poor cat/kitten behaviour;is it too late to change?

opentile

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i have a soon to be 11 month old cat next month- almost turning a year old soon! i have had him since he was four months.
from the first month i have had him up until now, i noticed he always has nasty and aggressive behaviour to things like grooming, nail cutting and paw care, teeth brushing and of course showering. these are all for the most part essential to his health and care, but he is so difficult it almost brings me to tears because i don’t know what i’m doing wrong. it puts me to fear when i have to do these things for him because he gets so violent and rejects it all so much it is hard to ever grab a hold of him. to this day we are still using a cone on him when we have to cut his nails while simultaneously feeding a treat because he hates it so much and starts to act violent scratching and biting deep into everyone. (he is not a feral). as well, in the past we have had to have two emergency showers for him, both times because he was covered in poop (and one of the times he just finished recovering from his neuter surgery after the vet gave him to me covered in poop, probably the most traumatic experience that i even considered if having a cat was cut out for me. showering is extremely traumatic for him as well as he always runs out of the tub and starts scratching and clinging up the tub to get out, he can’t stay still and soon he will be too big.)
i think most of it stems from before i’ve had him since the previous owner never spent much time with him let alone doing any of these things and now since i’ve had him i need to implement it into his lifestyle.

I am coming to the forum because up until now I believed I could truly just ignore this behaviour and just accept it when it comes times to do these things but it is really discouraging in trying to complete these tasks. He is becoming an adult and I don’t want these horrible habits of his to hinder his health. I don’t know what I could even start doing now to help him shift out of these behaviours but I would appreciate the advice. Anything on the range of completing any of these tasks like showering, nail cutting or adjusting his behaviour.
 

silent meowlook

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I will have to write more later but for now, a couple of questions:
Is he:
Your only cat?
Your only pet? (If you have other pets, what are they?)
Indoor or outdoor, or both?

Can he see cats from the window? Are there other cats around?
Is it just you and him in the house or are there other people that live with you?
If so, are they adults or children?
If children, are they little kids or teenagers?

Does he have any health issues? Is he on any medication?
For right now, you must stop everything he doesn't like. I mean all of it he hates, needs to stop completely for at least 2 weeks maybe a month. This is extremely important because we are going to try to change his learned behavior and stress responses.
Please don't take this the wrong way but he has been traumatized by you. I know you didn't mean to but the way he feels about it is that he was almost killed for unknown reasons and barely escaped with his life. Any owned pet cat that resorts to scratching and trying to get away that desperately is terrified. Remember cats don't think like people. They think like cats. Very much in the here and now. They don't worry about he future or the past. They do however learn responses to things. So, from what you are describing, there is a ton of trauma he has that you need to reset. So, only good stuff for the next 2 weeks to a month. Nothing that he doesn't like.
Play with him with a wand toy for at least 15 minutes the same time every day. Make that a learned routine for him. Treats are also good to use. The best time to play is before feeding. Usually at the end of the day is good.
For the next 2 weeks. don't pick him up or try to do anything he doesn't want to do. Don't yell at him about anything. Just play play play and feed etc. What is trying to be done is to re-establish you to him as someone that can be trusted and whom good things happen around.

So, answer the above questions and I will follow up after that. But yes, you can change his behavior but it isn't anything that will be done quick.
 

ArtNJ

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"Showering" a cat? I've never heard of anyone doing that. Its totally unnecessary, and almost all cats would *hate* that. Cats are extremely clean animals and their self-cleaning is sufficient 99%+ of the time. Occassionally they get into something, or have some difficulties around the backside, but those are rare exceptions.

If by grooming, you mean brushing hair, that may be necessary if you have a long hair cat, but for short hair and many medium hair cats its totally unnecessary. If you mean giving your cat's hair a trim, why are you doing that? Absent impossible mats or problems with the rear end, there is really no reason to cut your cats hair other than asthetics, and I'm not sure why that is worth stressing the two of you out.

Nail trimming can be necessary for various reasons. I personally do not do it for most cats, but some here do. There are tips available that may help you.
 

di and bob

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I too, almost NEVER trim my cat's claws, some I have never trimmed if they get enough scratching in with a corrugated cardboard scratcher or tree trunk. I have never bathed any of my cats either, If they get a messy behind, they are washed with a wet washcloth and clean themselves from there. If your cat is traumatized by these things, and most cats are, your cat is acting perfectly normal, do not do them. It is too traumatizing and breaks the bond of trust he has with you. Get some Oratene enzyme water additive for his dental care, I have used it very successfully over the years. You just add it to his water. Cats are not like dogs, they are very independent and hate being fussed over. If my cats need a claw trim (VERY rarely) or a butt trimmed, I have the vet do it when I bring them in. they are scared there and compliant. he only charges me 15.00, very well worth it. so please, just enjoy your cat and don't think all these things HAVE to be done. your cat is pretty much self-maintaining and self-cleaning!
 

