Beautiful Angry Cat: Ygritte, Because She's A Spitfire!

Skittles0414

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Ygritte! What can I say? When I saw her at the shelter, she was the sweetest cat around. Normally I'd have gotten a mean one anyway since they're less likely to be adopted, but I'm staying with someone who has dogs, and I needed them to get along. I have always had a talent for getting cats to behave how I want them to, so Ygritte has been difficult for me. I've had cats with aggression issues, but never like this. The worst behaved cat I'd owned before Ygritte was a black cat named Snickers who was massive and mean. He had redirection aggression and would often attack from out of nowhere, completely unprovoked. He would attack anyone who petted him wrong, or smelled like any other animal. If you called another pet over, he would get jealous and push them out of the way. He was aggressive with food and anything else he could find a reason to be angry or territorial over. Even Snickers turned around for me.

Now I've got Ygritte. She's got a clear case of status aggression. I know it is status aggression because she is completely particular about when and where she is petted. She will start growling at anyone who doesn't pet her before petting the other cats in the room. She tries to guard the litterbox, steals food from the other cats' bowls instead of eating her own, and will even sometimes attack people who don't speak to her before approaching. She is mean to the other cats, but does not dare attack them. She will hiss, growl, and even scream at the other cats, but if they move in on her, she retreats and grumbles to herself angrily. Sometimes she will scream at you just for approaching. I spoil this cat, I give her treats even when she is being mean, and when she is being mean, I just put her on the windowsill The only critters she gets along with is the dogs. The shelter could not tell me much, only that she had been found in some man's lawn and he took her to the shelter. (My guess is the man in question either was abusing the cat and didn't want to be asked any questions or this cat was taken from a loving home just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.)

If this is status aggression, which I'm relatively sure it is, does anyone have experience with this and know what to do?

Or, is it possibly fear aggression from some sort of recent trauma? Could I be mistaken by her motives? It seems directly connected with her status to me, but I'm sure some of you might know the difference a little better.
Any advice on how to fix this?

PS: the shelter thought she was a male and had named her Connor. I renamed her Ygritte, after her personality began to remind me of the wild personality of Ygritte the wildling from Game of Thrones. She is sometimes the sweetest, cutest little furball you've ever seen, stretching as she's petted and purring loudly. But other times, especially when you pay attention to the other cats before her, she is a beautiful angry demon!
 

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susanm9006

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I don’t know but it sounds like fear to me. Some cats run and hide when they are frightened but a few strike out, or in Ygritte’s case hiss and growl. When you say attack visitors, what does she do?
 
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Skittles0414

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I don’t know but it sounds like fear to me. Some cats run and hide when they are frightened but a few strike out, or in Ygritte’s case hiss and growl. When you say attack visitors, what does she do?
She will start somewhat quietly, but the closer you get, the louder she yowls. She can be calmed down, if you pet her and act sweet for about 5 minutes straight, she normally calms down slightly. Usually, even while calm, she will still growl and glare. 90% of the time, even when she is happy and purring, she will still glare at you.

Visitors? The strange thing is, she will still growl, but she seems far more calm around strangers than she does around her owners. She is not being beaten or overreacted at, at the most,she will get a light bop on the nose when she attacks, which is why I don't think it's fear. No one is reacting disproportionately from how she is freaking out. Even the other cats have never attacked her for her behavior. In fact, they both back off and try to calm her down by sitting, which works about 50% of the time.

When it comes to someone new, they are usually told beforehand about her behavior, so I'm not sure it's a good comparison. Visitors typically approach her with their hand outstretched, speaking in a comforting tone, and petting lightly, so I'm not sure. She acts completely normal around dogs and strangers but seems distressed around other cats and humans she is familiar with.
 

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have you taken her to a vet and gotten her thoroughly checked out? she could have pain somewhere.

but at a guess, she was used to the shelter, and the new environment is one where she feels she must defend herself and make her position in the household hierarchy clear to the other cats.
 

Furballsmom

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Have you tried calming products?

Take a look at these articles, just in case there's anything that might help;

How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction

Do Cats Get Jealous? (and What To Do About It When They Do)

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide

Music can be quite useful in helping a cat to relax (not 24 hours a day, just now and then for a couple hours or so).
Try Low volume classical harp music, there is an app called Relax My Cat, and there's MusicForCats . com as some sources.

