Newly adopted cat - fear and aggression

DAS7901

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Hello,

I have another aggressive cat post. I got my cat from a shelter. I picked him because they said he was terrified there. Having had a terrified cat before I thought he would be good for me. He is said to be 3 years old, and came from a hoarding situation. Don't know what that could have to do with it, but they told me that. They also said he was aggressive and they were right about that. They had also neutered him the day before I came and picked him up. They shaved his back due to matted hair, I think. So he had been through some stuff.

Week 1 he did not eat a single bit or drink water. He stayed under the bed the whole week. When checking on him one day I put my hand forward and he swatted and hissed. I left him alone after that for the rest of the week.

Week 2 (day 8) all of a sudden he began eating and has done well with that since. He started coming out from under the bed at night.

Week 3 I touched him for the first time. I pet him on his head because he came over to me and pushed his head into my hand. But after a few pets he swatted my hand drawing blood.

Now in week 4, after playing with a toy with him for an hour, we tried the head petting again. Same thing happened. He swatted my hand and scratched me. His nails are very long and sharp. After that he jumped up on the back of the couch with a sort of snort, or aggressive puff sound. Rather strange. I didn't care for that at all.

The next morning while making the bed he attacked at my feet real quick with that same snort or puff sound. I was furious. I ignored him all night last night and although was did come out at night he kept his distance and we had no interaction.

I don't know what to do. He seems like he wants to play and like he wants to be pet and be friends, but he has shown aggression numerous times. Swatting my hand while petting him is one thing. But jumping at me on the couch and from under the bed, unprovoked.... I don't like that.

I'd appreciate any thoughts.
 

fionasmom

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Cat Behavior Problems [What to do and what not to do] – TheCatSite Articles
Why Do Cats Attack? – TheCatSite Articles
How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? – TheCatSite Articles
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles
Cat Aggression Toward People – TheCatSite Articles
How To Help An Abused Cat Recover – TheCatSite Articles

https://www.seattlehumane.org/sites/default/files/feeds/Adopting a Hoarded Cat.pdf

Welcome to The Cat Site and thank you for trying to help this poor cat. The articles above have parts of information which may help you and the last one is specifically about cats from hoarding situations. There were a number of those which came up when I googled that topic so you might see if any others are more to the point for your cat.

Hoarding does not only mean that someone who might have personal issues took too many cats into their house. In real hoarding there is often an inability on the part of the hoarder to see what they are doing and causing as all they perceive is that they are keeping the animals safe. In most hoarding, food and water are not readily available, feces and filth pile up, cats fight, and in some cases animals die and are left where they fell. Any animal in a hoarding situation knows that it is fighting for its life in one way or another.

The fact that by week 2 and 3 this cat came and ate and pushed his head into your hand is huge. He has true hope but you will need to work with him and give him a lot of space to recover.

Despite the fact that his nails are long, you probably should not try to get him into a carrier and to the vet for a nail trim and I don't think that you should attempt anything yourself at this point. Watch his movements and get a wand type toy to approach him but go slowly. Don't wave it all over as that might cause him to think that he is being attacked. When he seems to attack, which hopefully will begin to subside, walk away. Do not use a spray bottle or any other type of retaliation as he will not associate it with the fact that he just bit your feet but will perceive it as another stressor that has come his way.

This cat does want to be your friend but it is going to take time for him to settle in. Look at it from his point of view. He is confused and has had a miserable life. You don't know how he got to the hoarder's house but some of those who hoard go out and pick animals up off the street, including pets who are let out to roam, assuming that they are protecting them. He may have been a pet at one time as opposed to a feral and his early approach to you makes me wonder if that is really his story. In his mind right now he cannot believe his good luck that he is someplace clean and safe with his own food which is served to him. Of course he is defensive; he doesn't know what your next move could be so at this point he trusts you up to a a certain level only.
 

FeebysOwner

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I totally agree with all of the above. He was put through a lot before you took him home, and is terribly afraid of it all. I would imagine that he isn't quite ready for a whole bunch of touching, so petting him for a second - when he instigates it - might be fine but anything more than that can cause overstimulation and the fear (and aggression) kicked in. Coming from a hoarding situation means he pretty much had to fend for himself and likely has almost no social skills - hence the reason he doesn't quite understand all that is going on right now and tends to react out of fear and aggression.

Ignoring him, or leaving him alone, isn't the answer. The key is to be in the room with him - from a distance - and spend time on the floor (his level) either reading a book softly, but out loud, or just talking to him but not necessarily looking directly at him. As many times as you can. Let him approach you, and if he wants a head pet, give him one - JUST one.

If he is spending his time under your bed, don't bother to make up the bed for now. He sees your feet and nothing else, hears things he isn't comfortable with and is on the defensive with pretty much everything at this point.

The articles fionasmom fionasmom provided may seem like a lot to read, but you will get valuable tips and information from them. Read them, reset (your expectations), and start over again. It will work!
 
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DAS7901

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This is all really good information and I thank you both for the time and thought you put into your replies. I will go through this all and work it into our interactions. I'm in no hurry with him, as long as it takes is fine. My biggest concern is getting mauled in the face when I'm sleeping or something. But provided that doesn't happen, we can take it as slow as he need to go.

Thanks again for responding.
 
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