GuyandCat

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Good luck I hope you find something that works for you. I'm a first time cat owner and it's been challenging. Only suggestion I have would be to stop the Showers. I can't even imagine what my arm would look like if I gave Guy a shower lol.
 
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opentile

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He is my only cat, pet and is indoor. He cannot see other cats from the window and only adults live with me. No health issues.

I will try doing as you say for two weeks and will hope for the best. I actually do play with the wand toys, they are his favourite but I don’t give him treats every day, just every other day or few days in a week- He really likes the tube kind. I will play with him before feed and reward treats after.
Hope I can see a little change and thank you for your help.
 
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opentile

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Bathing a cat? Sorry, I thought some people would do it but not no one. Like you mentioned, it is not a weekly or monthly routine even; just for the rare exceptions. For me both were when he was covered in his feces- this is not a common occurrence for him though and just two emergency happenings.

I never trim my cat..not sure why or where I mentioned that. He started to shed some and he is a long hair. That’s why for his loose hairs I try to groom him but I will try with a different brush. He is open to it mostly when he’s sleeping but never really his underside or belly where those tangles can occur; though I understand cats don’t like anyone touching there.
 
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opentile

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I too, almost NEVER trim my cat's claws, some I have never trimmed if they get enough scratching in with a corrugated cardboard scratcher or tree trunk. I have never bathed any of my cats either, If they get a messy behind, they are washed with a wet washcloth and clean themselves from there. If your cat is traumatized by these things, and most cats are, your cat is acting perfectly normal, do not do them. It is too traumatizing and breaks the bond of trust he has with you. Get some Oratene enzyme water additive for his dental care, I have used it very successfully over the years. You just add it to his water. Cats are not like dogs, they are very independent and hate being fussed over. If my cats need a claw trim (VERY rarely) or a butt trimmed, I have the vet do it when I bring them in. they are scared there and compliant. he only charges me 15.00, very well worth it. so please, just enjoy your cat and don't think all these things HAVE to be done. your cat is pretty much self-maintaining and self-cleaning!
I see, thank you. His nails can get too long after a months time, never really his toes nails, and it can hurt so that’s when we do it. He had one case when he was younger where apparently one of his nails got too long and hurt his paw when we noticed it a bit injured; at least that’s what it was according to him but not entirely sure how it happened because that vet was not very clear and we stopped seeing him. We don’t see our vet monthly, that’s why I wanted to learn to trim them on my own. He stopped drinking water when I tried additives prior to choosing to brush his teeth so I stopped. I do think brushing is important but I’ll stop for two weeks time.
Thanks
 

silent meowlook

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Hello.

Thank you for the replies.
After you have re-established with him that you are a good person, and only good things happen when you are around, you can start to try to do the things you need to do.

First off as I am sure you have figured out from the replies, no baths, or showers. They usually do more harm than good. Although I do understand the need in the extreme case of fecal matter being all over the hind end of the cat. And in that situation, I would fill a dish pan with slightly warm water and submerge his hind end into it and do it that way. The sound of running water is enough to really freak a cat out.

Basic handling:

I don’t want to assume anything, and I am making only general statements here, so don’t take offense please.

Do not ever scruff the cat. It is very demeaning and frightening to cats. There are better ways to handle cats and many of the techniques can be found on feline friendly handling websites. I am also not a fan of the kitty burrito people do with cats and towels. I feel this also frightens them when they feel they can’t escape.

Cats are predator/prey. Meaning they hunt things but are also hunted. Therefore, in my experience a cat’s behavior is much more like a cross between a horse (spooking, fearful and running away) and a

Tasmanian devil. Cats usually would much prefer running from a situation that frightens them instead of fighting. But if they can’t escape, they will fight for their life. This is of course a generalization, and every cat is an individual.

You cannot rush any behavior changes with cats. You must move very slowly. Cats must feel safe where they live and safe with their people to do this you must respect a cat’s sense of wellbeing and avoid picking them up unnecessarily and not frightening them.

Cats need to be able to scratch, hunt, chew, and view to be happy. So, they must play, have toys, and a place to view the outside world from up high. A shelf is always a good idea.

So, after your cat is feeling safe again and is a happy cat, you can start to do his nails again. Wait until he is relaxed and cut only the very tip off one nail. Give him a treat before and after. Then the next day do another. The goal of this is to make sure that you stop before he is upset. If you can end this on a good note with a good feeling for him, he won’t resent it. But you must stop before he even thinks about getting upset. It will take patience. Then when he is comfortable with that you can do two nails and build from there. Don’t pick him up to do the nails. Just right where he is. Don’t pull his leg out in any way and try to do it without holding his paw. When you are done, you are done. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just toss a treat, and move on.

I must get ready for work. I will comment more about dental care tomorrow.



