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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My DH and I found 4 cats in the garbage when they were 4 days old. We hand raised them and when they were old enough, we gave 3 away and kept the 4th. He is really bright and smart, ie. he was the first to figure out how to get the most milk from the bottle. When we decided to keep him, we still had our dog and they were good friends but our dog died a while ago and now he is our only pet.

I don't know if he is lonely but he is totally out of control. For the most part, he sits on our laps and sleeps. When we wake up in the morning, we let him into the room and he cuddles with us. But when he isn't being all sweet, he is so horrible. He attacks us. He scratches us, bites us, leaves marks and destroys our property (like our couch and just this weekend he started to use one of my beautiful wall hangings as a jungle gym). It can go on for hours. We have a spray bottle and we spray him if we catch him destroying anything. He gets locked in a room for a short period of time if he attacks us, but then he comes out of the room and does it again and again and again. He can turn on us at any minute. If he is sitting on my lap contentedly, he'll sometimes just look at me and bite me.

We would like him to be a bit more of an outdoor cat, but he constantly goes into our neighbour's house when we let him outside and she is terrified of the cat. So we can only let him out when she closes her door (She leaves it open most of the day). Yesterday, he even climbed in through her window, so he got stuck inside all day because we couldn't trust that he wouldn't try it again.

I hate him when he hurts me and I'm worried because I'm 6 month pregnant, and I can't have a psycho cat with a newborn! I've always said that a pet is for life and I don't want to find him a new home, but I am reaching my breaking point.

He has 2 scratching posts and fair amount of toys, but he prefers paper and plastic rubbish. Is he bored? He really loves it when cockroaches come into the house, but I obviously don't like it. (and I think I've resolved the problem). I thought, he might really like to a have a friend, but my DH REALLY doesn't want to get any more pets, especially with the baby on the way.

He is about 7 months old and desexed.

HELP! What can I do?
 

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Hrmm, that's really tough! Personally, I'd recommend pushing for another cat. I totally understand your DH's skepticism, but suggest fostering a cat from the shelter. Then, if it doesn't help your first kitty's behavior (and I bet it will), you can relinquish the foster kitty when he's adopted. If first kitty is over the moon about the second cat (and he won't be at first, it'll take time; cats are territorial), then you can adopt the cat completely and add him to your household.

Fostering is a good way to "test run" a new pet before adding them to your household. If it's an open-ended proposition, your DH just might go for it.
 

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I came on here to post about my own kitty problems, but I just wanted to offer some sympathy. The cat we had growing up was 'evil.' She attacked and scratched, etc., and it never changed (she tolerated the dogs, but was never close with them). She scratched my cousin when he was a toddler, and he remembers it to this day (he's in college now).

That said, we kept our cat until she passed away in my mom's arms a few years ago. We loved her, regardless of her quirky behavior, but there were never babies/toddlers in the immediate family during that time (about 14 years). Adding a child to the equation really changes things.

The PP had a good suggestion, fostering another pet. It sounds like maybe your kitty is just bored, especially since this is new behavior. I really hope things turn around quickly! Congratulations on the new addition to the family!
 

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When you say he bites and scratches does it seem like play or is he doing real damage? A cat can do a lot of superficial damage if they are over excited and 'playing', but a cat who is aiming to do real damage WILL do real damage, along the order of deep scratches that bleed and take weeks to heal and puncture wounds that are bloody. If it is the later, honestly, I don't know if I could take it.

However the former can be dealt with a few ways. First, I would foster another cat. He sounds very lonely.

Second, I would keep his nails trimmed, or use softpaws. I would try to wear him out with activity and exercise.

Third, remember to NEVER use your hands as play objects. If he jumps on your hands or feet, go limp, play dead with that limb. Never reward him by struggling, just remove yourself slowly with as little fanfare as possible. Then go get a string or toy that he CAN pounce on and bite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is hard for me to judge which of the two he is doing playing or not. For example: He jumps onto our bodies and just hangs on for dear life. So I have marks all over my legs (some which are bloody and take weeks to heal) from his climbing adventures.

He sits on my lap and if I pet him, when he doesn't want to be petted he bites hard and hangs on. I don't know if I could stand to play dead until he releases because it hurts too much.

