Stray cat that I rescued is biting

Timewarpcat

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I have another post about this cat. The new cat is about 2 years old. He came into the yard about a month and a half ago. He has received medical treatment and been neutered, about 10 days ago. He has been a bitey cat ever since I gave him medical treatment early on and he was feeling better and also more at home. and he currently lives in the garage because my other cats are being treated for an illness that could be communicable. I have a nice set up there with a heated cat bed in a cat tent (it's a feral cat house for a porch or shed), litter box and cardboard scratcher that he uses. There is a folded blanket on cardboard and I know it's cozy because I visit him and sit there to play with cat toys. He didn't know how to play with cat toys at first, but took to it and a litter box very well. He seems to have been a farm cat with indoor privileges. I let him out of the garage a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the evening. The house cats want time outdoors too, so I alternate. I give him about 20 minutes of attention twice a day. Some days is quite a bit more than that. For example, yesterday he hung out with my husband and me in the vegetable garden for a couple of hours.

Not all the biting is due to accident too rough of play anymore, as I wrote about previously, looking for advice. He gets aggressive suddenly. He is very affectionate and desperate for attention, bugging me, then bugging me some more, for long periods of time, and is very happy to get the attention. He kept following me around for more today, and I picked him up and he was so happy and then after about 5 seconds, suddenly he bit me hard in the head and I'm bleeding. I have several injuries from him. He bites me in the legs. Sometimes in fun, other times in aggression, such as if I accidentally step on him. It's almost impossible not to, no matter how careful I am. Once he figured out I have boots on, he jumps up higher to get me above the boots. I wear rubber boots to defend my legs against biting.

I'm getting to the point where I think I will have to put him down. My husband and I are pretty sure this is why he was dumped.

This is not me overstimulating him by petting too much. He is following me around right under my feet so I can barely walk, seeking the attention. He adores me and my husband. And he bites my husband too, but he's not around the cat as much.

I tried the squeaking when bit to let him know he's biting too hard, and the play biting has gotten much softer but is about the same frequency. The way I reduce it is to tire him out with the cat wand. Which I did this today, as normal.

It could be displaced aggression. He wants to live in the house, and he is coming to the house and looking at the other cats for 20 minutes at a time, and not always aggressively. He does the slow eyeblinks and things like that too. Also a black bear was in the yard earlier in the week, and this did upset the housecats, I think. But he has bitten me other times. There will always be bears, raccoons, other cats. I can't have him biting me over that.

When he bit me just now, I was cleaning stuff out of the car, which had last been used to take a cat to the vet, and he probably did smell that, because he was very interested in the car. But he was all purring and wanting attention, so I gave him some. He purred in my arms, then crawled up on my shoulders, a place he also likes to be, then bit. I was not restraining him at all. He was free to go, as always.

I have tamed feral cats before, but they were females and when they decided to trust me, there was no more aggression. This cat loves me and was clearly a pet. I think there must be something wrong with him besides just being a 2 year old tom cat. I can't tolerate all these injuries anymore. I am afraid of him and dislike him now.

I give cats a good, enriching environment and have not had many behavior problems through the years. I'm disabled so I'm at home with them all day every day. I have read many articles about cat aggression and have been a cat owner for about 30 years, with mostly strays and tamed feral cats.

Thoughts? Thanks for any input.

PS The vets office says there are no animal behaviorists in this area that deal with cats. Also, I have spent so much on cats this year it would be too much financial burden. 2 of my 3 house cats cats have been treated for toxoplasmosis in the brain and the new cat got a good checkup and basic medical treatment plus neutering. This cat was dumped and I did not want another cat, but he is a biting cat so he is not adoptable and so I cannot give him to another family. ( RANT I wish people would not dump their problem cats on rural people. Many rural folks shoot them because there are so many and they get diseases. I don't get so many because I'm really remote, about one every 3 years. When I do get them, I bring the adoptable ones to a shelter and it has cost me a lot of money to give basic care and surrender these cats that some other person dumped and I am living on a disability income. I tame the feral ones, because I'm in a very harsh climate and I do not want to worry in the winter. A couple were adult ferals and it took me a lot of time and effort, but they were great pets in the end).
 