Hope this helps.
 

cataholic07

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What I would recommend is first get him used to just touching his paws. A simple pet, treat and rinse and repeat for awhile. Then push down on the paw to show the nail, then give a treat and continue with that until you are able to trim one nail. I would only do it when he's very tired and don't push him. I usually only get to trim my cats nails a few a day.
 

Juniper_Junebug

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I will offer my experience as a first-time cat "owner," because I sympathize with the difficulty in figuring out how to do necessary grooming that the cat hates.

What I would recommend is first get him used to just touching his paws. A simple pet, treat and rinse and repeat for awhile. Then push down on the paw to show the nail, then give a treat and continue with that until you are able to trim one nail. I would only do it when he's very tired and don't push him. I usually only get to trim my cats nails a few a day.
This is what I do. When I first adopted Juno as a kitten, I just started touching her paws when she was very sleepy, then progressed as suggested above. I only ever trim Juno's nails when she's super sleepy and will let me touch her paws without trying to pull them away from me. I keep clippers within reach of each of her favorite nap spots, so I can do the job quickly as needed. I mostly only get a nail or two at a time, but it still works, because I do it several times a week if needed. If I tried to clip her nails while awake, she would react unpleasantly too.

what if the cat stunk like really bad, and the licking wasn't working, then would you have to bathe them? (I was thinking like up to the paws water but not up to the whole body then would it be okay?)
I have had to bathe Juno twice, both related to her early giardia. It sucked, no way around it. It was traumatic for both of us but it had to be done. A small basin would not have worked for us; no way could I keep her in their, even as a smallish kitten, without her trying to claw her way out/ away; she detests being restrained. I had to put her in my walk-in shower, where I could shut the door, and I wore multiple layers of protective clothing so that when (not if) she tried to claw her way up my body to get away from the water, I wouldn't get injured. I still used a pitcher, not the shower head, to bathe her.

I hope never ever to have to do this again. But she forgave me for it readily. That's why, I suppose, you have to pick your battles and build trust.

I don't brush Juno's teeth. I tried the recommended ways to get her gradually used to it and she still was having none of it. I've decided that was not a battle I was going to fight because it would damage our relationship. Jackson Galaxy apparently has the same view.

Juno is short-haired so I only brush her once a week. I tried 6 different brushes and she hates them all. I bribe her with an Inaba Churu *while* I'm brushing her, and that buys the bare minimum tolerance I need.
 

Anne2021

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It made me smile a bit to imagine my cats if I tried to do those thing to them. Your cat is responding normally. You've already gotten great answers, but I just wanted to add my two cents. I don't shower my cats, and when there was an issue that required a bath - like one of my cats peeing in his crate on the way home from the vet - my daughter would give the cat a bath, not a shower and keep it as short as possible. Most cats are going to hate it and as long as it's infrequent, it doesn't damage the relationship. I think a shower would be traumatizing to my cats. One of mine is long-haired and sometimes needs grooming. She sees a professional groomer who uses two people and I wouldn't be surprised if they need a muzzle. I don't ask. This particular cat has a lot of sass and attitude and is one of her worst clients so she gets tipped heavily, but kitty can hate the groomer and not us. They trim her nails when she gets groomed, which is once every 6-8 months or so, but I've never actually had to clip any of my cats' nails. I don't think any of them would take kindly to that either or tooth brushing. So, I just chimed in to say there's nothing wrong with your poor kitty and I think your relationship and building trust is more important than these things. And if something really needs doing, I would consider a qualified, trustworthy professional groomer (not necessarily a pet store grooming counter) so your cat can put their negative feelings on someone else. Oh, and I just remembered. My kitty that I'm most bonded with needed treatment for ear infection when she was young and then again last November/December. Holding her down to put drops in her ears was rough on her and it took two of us to catch her and two of us to hold her still and get it done. I was so glad when it was all over so her trust in me wouldn't be shot.
 

Smarl

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Oh, some quite weird comments in here. I will bath my ragdoll when she's changing her coat, if I'm not doing it the coat will be matted mess and she's puking hairballs next two months as it's impossible get rid of the old fur with brushing only. I also trim her armpits (mat), bum fur (accidents and more mat) and cut her nails because she's not an outdoor cat and her nails will grow extremely long without cutting. Ofc I'm not doing these things to my dsh (only nail cutting), but he doesn't have poo accidents or matting issues. So if some cat never needs a bath, it doesn't mean any other cat won't need it.

But yep, we're brushing teeth every once in a while. We started slowly, just first I get them used to me touching their mouth. Next step was having treats and brush, so in their minds brush = treats, so brush must be a good thing. I also let them taste the paste first, berofe brushing. We started veeery slowly: just 5-10s at first, and slowly moving to longer periods. And a lots of treats and praising afterwards. Teeth brushing or bathing is not their fav, but they can handle it and that's enough for me.
 
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