottage I was renting, I didn't have him long. We'd play chasing a strand of long grass down on the beach and when I quit he'd attack my legs. Ditto in the cottage on the floor and ditto for cuddling as well. I got some good scratches the first time but became adept at getting out of his way. However we did have to warn visitors about him. I didn't have him long enough to work on this so can't help with a solution but you are not alone with this problem.
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