Articles Behaviour

Modifying a Dangerous Cat

Andrew Demetrius was an 8-week old seal point Siamese kitten when he came to live with us.  Well actually, we picked him out of a litter of kittens.  We met the father of Andy, but not the mother.  Bad mistake!  The father was easy going and good natured, apparently, the mother was not as nice and therefore they kept her in another room when we arrived at the breeder’s house.  Not knowing much about breeders as opposed to “real breeders”, the ones that have registered papers for their cats, we were a little naive. Yes, must confess, we got Andy to breed. (Picture of Andy at about 4 years.)

A few years before we were looking for a white kitten (we had a white adult male and wanted another white cat). We kept following the ads, but the kittens were already gone.  One day we had walked into a pet store and there before our eyes were 2 of the most adorable kittens.  Well, they were sort of white, was our reasoning.  We left, and did a purchase next door and then returned to the pet store.  The friendliest one came to the front of the cage and the other hung back.  Wow, 25 bucks a piece!  We had figured we could pick one up in the ads for zero (we are talking back in 1980).  They were seal point Siamese and Persian mix, (mostly Siamese though). Which one to choose…………didn’t have the heart to leave the other one alone, so we took them both.  Never looked back, not one day did we regret that decision. They were immediately given cat names. We soon learned what all the fuss about Siamese was.  My sister-in-law has always had Siamese.

So, Andy’s name was decided on before he was even seen.  Back to the day we brought him home.  First thing he did was run after the other cats and try to bite the back of their legs.  They put him in his place, but it was a constant battle with them for awhile.  He eventually out grew that behavior.  Soon we were having litters.  There was a market and since I really worked with the kittens they were very social and not at all like Andy.

When Andy started to get more and more agitated by people, he was banned to the garage when we had company.  He had become impossible for me to sit down with him and clip his claws.  If I or my daughter was reaching for something near him, he would likely howl and try to scratch us.  There was a water spray bottle by the front door at all times.  If someone knocked on the door he was right there, we would grab the water bottle and open the door.

Soon, we had him altered and that helped some, but still he was becoming more aggressive as time went along.  The last straw was when we were gone and my daughter had come home to get something with one of her friends and he had them both cornered by the door.  I guess they doused him good with the water bottle and were able to escape without lacerations!

When we had trouble at times with him, purely by accident we found that a few days at the vet’s office helped him mellow out for awhile.  Nobody touched him while he was there.  The joke was, we need to send Andy to summer camp again!

This had become a very serious situation and we needed to do something permanent, before he really did tear somebody up.  He could be so sweet at times. I remember sitting in the chair holding him with tears running down my face, saying I wouldn’t be afraid of him if he didn’t have claws and fangs.  It was either modify his equipment or put him to sleep.

We made an appointment with our vet and he knew Andy really well.  He had a WO all over his chart.  Which we found out was “Watch Out”.  His reputation was well publicized. The decision was to file all 4 fangs down, so when he would bite down, he could not puncture skin.  The vet would not pull his fangs out, as he said that could break his jaws.  He would also remove his front claws.  To remove his back claws was not necessary.  This was an aggressive action but, it was this or he would not live another day.

Back home after the operation, was an adjustment for Andy. We still had his last litters of kittens with us.  By the way Andy just loved the kittens and would help take care of them, he just didn’t like people much. He soon found out his usual flying to the top of the cat tree actually had required the use of his front claws.  After crashing down to the floor on his attempt, he had scared one of the kittens.  The mother cat went after him and just whacked him a number of times.  His attempt on top of the dresser in the bedroom had again produced the same results and from the same mother cat.  I felt bad for him on his third beating as it was not his fault.  I had scared one of the kittens by picking it up by surprise, but she still went after him again.

His next lesson was from the girl he had cornered in the living room.  He howled at her and tried swatting at her, but now she wasn’t afraid of him and started to proceed to pet him.  He had lost his power.  He was no longer a threat to anyone.  After my granddaughter was born he actually  laid on the floor beside her and rolled around.

He had another 8 years of life and turned out to be a wonderful cat.  I hated to have had to modify his weapons, but I have never regretted the decision. I would only do it again, if there was no alternative that would make sense.  We had tried about everything possible up to the final modification.

Andy at 7 years old with Holly

(Samantha is on the left in back)

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