I've read that feliway can actually make things worse in some instances, and I'm thinking this might be one of those cases.

There are treats, collars, and sprays etc made by many companies.
Here are products I would suggest you consider;
For example, Only Natural Pet has a spray product called Just Relax Calming spray with essential oil (catnip oil).

There's this one, be sure and scroll all the way down the page;
Bach Flower Remedies - Rescue Remedy Pets Dogs Cats Horses Birds

You could try one of these, only a small selection of a fast-growing section of pet products;
Richard's Organics Pet Calm-this one is drops that you put on the tip of the tongue. Also, Quiet Moments Cat treats, there is Calming Care, Calm-o-mile, Sentry, Natures Miracle calming spray, Vetri-Science's Composure is another item to look at, Pet Remedy (it has valerian) is yet another, as is Essential Pet Pet-ease, Only Natural Pet (brand and website) has calming products, Pet Naturals also has one I believe.

Also Thunderease has diffusers as does Sentry, Comfort Zone and feliway although diffusers are expensive and not always the answer.
If it's legal where you are, you might want to check with your vet but some people have good results with CBD oil, plus there are vet-prescribed calming products too.
Lambert Vet Supply is a website to look at, and of course chewy, also there's Petwishpros, animaleo, Petco and PetSmart, and other pet stores.

There is also a product called a lickimat which could be helpful, as cats can be calmed by the process of licking. The LickiMat - Food Puzzles for Cats

This discussion's post talks about some other products;
Calming Treats For A Very Picky Cat
 
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Skittles0414

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have you taken her to a vet and gotten her thoroughly checked out? she could have pain somewhere.

but at a guess, she was used to the shelter, and the new environment is one where she feels she must defend herself and make her position in the household hierarchy clear to the other cats.
You could be right about the pain, she does have tapeworm, which I am about to get rid of. Concerning the shelter, I doubt it, because she was only there for a day. The shelter I got her from only keeps cats for 2 days before putting them down because they get SO MANY!
Hopefully I will see a drastic change when I get rid of that tapeworm. After that, if she is still aggressive, I will definitely need to have her seen by a vet!
 
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Skittles0414

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Have you tried calming products?

Take a look at these articles, just in case there's anything that might help;

How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction

Do Cats Get Jealous? (and What To Do About It When They Do)

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide

Music can be quite useful in helping a cat to relax (not 24 hours a day, just now and then for a couple hours or so).
Try Low volume classical harp music, there is an app called Relax My Cat, and there's MusicForCats . com as some sources.

I've read that feliway can actually make things worse in some instances, and I'm thinking this might be one of those cases.

There are treats, collars, and sprays etc made by many companies.
Here are products I would suggest you consider;
For example, Only Natural Pet has a spray product called Just Relax Calming spray with essential oil (catnip oil).

There's this one, be sure and scroll all the way down the page;
Bach Flower Remedies - Rescue Remedy Pets Dogs Cats Horses Birds

You could try one of these, only a small selection of a fast-growing section of pet products;
Richard's Organics Pet Calm-this one is drops that you put on the tip of the tongue. Also, Quiet Moments Cat treats, there is Calming Care, Calm-o-mile, Sentry, Natures Miracle calming spray, Vetri-Science's Composure is another item to look at, Pet Remedy (it has valerian) is yet another, as is Essential Pet Pet-ease, Only Natural Pet (brand and website) has calming products, Pet Naturals also has one I believe.

Also Thunderease has diffusers as does Sentry, Comfort Zone and feliway although diffusers are expensive and not always the answer.
If it's legal where you are, you might want to check with your vet but some people have good results with CBD oil, plus there are vet-prescribed calming products too.
Lambert Vet Supply is a website to look at, and of course chewy, also there's Petwishpros, animaleo, Petco and PetSmart, and other pet stores.

