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Thread: Aggressive Feral Cat

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    436

    Aggressive Feral Cat

    My neighbors and I have been feeding a colony of feral cats for about 2 years; all are spayed and neutered.

    I have never owned a cat or been around cats (besides the cat that savagely attacked me years ago as I unknowingly walked past it) other than at work at the vets office until we began this project. This is all new to me.

    I put food out in the front yard and the back yard which means I have a group of backyard cats and a group of front yard cats.

    Though they come running when they know it's feeding time they are not pets! Some of them will get very close and even wind around our ankles, but only a couple will allow themselves to actually be touched.

    Some of them eat exclusively in my yard some in my neighbors and they switch yards now and then so that the numbers stay pretty even for both of us.

    About 6 months ago one of the cats we call Tiger that had been feeding at my neighbors, completely took over my back yard. At first he was extremely shy and stayed far away until he heard the door close behind me just like the others did in the beginning.

    Since Tiger has taken over, all of the other cats stay well away until he's finished eating even though their dishes are quite a distance from his.

    I always talk to them in a calm voice while putting the food out, telling them things like they don't have to be afraid, I won't hurt them etc.

    Little by little Tiger began coming in closer as I put the food down. One day he came up to me and wrapped around my ankles and I thought "this is great; we're making progress".

    He did this for about a week. Then one day he sat right in front of my hand as I reached to set his dish down. I was talking to him as usual but made no effort to touch him.

    The next thing I knew he'd taken a vicious swipe at my hand. Thankfully my reflexes are still pretty good and he didn't do as much damage as he might have, though he did draw blood. I had the water pitcher in my other hand and as I pulled my hand away a few drops of water splashed on him and he backed off a foot or so. We went through the same routine with every dish I put down.

    Since then he's becoming increasingly threatening in body language; stiff posture, tail lashing back and forth and hair standing up all over his body. I've been getting him to back off when I set the dishes down by taking a non threatening step or two in his direction. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

    Tonight when I went out to feed them he blocked my path just short of sitting on my foot and wouldn't give an inch. He also added a deep fearsome growl to the already threatening body language. This cat meant business and he scared the beejeebers out of me!

    All thoughts and suggestions on how to handle this situation would be greatly appreciated.


    Please bear in mind, this is a completely feral cat and can't be taken to a vet or seen by a behaviorist. He doesn't appear to have any injuries or illness, his eyes are bright and clear and his weight is perfect--even a little on the heavy side.
    To train a dog you have to think like a dog!

  2. #2

    He knows you're intimidated.

    Being a feral cat, he is all about territory and pecking order. You should wear gloves and boots and jeans when you go out to feed them, have a squirt bottle full of water in your hand, look him square in the eye with a bland expression and go about your business feeding the cats as if nothing were amiss and don't show any sign of fear if he starts with his hissy fit stuff. If he advances on you, just squirt him with the bottle of water; he should back off and will probably run away. Don't worry, you won't harm anything but his kitty ego, and he will be back, and he will have a healthy respect for you when he does. You just need to remember who is bigger and show him who is boss and he will settle down. I have ad problems with cats like this who actually attacked me, but I tend to be rather fearless with cats like this, having dealt with cats all of my life. I've been bitten and scratched and chomped and jumped on, you name it, and cats who jumped on me were firmly grasped (with gloved hands) and lightly tossed away without hurting them. A few times I still had some sizeable bite and/or scratch marks on my arms that ran with blood and had to go get tetanus and rabies shots as a result, but this is the reality of the situation when you take care of wild animals. Anyway, they all landed on their feet and they all ran for the hills, but they all came back a week later, meek and mild and wanting to be fed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    436
    Quote Originally Posted by ValorousFlame777
    Being a feral cat, he is all about territory and pecking order. You should wear gloves and boots and jeans when you go out to feed them, have a squirt bottle full of water in your hand, look him square in the eye with a bland expression and go about your business feeding the cats as if nothing were amiss and don't show any sign of fear if he starts with his hissy fit stuff. If he advances on you, just squirt him with the bottle of water; he should back off and will probably run away. Don't worry, you won't harm anything but his kitty ego, and he will be back, and he will have a healthy respect for you when he does. You just need to remember who is bigger and show him who is boss and he will settle down. I have ad problems with cats like this who actually attacked me, but I tend to be rather fearless with cats like this, having dealt with cats all of my life. I've been bitten and scratched and chomped and jumped on, you name it, and cats who jumped on me were firmly grasped (with gloved hands) and lightly tossed away without hurting them. A few times I still had some sizeable bite and/or scratch marks on my arms that ran with blood and had to go get tetanus and rabies shots as a result, but this is the reality of the situation when you take care of wild animals. Anyway, they all landed on their feet and they all ran for the hills, but they all came back a week later, meek and mild and wanting to be fed.
    Thanks for the response. It sure helps to hear (read) others thoughts on the situation.

    This morning I called Suzie, the AzCats person we work with and she suggested that I purchase one of the automatic feeders so I don't have to put food out twice a day in seperate dishes. Also that I move the feeding station a good distance away from my patio and laundry room.
    This will keep the necessity of me invading his space (and him invading mine) to a minimum.

    She also suggested that I have someone with me armed with a broom when I take the food out. At least until we can figure out what's going on with Tiger.

    I just found out from my neighbor that this is not the cat I thought it was and he was completely new to the colony when he arrived in my back yard. His left ear is tipped just like the others. I suspect he might have been someone's indoor-outdoor cat that got trapped and neutered in our initial trapping and has recently been abandoned and is very frightened.

    Strangely, before the aggressive behavior began and after he appeared to begin trusting me, he would merely sit back and meow pleadingly as I put the food down. That pleading meow has changed to a menacing growl!

    I just went out to check on the situation (did not have any food or water with me) and he is calmly laying on a bench bathing in the sun and another male cat is laying less than two feet away from him on the same bench. Neither one of them moved, though he did watch me closely while Morris kept right on snoozing.

    Suzie also gave me the number and website of Pet Behavior Solutions (a local organization) and I'm waiting to hear from them.

    My kids and grandkids have been teasing me about becoming known as the crazy neighborhood cat lady. This one's driving me crazy allright!

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Tiger and the crazy cat lady.
    To train a dog you have to think like a dog!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Feral cats are not aggressive by nature. Since this little guy was pretty much mellow in the beginning, it could very well be that he's sick or injured. Cats can get mean when they're not feeling well.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    436

    Update on Tiger

    The situation has gone from bad to worse. The spray bottle helped for awhile but in the long run it was a bad idea. He's now added the baring of teeth and refusing to back away to his other aggressive actions.

    I've stopped putting food and water in the back yard altogether and have moved the dishes to the side yard. It's more open and within a few feet of where my neighbor puts out her food. She's had cats all of her life and I'm hoping that once she can see his behavior she can make the decision whether to have him removed or not. Having him removed will only be done as a last resort!
    To train a dog you have to think like a dog!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
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    20,314
    Can you live trap him and take him to a vet? He might be sick, as moosmom said.
    Maybe put a mild tranny in some wet food for him to take before he goes there...


    I hope things work out.
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