Kitty Dislikes Cats and Vet, Cat Upset by Dog

Alana Stevenson, Cat Behaviorist, answers questions from Life with Cats readers.

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Q:  My cat hates other people and other cats. We have a neighborhood cat that will sometimes come to the backdoor and she will try to  attack him through the back door. I inherited my mothers cat after she passed away and we had to build him his own separate addition to the house for fear that Nibbles would attack. I have a very hard time at the vet as she will try to draw blood and have to have her knocked out just to get a check up. For me and my husband, though.. she does a 360 and is the our sweet baby girl… she is my snuggle buddy and knows when I am not feeling good and won’t leave my side.  For the most part, she snuggles with me all night. For me she is a sweet angel but outside of that, she is a devil. Is she spoiled too much? Or too protective of her pet parents? (me and my husband) – Cindy

A: Nibble’s behaviors towards other kitties and to people are a bit different. But both seem to be due to lack of socialization. Socialization means positive exposure to other cats, dogs, people, and other animals, primarily in kittenhood. If Nibbles was the only kitty for awhile and did not have much gentle and positive socialization with strangers, she would be fearful or avoidant of them later on.  Hostility to other cats may also occur after a cat has lived with too many other kitties. Cats don’t know how to handle stress well  (See Tips to Have a Happy Cat), and have not developed many appeasement gestures to diffuse stress or conflict like group animals have; dogs, people, flocks of birds. Group animals have developed many ways to cooperate with each other to diffuse conflict, so that stressful interactions do not immediately escalate to fighting or fleeing (For dog owners, this means dog-dog interactions are the opposite of a ‘dog eat dog’ world, or else the group or ‘pack’ would scatter). Kitties only want to be close to or interact with an individual when they actually like and trust that person or other animal. This is why many kitties will be quite loving and affectionate with those they feel safe with, but run and hide the moment a stranger comes in. It seems Nibbles is responding to stress with fighting. A veterinarian doing a physical exam can be quite terrifying for an animal, especially for an animal who is not comfortable with people or car rides. However, you did not mention how Nibbles behaves with guests who visit. If Nibbles behaves aggressively to guests, it means Nibbles feels threatened or is defensive.


Q:
How can I stop my cat from biting and being mean whenever I want to get close to her? She wasn’t that loving before the dog came but now she’s angry all the time. – Carole

A: I would change how you view your kitty’s behavior. It sounds as if she is quite terrified or fearful of the dog and associates you with the dog. Is the new dog in the main areas of the house where she formerly felt comfortable, and is the dog constantly with you when you try to interact with her? Cats also like very quiet and calm environments, especially if they are unsure. I would not look at her as ‘mean,’ but unhappy. You may want to read over How to Introduce a Dog to Your Cat to give you additional help and Tips to Have a Happy Cat.

Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2013

 

Alana Stevenson can be contacted through her Website. She provides consultations by phone and Skype.

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4 thoughts on “Kitty Dislikes Cats and Vet, Cat Upset by Dog

  1. I have two devon rex 3 years old female and male half brother and sister.
    They get on really well always have until last night when the male escaped outside and had a rough night. ( they are indoor cats) he has been totally freaked out and his behaviour has completely changed.
    She is hissing at him and is frightened of him, he is stalking her and looks really mean.

    Any ideas to solve this problem

    1. It’s important to separate the kitties in comfortable rooms until they calm down. The male kitty should stay more isolated and away from the female kitty until he settles. After a few days, you can begin combining scents to create a communal odor. If you have a lotion you frequently wear, rub your hands with the lotion and then pet both kitties. You can also take blankets or cat beds your female kitty has lied down on and place them in the room with your male kitty so he becomes familiar with her again, and vice versa. Be sure to rotate areas they stay. This process could take a few days or a week. Depending on the behavior of the male kitty, you may have to reintroduce them.

  2. My friend has two cats. She previously had two other cats and one unfortunately passed on. She then got a kitten which the older cat didn’t take to at first but eventually they got on with each other. Suddenly the older cat is making the younger one’s life a misery by spitting and attacking at every opportunity which is making the younger one very unhappy. She bought a spare cat bed for the younger one which the older one goes into and when the younger one goes into the other bed she immediately attacks and takes back. She is at her wits end and actually thinking of having to re-home one of them. Can you help?

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