There is also a product called a lickimat which could be helpful, as cats can be calmed by the process of licking. The LickiMat - Food Puzzles for Cats

This discussion's post talks about some other products;
Calming Treats For A Very Picky Cat
Very interesting! I have thought about trying catnip, but after reading your comment, I can't believe I haven't thought about trying any of these other things. I will certainly experiment, I know how much calming remedies can help from personal experience. Do you have a preference that you use for your cats?
 

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I have some comfort zone, ---not sure about this one for my boy, he has a tendency to go into his favorite closet and nap when it's plugged in but I guess that's good lol

I also have Only Natural Pets Just Relax spray and Nutrivet Pet Ease pawgel. These will be used in about a month to hopefully calm him down for his vet checkup :crossfingers:
 

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Humm You got anything I could splash on the next time I get introduced to a lady? A little something to make me more acceptable?

Maybe some Love Potion #9.
 

Hellenww

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she will get a light bop on the nose when she attacks
Who is doing the light bop? If it's a human then stop bopping especially if you don't know her background. Any hit could break the trust and create fear. Cats don't understand that action. If she's getting a bop for growling at another cat it's more likely that she will associate the bad experience with that cat and continue to growl or even go for that cat.
 
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Skittles0414

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Who is doing the light bop? If it's a human then stop bopping especially if you don't know her background. Any hit could break the trust and create fear. Cats don't understand that action. If she's getting a bop for growling at another cat it's more likely that she will associate the bad experience with that cat and continue to growl or even go for that cat.
Alright, but do you have any suggestions for how to punish her when she draws blood? Because she is a true demon, she has drawn blood, most of the time completely unprovoked, several times with several different people. Sometimes people are attacked for just approaching.

I have tried putting her in a time-out, I always put her on the same windowsill when she is misbehaving, but it doesn't seem to work.

Today she attacked me while I was feeding her treats. She was glaring at me the whole time, I held the treats out to show them first so she would know I was giving her a snack. She ate a couple bites, growling as I fed her, then attacked me, then finished the treats. :/ The problem is getting worse!!

I just want her to be happy!! Today I made her a super-hidey box, there is only a small opening that she can get in and out of and I put it in her favorite spot, next to her food. She still growls anytime the box is approached and she can hear a voice.

I know everyone thinks it's fear, but maybe I should add something: I thought it was fear when I got her. I told everyone to be overly sweet to her and pet her and tell her it's ok, even when she misbehaved. After about two weeks of everyone walking on eggshells around her, the problem seemed to get a lot worse. This is why I believe it's status aggression.

I've got plenty of advice about fear aggression, and I've had a little experience with it, but I still have no idea how to deal with it if it's status aggression. Does anyone have advice for that?
 

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From your description, you saw she was glaring at you, yet you continued with the treats. Her message was clear but you ignored it.

Respect her, and leave her alone when she is glaring or growling. She needs that, because I think she has been emotionally overwhelmed. There are too many people etc for her to deal with. She needs some peace and quiet.

Try some of the calming products, try some low volume music, leave her alone when she needs it and stop bopping her. You could try hissing when she draws blood but I personally think, as I mentioned, that she is trying very hard to get everyone to back off and give her some space.

Help her out with that and I think you'll find she gives you her sweet side more frequently :)
 
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Skittles0414

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From your description, you saw she was glaring at you, yet you continued with the treats. Her message was clear but you ignored it.

Respect her, and leave her alone when she is glaring or growling. She needs that, because I think she has been emotionally overwhelmed. There are too many people etc for her to deal with. She needs some peace and quiet.
That's the problem though. We have tried to heed her warnings, whether it was just a glare or her screaming at us. For at least two weeks, everyone in the house walked on eggshells with her, we left her alone every single time she indicated she didn't want us near. We made a habit of it, but she just got worse. She now growls louder, acts meaner, and attacks more often. Leaving her alone made the situation worse, which is another reason I think it has to do with status. I could still be wrong, but I am almost convinced at this point.

I have tried hissing at her when she gets really bad. She seems to take it as a challenge rather than a warning, and will almost definitely attack if you hiss at her.

