Cat is aggressive towards boyfriend. Need advice on what to do next please.

(37 Posts)
peskyfeelings Fri 10-Jun-16 07:57:43

Hello all,

I could really use some thoughts on what to do about the following situation...

I re-homed a 5 year old British Short hair cat precisely a year ago this month. His previous owner bought him as a kitten, and her official line was that ill health was making her have to give him up. She has also re-homed her other two cats a few months before I took him on.

Myself and my boyfriend live together, and basically the issue is that the cat really dislikes my boyfriend. His behaviour is getting worse as the months go past and I really don't know what to do about it.

Cat will hiss at boyfriend and run away from him whenever he goes near him/walks past him. He has scratched him (at times quite severely) more times than I can count. He will hide under furniture and then run at him hissing and scratching. Last night he was hiding under the bed and mauled his bare feet as boyfriend walked across the room. He also growls at him a lot of the time, and just generally acts in a very aggressive manner towards him.

He tends to be a lot better with him when I'm around, but will still often growl/hiss and sometimes scratch. He never scratches me; although he will sometimes hiss at me for no obvious reason. He's not the most affectionate of cats. He never gets on your lap, or cuddles up to you. The concept of snuggling you on the bed etc seems totally lost on him! He will let me stroke him though, and seems quite fond of me in his own grumpy way.

He's also incredibly demanding. He will yowl for food from the moment you stir on a morning, and always looks like he's basically very disappointed in you and the world around him.

I'm really not sure what to do about it. I do like the cat, but it's creating a lot of tension in the house and my poor boyfriend is cut to ribbons. We try our best to be good owners, but it's all really frustrating. I've got another thread running currently about my horse who also has behavioural issues. It's all getting a bit too much quite frankly! sad

Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Vinorosso74 Fri 10-Jun-16 08:14:44

When I first got together with DP my previous cat got jealous. He would squeeze himself between us on the sofa and on day he bit his watch. Nothing as bad as your cat but eventually get came round and they were good buddies.
Lots of people recommend Feliway to calm a cat maybe try that.
How is your boyfriend towards the cat? Does he like him (attacks aside) or is he not a cat person? Cats can pick up on things.

peskyfeelings Fri 10-Jun-16 08:37:39

I've tried a Feliway. Unfortunately it made no difference whatsoever. It was a bit of a let down as I'd heard great things about them.

BF has always tried to get cat to be friends with him. He gets really upset about the way cat behaves towards him. Cat will let BF stroke him sometimes (usually when I'm there) and BF is always really pleased. That's a rarity though and 90% of the time cat is aggressive towards him.

BF has been around since I got cat. It's not as if BF even appeared and spoiled cats routine. That makes it even more puzzling!

cozietoesie Fri 10-Jun-16 09:24:30

Can I just check - has he been neutered? (Sorry if you said but I couldn't see it in your posts.)

Vinorosso74 Fri 10-Jun-16 11:41:23

Hmm well that blows my theory out the window! I wonder if he's just generally not keen on men perhaps he's been scared or mistreated by a man before so isn't sure.
Your BF could try ignoring the cat as that sometimes makes them want to be your best friend!
Sounds like you have your hands full with a cat and a horse.

peskyfeelings Fri 10-Jun-16 11:52:12

Yes, he was neutered before he was a year old Cozietoesie.

He's also an indoor cat (if that makes any difference) His previous owner lived on the top floor of a tower block! My flat is right next to a road, so I don't dare let him out either.

Vinorosso. I suspected that too, but his previous owners husband only died last year and she didn't report any problems. My male friend has also looked after him while we've been away, and no issues then either.

BF has tried the ignoring thing, but it didn't work either. Cat will still hiss at him whenever he has to come near him (such as passing him in hallway) He's darted across floors to claw him before when BF has been absorbed in something totally unrelated to cat.

I do indeed have my hands full. I've got a sulking dog at the moment as well sad

cozietoesie Fri 10-Jun-16 11:58:19

Has he had a thorough vet check recently?

