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Aggressive cat

Species: Cat
Breed: n/a
Age: 6-12 months
My cat is having some behavioral issues. When I got her as a kitten she always came to me to get pet. Now when I try to pet her she shies away and even tries to attack my hand. Did I raise her the wrong way? Next, whenever I get food and sit down to eat she always comes up to take a sample of it even though I keep picking her up and putting her on the floor. Whenever I am eating meat she takes it and runs off. When I go to take it from her she growls and hisses and attacks me when I get near her to retrieve it. I don't know what is wrong with her. She does love me though, because at times she likes to come snuggle up next to me and allows me to pet her. What is wrong??

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This type of problem can be frustrating! Is Oreo spayed? If not, then having her spayed may make a huge difference. Hormones can cause a lot of problems!

There are things that can be done to help a problem like this but you may need to work one on one with your vet or a trainer. The gist of the training program would be encouraging the good behavior. So, when she is good and behaving well then she gets treats and petting. But the moment she does something bad (biting, etc.) She gets zero attention.

You may want to look into a product called Feliway. This is a pheromone which really helps to reduce behavior problems in cats.

If the behavior is getting much worse then you can talk to your vet about medication such as amitryptiline. Sometimes we can use a medicine like this for a few months and then wean a cat off of it.

I hope things improve soon!

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Thomas...I've been thinking about it and I don't feel that my answer really was complete enough for you. (I have to be honest that I forgot to turn my online status off last night and answered your question on my blackberry, which meant that I couldn't type as much as I usually do.)

Problems like this are difficult and ultimately the best thing you can do is to set up a consult with your veterinarian to discuss this.

But, if you have more specific concerns that I can help you with then feel free to respond and I'll see if I can point you in the right direction!

Customer reply:

Thank you for your answers. Everyone tells me she is crazy and not like any other cats, but I believe she is just like any other kitten. Instinctive and very playful. One thing that might be affecting her is she has a large amount of fleas. She is only 13 weeks old so I don't know if I can give her drops, but even still, could fleas make that much of an impact on her mood when no one is around? By this I mean she seems distracted a lot of the time by things that are not there. When can you get a cat spayed? Because I remember that all of my other cats were very "crazy" before they were spayed and calmed afterwards.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ahh....fleas will definitely make a cat grumpy! I have seen a number of cats that were better behaved after being treated for fleas.

You can definitely treat her at this age, but you need to use a prescription product (i.e. from your vet) for fleas such as Revolution or Advantage. Pet store products will not work 100%. You also need to make sure that every animal in the house is treated and that everyone is treated for at least 3 months. This way, if there are flea eggs in the house, when they hatch they will jump on the cat and be killed.

As far as spaying her goes, this is usually done around 5-6 months of age.

But, definitely get her treated for fleas. This really should make a huge difference!

Customer reply:

Oh okay, so it's a good thing I haven't put on the ones I got from Walmart ha ha. I have made a video of how she acts to me getting near her while she is eating. I gave her a piece of my roll she seemed interested in, and when she ran off with it I followed her and recorded it. I hope you will watch the video By no means is she a aggressive cat. In fact, right now, just 5 minutes after doing the video she is snuggled in on my lap and is loving being pet.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

What I'm seeing in the video really does sound like aggression. I don't like how she is growling at you. The fact that she hasn't always been this way is good. It makes me even more hopeful that she will be better behaved after treating for fleas.

However, this type of bad behavior can get worse. If she is not improving within a week of the flea medication then I would suggest having a behavior consult with your veterinarian.

Customer reply:

Thank you for the reply. I will get the flea medicine you mentioned and will let you know how she takes to it after a week.

Customer reply:

I took her to the vet and she gave me a sheet of paper on how to control your cat. I solved the growl problem by petting her every time she goes to get cat food so she knows I'm not a problem. But she still steals meat from the kitchen counter and now she is starting to rip up my leather couch. I'm about to go get another scratching pad to see if that will help but do you have any tips to help me stop her from stealing food?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm glad you are seeing some improvement! I'm not sure how to advise you on the food issue though. You could try setting some traps for her. So, have food within her reach but spray it with a product called bitter apple or coat it in tobasco sauce so that it tastes bad for her. If she tries this a few times she should get the idea.

Customer reply:

She is pretty much over her climbing on the counter and eating food off of plates now. I have discovered something that concerns me. Her lower left (when looking face on) canine tooth has snapped off at the base and is just hanging there. I am going to try and call a vet to see what to do but in the meantime is there any advice you can give me?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Thomas, this is really a new problem that would need a new question to be opened. But there's not much I can tell you other than she'll need to have her vet take a look at her. There isn't much you can do in the meantime.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.