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

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Skittles0414

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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.
When Ygritte first came here, she WAS a sweet, lovable cat. She would cuddle with ANYONE. She was still even sleeping under the covers with us up until last night, when we decided she was getting too mean to keep under there at night, we were worried she might attack us while we slept. Do you really think a cat that sees me as a predator would sleep under the covers at night?

I'm not ascribing human emotion to my cat. I told you previously I know the signs of fear in cats. I know they hide weakness, whether it's pain or fear. Again, you're calling me inexperienced and incapable. And I have been listening. If you'd read my previous comments, I'm experimenting with lots of things that commenters have suggested. But I've still heard no advice on a different approach, one that is based of status aggression. I'm not going to try every approach simultaneously. I'm going to give the things I'm trying NOW time to see if they work before I move onto something else, but I still want ideas in case you guys are wrong, too.

I'm sorry if you think I'm not trying hard enough but I'm not about to give up on my cat just because you think I should. You're coming off as borderline offensive, you just keep telling me I'm doing everything wrong, but you can't give me any new advice. I'm not going to do something that is worsening the situation.

You say you're listening to me, but you're doing exactly what you're saying I'm doing. You're assuming that, because I'm asking a question on a forum, that I have absolutely no experience. And what makes you think that every commenter on this thread is more experienced than me? Every cat I have ever owned has been feral. Ygritte is not feral. I don't think she ever was, except for when she was found and taken to the shelter. I have owned at least 25 cats in my life that I can think of off the top of my head and the only ones that weren't feral were the kittens because they were born and raised in my house. 14 of them were kittens born in my house.

I'm not saying that I won't take advice, I'm here for advice and have been taking it the whole time. But you came along and straight up told me I have no idea what I'm doing or talking about, when that is not the case at all.

Hellenww, thank you, i have made her a sizable box that only she can fit into. It's in her favorite spot in the house and she hasn't come out since! She even seems to be a little nicer since I gave it to her! Maybe we're on the right track now, it is possibly still fear aggression.

I would still like some advice on status aggression, just in case she reverts like she did last time.

I will start a notebook as well. I might as well start one for the other two while I'm at it, right? And sorry, I got a little frustrated, I shouldn't have said no one was listening to me because a lot of you are. I sincerely appreciate all the advice I have been given. But please consider all the things I have said together. Consider the timeline of her behavior and my own opinion, too, because what I'm seeing is firsthand, and I am not inexperienced.

One of the first cats I owned since childhood, Snickers (we had him for 13 years, since I was 6) was the biggest, meanest cat you'd ever seen. No matter how sweet you were to him, he would HURT you. That cat once sunk his teeth as far as they could fit into my leg just because I happened to be walking by. Several times, actually. I still have scars everywhere from him 20 years later. You didn't even have to be in the same room, he could hear your voice and come attack you from across the house. Even in his old age, with everyone ignoring him when he was aggressive over the years, he only got slightly nicer. He did get better with age, but he was always a mean cat. My mom was a cat groomer and worked at a shelter and a pet store, she was an expert on cats and made sure that no one was ever hitting Snickers and was treating him properly. He had his own hiding place, scratching post, and was regularly taken to the vet. I am well aware that there are cats out there that are just plain mean. Snickers was not the only aggression case that I witnessed either, but he was the worst. I am not comparing Ygritte to Snickers by any means, just demonstrating that I'm not completely inexperienced to cat aggression. :)
 
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Skittles0414

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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.
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.
Yeah, I'm thinking I may need to revert to that. I'm not sure she'll even approach me, but I'll see how she does with her new box and the stress relief first.

I have tried taking her outside to see if she preferred the outdoors, but she was terrified and didn't move for two hours, even though she was in the open, so I gave that up. She is definitely not an outdoor cat.

But yes, she has lots of toys, but ever since I have tried leaving her alone she has stopped playing with them. That's part of why I don't want to leave her alone anymore, I'm worried she might be getting depressed. She has a bed, which is a large box with bedding and a small hole for her to get through, so she knows no one will bother her there. Her litterbox is easily accessible and she has her own water and food bowls.
 
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Skittles0414

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I hadn't heard the term status aggression prior to your posts. In searching I found only a few that described it and one with solutions that you already tried. The Bossy Cat And Owner-Directed Aggression - Veterinary Practice News

I'm happy she's enjoying her box. :grouphug:
Thank you! :) I will keep you updated and let you know if she is improving or getting worse. :) and yes, I couldn't find much on it either but the descriptions seem fitting for her. That's why I'm on here bahaha! To get opinions and see if anyone else has ever dealt with status aggression before. I thought her behavior seemed a little above and beyond, but not redirection aggression. I wanted to see if anyone here maybe had been given a diagnosis like this from a vet or behavioral expert before and to hear how they dealt with it if they had.

