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Stray cat - biting the hand that feeds

(23 Posts)
9GreenBottles Tue 12-Dec-17 20:16:34

For the last 2 years we have had a ginger tom cat visiting our garden. He was alway quite timid but, over the summer, he became bolder and I worked on gaining his trust to be able to catch him and have him neutered with the intention he would be released into our garden (which borders a park and is 100m from the nearest road).

He seems to want to be friendly, and will headbut and purr, but then attacks my ankles or hands without provocation. He sits by the front door and it's getting more and more difficult to get in or to feed him without being attacked. Does anyone have any ideas about how to calm him down?

I have 4 cats already and they are frightened of him, so bringing him into the house is not an option. He's currently locked in the garage because of the weather.

Fluffycloudland77 Tue 12-Dec-17 20:37:57

Is he castrated?.

9GreenBottles Tue 12-Dec-17 21:35:18

He has been now - about 5 weeks ago. Since he's been in the garage and using a litter tray, I can tell he still has a whiff of eau de tom about him - maybe the hormones are still being released?

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 13-Dec-17 07:28:51

Possibly still wearing off, if you neuter a kitten at 4-5 months they've not been producing it long & the vet advised us it took a couple of weeks which it did in fairness.

What are you doing before he attacks?.

9GreenBottles Wed 13-Dec-17 17:27:22

It can be a variety of things: feeding, petting, walking along the path. I wondered at first if biting my ankles was because somebody had kicked him in the past and it was fear with me moving unexpectedly, but he is getting more aggressive and bolder if anything.

He's probably about 4-5 so I might have a while of it yet? :-(

I tried spraying Feliway in his box but that doesn't seem to have calmed him either.

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 13-Dec-17 19:00:11

Are his ears folded back when he attacks ankles? It's play behaviour & I'll admit I was pleased mine grew out of it because it was scary to have 14lb of cat launch himself at you.

You could limit fuss to head only & see if he prefers that.

The feliway never worked on mine either. Zylkene did but it's expensive.

9GreenBottles Wed 13-Dec-17 23:18:36

I've not noticed his ears, and at first I did wonder if he just didn't know how to interact with people (took 18 months for him to come close to me) and the ankle biting was a confused response. He mostly looks angry now and when he launches himself at me, I've got bruises as well as scratches and bites! He weighs just over 8kg and it's solid muscle.

I'll have a look at Zylkene as he's not being a very pleasant guardian of the front door.

dailydance Wed 13-Dec-17 23:52:38

The semi feral I tamed used to do that she was confusing affection/looking for feeding with attacks. She has calmed down now that she's tamed and totally stopped the attacks. Be patient with him. He might be just getting mixed up if he's not used to people/ struggling to trust.

dailydance Wed 13-Dec-17 23:56:45

She also attacked if I wasn't quick enough with the food.

Do you have other cats or foxes that you know of peeing against or near your door?

9GreenBottles Thu 14-Dec-17 08:38:28

That's good to know that it may be a confusion response. Sadly, I'm now very wary of him so not doing much more than a head scratch whilst he is eating. He ripped the sleeve of my coat yesterday as I was crouching down to clean his litter tray (whilst he was several feet away) so it's a bit scary.

I don't think any other cats are coming near the door, apart from my own neutered male cats who are wary of him but both prepared to stand up to him so there have been no fights, just a few hisses. They don't spray though. I've never seen the foxes in the garden come near the front door.

dailydance Thu 14-Dec-17 08:51:43

It took mine about a year to calm down. Probably not what you want to hear; but my word it's so rewarding when they become tame smile when i started to play with her (long string) .. that was the turning point for her taming & trusting me.

Keep skin covered and an old cardi over whatever top you have on when you go to feed. Have you been able to grab him to the vet for a check up at all? .. just to be sure he's not lashing out from physical discomfort.

Odd question.. but you've no catnip type stuff growing in the garden? One of mine who is usually a bundle of cuddles becomes highly aggressive near it. She can't handle her catnip ;) look around his environment and check if anything has changed. Keep a close eye on your other cats- they may have tried to have a go / bully him and you smell like them therefore you are one of them (cat logic eh?!)

dailydance Thu 14-Dec-17 08:53:09

I swear i had paragraphs that disappeared in that last post

9GreenBottles Thu 14-Dec-17 10:58:27

I was so pleased when he finally came to me after so long disappearing whenever I even looked in his direction - but he's gone too far the other way :-(

There's definitely no catnip. In fact, I tried sprinkling some in his box and he was a bit confused by it - he didn't get happy high or aggresssive.

