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Help: New Adopted Cat Is Hyperactive And Bitey

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by Catlover772, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  2. No

    6 vote(s)
    75.0%
  3. Depends

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  1. Catlover772

    Catlover772 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Recently adopted a 4 year old domestic shorthair from my local shelter. The shelter counselor really pushed this kitty as I said I was looking for a good beta boy companion kitty for my 12 year old rag doll who lost his brother 4 months ago.

    He was so loving upon first meet, came up and full headbutt/snuggles under the chin and I fell in love on the spot. He was returned twice, the first time for peeing outside his litter box and the second time for full wrap attacking and biting the legs of the children of the previous owner. She even wrote in her notes he was a “special needs cat”. The counselor insisted they figured out the issue was he was much better behaved with cats around so a household with a cat was best for him.

    Been slowly introducing the two of them and so far so good. However, he has a very bad biting problem and it seems to have just escalated with time when he doesn’t get what he wants. He also thinks it is great fun to attack your legs in predatory play and once he did a full wrap and bite on my leg too. I dont think this behavior is going to change, no matter how much discouragement. It is like he was never properly socialized and is a very anxious cat, and just hyperactive and big dilated eyes and easily aroused. I brought him for a full check up and it isn’t a health issue, just a behavioral one.

    I don’t want to give up on the little guy as it looks like he may get along with my older cat but they downplayed his problem areas and besides the biting, he is destroying carpet and furniture with his scratching and I can’t seem to encourage him to use his scratching post even with cat nip sprays. He doesn’t care for kitty treats. Am I a horrible person for contemplating returning him to the shelter?
     

  2. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    :alright: I am sorry that you are going through such a terrible time. Cat aggression is terrifying! :eek2:
    I had a similar situation with 2 cats. The first cat was a declawed rescue from a Domestic Violence situation & I got her from a kill shelter. I tried using her as an office cat but she was aggressive & a biter so I took her to the house. She would lash out randomly until one morning when she had my now-ex husband cornered in the bed, daring him to move. My 8yo grandson ran up to her, put his arm around her shoulders and said, "You don't have to be mean anymore, Miss Toby. You live in a real house now with a real family who loves you!"...and just like that, the cat relaxed and never bit or attacked again.
    With the next cat, Andrea, it wasn't so easy and she eventually developed feline hyperesthesia. Again, my grandson's insight proved valuable when she had attacked his legs. After a few pain driven shrieks, he grabbed a stuffed toy, a pink flamingo, and said "Here Andrea! when you need to attack, bite your flamingo instead!" and she did. Whenever Andrea went to attack the other cats or people, we gave her the flamingo to vent upon. She would even attack it on her own volition but stopped being mean to the rest of us.
    What also helped in both cases was rousing, vigorous play sessions with a wand toy attached to a retired fishing pole.
    I really feel badly for you and your 12yo cat. If you don't have the time or energy to to some detective work, it might be better to return him although he will most likely deteriorate (Lord knows why he went after those kids - it could be anything from boredom/hyper prey drive to a response to being kicked or stepped on). On the other hand, you can look at some of Jackson Galaxy's "My Cat From Hell" episodes for ideas and also try some of the suggestions from other TCS members. :agree:
    Whatever your decision, I will support you.
     
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  3. Catlover772

    Catlover772 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Thank you, catsknowme for your reply!! It made me cry thinking about how your 8 year-old grandson reassured the kitties that they didn’t have to be mean any more!! I can only imagine what kind of trauma Mendel has been through to be this way. He so wants to be accepted and loved, I can feel this but his need for entertainment/stimulation is great. I sadly don’t have as much time to play with him as he likes but a kitty fishing wand is on its way in the mail! They had said he was the forever kitten type... I didn’t realize it meant this sort of rough play... it seems his frustration level increases daily and I am worried how aggressive he is getting... I am still struggling with what the right course of action is but will give it a few more days. His favorite game is hiding under the bed and swiping at people’s feet (they had warned me about this but laughed it off like kittens will be kittens) but what really is terrifying is when you walk away from him to discourage rough play, he comes up and attacks your back legs. Today, after playing with him with his ribbon toy for 5 minutes, it wasn’t enough and when I was sitting at my desk, he came up and purposely bit my foot which he had never done before. Maybe I am misinterpreting this but it seemed like he was punishing me for not playing with him enough, he had to vent his frustration some way and this time I was the target. Boy, did it hurt!!
     
