Extremely Fickle-Minded Cat or What?

NagaJolokia

Living Hard
Nov 25, 2008
5,907
5
In White Noise and on Whitewater
My SO's male gray tabby often switches between a loner stone-cold one and a needy, "love me" within a split second and often in each mood for no more than a few seconds to a few minutes. As a matter of fact, I could be petting him and he'd purr nonstop, look up at me lovingly (or at least I think) and squat down with his head down to get more comfortable and barely move. Then, mid-purr, he'd swap with his paw to scratch me and have his head and ears in "alert" mode while he would just stare at me. I have a quite a few small wounds from this ridiculously bi-polar cat. My SO says he was "rescued" as a young kitten, and he's more than a year and a half old now (cat years) and has been in a loving home since he was rescued, so I don't know what's up.
 

NagaJolokia

Living Hard
Nov 25, 2008
5,907
5
In White Noise and on Whitewater
I forgot to add: Should I give negative reinforcement everytime he scratches me or will that worsen the situation and relationship because of whatever trauma he had gone through as a kitten that he's still probably suffering now?
 

gina2328

O.G.
Jul 12, 2007
1,443
3
Midwest, USA
Has your SO played roughly with his fingers with this cat? If so, he should stop doing so as that enourages this type of behavior.

Also, when the cat does this swatting, loudly say NO! and walk away. This discourages the cat from engaging in this type of behavior. Avoid any play with fingers with the cat, alone or with a cat toy.

Cats can be trained even at a young age, and the cat is still young enough to learn that this swatting is wrong.

Also, this cat may be bored and need more "play time" with toys with the humans. Try buying some toys that are poles with a string with a mouse or something else on that end that you can drag on the ground, or similar from the pet store. There should be no hand contact with the cat. Try doing this daily for 20 minutes for exercise to relieve the frustration and boredom.
 

bagnshoofetish

Oh. Gee.
O.G.
Feb 12, 2006
33,574
2,982
earth
I forgot to add: Should I give negative reinforcement everytime he scratches me or will that worsen the situation and relationship because of whatever trauma he had gone through as a kitten that he's still probably suffering now?
negative reinforcement is never really a good thing to do. positive reinforcement works best. whenever he is acting like you want him to, praise him and give him a treat. the thing that gets through to cats the most? when you "ignore" them. Cats HATE being ignored. And some cats will only "tolerate" being pet so if he is swatting you, he may be one of these cats. He might be associating it with some rough handling he received as a kitten. The best thing to do if he swats at you with claws out for any reason is to give him a harsh "MAW!" sound and just walk away. Thats what mom cats do when their kittens misbehave. They get very indignant when they are ignored and with time and consistency will learn what not to do to get you to stick around. Chances are, he will seek you out and rub all over your leg to reinforce you still "belong" to him.
 

NagaJolokia

Living Hard
Nov 25, 2008
5,907
5
In White Noise and on Whitewater
Thanks for the tips, guys.

My SO has never handled him roughly to my knowledge; however, he has given him the sharp pat on the lower back (not a hard slap, but a sharp pat) everytime he would do something violent. Other times when the cat is just misbehaving in general, he'd shout a "no!"
I do find the cat to be very playful at times, and luckily, I have a human rubber toy on a long, stretchy rubber extension that I can use.
 

clevercat

catwoman
Sep 29, 2008
13,345
4,469
Where the heart is
I have the same issue with Murphy, my newest rescue cat. Murphy was, I know, badly neglected and I think the biting and scratching is his way of coping.
As shoo suggested, ignoring your cat when he acts like that may help - it certainly has with Murphy....I have also learned to move a lot faster when he pounces, too!
 

madamefifi

cat hoarder
O.G.
Aug 23, 2006
5,813
737
virginia
Please tell your SO to stop giving the cat "sharp pats" when it "does something violent". Cats don't learn by negative reinforcement like that. Spanking a cat or otherwise punishing it physically is only going to make the situation worse. Responding to violence with violence (and if you don't think the cat percieves a "sharp pat" as violence, you're wrong) is never the solution.
 

bipolarbear

Member
Jun 10, 2009
735
0
Believe it or not, a year and a half isn't long to see these behaviors in a damaged/abused rescue cat. When we first got our grey tabby, she'd been badly abused (cigarette lighter burns, etc) and it took 3-4 years for her to be the adoring snugglepuss that she is today. She's now without a doubt the sweetest of our 4 kitties (with us - I don't think she'll ever trust anyone else).

For the first few years, we'd pretty much offer affection any time she was in the mood to accept it, and maybe give a gentle pat (nothing more) to the nose for swipes and then immediately walk away/stop giving her any attention. It took time, but she gradually got more and more comfortable and loving. Best of luck with your baby!
 

ILuvShopping

★☆★★☆★★☆★
Jun 4, 2007
23,822
3
Iowa
i have a cat that does the same thing. i've had him since he was a kitten, he wasn't a rescue per say. he was born to a stray that was at the vet clinic my mom worked at.

he will be as cuddly as can be and when he wants no more of you he will get AGGRESSIVE. sometimes to the point where i do have to get up and walk away.

he's 7 i think and i've tried so many different techniques to try and fix this behavior but nothing works.
 

Brooke11

polisher
Apr 13, 2008
3,780
0
east coast
My mom has a cat, Annie, that does this same thing. She was rescued when she was very young, around 5 weeks, when the owners decided they no longer wanted the kittens... My mom also rescued two of her siblings at the same time (we were able to find homes for both of them when they were older), and neither of them had the angry/loving issue. Annie will sit on the counter and meow at you, rub against you, enjoy being pet, and then suddenly bite your hand or swat at you. With her, I've just learned that you only pet for a certain amount of time and then stop. In my opinion, cats are very independent and attempting to train a cat will probably not be too successful (IMO)-- but I also don't think negative reinforcement is ever a good idea. Some people in life are like that too--nice one second and mean the other. I think it is kind of just something you have to live with.