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Alarming Foster-Cat Mood Swings

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  • Alarming Foster-Cat Mood Swings

    I was hoping to garner some wisdom from someone perhaps better in tune with cat-speak than I. Also I am apologizing in advance, as this is long and poorly written, but trying to get it banged out before my lunchbreak is over since my home comp is on the fritz and it's hard to type this up on my iphone!

    Yesterday, I traded in my two adorable kittens who were at spay/neuter weight for a recently spayed mom and a kitten who is NOT hers and is also at appropriate weight for spay. Both have URI. The shelter is in a jam for space right now and suspected the two would get along; momcat's previous home said she was great with cats (and apparently kids). When I brought them home yesterday afternoon, Momcat was super friendly, turning herself inside-out for pats, and the kitten was purry and playful and pleasant, and Momcat was playful/motherly with the kitten.
    This morning, I went in the spare bedroom where they were to check the food/water situation, and they were both lying together on the bench near the window. The kitten jumped off and under the bench quickly (I think i startled her)
    and Momcat came over, meowing loudly, and let me pet her, and when I said "hi kitty" she starting hissing and tackled my leg, NOT playful at all..but also didn't do any damage. However, I am positive she was not playing. At one point she nipped my hand (I tried to get down to her level, thinking it might help) but she did not draw blood. She had me somewhat cornered..I couldn't move backward or forward without a negative reaction from her. She would come forward like she wanted pet and then change to hissing and swatting, tail puffy. I have no idea what caused her change in behavior but the only thing I could think was that she felt protective of the kitten.
    So, I herded Momcat into the bathroom (which is right off the spare bedroom). In addition to wanting to attack me, she wants out of the spare bedroom in the worst way, so I was able to get her in the bathroom pretty easily. I then got the kitten and put her in a carrier and downstairs, herded mom BACK into the spare bedroom, and put the kitten in the bathroom. I am hoping this will fix the issue with mom and she won't need to feel protective (if that's in fact what's going on). However, she was yowling VERY loudly and I needed to go back in to shut the window (I am afraid my neighbors would lodge a complaint-I live in a townhouse) and when I went back in, the same behavior occurred; she would come up to me like she was going to be friendly and then hiss or swat. Speaking gently to her made it worse (apparently she doesn't like my voice). In addition, she really wanted out of the bedroom and reacted very negatively to me trying not to allow that to happen. I was able to pick her up during one of her friendly mood swings but she didn't like it and was very stiff and yowly; in retrospect I probably shouldn't have picked her up in that state and I'm probably lucky she didn't react more negatively. I put her on the other side of the room and get back out before she charged the door.

    Again, I am hoping she will be better in the absence of the kitten, but the kitten is in the bathroom alone and I'm imagining she's been meowing and mom will be able to hear her. I'm really concerned about this; it is the first time I have been really afraid of a cat's reaction. Is there something else that could be going on that I am missing? I am aghast that her behavior would change so drastically; she could not have been more pleasant yesterday. It doesn't sound like this was a behavior displayed at all in her last home, either; her intake sheet said she was a stray that was found before she had her kittens and they had had her for 4 months and said she was a marvelously friendly cat that would do well in any home. I wouldn't think they were hiding anything either bc they indicated one of her kittens was introverted and would need more socialization before finding a home, in their opinion.

    I've contacted the shelter's foster coordinator as well, but any thoughts? I was really rather afraid. Maybe she is just bluffing but I'm afraid to assume that too; I don't want to be bitten/scratched with the intent she acts like she might have.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    You "traded in" your kitties?!?!!!! Kitties are not cars!

    Talk about "alarming" -- the first sentence of your second paragraph has alarmed me. Not gonna say more -- too shocked.
    "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- George Bernard Shaw

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    • #3
      RPM - they are all Fosters - the kitties were ready to be adopted/spayed.

      Sorry OP I don't have any insight.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think she means her foster kitties. It sounds like she fosters for whatever program she works for until they can go back for either adoption, for, again, it sounds like, spay and neuter before being put up.