Maybe she has social problems because she was separated from her littermates too young? I can tell she was a house cat at some point. Socially, she is HORRIBLE with the other cats, to the point where it almost seems like she has little grasp on cat body language. She was never scared of the dogs for even a moment. Plus I feel like the expression on her face is always anger, she never seems scared to me. I've seen her get scared around the cats a couple times, but only after she sat there growling at them for 20 minutes and they finally decided to square up. (I usually only intervene between the cats if they actually fight, I usually let them do what's natural for them and observe their behaviors).
 

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have tried hissing at her when she gets really bad. She seems to take it as a challenge rather than a warning, and will almost definitely attack if you hiss at her.
Oh, gosh, I see.

Even with the worming, I'd still consider a vet visit for this furbaby.

Try musicforcats . com, or the app Relax My Cat in the meantime. Try brushing her, sometimes that helps a cat become calmer but in her case, if it is in fact pain this may not work. Low volume classical harp music, or George Handel compositions are other sources.
 
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Skittles0414

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Oh, gosh, I see.

Even with the worming, I'd still consider a vet visit for this furbaby.

Try musicforcats . com, or the app Relax My Cat in the meantime. Try brushing her, sometimes that helps a cat become calmer but in her case, if it is in fact pain this may not work. Low volume classical harp music, or George Handel compositions are other sources.
Thank you Madame! I have downloaded the app, I will try the website as well. I will be making a trip to the vet soon, with all three of my cats! I will have her evaluated for her behavior at that time to see what can be ruled out or diagnosed.
I probably won't be able to calm her with brushing: I can't really even get near without her growling or yowling, and if I try to calm her by petting, the most that can be accomplished is getting her ears to perk back up, and MAYBE she will stop growling, but she will not abandon her defensive stance, nor the mean look in her eyes. She will tense and stay tensed, ready to attack at any moment, no matter how kindly she is treated. It is very disheartening.
 

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first off, don't punish her. your cat is scared of you and the new environment, and you punishing her will show her she is right to be scared. and never punish your cats - it won't help, but it will make things worse - Cats And Discipline Don't Mix

don't go near her or pet her or even give her treats from close up. she won't abandon her defensive stance - your words - because she believes that she IS defending herself. you may see your behavior as loving and your home as safe, but you're not getting the message that she doesn't. if you were locked in a cage with a bear, how safe would you feel if the bear gave you a fish or approached or touched you?

assuming that she's in good health - which you can't really assume - you need to give her her space and time. not as much time as you think should be necessary, as much time as she needs to stop being scared. but you're not doing that. you keep approaching her and touching her

she sees you as potentially dangerous. you approaching, even if with a treat, won't make her feel safe. you giving her the space she needs will eventually let her see you as safe. give her treats where she doesn't have to take them from her. don't meet her eyes and don't pet her, because petting is seen as petting between two beings who like/love and trust each other. that's not the relationship in her eyes. please, give her the time and space she needs to learn you're safe and trustworthy.

you say your cat is growling. she doesn't do that to offend you -
Why Is My Cat Growling?

some other potentially helpful reads
Solving Cat Behavior Problems: The Key Ingredient

Cat Aggression Toward People
 
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Skittles0414

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first off, don't punish her. your cat is scared of you and the new environment, and you punishing her will show her she is right to be scared. and never punish your cats - it won't help, but it will make things worse - Cats And Discipline Don't Mix

don't go near her or pet her or even give her treats from close up. she won't abandon her defensive stance - your words - because she believes that she IS defending herself. you may see your behavior as loving and your home as safe, but you're not getting the message that she doesn't. if you were locked in a cage with a bear, how safe would you feel if the bear gave you a fish or approached or touched you?

assuming that she's in good health - which you can't really assume - you need to give her her space and time. not as much time as you think should be necessary, as much time as she needs to stop being scared. but you're not doing that. you keep approaching her and touching her

she sees you as potentially dangerous. you approaching, even if with a treat, won't make her feel safe. you giving her the space she needs will eventually let her see you as safe. give her treats where she doesn't have to take them from her. don't meet her eyes and don't pet her, because petting is seen as petting between two beings who like/love and trust each other. that's not the relationship in her eyes. please, give her the time and space she needs to learn you're safe and trustworthy.

you say your cat is growling. she doesn't do that to offend you -
Why Is My Cat Growling?

some other potentially helpful reads
Solving Cat Behavior Problems: The Key Ingredient