He's not been to the vet since he was neutered. Have I got to be brave and get him in a basket? Oh dear!

dailydance Thu 14-Dec-17 13:03:16

I would keep vet as a last resort but something to bear in mind.

I would be more inclined to think that he's either mixing up affection or he has had a barny with one of your cats (unbeknownst to you). He associates you with your cats smell and attacks.

Are there any other cats around that could be stressing him?

If you can, spend some time just watching him and what be gets up to. You may find the trigger that way.

I wouldn't be put off with him being feral. I've been taming cats since I was a kid. You have to have a lot of time on your hands to do it though; but he may come around more as he gets older.

dailydance Thu 14-Dec-17 13:06:17

Paragraphs are clearly not a thing on my new phone :s

Have a try playing with him with v long string. He'll associate you with fun as well as food then

9GreenBottles Thu 14-Dec-17 18:41:44

You might not see your paragraphs, but they are here grin

There are two neutered toms down the lane who skulk around in the garden, but they are big wusses, so I don't think it's them. He has handbags at dawn with mine, and there has probably been some contact made with them because he has a scratch on his muzzle just now. No scratches on my cats though. They really would all prefer no confrontation.

He spends a lot of his time sitting on a box by the front door. Very oddly for a cat, he doesn't like to sit in a box (with a blanket and hot water bottle), and it took the snow to start last week before he would get into it, and putting any kind of cover over it has him running for the hills. He clearly doesn't like enclosed spaces for some reason.

Going outside brings him straight to me, for attention that turns into aggression and back again in seconds. I've got a pair of leather gloves to hand for all petting sessions now, and long boots are protecting my shins!

dailydance Thu 14-Dec-17 19:18:17

Phew on the paragraphs smile

Ah ok....that's pretty much what my semi feral did when she was getting used to me....She would bound over to me in excitement, then attack, then immediately head bump & purr and back to attack...all v quickly. If he's doing that, it sounds to me like he's getting confused in his excitement. Playing with him will help to channel that a bit.

My two original cats (still have them) would chase her out of the garden. They would barely allow her on the fence. Two years later, they will all be in the same room. I won't leave the 3 alone unsupervised as one of them will still try to bully her. She sleeps in her own bedroom with tray etc (door closed) so there's no fights while I'm asleep. That's her "safe place" now.

Your cats still might come around to him and get to the point were they put up with him. Supervised visits, firm loud voice if they look like they'll kick off. Cat bouncer / cat security role ;) It is a lot of work, but worth it and will make things easier for you in the long run.

dailydance Thu 14-Dec-17 19:51:54

He's making progress on his trust for you by getting in the box that it sounds like he's a bit nervous of.

Definitely sounds more like he's wanting to be affectionate, say hello and in getting over excited about seeing you, gets confused about how to express it. Keep a close eye on body language...when I started to do that it became really clear that that's what my one was doing. The more he sees you and trusts You, the less he'll do that I reckon.

If you're London based, pm me and I'll happily meet up for a coffee to go through taming him more. You're doing a really good thing taking him in and taking care of him

9GreenBottles Thu 14-Dec-17 20:29:04

Sadly, I'm not anywhere near London, but I'm also not planning on taking him in. If I just had the boys, they might rub along OK, but he frightens my two girls and add to that my DP is allergic to cats! I've been told we can have no more, but hanging around what's been his territory for at least 2 years is OK.

I honestly thought that once he was released after his castration, he would want to keep his distance, but instead he seems to be glued to the front door grin

Here's the beautiful boy.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 14-Dec-17 20:33:02

He is beautiful. It's hard when you're being bitten all the time.

He looks so sweet.

9GreenBottles Thu 14-Dec-17 20:39:15

Butter wouldn't melt on his fangs grin

dailydance Thu 14-Dec-17 21:16:58

You're giving him a safe place to shelter which is a lot more than a lot of people would do.

He's a handsome boy! smile

9GreenBottles Fri 15-Dec-17 08:09:36

Yes, we are lucky enough to be able to give a few animals a bit of a helping hand in the garden.

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