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Hellenww

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It's possible the biting will become consistently soft after he meets the other cats and gets bitten. My Monkey was raised by my toothless Rusty. Her play, love, and attention bites were hard until we got another kitten who taught her that biting hurts.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. I also think that since you have noticed a slight change in how hard he bites when playing since you started letting him know when he has hurt you, the same thing will apply to the biting he does out of fear when he gets underfoot - eventually. And he is only 10 days out from neutering; I have heard it can take weeks to clear all the hormones out of his system - which could also be playing a role.

A previous pet or not, you have no way of knowing what his relationships were like. I would assume that he was probably neglected a bit (hence his neediness) and possibly not treated extraordinarily well (hence his skittishness and 'quick to react' behavior). I think when he can have more time with you, including inside time (and has been properly introduced to the other cats), you will find more positive changes in him.

He's had 2 years before you to 'acquire' his current demeanor/behavior - and, you've only had the last month or so to start to try to 'undo' his past.
 
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Timewarpcat

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I do think the neediness is from neglect. He is a wonderful loving cat except for the biting. He really really wants to be picked up and held. I was talking with my husband and we think maybe someone roughhoused with this cat a lot. Also, he had been in many tomcat battles. He has one bad eye (scratched cornea). When I got him, he was full of worms, ticks and ear mites, and minor injuries and he had a respiratory illness so his eyes were almost swelled shut with that pink eye membrane stuff. Now his fur is nice and his medical problems have resolved with the various treatments.

I don't much want to handle him anymore, so he's bound to get less attention now. I could armor up with a winter coat, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of leather gloves and not allow him to be on me anymore so I can keep him away from my face. He tries hard to bite through my sneakers when I forgo the rubber boots.

You guys really think this cat can turn around and be a safe pet after the testosterone decreases? I'm just seriously questioning that, living with these attacks and the 5x more frequent evaded attacks (I see them coming and can distract him or move my hand etc). I think he will bite me in the face one of these days. I have a puncture wound on my forehead from this morning.

Has anyone actually turned around a cat like this? I saw a couple cats like this on My Cat from Hell, but those owners were making obvious errors, like no cat furniture and no play time, nowhere for the cat to retreat to, etc. I've never given up on a cat before.
 

FeebysOwner

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Think about what you said - "I do think the neediness is from neglect." and "I don't much want to handle him anymore, so he's bound to get less attention now.". Yes, I have read some folks on this site have actually 'armored up' to be able to work with a cat that was biting/scratching them!! And some of the things I have read would suggest to me your cat is much less feral-like than many of these others that have been turned around. This guy you have sounds very hopeful with a lot of time and patience. Hopefully, some of these folks will see your post and share their experiences.

You may also consider trying some calming products, or even some medication from the vet to help taper the overwhelming drive toward the 'fight' part of "Fight or Flight". But I think more headway will happen when you are able to try to integrate him with your other cats and allow him some inside time. You might also want to try to take a cat wand toy with you when you are walking about and use that as an enticer to help keep him from underneath your feet. When necessary, kickeroo toys are a good thing to toss at a cat who looks like they might be interested in 'kicking' you around - maybe he will do that to the toy instead!

In the meantime, maybe there are some tips/ideas to be gotten from some of these TCS articles.
How To Help An Abused Cat Recover – TheCatSite Articles
Cat Aggression Toward People – TheCatSite Articles
How To Set Healthy Boundaries For Your Cat – TheCatSite Articles
Cat Behavior Problems [What to do and what not to do] – TheCatSite Articles
 
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Timewarpcat

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So far today, he has been a good boy. I have followed the advice I was given and I will just have to wait and see what happens. He loves it here, there's no question about that. He's really bloomed since the treatments got rid of the worms, ticks, ear mites and his respiratory illness has cleared up. I'm not sure if the more severe bites were in play, anger, or what, because when he does it, I can't see him (he's on my shoulders, at my feet etc). I think from now on, I won't allow him on my shoulders even though he loves to go up there, because he could have bitten my face. My scalp still really hurts today from the bite. I have a couple wounds in my forehead. I am afraid to have him anywhere near my face.
 
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