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  4. FeralRussian

    FeralRussian TCS Member Young Cat

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    Mar 10, 2019
    Your Grandson sounds like a true gem and cat whisperer to boot.

    @ Cat Lover. When I made the decision to lure my kits indoors I read numerous articles on socializing. Several of them mentioned using a cage that mimics a cave, keeping them separate for a few hours. I couldn’t do it. I do remember thinking it made sense, providing security. If it’s too much, it might be better to let him go. It can be a long process.
     
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  5. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner TCS Member Top Cat

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    Jun 13, 2018
    Central FL (Born in OH)
    Hi. I think you need to start with the idea that some of his behavior is boredom/lack of stimulation. Some of it is also probably due to no one ever taking the time with him to teach him acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

    Do you have lots of vertical spaces for him - preferably ones near windows, maybe even a cat tree or two? Places to climb and hang out being entertained by outdoor sights can help a lot for a bored cat. And, yes, please squeeze in some play time whenever you possibly can.

    When he attacks, if it is just random (not brought on by play that stimulates him), can you pick him up and either hiss at him or say a stern 'No', and then place him in time-out for a few minutes? Time out being a room that you can close the door to. Not for long but just a few minutes, then let him out and for the most part ignore him for a while.

    See if there is anything in these TCS articles that might help.

    Why Do Cats Attack?

    Why Do Cats...? The Ultimate Guide To Feline Behavior
     
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  6. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    Eastern California,USA
    :nono: :nono::nono: No, No, No to hiding under the bed and attacking.....that is SUPER-naughty. Not cute at all when claws or teeth hit an ankle bone. It's time for tough love and Cesar Milan - style of Calm, Assertive Pack Leadership that stresses Boundaries, Rules & Limitations. I STRESS however, that the style doesn't allow punishment only correction.
    For this to work, you will need to decide in your heart of hearts that you are committed...as in "walking down the aisle marriage" committed. And then let him know that.
    Don't be shy at telling him that your 12yo kitty is Senior Cat, King of the Realm, etc. Feral clowders have tribal chiefs - it makes for a balanced colony.
    I would block off the bed and any other ground ambush sites. @FeebysOwner has an excellent suggestion about adding more towers & vertical space.
    Those bites are cries of desperation that he will be kicked out again. It reminds me of my Early Childhood Education professor's saying, "The hardest child to love is the child who needs love the most".
    Also, I feel the play/hunt drive is higher than usual for him because of the stress & anxiety. Typically, I would have put him in the bathroom with the carrier as his cave for at least a day or two, to establish Base Camp (just like a Lewis & Clark expedition), to allow him to acclimate to the routine sounds & smells of the household). In the wild, cats study their surroundings & also the behavior patterns of the other residents, both the prey & the predators.
    For play, the fishing rod is extremely useful because it greatly increases the diameter of play circle, allowing for across-the-room sprints and aerial leaps while greatly decreasing the exertion needed on your part (a huge plus for those of us with shoulder, neck or back issues). The rod can be made with a long thin stick as well or a repurposed lunge whip for horses. A piece of ribbon with any kind of interesting object attached will suffice (I caution against feathers because some kitties eat them which can result in gastric distress). This play is especially beneficial for your senior cat, to help keep joints limber and kidney and lymph systems working well.
    A bird feeder outside the window should work unless other cats or dogs come around & cause overstimulation or anxiety.
    And we are here to support you! And thank you for being willing to give this a go. Thus I offer two more sayings:
    "The tallest mountain to climb gives the best view to see".
    and
    "A problem shared is a problem halved; a joy shared is a joy doubled".:vibes::cheerleader::grouphug:
     
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  7. Catlover772

    Catlover772 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Thank you FeralRussian, FeebysOwner and catsknowme for all the wonderful suggestions! I am so grateful for all the help. He does have a mattress to climb up for his tall perch. I do raise the blinds each morning and he has a great view of the outside on the perch of the back of a chair. He is separated in his safe zone in the upstairs bedroom while my resident 12 year-old is downstairs. Thank you for the links to the articles, FeebysOwner and I will try the time-out technique you suggested when he gets out of line and teeth and claws come out. You are right it is boredom and probably the stress/anxiety of the move and adjusting to his new life that might be encouraging this aggressive rough house play.