Oh - and how long did your BF actually try the ignoring thing with him? It's not something that's necessarily going to work overnight, I'm afraid.

peskyfeelings Fri 10-Jun-16 12:15:59

He hasn't had a vet check recently. I will take him just to be sure though. He needs to go anyway, as I just found out last week from his previous vet that he's never been vaccinated. Previous owner told me that he was. I was not amused.

BF tried ignoring him for weeks. Should we have tried longer do you think?

To be honest, he's not the sort of cat that even cares about being ignored. He barely wants you anyway unless he wants his face feeding.

cozietoesie Fri 10-Jun-16 12:26:27

I'd get a real thorough vet check first - giving him his shots (should probably require two visits to the vet because it's a 'two-parter') but also just to clear any physical issues.

timtam23 Fri 10-Jun-16 22:11:42

There is a tablet called Zylkene which can help stressed cats to chill out a bit. It is based on milk proteins, so nothing addictive. Also has your boyfriend tried playing with him using a fishing rod toy or similar? Something that doesn't involve stroking/touching?
I agree that a vet check would be helpful in case he has any physical health issues. And you may find the Vicky Halls books worth a look - Cat Confidential, etc. I'm sure there is some advice in them about managing cat aggression.

Ellie06 Fri 10-Jun-16 22:18:16

Just a thought, does your boyfriend feed him? If all the cat is really interested in is food then maybe it would make a difference if your boyfriend was the one that always fed him. Could help him to get into the cats good books lol. I have three cats and they go mad for those dreamies treats, maybe your boyfriend could try and bribe the cat with some of those as well grin

peskyfeelings Sat 11-Jun-16 09:33:55

BF has tried playing with him. He's played with fishing rod toys and his laser pen. Cat will go along with it, but not as enthusiastically as he does for me. BF also feeds him quite often, but that has made no difference either.

Thank you for the tablet recommendation. smile The thing is that I don't really feel he is stressed out. He's fine when it's just me here with him. It's when my BF gets home that the problems start! For example, BF said he came in last night and cat immediately started hissing and growling at him when he went in kitchen. Then when BF put his hand down to stoke dog he ran at him and scratched his hand! It's really distressing the dog as well.

I will have a look at Vicky Halls. Thank you for that. smile

I have to admit I am strongly considering re-homing him. I have a friend who adore him and would take him in a heart beat. I feel terrible for thinking it, as I'm not the type to give up on my animals. I just feel the situation is getting worse and it's creating a really depressing atmosphere in the flat. sad

hesterton Sat 11-Jun-16 09:37:52

Why don't you try never feeding him yourself so he has to wait for bf to come home to feed him? Do you think that might work? Disclaimer - I don't know much about this so it may be a rubbish idea.

Ellie06 Sat 11-Jun-16 09:42:39

Yea I'm wondering if bf becomes the only person who provides him with what he likes most (food) then he might accept him a bit more. As Hesterton said it might be total rubbish and not work smile

PolterGoose Sat 11-Jun-16 09:54:23

Some cats just aren't suited to an indoor life. I wonder if he's under-stimulated and bored. Are there lots of places for him to jump and climb. Plenty of scratching opportunities? You could try puzzle feeders too.

cozietoesie Sat 11-Jun-16 10:00:55

How does he like this friend?

littleladyluna Sat 11-Jun-16 10:02:33

Does he have anything to climb? The cat sounds stressed and unhappy and all the hiding under furniture sounds to me like he feels vulnerable. We foster cats for a charity and have had our fair share of problem ones.

peskyfeelings Sat 11-Jun-16 10:55:20

BF feeding him all the time wouldn't be practical unfortunately. Mainly because he works 12 hour shifts and only gets 4 days off a month. Cat would probably starve. Plus he would have to feed him really early on the morning, and I've learned that if you feed cat early he starts yowling incessantly from around 5am to be fed. I've gotten him into a routine of being fed at 9am, so he normally waits until 7am to start demanding food.

