Dealing with cat’s aggression towards people

Aldel

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Good time of the day, everyone on here! I am so glad to be a part if this community, where I found su much good advice and comfort in the past.
This time I am reaching out again to you due to a cat behaviour issue. ( Once again, apologies for any mistakes-English is bot my mother tongue).

Situation: A 2-3 y.o.Abyssinian female cat (neutered) was brought from abroad to be re-homed.
She comes with a history of problems with her initial owners due to aggression: she attacked them when they were passing by in the hallway.( No detailed information is available as any contact with the was lost long ago. All I know that in addition to this very young Abyssinian cat they had a baby and a dog ( Yorkshire terrier)). They eventually brought the little kitty for euthanasia to a vet, who took her under her own care and eventually her contacts found a way to re-home her abroad through animal protection.

The kitty ( lithle Lisa) stayed by the vet for 9 months. According to the vet, she was affectionate and friendly apart from a couple of situation at the beginning: once she attacked the vet’s face ( the vet leaned close to the kitty to hoover around her). The second time she grabbed on the vet‘s husbands leg during a play time.
In Germany ( where we all live) she was initially fostered by a very nice experienced lady, who is my friend. The kitty was allowed to use the entire apartment from the first and seemed to be very confident and happy, although a bit too much to-your-face cat to the liking of the foster mum😉. On the fifth day of the fostering Lisa suddenly changed her behaviour: when the foster mum was in the kitchen, Lisa hissed and growled at her, her expression changed to a very angry one. The foster mum tried to calm her down by gently talking to her, but this seemed to agitate Lisa more and she screamed loudly and jumped and grabbed her leg. Once pushed away, Lisa jumped and grabbed her leg again. She cornered the foster mum in the kitchen and reacted very angrily to every her move. The lady, who lives alone, got scratches and bruises and was very scared😢. The situation lasted some time before Lisa allowed to pass her.

Lisa eventually calmed down and came to sleep with the foster mum, as usual, also was purring less.
On the next couple of days she however again seemed hostile towards the foster mum: loads of hissing and growling almost every time the mum moved to a different room or would leave the sofa, where both of them were sitting. Lisa would still come to sit on the foster mums shoulders and always tried to climb her head as well and came to sleep with her. Lisa did bot attack the lady‘s boyfriend, who came to stay for a couple of days. The boyfriend ignored Lisa‘s hissing and that seemed to work better.
Unfortunately the foster mum developed a fear of Lisa and asked for her to be re-fostered. This is how Lisa landed in my home till mid-January ( by then she will go to a cats retreat owned by a vet and, fingers crossed, eventually re-homed).

As I have almost 3 weeks with her, I would like to use this time to understand Lisa’s personality and the trigger for the bad behaviour as much as possible to pass the information on the new owners to avoid any bad experience.
I took Lisa to a vet, and she now receives treatment for ear mites, appeared otherwise healthy. No bllod checks were done or bo X-Ray was seen as nneded. To my surprise, Lisa was completely fine with the vet and allowed all examinations and cutting her nails without any signs of aggression.

Lisa has been with us for 4 days now. I confined her in one room and only allow her 3-4 a day to the kitchen and bathroom through the hallway for 30 minutes-1 hour each time.

She seems to be friendly, very active, intelligent and a person -oriented most of the time. It looks like as she is interest in humans more than any toy:). We have regular play sessions in her room 3 -4 times a day.

She hissed on me once a day every day ( each time in the hallway- she seems to get uncomfortable being followed/passed by sometimes) but I avoided direct eye contact and tried to distract her with a toy or pretended to ignore her, then lured her to her room and closed the door again.

I of course try to avoid situations of Lisa attacking me or my husband as much as possible. At the same time the goal is to create a comfortable an environment to build positive associations in contacts with people as much as possible.

Any advice on dealing with hissing episodes and the entire situation would be gratefully appreciated🙏

Sincere apologies for the incredibly long post!
 

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price053

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This is bafiling, is the hallway where you pass her narrow? Are there certain foods being cooked while in the kitchen? What happens right before the hissing and then the attacking? Have you tried cat nip in her food to just calm her down? I am just trying to understand a bit better.
 