    Catsknowme, I did a lot of soul searching and you are right, commitment is the key. (Also some double sided tape doesn’t hurt either for areas I don’t want him to scratch! There is also a kitty drinking fountain coming as I notice the new kitty likes drinking running water only and I am concerned he may not be getting enough water). I sat down with him and told him he found his forever home but we have to correct some of the behavior. He seemed to just relax and calm down on the spot. Cats do understand us if we take the time to communicate with them. I remember when my two boys first moved in, one had taken to attacking the other out of jealousy in the hallway and then running into my room for me to save him. I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, this was happening nightly! It appeared the white/cream one was the victim initially (the one I was saving) but one night I noticed a puff of gray hair outside and deduced what was really happening. I had a sit down with them and said, “Guys, you have to stop this behavior. You are brothers and Mommy can’t be breaking up this nightly. She needs her sleep.” I always remember the cream/white one’s eyes widening and he had the look, “Mommy is very unhappy about this” but guess what?? The behavior stopped that very night. They had a silent war for about a month where one didn’t acknowledge the other in the same room but one day the gray/white one forgave his brother and slept right next to him. I have a photo of that moment and the look of shock on the cream/white one’s face for the unexpected reconciliation. They were never the best of friends but it didn’t matter as they were family. The best moments were when they would play with each other. Ragdolls are the best, such gentle, affectionate kitties.

    I am not giving up, I was very upset last night and felt like a total cat mommy failure and was seriously considering returning him but this is a new day and with everyone’s support and kind words I feel like I can do this!!
     
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  8. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    Jan 2, 2005
    Eastern California,USA
    :banana1: :bliss::happycat::beerchug::dance::woohoo::yess::clapcat:


    This is the best news of my day!! and yes, Ragdolls are so awesome. I haven't met many but the few that I have were just amazing. My daughter's former occupational therapist had two that she leash trained as therapy cats. Thank you for the wonderful update!! :rock:
     
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  9. danteshuman

    danteshuman TCS Member Top Cat

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    Mar 27, 2017
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    Hi I hope every thing works out with Mendal. I think a big part of his problems are play aggression. So he needs to be trained that humans do not have fur and to keep his teeth/claws off your skin!!! That said drastic as it is I would rather vote prozac for 6-12 months over the poor boy being re-homed again! (If you explain to your vet why he has been re-homed twice I’m sure your vet will give it a try. It isn’t a immediate fix but it probably will help.) I would also block off all attack areas like under a bed or dresser. I would also create a room for him to go calm down when he gets to wound up. My punk knew “go to your room!” Because I would chase him clapping until he was in the room then I ignored him. I trained all my cats not to attack by over reacting at the slightest hint of teeth or claw I wail ooooowwwwww really loud then ignore them ..... making a big deal to pretend to sulk or even show them my blood drop on my finger. Next all play is done with toys not hands. My hyper teen kitten keeps play attacking my arm (not hurting me at all) and I pretend he does just so he doesn’t form a bad habit (it is working! in under a month he went from jumping on my arm a few times a day to once a week) I do play with my kitten with my hand under the blanket so he can wrestle me. It just takes time and consistency. Your boy needs to learn the rules of the house.
    :hangin:
    What saved me from shaving my hyper punk was outside time. I had bird feeders outside to attract birds and provided cat tv. My hyper kitten gets to look out the sliding glass screen door and harness walks. I would strongly suggest you harness train him and give him a harness walk every day before dinner, along with play morning and night before bed....... and I would try the prozac. If after that he still doesn’t work maybe you can foster him/work on him until you find him a forever home?
    :goodluck:
     
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  10. Catlover772

    Catlover772 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Any time, catsknowme!!! I don’t think I would have come to this decision without all the support!

