Guest Blogger: joared
SXSW Conference Part 1: ElderBlogger Panel

Ollie's Personality Problem

category_bug_oliver In the past month, Ronni convinced me that dry food is better for me than wet, especially for my teeth, and I now get a bowl of (fairly) delicious crunchy kitten food twice a day. I get thirstier than when I ate canned food, but she puts out a bigger bowl of fresh water for me every morning and evening than before, and drinking from the faucet when the water is running is a cool trick. It’s also fun to splash around in it.

Oliver on sofa When I first came to live here, I liked to nap in the back of Ronni’s computer keyboard drawer. I felt safe there, when I was still young and scared, and nobody could see me. I’d forgotten about that cozy place until yesterday and I tried to crawl back there again. It didn’t work.

I thought Ronni must have gotten a smaller drawer when I wasn’t looking, but she says I can’t fit because I’m as big as a full-grown house cat now. I’m only seven months old and they say cats grow at least until they’re a year old. I wonder how big I’m going to be.

Oliver on the bed2005_03_14b My new favorite toy is one of Ronni’s sheepskin-lined clogs. They’re made of heavy wood on the bottom - at least an inch thick - but even so, I can throw it around in the air. That fleece – I don’t know – there is something about the smell that thrills me. I like to have one of the shoes in easy reach so I can sniff whenever I want, and Ronni is forever asking me where I put it.

One morning, after I’d left one of the clogs in the middle of the kitchen floor the night before, she tripped over it on her way to feed me. You should have heard the words she said. Oh my, cover your ears with your paws. It's probably because she hadn't had her coffee yet.

But we’re having a more serious problem, Ronni and me. Once or twice a day, a weird feeling comes over me and I attack her and bite really hard. She tells me, “no bite” real loud and pushes me away, but then the feeling gets even weirder and I attack again and bite her even harder. Sometimes she bleeds.

Oliver between the pillows2005_03_14c I don’t want to hurt Ronni; I think this is best place to live and the best person a cat could have. But it’s like I turn into a different cat; I can’t control myself. I heard Ronni tell somebody on the telephone that my eyes get strange-looking with my pupils real big when I do this, and that I’m like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think that’s a book; maybe I should read it.

When I’m feeling fine, I tell myself I’ll never do it again. But then I wake like from a dream with my mind all fuzzy, and Ronni’s angry with me. That’s how I realize I’ve done it again. I don’t know what to do about this problem.

Do any of you have suggestions?

Your blogging friend,
Oliver

Comments

Olly, I know what you mean, I get the same urge sometimes. It was worse when I was a kitten. My mom grew up with dogs (can you believe it?) so when she brought me and my sister home, she also bought a few books about how to raise us. She read in one of them that if I try to bite her, instead of pulling her hand away (which makes me really want to chase it and kill it!) she should push her hand into my mouth. This kind of freaked me out when she did it the first time - when I bite something, it's supposed to try to get away and let me kill it, not try to crawl down my throat! I don't really try to bite her much anymore, unless we're playing and I forget and even then, I've learned not to bite her hard. After all, I've grown up since my kitten days - I'll have my two-year birthday next month!

Ollie, when you grow up, you'll grow out of it.
One of Claude's cats used to do that, and it made her very angry. He grew out of it. It seems that he would do it when she played too hard with him, then he'd get carried away and forget that he wasn't chasing mice ;)
Tell Ronni to drop games whenever you act up... Good luck. You are one great-looking cat!

Ollie,
My folks brought me home when I was only eight weeks old. The shelter thought I was older but the vet said I wasn't. I had been found alongside a road when I was only four weeks old and sometimes I just want to be a tiger, GRRR! After I had been home for two weeks and my mom was getting bloody when I played with her, she brought me a great toy, a brother! I wrestled him to the ground just to show who's boss and mom and that big guy Brendan have been blood free since, except when I forget and try to climb up her leg. Maybe you should ask for a brother too ( but get someone small and weak, Silas is bigger than me and he wins sometimes)
Fergus, the Wild Grrr

Good lord, all this conversing in the voices of your cats would really fulfil some people's worst fears about the kind of person who blogs, wouldn't it?

(pay no attention to her, she's dying to join in really - Emma, her cat).

