My cat's acting weird, suggestions?

Vague title, I know, I couldn’t think of a good summary.

Ok, so my kitten is almost 6 months (unaltered, neuter is set for March 1). He has always been a lovey dovey kitten, and had no problem being held.

Two days ago, I picked him up and he reacted - well - violently. He clawed his way out of my arms, hissed at me three times and ran away.

Yesterday, I came home from work and decided I needed to check him to make sure everything was ok. When I got home, he was all love, let me pick him up and hold him no problem. I set him down and gently pressed everywhere on him to see if anything hurt. No problem, still purring, everything is good.

Then, in the evening, I was in the kitchen and picked him up. He let out a high pitched and angry meow, and when I set him down, he had his fur on end, obviously pissed. My roomate tried the same thing, same result.

He’s eating fine, doesn’t seem to be in any pain…

My roomate thinks he has just become one of those cats that doesn’t like to be held. Can this just suddenly happen?

Thanks in advance!

I have some friends who have a cat that’s bipolar. She’ll come around looking for attention, but if you pet her, she’ll start hissing and jerk away. But she’s just psycho. She has mellowed out a little as she’s gotten older, so it seems to get better with age.

Every time I hear the song “Psycho Killer,” I have to sing “Psycho Kitty.” :slight_smile:

Did anything change between the first time and the second time you picked him up? Is there any way you could have had strange scents on you, maybe from other animals? Maybe he’ll calm down when you get him neutered.


Hmmm … that is pretty strange. Although I know from experience that sometimes as kittens get older, they become less cuddly when they go through an independent stage. One of our cats didn’t get cuddly (he wasn’t a cuddly kitten) until he was probably 2 years old.

My youngest was a cuddle bug when he was a kitten. But as he got older he wanted less and less to cuddle with us, to the point that we had to chase him down just so we could hold him. Now he’s about 2-1/2 years old and is starting to jump up on us and seems to like cuddling more.

So he could just be going through an independent stage. Could it be that you startled him? If he was on a Mission (i.e. on the way to the litter box or to eat) maybe you just made him mad.

On preview: I don’t think I’ve ever used cuddle/cuddling/cuddly so much in a thread in my life!

My cat doesn’t like being picked up at all. She barely tolerates it from me, her favourite human. She’ll jump up in my lap all the time, but it’s got to be on her terms only. If the only thing he’s doing is hissing when you pick him up, I would simply suggest that you stop picking him up. Oh yeah, and mention it to the vet when you go in for the mighty snip.

Sounds like your friend’s cat might be an “Arousal” cat. I don’t mean arousal in the sexual sense, but in a behavioural way.

You know how sensitive the tips of our fingers are? That’s kind of like what a cat’s entire body is like. Which is why if you touch their fur lightly, you can sometimes cause a skin ripple. With some cats, that sensation can be overwhelming and will go from pleasure to pain after a certain period of time. For some cats, it could be hours, for others, minutes, or even seconds. Which is why you’ll sometimes hear people say something like, “I was just petting the cat and it just turned on me”. In actuality, the cat probably did give body language clues that it was reaching annoyance level and it was ignored, so it swatted, or hiss, or whatever. Sometimes, if body language is ignored long enough and consistently enough, the cat will start to react immediately because they’ve learned where that path goes.

Outside chance of hyperesthesia. Does the cat’s skin twitch or ‘roll’ when touched, esp. near the base of the tail?

Yes indeed. The cat who owns my wife and me :wink: likes attention and cuddling but only so much and only for so long. He’ll tolerate being picked up and held briefly, but he greatly prefers choosing his own opportunity to jump onto your lap and snuggle down. He’ll prod your hand with his head when he wants strokes and scritches, but when he wants you to stop, his purring dies down, he opens his eyes, and his tail begins to swish. That means STOP NOW, and failure to comply will result in rapid deployment of the pointy bits.

My recommendation: Watch your cat’s body language. Watch the ears, the tail, the way it makes eye contact with you, the dilation of its pupils, whether it faces you directly or turns its body at an angle and looks sideways at you, and so on. Every cat is different, but most cats (if they’ve been properly socialized to humans) will at least make an effort at telling you what they want and when. Eventually you’ll learn the difference between “pay attention to me: FOOD” vs “pay attention to me: PLAY” or “pay attention to me: SNUGGLE.

And, of course, “don’t pay attention to me: POUNCE.:slight_smile:

This is why I’m a dog person. Cats just creep me out! I tell you, ya can’t trust 'em! I got a very disturbing email from a friend of mine the other day (a news story that she sent to me), about a cat that went nuts one day. They ended up having to put it down because it was so out of control. This is a cat the family had owned for seven years, since it was a kitten, and had never had any problems. One day the cat just flipped! If anyone wants to see the article, let me know. (although I can’t vouch for its veracity) My email is logandear at gmail dot com.

Nothing changed in between, in fact he reacted the same when my roomate picked him up :slight_smile:

He was just sitting there, looking all sweet and innocent. Then whammo! I pick him up and he turns on me

I’m leaning towards that option myself, as it was also recommended by my roomate. I had a cat who hated to be held, but he was always that way. The sudden change throws me a bit.