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Aldel

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Thank you for the response. Just to clarify- Lisa did not attack me or my husband, but hissed. To your questions:
- the hallway is quite narrow
- I do not cook that much and nothing was cooked at all before or during Lisa‘s hissing
- I did not try cats nip as I find it quite stimulating and she is already sooo super alert, active and all nerves. I use Felliway and Bach flowers drops in her food.
- Before her hissing different things happened on different occasions: one time she and I were both going to the kitchen and I was behind her in the hallway. She suddenly turned around, met my face, her face expression has changed as if she did recognise me and she hissed at me twice.
On another occasion yesterday she was sitting on the scratching post in the hallway next to her room and I tried to play with her using a relatively short piece of stribg ( 30 cm max). She did not to interested, and I simply threw the string, which landed close to her. She was suddenly startled, looked at me and hissed angrily. In fairness, she vomited few minutes before that and seemed to be under the wether ( probably anti-mite meds side effects?), so I have perhaps just irritated her with my attempts to engage😉
As for my husband: all 3 of us were sitting on the bed in her bedroom, he got up and as he was walking out she hissed twice.
Important to note: we have 2 our cats in thehouse, who are locked away pit of site while Lisa is roaming through the the allowed territory. She can smell and hear them though.
The foster mum hat not cats.
 

price053

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Thank you for the response. Just to clarify- Lisa did not attack me or my husband, but hissed. To your questions:
- the hallway is quite narrow
- I do not cook that much and nothing was cooked at all before or during Lisa‘s hissing
- I did not try cats nip as I find it quite stimulating and she is already sooo super alert, active and all nerves. I use Felliway and Bach flowers drops in her food.
- Before her hissing different things happened on different occasions: one time she and I were both going to the kitchen and I was behind her in the hallway. She suddenly turned around, met my face, her face expression has changed as if she did recognise me and she hissed at me twice.
On another occasion yesterday she was sitting on the scratching post in the hallway next to her room and I tried to play with her using a relatively short piece of stribg ( 30 cm max). She did not to interested, and I simply threw the string, which landed close to her. She was suddenly startled, looked at me and hissed angrily. In fairness, she vomited few minutes before that and seemed to be under the wether ( probably anti-mite meds side effects?), so I have perhaps just irritated her with my attempts to engage😉
As for my husband: all 3 of us were sitting on the bed in her bedroom, he got up and as he was walking out she hissed twice.
Important to note: we have 2 our cats in thehouse, who are locked away pit of site while Lisa is roaming through the the allowed territory. She can smell and hear them though.
The foster mum hat not cats.
Well being behind her seems to freak her out maybe the original owner or their pup would scare her by accident or the pup aggravated her from behind. Not your fault it just maybe her baggage.
Wonder if she was miss treated at the original owners home by a child, animal etc. i just did a quick search and i am attaching the link. Maybe with all the great cat minds on the site we can figure it out 🐱 and you are welcome.
Why Do Cats Hiss? A Complete Guide To Cat Hissing
 
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Aldel

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My working hypothesis that she attacks out of fear or sometimes re-directed aggression.
And last points- meds like Prozac are not an option with our vet. She believes it is just Lisa‘s personality.
 

price053

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My working hypothesis that she attacks out of fear or sometimes re-directed aggression.
And last points- meds like Prozac are not an option with our vet. She believes it is just Lisa‘s personality.
That is what I was thinking too. The article I attached earlier may help you to better understand and how to deal with her mood swings persay. Have you tried CBD with her just enough to keep her chilled out?
 

price053

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That is what I was thinking too. The article I attached earlier may help you to better understand and how to deal with her mood swings persay. Have you tried CBD with her just enough to keep her chilled out?
 

price053

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My working hypothesis that she attacks out of fear or sometimes re-directed aggression.
And last points- meds like Prozac are not an option with our vet. She believes it is just Lisa‘s personality.
Now it's more about finding a way to help her cope with a better life and ease her anxiety
 
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Aldel

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Thank you- will read the article asap. 🙏
CBD -not yet, but I have it at home so…. will give it a try.
We have New Year fireworks coming, which is always completely crazy in Berlin, hence I really need something to help her to het thorough these days
 

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Beautiful Abs.... it's difficult to assess aggression related behavioral problems without observation but there's a couple of things to think about starting with this breed in particular

Abyssinians are a popular breed in the USA and odd as it may seem part of the reason this particular breed is so popular is because they are bsducally very low maintenance ( low shedding,less grooming) and with their high energy levels and playfulness they are a good fit for an active family.