I fear Emma would have nothing useful to contribute - her neuroses, some of them violent, have diminished only with (very) advancing years. Now, when she won't budge from my lap/chest/shoulder or stop purring so damn loudly in my ear, I think quite fondly of when she used to bite me...

Dear Ollie,

You really must be kinder to Ronni and cure this aggressive behavior! I found this information for you:

Feline aggression is the second most common behavior problem in cats. (Cat bites often become infected and cat scratch fever is a serious disease seen occasionally in people bitten by cats!)

What you are exhibiting Ollie, may be what is called "play aggression." This is usually seen in young cats that may not have been properly socialized. It is seen during rough play, and the cat may attack and bite too hard. This type of behavior can usually be modified by consistent training techniques.

You may be exhibiting what is called "petting/unprovoked aggression." This usually occurs when cats are being held and petted. Most behaviorist believe that some cats simply do not like to be petted excessively and will let the person know by a gentle nip. Other experts feel that this behavior is similar to dominance aggression in dogs and involves attacks and control over certain people in the cats environment.

Play aggression can be treated with remote punishment during the episode (i.e. a loud noise) and the cat should be positively reinforced consistently for calm gentle behavior. Petting aggression is usually treated by leaving the cat alone or ignoring it.

Source: http://loudoun.nvcc.edu/vetonline/vet116/Cats/catproblems.htm

Cat Behavior Web Links:
http://trfn.clpgh.org/animalfriends/catlink3.html
http://web.vet.cornell.edu/public/fhc/behav.htm

Now get control of yourself Ollie!
Melinda

My dear, late Riffraff was a biter but he learned to stop at the sound of my voice. The behavior also disappeared when I adopted Dorey and Riff could chew on him instead.

Actually, biting is both a hunting and a social behavior for a cat. Sometimes mine will just nip at me and, as someone else said, I had to learn not to pull my hand back or they'd really go after me. The nip says "I love you," but turn that hand into a target and you've got a jungle cat on your hands.

And, it will get better with age. Most cats -- mine included -- are little demons until they're at least two.

Dear Ollie,
I am such a gentle soul. I hardly ever bite and am very very polite. However, my sister, Molly Mable sometimes gets really frisky and used to hold onto Tamar's hand and bite down. I could hear Tamar call out in pain. I would sit and look at them.

Lately Molly has stopped biting. Tamar used to call out firmly, "No!" and take her hand right away. Once I saw a tear in T's eye.

I like to sit by the window and chirp at birds and squirrels. I don't bite but I also don't like to be held that much even though I am as soft and as furry as can be.
Love,
Ada Mae

Hey Ollie - you wild thing!! So appearances aren't deceptive and you are in fact a little leopard...

Smokey who used to live with us looked every inch the pampered powder-puff - but boy, could he hunt! And when he was playing with us he'd often forget that the object he had between his forepaws and his teeth was a hand and not a pigeon - ow!

Tell Ronni that the only way to make him stop was to keep your hand as still as possible and make noises like a kitten mewing in distress (OK, maybe doing this in front of strangers is a little, erm, unusual...). Smokey would instantly look as if he'd woken up from a dream and start looking for the kitten that was crying instead of chomping my hand!

So maybe this trick works for you too??

Your friend,
Jeanne

PS - I know all about your problems with the keyboard drawer - I have the same problem with my jeans.

Dear Ollie,

All of us cats are hunters and need to have that instinct aroused and satisfied a few times each day. You look like you came straight from a leopard pride somewhere, so you must be a great hunter, too!

Last Christmas one of our humans bought us a toy called the "Kitty Tease" that makes us all crazy (we mean that in a good way) when he pulls it off the shelf and plays with us. All we can think about is stalking and capturing and biting to death the little piece of cloth on the end of the fishing line. Maybe you would enjoy this a lot more than Ronni's hand.

Have her check it out online at http://kittytease.com/ or at any really good pet store. We've broken most of the other crappy kitty toys people have given us, but this is the best one we've ever played with!

Licks & Purrs from the Peninsula Pride,

Sam, Jack & Dorian

P.S. Our human caught us writing this and said to be sure we also told you to have Ronni read any of Pam Johnson-Bennett's remarkable books on kitty psychology. One of his favorites is called "Hiss and Tell: True Stories from the files of a Cat Shrink".

Whatever became of Stanley Siegel

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