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Cat Turned Highly Aggressive Sporadically

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by ogbert, May 16, 2018.

  1. ogbert

    ogbert Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    May 16, 2018
    Hi all, I have a propblem with my cat suddenly turning aggressive and hope some here can help. It's lengthy but I want to be absolutely sure what is wrong, please bear with me.

    I live in a fairly small apartment, I got her when she was a kitten and have had her for 10 and a half years now. We've always lived here, no other cats and she's been a good girl until recently.

    It started off that she was being more cuddly than usual, coming on our laps or snuggling into our sides when we sat down or were in bed. But then she started hissing when we moved her or just moved at all. When she did this we stood up to drop her on the floor gently or just put her on the floor. One night she wouldn't move, she just kept hissing so I picked her up and put her in the bedroom to cool off, shutting the door so that she wouldn't just come straight back. I've done this with her in the past and it's worked, she's been fine. However this time when I went back to open the door she immediately started attacking my feet and hands and yowling in a way indicating she was threatened. And when I say attacking this wasn't just latching on, this was digging in her claws and teeth and pulling back so as to gouge the flesh. She even bit through my thumb nail! She was actively going for me, not waiting until i approached and acting in defence. It was very unexpected and distressing and she wouldn't stop, we had to throw something across the room to distract her (she went for that), shut the door again and leave the flat until the next day. When we came back she was fine and sweet as normal.

    I took her to the vets the next day for a checkup and they discovered as she was unspayed she had an infection in her uterus and needed major surgery. It was upsetting but also a relief as they were sure they had found the reason for her aggression so the surgery went ahead. We were worried that with the flat being small she might hop up on the bed and we squash her or knock her off in the night after so we decided to put her in the main room with her tray and her toys and she freaked out again. She was attacking less but yowling and occasionally attacking all the same. We left her there for the night (we didn't have much choice at that point, we were basically trapped in the room) and she was calm again and unfussed by the morning. Concerned this was going to happen again, or worse happen when we were in bed, we decided to go to my parents with her for the weekend. It's a familiar place for her as she has visited with us for holidays many times in the past and she has a large, spacious room to herself. We sat with her in the day and she spent the night there alone. She seemed much better! She was purring and letting people pet her and check her wound, she wasn't at all fussed about any doors being closed, so we figured she was probably feeling a bit fragile and worried after the op before.

    We brought her back again, she seemed ok, my partner decided to sleep at her place as she was still feeling a bit nervous about it all so it was just me and the cat. She decided to sleep on the sofa so everything was fine. Tonight however, again it just being me and the cat, she decided she wanted to come into the bed to sleep. I gently picked her up off the bed and put her in her basket and petted her, she was happy but immediately got out and tried to hop in the bed. I stopped her and gently said "not tonight", directing her towards her basket again and she yowled and lashed out at my hand again, biting in and dragging her teeth to wound. I had read that I should not show any sign of aggression back so I just calmly told her "no, it's ok" a few times and she let go slowly, though whilst still growling. She tried to get back up again at the base of the bed and I blocked her with my foot, she tried to go for that but thankfully the duvet was between us so I was ok. I turned my back on her, as I had read this is what you must do and put some Sudocrem on my wounds, unable to go and wash them properly. She tucked herself in the corner for a bit, and then strolled over to her basket, hopped in and purred away.

    I had thought that the aggression was due to her illness, but it appears there is more too it. She seems to be trying to use it to get her way (which has never worked and until now she has never tried). She's now spayed, is recovering well (basically normal bar the scar itself and shaved patches) and seems mostly happy. But these sporadic bouts of extreme aggression are going to cause a problem. Is this something that I need to ride out and they will go away? Is there something I need to be doing to stop them? Doors have to be shut occasionally and neither of us can sleep with a potentially explosive cat in the bed so we can't just give in to these things.
     

  2. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ TCS Member Super Cat

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    Jun 1, 2017
    I'm not sure how far post-infection she is. Maybe more time is needed?

    But this seems like "your doing something I don't want you to do" aggression which is kind of the worst variety, because I'm not sure how to treat it behaviorally. A loud "No" isn't likely to work if the cat is seriously trying to hurt you because you dared try and move her. I would likely go straight to prozac if the vet will agree, or OTC calming products such as Feliway if vet wants you to try those first. Some members recommend others, you can do a search for calming. But with the cat seriously trying to hurt you, I'd go back to the vet (if enough time has passed post-infection) and map out a strategy.

    As for why its happening? There could be another medical issue making her crotchety, or it could be just routine and random change as a cat ages.
     