Of course, it could also not be status aggression, as I've said several times. I welcome all advice and testimonials, everything helps. Anything to help me make a comparison.

I do still plan on taking her to a vet, these measures are only temporary until I can get a professional opinion or diagnosis. Then I will be doing what the vet tells me to do! :thumbsup:
 

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Most vets aren't behaviorists, so they may not have any idea what to do either. The reason for a vet visit would be to rule out physical pain. One of my mom's cats was really mean, then she had a tumor removed and she's a lot nicer now. . .still temperamental but she won't chase you down to scratch you at least.

And if she needs psychiatric meds, a vet would have to prescribe them.
 
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Skittles0414

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Most vets aren't behaviorists, so they may not have any idea what to do either. The reason for a vet visit would be to rule out physical pain. One of my mom's cats was really mean, then she had a tumor removed and she's a lot nicer now. . .still tempermental but she won't chase you down to scratch you at least.
That's exactly my aim. The first step, for sure, is to rule out pain. Depending on what the vet says/does, the next step would be a behaviorist. :)
 
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Skittles0414

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An update on Ygritte:

It is only day two since I've made her the box. She is being a lot kinder already, even purring when you reach in to pet her (I only tried the first time to see what she would do). I think she just needed a more isolated spot, she had a bed before but she wouldn't use it. Maybe tomorrow if she is seeming ok I can try getting her to play again. If she is depressed, hopefully getting her to play again will help.
 

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An update on Ygritte:

It is only day two since I've made her the box. She is being a lot kinder already, even purring when you reach in to pet her (I only tried the first time to see what she would do). I think she just needed a more isolated spot, she had a bed before but she wouldn't use it. Maybe tomorrow if she is seeming ok I can try getting her to play again. If she is depressed, hopefully getting her to play again will help.
Ahhh good news the box has helped. It seems she can feel relaxed more in there. If she needs a room to herself and you do that she wouldn't need to approach you, just letting her decide when she feels safe to approach and have a positive experience would be the thing to do. It can take time. She may not be depressed, but coming down from a lot of agitation and overwhelmed-ness and resting and taking things in from a safe spot. Aggression biologically is a lot of adrenaline and needs to have some decompression time.

I also googled "status aggression" because I'd not heard that term (but I'm not an expert) and found a couple things-
Aggression In Cats
Human-Directed Aggression in Cats

Maybe helpful.
 
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Skittles0414

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Thank you! I will have a look at them :)

One reason I think she may be depressed is that she refuses to groom herself, if that helps anyone. I'm not sure whether I mentioned that before or not.
 

pearl99

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Thank you! I will have a look at them :)

One reason I think she may be depressed is that she refuses to groom herself, if that helps anyone. I'm not sure whether I mentioned that before or not.
That could be from the above suggestion of a dental problem, stress, pain, illness, change in environment that is upsetting.
 
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Skittles0414

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I have checked her teeth and they seem fine, but of course i am not a vet, so maybe that is the case. If she's having tooth pain, it's definitely the worst pain in humans, so I would definitely understand her frustration if that's the case.
 
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Skittles0414

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Update on Ygritte: Day three with the box: She is now coming out to play! Dalilah tried to play with her in the box, and even though she didn't play back, she didn't growl, so that's a good sign!

I think we're on the right track! I'll post another update about a week from now, unless she becomes unruly again.
 
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Skittles0414

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Yep! I think she just wanted a better hiding spot. :) she is even back to purring and is coming out a little more.
 

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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!
This sounds a lot like my 15 yo with the newish 1 year old sisters I just took in this last December. It's taken months to get to a point where she doesn't actively go after them, except mine does attack.

I used Jackson Galaxy's method, and have been stuck at full visibility until recently.

Mine is spoiled too, but for a different reason, and is so smart, almost human like in her ability to make connections. Like the fact that my daughter, who she adores (or did) is who brought the girls to me, so Shugga (my old meany lady cat) actually went after her for the first time ever. She stalked her for 4 days and my daughter couldn't touch her without getting scratched or bit.

I recently got confirmation she is getting the beginning of dementia and has probably been headed that way for the last year at least, along with being hyperthyroid, which cause random, frequent outbursts of loud vocalizing. Sometimes outright screaming into the void, or while watching herself in the mirror. Fun times.

I dislike giving medication unless it's absolutely necessary, but finally after too many sleepless nights and being late to work, I caved. She took her first Prozac dose tonight and has been on CBD oil for a few days. I began to notice a slight change with the CBD oil, but not a major change. It has to be given at least twice a day which can be problematic if she hides. She always knows when it's put in her food.

You might try CBD and see if it helps at all, along with making sure Ygritte has her own areas, toys, and that you set boundaries for tolerable behavior. Setting a routine wouldn't hurt either.

Or you could try Prozac, after checking with your vet of course.
 
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