Abysinnians do very well in a large home with lots of vertical space for jumping and climbing- they typically prefer to be up high looking down on everyone- little things like thst can often give us a clue as to why Lisa may feel threatened when in a tight space,with hoomans " above" or looking down on her......it's instinctual to be " on guard" finding herself in close quarters with no " vertical " escape route

Also,when it comes to purebreds there could be alot of " inbreeding " to produce certain qualities( appearance) that unfortunately can also result in undesirable characteristics- do we know or have any information on her lineage background? That could prove to be very helpful in most cases like this particular case (;or not-lol)

Getting up in her previous owners face fits perfectly with this breed- they crave companionship,seek attention and interactive play- they do best with a companion cat or families and from everything I know about the Abysinnism they do not like being "left" alone - lots of toys,a busy family with other pets or kids in a big house is the perfect environment for this busy,intelligent breed

Now everything I'm telling you would be what a breeder would look for when prospective adopters want to purchase a kitten......so do we know Lisa's beginnings?When a cat like this ends up someplace thats not a good fit and then gets passed on to another less suitable environment and so on its difficult to know whst went wrong to bring out this aggressive behavior- we can only assume

Lisa's aggression,from whst info you've given seems to be triggered when she feels cornered with others passijg OVER her and for all we know when she hissed at whoever she felt was a threat might have yelled at her,thrown something at her or was aggressive in return ( might be the reason her aggression is fueled by confrontation.... her behavior sounds more like an intact male than it does a female,doesn't it?

You mentioned blood work and that she has gotten a clean bill of health- has she seen an ophthalmologist? This breed is known to have hereditary problems with a retinal atrophy- how is her eyesight? Does she ever stand with legs apart or bump into anything? We would want to rule out any physical or underlying health conditions first

Most animals in general either gravitate towards male humans or females if you've ever noticed,especially felines.... Was the Vet who kept her and had no issues a male ( I'm just curious).... you mentioned she seems more comfortable with your boyfriend,is that right?
 

price053

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Thank you- will read the article asap. 🙏
CBD -not yet, but I have it at home so…. will give it a try.
We have New Year fireworks coming, which is always completely crazy in Berlin, hence I really need something to help her to het thorough these days
CBD for animals would probably help and if she is okay in a carrier that might be an option and cover her. That way she feels safe.
Just to see if this idea works I know it works on dogs it may work for Lisa, a wind up clock out side the carrier, that way she can hear it and maybe that will help her to stay calm. They say it's like a heart beat for the dogs.. it helps them to not cry at night and help them sleep. It may work. I will send another link to a website I use for my new stray/ house cat. I get off in the am and when I get home I will copy and paste the link for you. It's anxiety and relaxation music with sea animals in it. Bella seems to like it.
 

price053

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Beautiful Abs.... it's difficult to assess aggression related behavioral problems without observation but there's a couple of things to think about starting with this breed in particular

Abyssinians are a popular breed in the USA and odd as it may seem part of the reason this particular breed is so popular is because they are bsducally very low maintenance ( low shedding,less grooming) and with their high energy levels and playfulness they are a good fit for an active family.

Abysinnians do very well in a large home with lots of vertical space for jumping and climbing- they typically prefer to be up high looking down on everyone- little things like thst can often give us a clue as to why Lisa may feel threatened when in a tight space,with hoomans " above" or looking down on her......it's instinctual to be " on guard" finding herself in close quarters with no " vertical " escape route

Also,when it comes to purebreds there could be alot of " inbreeding " to produce certain qualities( appearance) that unfortunately can also result in undesirable characteristics- do we know or have any information on her lineage background? That could prove to be very helpful in most cases like this particular case (;or not-lol)

Getting up in her previous owners face fits perfectly with this breed- they crave companionship,seek attention and interactive play- they do best with a companion cat or families and from everything I know about the Abysinnism they do not like being "left" alone - lots of toys,a busy family with other pets or kids in a big house is the perfect environment for this busy,intelligent breed

Now everything I'm telling you would be what a breeder would look for when prospective adopters want to purchase a kitten......so do we know Lisa's beginnings?When a cat like this ends up someplace thats not a good fit and then gets passed on to another less suitable environment and so on its difficult to know whst went wrong to bring out this aggressive behavior- we can only assume

Lisa's aggression,from whst info you've given seems to be triggered when she feels cornered with others passijg OVER her and for all we know when she hissed at whoever she felt was a threat might have yelled at her,thrown something at her or was aggressive in return ( might be the reason her aggression is fueled by confrontation.... her behavior sounds more like an intact male than it does a female,doesn't it?