  3. di and bob

    di and bob TCS Member Top Cat

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    Dec 12, 2012
    Nebraska, USA
    Your little girl has gone through several major changes in her life recently, being 'lengthy' has provided several invaluable clues as to why the sudden change in her personality.
    First of all, she has had hormones ruling her body for over ten years. Now she has gone through cat 'menopause' via her spaying. These hormones can take up to 60 days to completely leave the body, and she is unstable and confused by what is happening. And just like me, it leaves her grouchy, scared, and with bouts of anger. Ok, now she is being refused comfort by sleeping where she is used to sleeping, and is being put by herself in a place that she doesn't want to be, locked up and lonely. She is still in pain from her surgery and is confused to why she is being put in another room and not comforted. She has slept with you for many years and doesn't understand why she can't now, so confusion turns to anxiety, and anxiety turns into aggression.
    This will all turn around, just make sure she is still not infected from the surgery, and is still having pain. If she is eating well, drinking, using the litter box, and not hiding away from everyone, she should be fine. I would give her some TLC right now and fro another month. Watch closely for signs of redirected aggression, (lashing out at whatever is close because they are frightened/hurting from something else.) Dilated pupils, hair rising on the back, puffed tail, growling, and staring intently. Any of these signs, slowly pull back and leave her alone. In fact right now I would just leave her alone except when she initiates contact. Offer yummy treats, you might get a heated bed, all cats take comfort in that, and it keeps them out of your bed unless they want to be there. Watch her closely for any further signs of infection, it could have spread. If she stops eating bring her in. I truly think that if you try to stop forcing her into situations she doesn't want to be right now, she will return into being the loving little girl you knew before. I know I still have a lot of people afraid of me! :)
     
    Curlynn and PushPurrCatPaws purraised this.

  4. ogbert

    ogbert Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    May 16, 2018
    Thanks for the advice guys!

    She has been to the vets for a check up and they're happy she's healing well and not infected anymore. She's also very happy for people to inspect the area (her belly), much more than before in fact, so I don't think the issue is there. And yeah we are not putting her in another room alone anymore!

    The issue was it was so sudden, she was quite happy and responding to petting and then a gentle, "no" to the bed made her flip instantly, not even a tail shake before. I hope it is residual hormones as you suggest.
     

  5. PushPurrCatPaws

    PushPurrCatPaws TCS Member Top Cat

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    May 22, 2015
    I definitely think that the initial hissing and fussiness was in regards to feeling pain because of her infection... I'm so glad she is doing well after her surgery!


    I totally agree with @di and bob's words and advice! She put it very well. All the hormone changes may take a little time to work through, so I would (if I were in your place) not go for adding any type of medicine like Xanax... you don't want her neurotransmitters to go all akilter as well. It could confuse issues, and also make her feel more weird. It's up to you and your vet to figure this out, though! Your kitty may need some time to recover after her spay.

    Don't forget, too, that she's nearly 11 years old and considered a Senior cat! Other health and/or age-related issues might be cropping up to make her cranky at times.
    Health Concerns In Aging Cats
    Arthritis And Joint Pain In Cats

    If she's trying to express pain or discomfort by being "hissy" or biting or fussy, etc., pay attention and don't necessarily chalk it up to her trying to be a pain in the neck to you -- something else could still be affecting her -- again, di and bob has great advice in her post about knowing when to leave a kitty alone and stuff.

    Our cats go through the normal lifecycles of living out their lives, and don't stay the same kitten or adult cat that we've been familiar with. Things can change quickly as they age, and it's a great idea, if you can afford doing so, to schedule "well-check" appointments with your vet for Senior cats about every 6-8 months, to make sure she isn't having any further age issues addressed.
    :redheartpump:
     

  6. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ TCS Member Super Cat

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    Jun 1, 2017
    I will reluctantly go a different route here and suggest not waiting patiently on this. If she is all healed up to the extent you can touch that area, she is only attacking when you try and move her from a spot where she is happy like your lap, and not for example lashing out if you try and pet her when you is in a comfy spot, and she is really going at you enough to cause meaningful injury (puncturing a nail!), I'm concerned that what started as a pain-inspired crotchetyness might now be a thing. As @PushPurrCatPaws said, cats do change their behavior patterns as they age, and something like a period of medical & surgery related pain could be the catalyst for that. I'd go ahead and try some of the non-prescription calming products. Your vet is probably going to want you to do that before trying medication anyway. Might be a good idea to call up the vet and see if they will tell you which ones they recommend. It would stink to get bit up more over the next few weeks and then have your vet tell you he wants to try calming products for 4-6 weeks before trying prozac.
     

  7. PushPurrCatPaws

    PushPurrCatPaws TCS Member Top Cat

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    May 22, 2015
    @ArtNJ - I am grateful when site members give differing --but still good-- advice as I don't think it is good to lock yourself into an "Advice Bubble"! It's up to the OP to go with their gut instincts and decide what to discuss when they next visit the vet, and often one cannot do that very well if not exposed to a variety of opinions, info, and experiences to contemplate and work through.
    :hugs:
     
    ArtNJ purraised this.

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