        To the OP -- I'm not an expert, by any means. The cat may just be going through some trauma at its routine being upset. She may settle down. I have found a product by Vetri-Science called Composure to be of great help in some cases. It has helped my male cat become less aggressive, and on of my females become less stressed. Another cat, it didn't help at all, but I think it might be worth a try. It has worked a lot better for me than Rescue Remedy, which has never done squat for any of my cats.

        http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...mposure+feline
        If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
        Desmond Tutu

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by RPM View Post
          You "traded in" your kitties?!?!!!! Kitties are not cars!

          Talk about "alarming" -- the first sentence of your second paragraph has alarmed me. Not gonna say more -- too shocked.
          Yes, the others are right, and per the title of the thread, I do foster care for a shelter. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

          Comment


          • #6
            Did mom come from a feral colony or a feral barn colony?

            If so, she's probably freaked right out that her social structure has been turned inside out, upside down, and sideways.

            I'm not an expert on foster kitties at all, but I have seen and observed a lot of cat colonies. Cats are VERY social. I'd be tempted to put mom and kiddo back together for company for each other then go about teaching mom about her new social structure.

            Ugly behaviour always gets a strong word from me. It doesn't matter if it's a kitten that hasn't learned yet the difference between playing and fighting, a queen going after a teenager, 2 toms having a dust up, or on the rare occasion someone thinking they can get the better of me by giving me a sound and light show.

            Once I've said, no way is this behaviour acceptable, I immediately give them a chance to be nice. My voice and demeanour change and if I have something handy (which you should be able to work this out pretty easily by bringing extra tasty treats to the bedroom), I offer a treat and then a pet.

            Loads of luck, and hoping that someone else pipes up with more concrete direction for you!
            Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by sascha View Post
              Did mom come from a feral colony or a feral barn colony?

              If so, she's probably freaked right out that her social structure has been turned inside out, upside down, and sideways.

              I'm not an expert on foster kitties at all, but I have seen and observed a lot of cat colonies. Cats are VERY social. I'd be tempted to put mom and kiddo back together for company for each other then go about teaching mom about her new social structure.

              Ugly behaviour always gets a strong word from me. It doesn't matter if it's a kitten that hasn't learned yet the difference between playing and fighting, a queen going after a teenager, 2 toms having a dust up, or on the rare occasion someone thinking they can get the better of me by giving me a sound and light show.

              Once I've said, no way is this behaviour acceptable, I immediately give them a chance to be nice. My voice and demeanour change and if I have something handy (which you should be able to work this out pretty easily by bringing extra tasty treats to the bedroom), I offer a treat and then a pet.

              Loads of luck, and hoping that someone else pipes up with more concrete direction for you!
              She didn't, as far as I know, come from a feral colony of any sorts. I guess no one could verify that for sure, but she was apparently a stray that was surrendered because she was taken in and the family couldn't afford her. Her intake sheet made it seem like she must've been someone's pet to begin with and her behavior yesterday makes me think the same; she acts in no way feral.
              The 180 she did with the kitten involved made me think it would be better to separate her (if her intent was to protect it); the kitten certainly doesn't need her for actual mothering, and the only other time I've experienced this with a cat was with a mom with kittens that were very sickly and needed a lot of medical care which she didn't appreciate, but she was not nearly this bad. Her demeanor away from her kittens was totally different as well. This one's ferocity made me feel like I needed to do something; however, maybe that wasn't the right thing. I thought in the absence of the kitten she might be more inclined to be social, rather than hostile, to me.

              Her "new" kitten, incidentally, was hiding under the bench acting terrified this morning, and she too was an absolute love bug yesterday both at the shelter and once I got her home, and was also totally fine once I moved her to the bathroom. It is all very strange to me. I'm not really new to fostering--this pair is probably around the 30-40th "set" of fosters I have had--and this is a first. Sometimes they might be a little flightier at first, or a little less friendly than they ultimately become, but this sort of hostility is new to me. I am a little hesitant to challenge her; my "kind" voice agitated her, so I am not really sure what would happen if I tried to reprimand her.

              Perhaps it will be a moot point and she will have settled down when I get home.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Just a quick update: She was still very agitated when I got home from work. I spent some time with her (once I got safely in the room) and she was ok whole I was sitting down. I fed her and she was all too happy to wolf down a can (she has free choice dry too) but her tail was going a million miles an hour the whole time.
                Standing up and walking agitated her a LOT so I just sat still, and she alternated walking around growling, eating, rubbing her face on anything and everything, rolling around on the floor like she wanted pet, and getting pet. She seemed to settle down so I decided to end on a good note; stood up to shut off the light and leave, and she immediately growled and attacked my shoes. I ignored her until she stopped, then squatted down and she growled and came at my face, and scratched me on the cheek.


