View Full Version : Help! Emmett's an extreme guard kitty!

10-17-2001, 05:13 PM
I have two indoor cats. Emmett, the younger, was found in a woodpile when he was just a few weeks old and fostered by my former pet sitter for about 5 months. She asked me if Stump would like a buddy so I agreed and adopted Emmett, who is now 3 years old. He's actually calmed down in the past 2 years but is still quite skittish; he often jumps if I move too quickly or even sneeze! Lately, he's been displaying an alarming new behavior: whenever another cat from the neighborhood comes into our back yard (we live in a townhouse with a wood fence), Emmett goes nuts. He jumps up and down, snorts, and gets a big fat tail. He has already shredded most of the vertical blinds and has started pulling up the carpet in front of the patio door. If the visiting cat comes up to the door, it's even worse. They both start flailing at each other against the door. My screen door is just one big hole at the bottom, thanks to these "guest cats." This morning it happened again. I shooed the other cat away, but then Emmett turned around, flew across the room, and tackled Stump, the older cat, and really upset him. I'm really worried about this behavior and its potential effect on Stump, who is 13.

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? This behavior just started this summer and I'm not sure why. Maybe he's being territorial about our house. Whatever the reason, it's really worrying me and I'd appreciate any wisdom that any PetTalkers can provide! Many thanks!

10-17-2001, 06:33 PM
Manx......I am pretty sure some of his behavior is related to being abandoned/homeless as a young kitten. My sis and brother-in-law have a cat that was homeless at about 2 weeks. She is the most skittish, mean cat I have ever been around. They have tried everything- behavior counseling, etc. and nothing has helped so far. The latest is kitty anti-depressants, so we will see if it helps. They love her anyway, and won't give up on her- whatever her first 2 weeks of life were like, effects her behavior now, and is NOT her fault. Maybe ask your vet about treatment or behavior modification. As for the cat visiters outside, maybe you could try the repellant spray for outdoors. I have seen it at Petsmart, Petco, etc. I know the indoor stuff works.

10-18-2001, 06:55 AM
Manxcat - Boy can I relate to this. My Panda (adopted stray cat) is the same way. She almost goes through the screen when another cat comes around. She roars and growls like a lion and scares me and the other cats to death. If you figure out what to do about this, I'd appreciate it if you'd share it with me!!!!

10-18-2001, 10:31 AM
This is very interesting to me. My youngest kitty, Mir, is 3 years old and was found when she was approximately 2 days old. Her mother was no where in site. She was hand fed by a friend for about 6-7 weeks then I took her.

She is the sweetest kitty to me and my boyfriend, but no one else can touch her. She also hates other cats.

Does anyone know if there's a correlation between abandoned kittens and aggressive behavior?

10-18-2001, 10:50 AM
I bet there is kittylover - Panda knows she's got a really good thing now and is willing to defend it at all costs. She also won't let anyone else touch her but me. She's really, I wouldn't say mean, but domineeering to the other cats also. She spent most of last winter out in the cold before I could get close to her. She's got the good life now and she means to keep it!!!!!

10-18-2001, 10:56 AM
While I don't have advice on how to avoid this situation, I did have a similar problem with my cat. She freaked out one afternoon after watching a squirrel on the patio. I walked up to pet her, and was severly scratched for my efforts. I went on-line to find out why and discovered this Kitty advice -
"You experienced an episode of Feline Displaced Aggression. This basically means you had a moment of Mistaken Identity. Your nervous system was in gear and you were primed for the attack on your intruder. But you got short circuited when your mom distracted you. The good news is that this kind of aggression in cats is not very likely to recur unless the same situation is in place again. I recommend your mom stay away from you when your tail is twitching and you are concentrating on your sentry duty." http://www.cathosp.com/deartab.html
Your older cat was on the receiving end of all that aggression. Poor kitty.
Good luck with your little soldier.

[ October 18, 2001: Message edited by: Laura ]

10-18-2001, 12:53 PM
Purrley-My Otie was a stray when I found him living under our storage barn in the back yard and it took me 2 months of sitting out in the cold and letting him approach me slowly before I could pick him up and take take him to the vet. He won't go outside for anything now. I think he remembers how tough life was out there. He is also pretty skittish and timid. And then Mir is aggressive. I love them both and neither give me any problems, but no one else can get close to them.

My vet says they are both scared of strangers. It's that fight or flight syndrome. Otie flys and Mir fights. :)

10-18-2001, 04:48 PM
Wow! Thank you all so much for the suggestions and advice (keep 'em coming, if you have more!). I knew I could count on Pet Talkers! It is so incredibly helpful to know that this is not an isolated problem and that others are dealing with it too.

Yorkster, thanks for the tip on outdoor repellant spray; I'll look for some at Petsmart. And Purrley, I'll let you know how it works!

I do see a pattern forming here that has to do with abandoned strays and their later behavior. I agree with Yorkster that whatever happened earlier in their lives to affect their current behavior is not their fault. I think my Emmett, like Purrley's Panda, is grateful for what he has now and is trying to defend it from "invaders."

Anyway, thank you all again for your help and advice. (Big sigh of relief!!)

Cindy, Stump, and Emmett

10-18-2001, 06:38 PM
Sometimes it is tempting to take too personally behavior that is, to the cat, perfectly the right thing to do...as noted above, the kitty advice is right on target. When Ritz is "buggin" (our term for when she is on sentry duty against a bug, a bird, or whatever new intruder) we know not to attempt contact. Cats are the quintessential hunting machine, and little can distract them from their "appointed rounds". So, when the tail looks like this, approach with caution :)


10-18-2001, 07:46 PM
Oh, I love that photo! (And agree with your advice to avoid cats when they've zoned into 'hunter mode' -- learned that the hard way, drat the luck. :rolleyes: )

10-18-2001, 07:59 PM
Amber, I wouldn't feel too bad about finding out the hard way - I think all of us owned by cats have a few claw-induced tattoos.

When Ritz was about 6 months old, one Saturday morning I decided to put hot rollers in my normally straight hair and "go curly". I unrolled and brushed out the full head of curls and went downstairs and sat on the chair, only to be IMMEDIATELY assaulted by Ritz! She darted across the room, up the back of the chair, up my back and began clawing and chewing the curly mass (and my scalp). My spouse extracted her from my hair, took her to the other side of the room and put her down, only to have her once again dart over and attack my head!!!

It was hilarious to watch, I'm sure, but we couldn't get her to stop. After the THIRD time (I was standing and she crawled up my clothes like they were velcro, and perched atop my head and started clawing away), my spouse said "go wash your hair and dry it normally before the cat goes nuts and you get scratched to bits!"

So, apparently, with the addition of Ritz to our home, an added bonus is a built in "fashion critic".

[ October 18, 2001: Message edited by: tuxluvr ]

10-18-2001, 08:08 PM

OMG! :eek: Who've thought?!

I *guess* "sweet little" Ritzy was protecting Mommy from the curl monster biting her head??? You make a marvelous story out of it now. Yeah, I love 'em to distraction, but some days it's easier than others, isn't it. So glad you have a wonderful sense of humor and can laugh about it now...

10-19-2001, 07:08 AM
Always good advice - "BEWARE OF THE WIRE BRUSH TAIL" :D