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Rescued kitty is a BITER

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Lily

1128118
 
 
Purred: Mon Apr 22, '13 10:42am PST 
I rescued a young cat this winter, now named Sylvie, when it was extremely cold. She was being terrorized by other cats in the neighborhood and was hanging around my house, hiding in the window wells. Long story short, I managed to lure her into my garage with food - then got her into a carrier and into my spare bedroom. It took about two weeks. She spent the first month hiding under the bed. When she finally came out, I started to try to "engage" her. She wouldn't play and seemed disoriented. I figured she had been through a lot and was just scared. I had petted her a few times, but this time, she bit my finger - hard! I have had cats for years but never had a bite like this... so I ended up going to the emergency ward just in case. I felt it go through my little finger - top and bottom - it was bad! It swelled up quickly, they had to cut my rings off and it got infected - so I'm glad I went to the hospital. Anyway, they gave my an IV of antibiotics, flushed it out - and I took two kinds of antibiotics for 10 days afterwards.

For such a little kitty, she has a mean bite! Of course, I know it was my own fault... I tried to push her too quickly!! (Altogether, she has tried to bite me three times, once successfully.)

Finally, about two weeks ago, I got her into the vet, got her fixed, checked and all her shots. (The vet said she's around a year old.) Before I attempted to get her into the carrier, I went out and bought a pair of welding gloves - to prevent the possibility of any more bites.

I also went out and purchased a Feliway diffuser... and I really think it helped settle her down.

We've been doing much better since she was fixed. I go into the room and spend time with her every day, several times a day. She is finally playing with a feather wand... and rubs up against my legs now. I will admit, I was actually afraid of her after she bit me but I'm not going to give up on her. I still wear the gloves and she will rub up against them, too... but...

Two days ago, I was in with her and she was rubbing her head on the gloves. All of a sudden, she delivered another really hard bite - but with the gloves on, I was fine. I was so sad, though... I felt like we had lost a lot of ground. There were a few things that were different about that particular visit, though - one that I was talking on the phone to someone (not paying attention to her and talking soothingly to her, as I usually do) and also one of my other cats had started to scratch at the door - and I raised my voice to scare him away. I wonder of my louder voice and quicker movements scared her?

When she tried to bite me, I just looked at her and said "bad" and left the room. I certainly didn't want to scare her more! And when I came back in about an hour later, she actually fell at my feet and rolled over on her back, as if to say she was sorry!

So.... do you think my behavior caused this last bite attempt? And - does anyone have any suggestions for me? I feel I am the only hope for this little girl. I really have seen a lot of progress but the biting thing really worries me. She's so darned fast - and she's NOT playing!

Sorry this is sooo long - but if anyone has ideas they can share with me, I would really appreciate it! Thank you!!
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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Tue Apr 23, '13 7:21am PST 
I think that your behavior probably contributed to this last bite. You really have to focus and be on your toes when dealing with a scared, shy kitty. Imagine how overwhelming it all must be for her. It's amazing that you're able to pet her and she's rubbing on your legs! The only answer is patience, patience and more patience. Learn her signals - when she's getting scared or overstimulated - and back off when you see them. I'm sure she'll come around. And it's so great that you took her in and are willing to work with her - congrats!
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Lily

1128118
 
 
Purred: Tue Apr 23, '13 7:12pm PST 
Thank you, BK. I think so, too - I think my raised voice probably scared her!

Even though I have petted her a few times, I'm afraid to now - so I just let her rub up against my legs or my gloved hand. It seems like it's the hand she's afraid of... and you're right, who knows what she's gone through? Thanks for the reassurance.

I have to remind myself that she really has made a lot of progress in two months.

I feel bad keeping her quarantined in her own room but it's a nice sunny room with windows and birds to watch outside... and much better than being in a snowdrift! wink I will not feel comfortable even starting the process of introducing her to my other two cats until I feel she has really calmed down. And I spend quite a bit of time with her so she's getting used to me and is getting some socialization.

Thanks for your response!

Edited by author Tue Apr 23, '13 7:33pm PST

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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Wed Apr 24, '13 3:41pm PST 
The fact that she's rubbing against your legs is huge. She'll come around - that's a great start. I was going to suggest that you start introducing her to your cats because she may be a cats' cat more than a people cat, but I guess that would be difficult if you can't handle her. It would be good if you could do a room switch so your cats could smell her and she could explore the rest of the house, but I don't know how you'd do it without being able to pick her up and/or catch her to put her back in "her" room. Just trust your gut - you're doing great.
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Carina

1290604
 
 
Purred: Wed Apr 24, '13 5:16pm PST 
Your kitty's biting behavior is motivated by fear. It takes plenty of time and patience to teach a former feral/stray/outdoor survivor kitty to learn what's safe in the indoor world and she no longer needs to always be on guard or ready to protect herself against threats. As another poster already wisely said, observe and note the events leading up to the bite so you know how to read your cat and avoid situations that trigger the biting. When you approach your cat, do it in a calm slow way, talking to her with a soothing voice. Above all, be patient and give her plenty of time. It can take MONTHS for a rescued feral/stray/outdoor survivor kitty to become a reasonably social housecat but the results are very well worth it.
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Beep