He is going to the kennel today while we go on vacation for 10 days, so I have some time to gain some perspective from him. I really have so much guilt about even considering getting rid of him. I mean we hand-reared him! Isn't that supposed to make him more gentle and attached?

I'm working on the second pet thing with the DH. Personally we'd both prefer to get a dog who likes cats instead of a second cat (Perhaps our preference is skewed by our current pet.) I'm gaining a little ground in that fostering seems to be a good option.

Thanks everyone so far.
 

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I had a similar situation with a cat when I was pregnant with my first. He had been rescued from a dumpster as a newborn and we adopted him from a shelter. He was the type who could be affectionate at times, but would turn on you and bite as soon as he was "done." He was also a very large, powerful cat.

When I was about 6 months pregnant he flipped out on me--I think I may have accidentally startled him. But he went crazy on me and caused serious scratches and bites and would not let up. I fled to our garage and sobbed until my dh came home and could help me.

For as awful as the situation was, I was so grateful that it happened before I had a baby in the house. I had known for a long time that he was kind of mean, but had put up with it because he could be nice at times and I loved him. Unfortunately, I am now pretty biased and mistrustful of animals, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But I would never have a pet that hurts around a child. I think you might want to consider finding a new home for your kitty.
 

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From what I have read, cats who are not raised by their mothers tend to have more behavior problems, especially related to proper use of teeth and claws. The mother cat teaches them how to use teeth and claws properly. Kittens taken too early from mama (before 12 weeks) do seem to be prone to the behavior you describe. They just don't 'get it'. Having another cat around can help. You might want to contact a cat behaviorist. It is tough to say from here whether he is just bored and over exuberant, or something else.
 

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I am so, so sorry you're having to deal with this- I've been there and know how heartbreaking and difficult it is.

I had a whole long reply typed out, but realized much of it was not relevant- I do that a lot
Here's my attempt at more concise...

My oldest cat was also a feral. We found him abandoned at about 5 weeks. This behavior IS in his blood. I lived with the scratches, the bites, the clawing... have scars up and down my legs and on my arms from him. There were days when I was ready to get rid of him, and honestly, there were many days when I'd keep him locked in "his" room all day.

Do you both work out of the home? I found that a big part of the problem was that I worked and was in school full-time, so he'd sleep away the time when I was gone, and have a whole lot of energy to burn when I got home. Cats (well, kittens) are social animals, and I was the only person he had to socialize with, learn from, play with, etc.

He also never learned from his mother or littermates how to do certain things properly- cover his markings, bathe, or pounce. I'm guessing (maybe just telling myself...) that he also never learned appropriate boundaries for play, or rather, didn't get the social pushback (I obviously wouldn't bite him when he clawed me too hard, etc.)

He started calming down a bit after we had him neutered around 5 months, but then we moved when he was around 7 months old and many of the same behaviors came back, along with a knack for being SUPER destructive. I noticed that he was a lot better on days when I was home, so around 8 months we got another kitten.

His behavior improved a lot, and fast. And funnily enough, he learned how to bathe himself and how to cover up in the litter box from our new kitten... Though he still can't quite get the hang of pouncing
Now, at just over a year (and with a third kitten... we're gluttons for punishment, apparently) he never hurts us or tries to- doesn't even play rough with the other two unless the littlest one insists enough- and he's still the most "wild," even though kitty #3 is also feral... Goes nuts if he smells raw meat while we're cooking, paws his water dish, and is generally less into people than the other two. But he's a sweetheart, and secretly my favorite


Heh... so there's my failed attempt at concision, and a happy-ending story to give some hope to you and your kitty.

One last thing- I have to say, I don't like to declaw my pets, but absolutely would have if the scratching went on much longer, or if there were a child involved. I'm expecting now, and won't be declawing any of mine because they no longer pose a risk, but as much as I love my animals, my safety and my family's comes first.
 