Cat Aggression Toward People
Ok, so you're telling me I need to continue the one thing that made it worse? Do you guys just not believe me or something? I see the temptation to just automatically assume it's fear aggression, but could SOMEONE just humor me? None of you are here to see her body language or how sneaky she can be. I understand the concern and that everyone is worried for Ygritte, so am I. But, as I said before, the problem got exponentially worse when we started leaving her alone. You're telling me to do the one thing that might make her even angrier. Clearly I need a new approach, and maybe punishment is not the best tool (no matter how light, I don't beat my cats but your comment made me feel like I'm seen that way). I know how cats communicate and I know the difference between an angry cat and a scared cat.

Also, we have already made the assumption that she is in pain, though there's no real evidence of that yet. We don't pick her up and when she is petted she is petted as lightly as possible, never on her stomach. I've already read Cat Aggression towards people. I used that and several other veterinarian articles to help me figure it out. I read your other links and they're completely unhelpful to me. I'm starting to feel like everyone here thinks I've never owned a cat.

For the last time: leaving her alone made things WORSE, not better. Not even the same, it actuall7 worsened the situation. please listen to what I'm telling you, there is no reason for me to lie. If I'm telling you that leaving her alone for a long time made things WORSE, how do you know she isn't angry with me for spending time with the other cats and not her? What if she's mad because she's not getting attention? So I should just leave her alone even more? Does anyone see my problem here??? I have never known a cat to react like this one, no matter how scared. If she will attack humans without showing signs of fear, and not cats who she has actually shown fear to, she doesn't sound scared of people to me. But I'm not even basing it off that, I'm basing it off a wide number of things and I feel like my own thoughts on the matter are being completely ignored.

Maybe it was my own fault for thinking a forum could help me. I'm sorry but it just seems like no one is listening to the person who actually sees what is happening. That, or you all just think I'm lying.
 

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i have known a number of cats who behaved like that. i've rescued feral cats from feral colonies, some over 20 generations old. they almost always behave like that. if you read the board more, you'll find we have people here who rescue and foster cats who also experience this same kind of life-or-death response where the kitty isn't shy - they're going all out to defend themselves. they don't show fear to humans because showing weakness may make the humans more aggressive.

you are ascribing human motivations, feelings and responses to your cat. cats have totally different responses, feelings and motivations than we do. just because the cat doesn't look scared doesn't mean she isn't scared. she's going all out to defend herself.

i am listening, and i absolutely don't think you're lying.

what i think is that you haven't had any experience with this kind of cat/situation. i have, and other posters in this thread have. and i believe from what you're saying that you don't want to hear us because it doesn't fit your view of how cats behave and react.

i'm sorry you feel that way - it must be frustrating, but as long as you believe the cat is basing her behavior on human feelings, nothing can improve. she'd be better off if she was re-homed with someone with experience with cats who feel the need to defend themselves. winning a cat's trust when they're like this isn't a fast process; it often not only takes months, but the cat may never be the friendly, lovable cat you were hoping for.

some cats aren't comfortable with snuggles and petting. my little jeep never was - he'd rip anyone a few bleeding tears who tried to pet him - even my husband, if he didn't stop petting soon enough. he'd let me pet him because i was quick to stop when i saw any hint on his end that he was done - tail wagging, ears going back, posture changing. he knew i would never overstep his boundaries. my husband just didn't notice the signs as well, and he has the literal scars to prove it.
 

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I hear you and believe you but it sounds like everything is making her worse. Have you tried giving her a safe room with the door closed so she doesn't have to deal with the other pets? Treat her as if she's brand new to the house and follow the guides Furballsmom Furballsmom posted. It sounds like you have a busy house. By re-introducing her slowly it will be easier to determine what is upsetting her and hopefully resolve it. Keep a note book to track her progress.
 

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I was also wondering if she is out in the house most or all of the time from the start and if that is overwhelming her. If in a room with bed, food, litterbox, water, some toys she might be better able to get used to all the sounds and scents of her new home on her terms and at her speed. And visiting her in the room several times a day for a short period with some treats and sitting on the floor, not looking at her, not approaching her at all till she can see you're not a threat. Has worked for me before.
 
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