Butt-kicker of- all other cats
 
 
Purred: Thu Apr 25, '13 4:32am PST 
I agree, it takes time and LOTS of patience on your part to gain the trust of a feral cat. It took me months before mine would stop hissing at me when I fed her on my front porch. A few months later she finally got the nerve to rub her head against my leg...before then, I knew she wanted to, she kept rubbing her head against the side of the house and near me. It was a big step when she finally got the nerve to approach me. I have been very, very patient with me. Once she started doing that, I would lightly pet her tail, and she was ok with that....as long as she didn't SEE my hand coming towards her, with her back to me, she was quite ok with it. But when she would see my hand, she would start to bat at me. So we just proceeded slowly. It's been a year now, I can scratch her chin, pet her head, her back. I could actually pet her head and chin before she let me pet her on her back....that was what took the longest. She will not let any of my other neighbors touch her, she will come up to them and mew, but they are not allowed to touch her. It's a big to me that she only trusts me enough to touch her. Just take your time, let this kitty approach you, and don't rush it. If you do all that, she will come around. She will always have those traits though, of a feral cat, so you always have to be on guard, and you have to accept that she can't help it. It's not personal. It's like taming a wild lion, they always are going to have those wild traits, and you will never truly be able to get rid of that...in most cases. Good luck, you have done a wonderful thing taking this kitty in.
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Lily

1128118
 
 
Purred: Fri May 3, '13 2:24pm PST 
Thank you all so much for your comments! Sylvie is doing fine, although yesterday she got a little excited when playing... and afterwards, when I reached down to pick up her dish, she swatted me so hard she drew blood. Sheesh! She sure does pack a wallop! I really think she was still playing and didn't realize what she did. There was no hissing or growling involved. She hasn't growled at me for 2 or 3 weeks now.

The good news is that she is becoming more playful every day. She loves her toys and is using the scratching post I put in there. She loves to chase the feather on the "wand" so I do that a lot with her. As soon as I come into the room, she starts purring right away... and has even given me a few contented "warbles". And it seems she doesn't ever want me to leave the room because when I slowly get up to go to the door, she's right there, rubbing against my legs. She will go round and round my legs, rubbing her head and body on my legs as I slowly go out the door.

I am so relieved she's playing... at first, she looked at me like I was nuts when I rolled a little ball toward her!

The room she's in is filled with the scent of my other cats. And my other cats know she's in there but don't seem too worried about it. I am thinking of letting them start to really see each other... a friend has a screen door she can lend me - so I am thinking of trying that.

I have two other cats, Lily, aged 3 to 4 - and Max, who is probably around 10 or 12. Both are "found" kitties so I am unsure of exact ages. Lily is very spirited and will probably be the most interested and jealous. Max is pretty laid back. I am thinking of letting them see each other through a screen door... a friend of mine is going to lend one to me. It will be interesting to see how they all react to each other.

I have to keep reminding myself it has only been 2 1/2 months since I got her into the garage. If it takes a year, so be it. But I can't help HOPING that if I keep spending time with her, she will keep making good progress. I am hoping that because she's so young, her scary time outside will soon become a distant memory - but even if she continues to display her feral traits, she will always have a home with me. I really hope we can get past that, though.

Thanks again! And if you have any other suggestions, please let me know.
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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Sat May 4, '13 8:02am PST 
I think you're doing great and she's making amazing progress! And I love the screen door idea!
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Lily

1128118
 
 
Purred: Sun Feb 16, '14 8:08pm PST 
WONDERFUL NEWS!! It has now been almost a year since I found my little Blue... she's got a new name now. It has taken months but she's finally doing absolutely GREAT!!!cheer


It was a slow journey - I didn't let her own permanently until around Thanksgiving so she was in her room for several months. Fortunately, it was a nice room with big windows and plenty of birds to watch outside. I spent a lot of time with her, playing and talking to her. She was very offensive to my other cats - she would try to attack them and that worried me, so I took it VERY slow. Also, I didn't want to get bitten again myself! She did bite me a few more times but nothing like the first time. She slowly warmed up and started to trust me.

Now I have the sweetest little girl I could have ever hoped for! She loves to sit on my lap and purr, she loves to chase her toys around, she even gets along with my other two cats and has shown NO signs of aggression. She loves her little bed and watching the birds and squirrels outside at their feeders. She loves to cuddle! I couldn't be happier with her. cloud 9 And the most important thing - she's a very happy, very playful little cat.

There was one person who wrote to me in this thread... reminding me of how much she had gone through and how scary it was for her when she lived on the street. I think those words helped the most, I never forgot them. So thank you all for the advice and help! I just wanted you to know we made it with flying colors!! happy dance rainbow party

Edited by author Sun Feb 16, '14 8:14pm PST

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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Mon Feb 17, '14 4:23am PST 
I love a happy ending! Great job - I'm so glad everything worked out ok.
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