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We had a similar situation w/a cat a few years ago. She was abandoned in a barn by her mother. The farmer took her home & hand fed her, then we got her when she was only a couple of weeks old. She was nuts. Scratched, attacked the kids (in a playful way but it still hurt). I think it's due to not being socialized by the mother.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by holz View Post
He started calming down a bit after we had him neutered around 5 months, but then we moved when he was around 7 months old and many of the same behaviors came back, along with a knack for being SUPER destructive. I noticed that he was a lot better on days when I was home, so around 8 months we got another kitten.
The above is almost exactly my experience with our cat, down to bad behaviors coming up after a move (ours was across country). Our cat was orphaned at 4 or 5 weeks when his mother was hit by a car. Her litter of kittens were all rescued and adopted out.

Our cat can be really loving and cuddly with my husband and me, but he also bites us sometimes when he wants to play (though not too hard, and almost never drawing blood, it is still surprising, painful, and annoying), scratches in a destructive way (couch, wall over litterbox) and has litter box issues. My husband actually made our litter box out of disposable roasting pans from the dollar store, because nothing we could find was the right size to fit into our space, because we needed a box with high sides so he can't pee on the wall next to it.

He (the cat) also hates big groups of strangers (making it hard for us to have parties) and hisses at most of our family members and friends (but is pretty tolerant of our one "baby friend," thank goodness).

I definitely agree that there is something about cats that are separated from their mothers at so young an age. I see so much of my cat in this thread, and I wish we'd gotten another cat or kitten when we adopted him, but I fear it's too late. I hope it works for you, if you try fostering a new cat, OP. Your cat is so young that I'd try it if I were you.

I'll also add that we've had our cat for almost 10 years now and he's starting to mellow a little. He can still be a brat, but I think age is maturing him somewhat. I hope so!
 

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Interesting to see the responses regarding cats separated from their moms early. Our difficult kitty, mentioned above, was also separated from her mother too early. In addition to being a scratcher/biter, she also 'nursed' on blankets and shirts her whole life. Just thought I'd share that since it seems relevant.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Geigerin View Post
she also 'nursed' on blankets and shirts her whole life. Just thought I'd share that since it seems relevant.
I had one that did this, too. Orphaned at a very young age... however, he and his litter were fostered by a "Cat Lady." Literally, this woman, in her mid-30s, lived in her parent's detached garage with about 80 cats. (I'm not exaggerating, either - for sick/aggressive/nursing cats, she had professional wire kennels stacked floor-to-ceiling in about half of her living area, and a fenced in tree/play yard for the cats outside the one window she had... it was a little creepy, with her triple-stacked rows of litterboxes like kitty porta-potties all through her room.)

But, I wander. This "nursing" cat I had, named Bear, learned appropriate cat behavior from the other cats this lady had, so he was not a biter or scratcher. Another hand-reared kitten I had was one I found myself, around 4-5 weeks old, that I bottle-fed and cared for until I was the only one he'd trust. He scratched, didn't bite but hissed at everyone, and would not suffer to be touched by anyone but me even after we got another cat.

The only cat I ever got that was utterly intolerable was one I'd named Serenity. Her mother was semi-feral, and she wasn't abandoned, but this cat was crazy. I had to get rid of her, which goes against my usual standards (it's usually my DH that spontaneously decides to get rid of animals) because she was viciously attacking my kids. Not playfully - this was the only cat I'd ever seen that literally tried to eat my daughter. She laid in wait, pounced and attacked, ears flat back, growling in her throat, kicking with hind legs while clinging with front ones and trying to bite my daughter's neck. DD was only about 14 months old. It was really scary, and thankfully the cat was not able to bite as she was trying to do. DD still has a scar on her arm from the scratches, though, and she remembers the cat.

My cats now are "crazy," too, but only because they haven't gone to their vet appointment next week wherein both of them will come home spayed (and they're very tolerant of kid-handling in all its various rough forms, anyway). Hopefully they'll be a bit less wild. Although they'll probably still try to eat my plants every chance they get.

As for PP... I second the fostering idea (or third it, whatever!). This will give you a feel for the animal you're considering for your family as well as for whether or not this will soothe your current kitty. Keep in mind this age for cats is a pretty wild one, anyway. 7-12 months is kind of like being teenagers for them, at least in my experience. He'll settle down with age and a companion, I'd expect.

Best of luck! And congrats on your new baby, too!
 
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