                She is not coming at me to seriously harm me (because if she was I feel she had ample opportunity) but that's not to say she won't; she's definitely extremely agitated and behaving very "over the top," either wanting affection or acting aggressive. She actually is behaving like a cat in heat might, though I've never seen one act that aggressively. She's also extremely vocal.
                In any event I did call the shelter and they said if she is no better than I should bring her back tomorrow. I am at a loss, to be honest. I have to think something medical is going on because I cannot wrap my head around what a 180 she has done. Maybe she just really dislikes me for whatever reason, but I can't imagine why.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would put the kitten back in with her. Then take a water spray bottle and treats in the room with you. Treat her when she is good and give her a good squirt of water for aggressive behavior. It is worth a try. If she keeps up the weirdo/aggressive behavior she will just get PTS.

                  Who knows why cats sometimes act the way they do?
                  Patty
                  www.rivervalefarm.com
                  Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts

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                  • #10
                    How long has the cat been in the shelter? Could it possibly have rabies? The aggression seems way over the top to me.
                    www.settlementfarm.us

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think I have the same foster cat. I talked about her behavior here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...-a-cat-for-you

                      While it has gotten better since February, I decided her odds of being adopted as an indoor kitty were slim. And if she's going to be a barn cat, well she might as well be mine, because then at least she is somewhat aware of the territory. So now she is the garden/guardian cat, keeping rodents away from the house, and the garden free of pests.

                      Good luck. I would definitely give mama more time to settle in before making an real decisions.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bells View Post
                        RPM - they are all Fosters - the kitties were ready to be adopted/spayed.

                        Sorry OP I don't have any insight.
                        Oops, my mistake. Apologies. (That occurred to me about 3:30 this morning but I was too sleepy to get up and delete my post!)
                        "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- George Bernard Shaw

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=Big_Tag;7687195

                          a recently spayed mom[/QUOTE]

                          Could there be hormonal issues? What medications if any is she getting for the URI? Do you have other cats/animals in the home and/or was this the same room the previous foster kitties were in?

                          Just asking a bunch of questions based on what you reported, otherwise I have no particular insight! I'd sure want to talk with a vet about it though since it's such an extreme behavior change.
                          Last edited by MEP; Aug. 2, 2014, 04:37 AM. Reason: hmmm ... something weird going on with the quote function.
                          www.moranequinephoto.com
                          "If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom."
                          Byron

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                          • #14
                            I would give her a lot more time to settle. If she has any hope of becoming a house cat, and getting adopted, going back to the shelter won't help her. It would be nice if you were able to say, "let her adopter know that she will take X days/weeks to settle in".

                            That having been said, stay safe. Wear gloves if you have to. I would suggest just going about your business of feeding and tending to the cats, and then maybe spend some time sitting in a chair or on the bed just available for interaction. Also, I agree with those who say to put her back with the kitten. I do not see this behavior as being protectiveness. I think it's nervousness. I got a cat from a friend of a friend; he had been a pet his whole life. He was 8 when I got him. The switch to my apartment threw him off for at least a week. Within that week there were lots of cuddles, but I also had to be careful because he would flat-out attack in certain (kind of random) situations.

                            Anyway, I would try socialization several times during the day, and withhold petting and cuddling any time aggression is shown. I wouldn't even punish or spray with a water bottle. I would just pull back and ignore. I don't think cats have it in them to fake you out – I think she does want affection when she's being affectionate, and then something scares or worries her. If you continue to reward the gentle moments, it will help her settled down.

                            Good luck with them. I hope you can find a way to keep them and let them work it out.
                            Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
                            Starman

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                            • #15
                              What a worry! It does sound like she's hormonal - maybe something went nqr with the spaying surgery? I have no clue, just a thought. Maybe she's really sore, and something's irritating something in her tummy (that sounds dumb - sorry)?

                              And, I wanted to say, good for you for fostering probably 100+ cats - that's AMAZING!

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