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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16210
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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Our cat is 1 and half blind. He will come up

Customer Question

Our cat is 1 and half blind. He will come up for some petting and will all-of-a-sudden go into attack mode and lunge for your leg and bite.. he won't let up until we throw him out of the room. During this time, his eyes are dilated and he looks almost demonized. We have 2 small children he does this to as well, and they are terrified of him. Help!!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.
Now this isn't an uncommon situation in younger cats and while you can get him to change his ways it will be an uphill battle that will take a lot of patience and perseverance on your part.
When we have a young cat that is full of energy, potentially an indoor one (since you noted his sight issues), and potentially an 'only cat' (since you haven't mentioned a feline playmate), it isn't uncommon for them to decide that you are their playmate. Therefore, these are not attacks for "no reason". Instead, he is telling you that he is board and using you as his playmate and source of mental stimulation. (and attack games are his version of trying to invite you to play chess or checkers).
Furthermore, we do have to appreciate that he doesn't know that he is doing anything wrong. So, he will not easily make the connection that there is a problem here, especially since this is normal instinct driven cat play. Therefore, while you are right to make him leave the room, you need to make sure that you are putting him in "time out" as soon as it starts (not when he won't let up). "Time outs" are important as they will help you to convey that you aren't happy about this behavior. Of course, do make sure that when he goes into "time out" that he is returned to it if he comes out and repeats the behavior. Furthermore, since we are deterring but also need to redirect Runt's behavior, do make sure that he has something to distract and play with in that other room. The reason is because he isn't doing something wrong (as attack/play is natural) but we want him to focus on acceptable items to obtain the mental stimulation he needs for his mental health.
Otherwise, we do need to make sure that his environment is as enriched as possible. This can include a variety of toys that require a variety of responses from him (ie toys to chase, stalk, pounce, and move around). Of course, with whatever toys you have, make sure to keep them on a rota. That way, he will have that 'new toy' excitement even if you aren't continually buying toys. As well, consider having new objects to explore (ie cardboard boxes, perches, paper bags).
Now toys alone aren't a cure. Because even with millions of toys to play with, if he sees them all the time and they are just lying around for him to go to, they aren't going to be as exciting as the 'moving target' that is you. (kind of like a kid with a video game, sometimes they want to play 2 player with you). So, you want to encourage him to play with them with you. This will increase his focus on them, as well as appropriate play with you.
Since it sounds like he is trying to incorporate you into his games, do try and set time aside for him (ie 10-15 minute play-a-thons a few times a day). It would be worth considering having these times around the times you are currently being attacked (or try to start play before he gets to the behavior). This will provide mental stimulation for him and incorporate you into play in a way that you are happy with. When you are having these sessions, don’t encourage him to bat your hands or feet (and avoid 'glove' type toys or kicking the toys as well). Instead, direct the play away from you by using a long dangly toy or throwing your cat’s favorite toys.
During the other times, to defend yourself from attacks (while we are trying to redirect his play), you can carry toys with you and toss them ahead of you to redirect his attention. Try to get him to focus on chasing the toys instead of attacking you.
If he is spending time alone, depending on your house set up, you may even consider building an outdoor enclosure (w/ boxes, shelves and perches). If you can provide a more complex environment for your cat, this will provide a lot of mental stimulation opportunities to hunt insects and chase leaves, your cat will be less motivated to 'stalk/attack' you. If an enclosure isn't possible and he cannot go out on his own, you could consider lead walking him in your yard so he can get out, sniff things, and get some mental stimulation that doesn't involve the current unwanted biting/pouncing.
Besides environmental enrichment, you may wish to consider adopting another cat as a playmate. If you do, choose a young, playful cat like your current cat. Though this will take introducing them properly, and this will depend on how Runt feels about other felines. But sometimes a playmate of his own species can give an active playful cat someone more keen to play bite/wrestle games.
Overall, as I said at the start its not an easy situation but it is one that you can re-train him with. So, do take the above steps to give him appropriate play and mental stimulation. As well, make sure to be consistent and persevere. If you can approach his need for mental stimulation in a positive manner, you will be able to discourage his behaviour by getting him refocused on more 'people friendly' pursuits. Therefore, you can use 'time outs' if he does attack at the moment, but more importantly we need that environmental enrichment and proper play, to teach him what is acceptable and with that over time the attacks should decline and your kitty should be a happier wee lad.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best, *****
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