    Danteshuman, I am going to give it a try! Owwwwwwww!! Yes, a combination of boredom and play aggression. I am going to hold off the kitty Prozac for now and see if gentle correction will work better. Time outs and put back in his room when he starts acting up. Today he didn’t even want to come out of his room. I did coax him out for some downstairs time. He can’t help his inquisitive nature but today my rag doll let him know with some hissing and even growling he didn’t like him in his special corner. I made sure to separate them before any possible physical aggression. So far so good. He is in his forever home. It is just adjustment all around.
     
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  11. danteshuman

    danteshuman TCS Member Top Cat

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    I was thinking prozac would be better than rehoming him .... training him and tiring him out is my first go to response.

    That said my break through with my crazy hyper little terrorist was when I realized he needed to be tired out mentally as well as physically. I could play with him all day and it was never enough .... until he got his outside time and started ‘hunting’ birds outside. It was immediate in calming his hyper cuteness down. My current kitten, punk jr? I give him outside hunting time from the beginning and he has never reached terrorist level .... despite both punks being part siamese. Nothing like a bored intelligent kid with ADD to drive you insane ;)

    Also our semi-feral did the full on latch with 4 paws and bit me (I over stimulated him while petting him) despite the ow factor and my anger I calmly scruffed him and pried him off me, then ignored him! It worked. He needed the stern no/correction/I will not tolerate that .... and I needed to learn to watch his tail. If the tip of his tail twitches once, you need to stop touching him completely.
     
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  12. Catlover772

    Catlover772 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Harness training is an intriguing thought. Back in the day I bought a cat harness for my Tonkinese and it just became a very expensive string toy, ! Some cats just refuse any sort of leashes, they let you know! But going to have to think about how to provide him more mental stimulation (looking outside just seems to wind him up) plus more active play. I noticed his ears go back at the sight of his new scratch post. Not a fan. Going to have to try other texture scratch posts. He is definitely going to stay an indoor kitty as I live on a very busy street and getting run over is a real possibility sadly.

    It made me laugh to read about punk 1 and punk jr! I read somewhere cats are like perpetual 4 year olds, pushing boundaries and with that sort of emotional maturity.

    That’s great you figured out the semi-feral’s limits. Mendel doesn’t bite with overstimulating petting. I am very careful to watch his body language and not overpet him. His aggression is always when he wants to play. I am happy to say he is better today. Healthy boundaries, consistent correction, yes! Also accepting his cat crazies, he has a lot of pent up energy, but he is very polite to my older cat (they even blink at each other to reassure they are not looking for a fight) and is learning the boundaries. He calms down eventually. Thank you all for your input!!
     
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  13. danteshuman

    danteshuman TCS Member Top Cat

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    Mar 27, 2017
    California
    Harness training is a process. Currently I’m trying to teach punk jr to quit winding around things so he tangles his leash. In my experience cats respond to wearing the vests better then the H style harness. You get them used to wearing the vest inside, then vest and leash inside, then vest and leash outside where you follow them around. Treats help. My boy gets treats during his walks and when I remove his harness.
    Also a catio would work if harness training seems to extreme. They sell smaller ones that attach to your window, so he can go outside to look when ever he wants. I trained my punk to stay in the backyard but that took years, tons of effort and lots of bribes. I don’t recomend it because of the risk, if your cat escapes. They also sell fencing attachments that keep cats from jumping in or out of your yard (it is at a ?30? Degree angle so they won’t jump it.)

    A bird watching window perch with a feeder outside, puzzle feeders, toy rotation and automatic/interactive toys are all great at keeping kitties entertained.
     
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  14. Catlover772

    Catlover772 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Thanks for all the harnessing tips! A vest is better than the “H-style”. The last one I got was H-style, maybe this was why my Tonkinese despised it?

    I have no backyard but I have a 2nd floor balcony. It currently isn’t safe as kitty may squeeze through a space between the beams and fall to the hard concrete below. Thinking of installing a bamboo screen around it to keep kitty safe or building a catio so he can have access to the outdoors too without being able to kill any neighborhood birds.
     
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