Not sure what this is, but I’ll check when I get home.

Good advice, as I did notice a change in demeanor right before he lept out my arms, swatted at me, hissed three times and fucked off.

Weird cat.

  • Rebekkah

LoganDear - no reason you have to like both cats and dogs, but I would bet that dogs “go nuts for no reason” far more often than cats do. Although I think there IS usually a reason - just not apparent to the people watching; or they are unwilling to admit their culpability (possibly accidental) in the incident. It’s a lot easier to say the animal attacked them for no reason whatsoever.

Too bad about your friend’s kitty. Perhaps he was sick.

Did you have him declawed? I worked at a shelter, and they recommended against declawing because it can actually completely change a cat’s personality or induce weird neuroses like that.

Personally, I think you should discipline the cat in a similar manner to how you would discipline a small child that throws a temper tantrum. Sure, you can’t reason with the cat, but you can show it that the behavior it’s exhibiting is not ok with you, the master (all kidding aside, cat owners who talk about being “owned by” their cats are somewhat scary to me. Parents who are “owned by” their children have spoiled brats for children. It’s no different with cats.)

At six months, the cat is still plenty young enough to learn how to behave. If you pick it up, and it struggles and hisses, and you let it go, you’re just teaching it that by throwing a tantrum, it can get what wants. Instead, when it strugges and hisses, try holding it gently but firmly, not allowing it to get away or to scratch you (admitedly, the latter can be difficult, but it’s doable). After it calms down, at least somewhat, only then let it go. By doing that, you are teaching it that struggling and hissing doesn’t get it what it wants (to be let go), but that being calm does.

I speak from experience here. I have a ten-year old cat that I got from the Human Society when she was a kitten. I picked her over some other kittens at the Humane Society because when I picked her up, she didn’t seem afraid, didn’t struggle, and just let me hold her (as opposed to some of hte other kittens I tried picking up).

But after I took her home, and some time went by, she started behaving like Rebekkah’s cat, struggling to get away when I picked her up. Far from taking the advice of not picking her up, I made a point of picking her up more often, and holding her until she calmed down. And please, no one jump to any conclusions here, I absolutely did not hurt her in any way, I just didn’t let her go right away.

After a while of that, she got the idea, and didn’t really struggle when I picked her up. Oh, it was clear that she wasn’t all that happy, and it’s not like I’d pick her up and hold her for hours or anything, but she accepted that struggling wasn’t the right thing to do.

And you know what? After even more time, she got to actually like being picked up and held, at least some of the time. For a while we had a ritual that when I got home after work, I’d pick her up and prop her front paws on my shoulder and walk around a bit, and she’d sit there happily and purr.

Now, ten years later, there are still times when I pick her up and she sits and purrs, and other times when I pick her up and she’d clearly rather be down. But she still doesn’t struggle, and I respectfully put her down in short order. She is an extremely gentle, loving cat, and I believe that at least part of why she’s so gentle is that I taught her, early on, that struggling, and clawing are not acceptable.

Personally, I don’t believe in declawing (not in the sense that I think it doesn’t exist :stuck_out_tongue: ), because I tend to think it is unnecessary. My kitty isn’t declawed.

When I came home today, I picked him up and he was fine.

Weird, weird cat.

Also, declawed cats are quicker to use their teeth than clawed cats.

underlining mine

Do you have any other pets? Other cats, or a dog, specifically. Or is he at all clumsy? One of our cats howled and tried to bite a couple of days ago when I picked her up. Someone remembered that one of the males (we’ve got 2) beat her up earlier in the day, so she was probably sore. You can’t see really bruises under fur…

Here’s an odd question - when you picked him up, did you look him straight in the eyes?

It’s a weird thing, but my boy takes that as a sign of aggression from me. He is a HUGE cuddly boy, and if I pick him up most of the time, he snuggles on my shoulder. But if I somehow look him straight in the eye while I’m holding him, he gets pissed and claws to get down. And I have never, ever done anything to hurt him or make him feel like that.

It’s only when I’m holding him - I can look him in the eye any other time, and he doesn’t get that way. But if I’m holding him, whoo, boy, watch him get pissed!


Elza, that’s interesting. I’ll check that out next time, and see. I think I might look him in the eyes…

Some cats just have a very unpredictable personality. My psycho cat is like that. He gets aggressive and seems almost possessed at times, for no (visible) good reason. It’s quite a change from my last cat, who was so laid back and gentle.

I would keep a sharp eye trained on the beastie if I were you.

Psycho Pet Cat Shot by Police.

I third or fourth motion to watch the tail. As soon as the tail starts twiching he is losing interest, a swishing tail means look out.

My two fuzzies are from the same litter almost two years old now. One (Ollie) can be a limp rag when picked up and I can scratch his tummy. The other (Stan) never really liked to be picked up but he tolerates it now because he knows it going to happen anyways. No tolorance for tummy rubs with him.