The cat behaviourist came to assess Pompom on Friday. He’s the most extreme, and most complex case she’s come across so far. I’ve not really wrote much about him on this blog, other than to post some cute photos, but his behaviours are making him increasingly difficult to look after.
The main three problems are his aggression, his attention seeking behaviours and his bizarre behaviours. I’ll explain a bit more about these issues below, and I’ll add in some photos to keep you going ;P
Pompom has had problems with aggression since he was a tiny kitten- it’s why he was neutered at just 4 months. The aggression wasn’t so bad when he was the same size as my palm- he was basically just a fluffball with claws. Now, however, he weighs nearly 5kgs and I can only just manage to get him off me when he attacks. He digs his claws under my skin to anchor himself to me whilst he bites down. He also lunges towards my face and tries to bite my throat. The most difficult part is that the attacks are unprovoked; he’ll go from your average cat to Demon-Ninja in the space of a few seconds. The below photos show Pompom relaxing and then the aftermath of a Demon-Ninja attack.
Today is a particularly bad day. He spent the majority of last night trying to bite/claw my legs as well as ripping holes through my bedding and clawing out grooves in the mattress topper. Since getting out of bed, he has attacked me four times already and my right arm is covered in scratch and puncture marks. I’m not sure why, but cat scratches hurt so much more than normal scratches!
Out of all his behaviours, his aggression is by far the most difficult one to manage. This is the one that is bringing me to the end of my tether. I’ve already (unsuccessfully) tried all of the usual advice; he is played with daily, he has loads of toys, he has places to hide and climb, he has a food board for hunting etc.
2. Attention Seeking Behaviours
Pompom is a very clingy cat. If I am not paying attention to him at all times, he’ll do something he knows is naughty. Sometimes, his attention seeking behaviour only involves singing me the song of his people at the top of his (surprisingly large) lungs. Other times, he’ll unravel the whole toilet roll, or take apart my headphones, or empty all the clothes off of the drying rack etc.
3. Bizarre Behaviours
Pompom is obsessed with eating little bits of transparent plastic (like Sellotape, cling film or plastic wrapping). I try to remove this wherever I can, but sometimes the odd bit escapes me and Pompom eats it almost immediately. This is of course followed by cat vomit- arguably the most disgusting thing on Earth.
He also runs repeatedly into a certain wall. I’m not sure why, but I suspect he likes the sound it makes. He runs as fast as he can into it, crashes, then repeats for a good 15 minutes. If you interrupt his wall crashing episodes, he’ll attack you.
Finally, his last bizarre behaviour is that he still suckles. He’s nearly one years old now, but he likes to suckle you and will get very aggressive if you try to stop him
The Outcome of the Behaviourist Visit
The main thing that came out of the behaviourist visit is that we determined that Pompom was not mothered properly as a very small kitten and was therefore not weaned properly. This explains why he still suckles. It also means that he never learnt to be a cat properly. He never learnt where the line is with aggression and that it’s not a good idea to try and rip the throat out of the person who feeds and comforts you.
The poor mothering also gives rise to something called ‘frustration aggression’. When momma cats wean their young, they teach them to tolerate the frustration that arises when they can’t feed when they want to. If a cat doesn’t learn this, they don’t learn to tolerate frustration. This then means that they can attack suddenly for seemingly insignificant reasons, such as:
- they got a bit too hot in the position they were sleeping in
- they’ve finished their food,
- they wanted a stroke.
At the same time, Pompom has attention seeking aggression because he is overly attached to me. To treat attention-seeking-aggression, you should ignore the attention-seeking behaviours, however this would make the frustration aggression much worse. This is our current dilemma and explains why nothing I’ve done so far has helped the situation; the treatment for one type of aggression is a trigger for the other.
The behaviourst is going to speak to her team to try and figure out a treatment plan, because it’s quite a complex case to solve. The one thing we do know for certain is that Pompom needs to go on medication to calm his aggression and to reduce the chance of me being seriously injured.
So that’s the very long winded explanation as to why my cat is going to end up on psych meds. Well, they do say that pets end up like their owners!