Poltergoose/LittleladyLuna. He won't climb! I know that sounds really strange, but he honestly won't. He doesn't even jump up on chairs or the windowsill. He have a door in kitchen that leads out onto a fire escape. There's only a low gate across the stairs to garden, which he could easily jump and escape to freedom. He's never once tried it. He just sits on fire escape taking in the fresh air. He has a scratching post (and my banisters unfortunately) I will try with a puzzle feeder though. That's a good idea. smile

He only hides under things when he's alone with my BF. He comes out as soon as I get home and then he is fine. BF says he can spend hours in flat with him and never see him (apart from when he's attacking him)

cozietoesie. He's fine with the friend. Not affectionate (then again he isn't with anyone really) but not aggressive.

The whole situation is so odd. I've genuinely never known a cat like him and I've had them all my life!

Ellie06 Sat 11-Jun-16 20:00:07

Ummm it's a very difficult situation, the cat does sound a bit crazy. One of mine def prefers me to my bf, but he doesn't attack the bf. Not sure what will help really :-(

Buggers Sat 11-Jun-16 20:05:16

Get bf to give him dreamies treats or something similar whenever cat doesn't hiss or bite him. Another thought does your bf wear a strong aftershave or something? Maybe he doesn't like the smell of him?! Are you sure he has been neutered? Seems unlikely if he hasn't even had his jabs.

RubbishMantra Sat 11-Jun-16 20:06:44

It seems as if he's been mis-treated by a male before he came to you.

I think the Zylkene suggested is a good idea, and I'd be looking to find a cat behaviourist.

MCat was very aggressive before I met DH, who shared a house with his sister. He used to find her kids "chucking MCat about", as if he was a toy. Now he's a cuddle monster with a sinister undertone

Most BSHs aren't very good at jumping, because of their thick set bodies, but the fact he won't jump OR climb - I'd mention all of this to the vets. He may be in pain, if he's hiding. Sore joints perhaps, due to inbreeding?

Some cats are ground dwellers - is there a spot underneath some furniture where you could place a cosy bed for him? His "safe space"?

Buggers Sat 11-Jun-16 20:07:34

Oh and my cat isn't as keen on my partner as he is me either! He will sneakily sit with him if I'm not around to see it thoughhmm. He wouldn't hiss at him although he does like to jump out on himgrin.

RubbishMantra Sat 11-Jun-16 20:13:17

*Just a thought, but when stroking, keep it to scritching around ears/head/cheeks. A lot of cats don't like their bodies being stroked.

peskyfeelings Sun 12-Jun-16 08:32:25

Buggers. We've tried Dreamies! It made no difference to his behaviour. sad Actually that is a lie. It did make a difference, but only in so far as cat constantly yowled for Dreamies over his food! BF doesn't wear any aftershave at all. Unless he has some terrible anti-cat smell that only mine can sense? He's definitely been neutered. His previous vet confirmed it when I rang a few weeks ago. He was neutered in 2011; before he was a year old.

RubbishMantra. I thought he might have been mistreated by a male as well. However, the only man he has such an extreme reaction to is my BF. He's OK (by his standards anyway) by other men. I wish I could afford a cat behaviourist, but at the moment it is not an option. We have an extremely limited budget at present. I hear what you are saying about BSH not being the best jumpers. I've had two in the past and they weren't either. Surely pain wouldn't make him hide in such a specific way though? He literally only hides when my BF is home alone. Once I'm there he comes out and is much more relaxed (although still hisses and growls at BF)

I'm taking him to vets for first shots next week, so will have him checked for any pain issues then. smile

I do ensure BF only stokes him around head, as he can get very scratchy otherwise. BF can't even get near him to do that unless I'm there as well though. In fact I've advised BF to not try and stroke him at all. He has some really nasty wounds from him at the minute.

Sorry for the negative tone of this post btw. I do appreciate all your input. I just genuinely have never met a cat like this one before. He is only happy when I am the only person in the house and everything runs to his exact schedule. It's exhausting. Plus even then he's still pretty disappointed in 99% of everything I do. So depressing. sad

Buggers Sun 12-Jun-16 09:20:38

That's really strange, have you got any children or any other pets? Do you both tell the cat off when he bites or scratches?

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