You mentioned blood work and that she has gotten a clean bill of health- has she seen an ophthalmologist? This breed is known to have hereditary problems with a retinal atrophy- how is her eyesight? Does she ever stand with legs apart or bump into anything? We would want to rule out any physical or underlying health conditions first

Most animals in general either gravitate towards male humans or females if you've ever noticed,especially felines.... Was the Vet who kept her and had no issues a male ( I'm just curious).... you mentioned she seems more comfortable with your boyfriend,is that right?
I was thinking she might be inbreed as well. All kinds of things go sideways when that happens 😞
 
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Aldel

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CBD for animals would probably help and if she is okay in a carrier that might be an option and cover her. That way she feels safe.
Just to see if this idea works I know it works on dogs it may work for Lisa, a wind up clock out side the carrier, that way she can hear it and maybe that will help her to stay calm. They say it's like a heart beat for the dogs.. it helps them to not cry at night and help them sleep. It may work. I will send another link to a website I use for my new stray/ house cat. I get off in the am and when I get home I will copy and paste the link for you. It's anxiety and relaxation music with sea animals in it. Bella seems to like it.
The carrier us already in there, as well as a warm cats bed-she seems to like both.
Great idea about the clock- will purchase a mechanical one.
Will give CBD a try today also.
 

price053

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The carrier us already in there, as well as a warm cats bed-she seems to like both.
Great idea about the clock- will purchase a mechanical one.
Will give CBD a try today also.
Hope you can read the pic. If she is good in the carrier that is great. You may not have to shut the door just cover her up in full
 

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Aldel

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We have a hemp-based CBD.
 

price053

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The carrier us already in there, as well as a warm cats bed-she seems to like both.
Great idea about the clock- will purchase a mechanical one.
Will give CBD a try today also.
you may want to cover the clock some with a towel so it is not over bearing for her, and let me find the music I was talking about that my Bella listens too...
Relaxing Music For Stress Relief, Anxiety and Depressive States • Heal Mind, Body and Soul

These are some of what I use on my Bella
 
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Aldel

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Beautiful Abs.... it's difficult to assess aggression related behavioral problems without observation but there's a couple of things to think about starting with this breed in particular

Abyssinians are a popular breed in the USA and odd as it may seem part of the reason this particular breed is so popular is because they are bsducally very low maintenance ( low shedding,less grooming) and with their high energy levels and playfulness they are a good fit for an active family.

Abysinnians do very well in a large home with lots of vertical space for jumping and climbing- they typically prefer to be up high looking down on everyone- little things like thst can often give us a clue as to why Lisa may feel threatened when in a tight space,with hoomans " above" or looking down on her......it's instinctual to be " on guard" finding herself in close quarters with no " vertical " escape route

Also,when it comes to purebreds there could be alot of " inbreeding " to produce certain qualities( appearance) that unfortunately can also result in undesirable characteristics- do we know or have any information on her lineage background? That could prove to be very helpful in most cases like this particular case (;or not-lol)

Getting up in her previous owners face fits perfectly with this breed- they crave companionship,seek attention and interactive play- they do best with a companion cat or families and from everything I know about the Abysinnism they do not like being "left" alone - lots of toys,a busy family with other pets or kids in a big house is the perfect environment for this busy,intelligent breed

Now everything I'm telling you would be what a breeder would look for when prospective adopters want to purchase a kitten......so do we know Lisa's beginnings?When a cat like this ends up someplace thats not a good fit and then gets passed on to another less suitable environment and so on its difficult to know whst went wrong to bring out this aggressive behavior- we can only assume

Lisa's aggression,from whst info you've given seems to be triggered when she feels cornered with others passijg OVER her and for all we know when she hissed at whoever she felt was a threat might have yelled at her,thrown something at her or was aggressive in return ( might be the reason her aggression is fueled by confrontation.... her behavior sounds more like an intact male than it does a female,doesn't it?

You mentioned blood work and that she has gotten a clean bill of health- has she seen an ophthalmologist? This breed is known to have hereditary problems with a retinal atrophy- how is her eyesight? Does she ever stand with legs apart or bump into anything? We would want to rule out any physical or underlying health conditions first

Most animals in general either gravitate towards male humans or females if you've ever noticed,especially felines.... Was the Vet who kept her and had no issues a male ( I'm just curious).... you mentioned she seems more comfortable with your boyfriend,is that right?
Thank you so much for all this information.
I have forgotten to mention that I am a happy owner of 2 Somali/Abessinier cats ( both females), and can only tell that the 3 girls ( including Lisa) have similarities but are also quite different in some ways. Personality certainly plays a role😉
We know nothing about Lisa’s heritage as all contact had been lost with the initials owners.
So, no way to learn if inbred, family traits etc


The vet, in whose place she stayed, was a lady.
Lisa seems to be more relaxed with my husband than with me , but it could be while he is totally relaxed with her and completely dismisses any concerns whilst I am searching for cues for that attack on the foster mum🙂

She definitely seems to always look up the walls of our hallway as if she is searching for climbing/escape possibilities. Will see if we can install something to give her that confidence.

No obvious signs of visual problems either.
We will continue and see what happens
 
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