|Ach, just a wee thing then...|
He's not eating right.
He thinks I like it.
He thinks he's higher in status than me.
He does it to get attention.
Sam plays too rough.
And on and on. Brozhy's behavior is actually a common topic of discussion in our house and out. So we tried things:
Don't let him sit above your head.
Find the right food.
More frequent & active play.
Don't act afraid.
Ignore him (ha! Better stock up on bandaids)
Try socializing him.
The socializing was hard. The first thing we tried was to let in a lost cat that wound up on our porch one cold night. Brozhy flipped. The other cat walked in and Brozhy hissed and spat and booked it into our bedroom. I decided the cat couldn't stay, even though it was cold, so I turned him back out, washed my hands, and went to go check on Brozhy. He was sitting on the dresser growling. I calmly approached him, but when I got close, he hissed and lashed out at me.
Obviously that wasn't a good way to go about introducing Brozhy to new cats, but I wanted to gauge where he was (which I've learned is negative bajillion) in his desire to meet new cats. So we thought maybe if it was done slowly, or something, it would work.
The next try was when we went to Connecticut for the summer. We left him with my sister, who has two cats. He seemed okay at first. By the time we were at the terminal, things had gone way, way south. I wasn't there, obviously, but apparently he was hiding in the littler box, he hissed and attacked anyone who came near, and wouldn't eat. They took him back to our apartment after one night and decided to check on him periodically for the two months we'd be gone.
As you might imagine, he went a little crazy having to be alone all the time. We came home to chewed-off paint on a spot on the wall, a ripped up cloth lantern, and a general mess. My sister told stories of how he was "Demon Cat," leaping from afar to attack her husband's face, biting viciously whenever anyone went near the door, and who knows what else.
We knew he was feral once. We knew he had issues. But when we got home, he calmed down a bit. A day or two later, it started again, worse. His "welcome home" gift was four nasty gashes on my right shin (from his teeth, mind you) that are still healing. Every time I got on the phone or sat quietly too long he would attack. My mom told me over the phone when she heard it happening that I needed to get rid of him.
Something had to change. I was scared of him. I was scared for any future babies we might have. So we decided that maybe, just maybe, we could try introducing a young, small kitten, who would not be threatening, who Brozhy could adjust to at his own pace, in his own territory. And then they could play together and Brozhy could redirect his attacks to something that wouldn't mind.
So we got little Addie.
Once I went into the bathroom to hang up towels and he heard me too late, leapt up from behind the toilet where he was hiding, hit the toilet paper roll and sent it flying everywhere, slipped around and landed in the shower behind the curtain-- all in a two-second period. I looked at the floor and saw it was covered in urine.
Another time when Addie was out, he ran into the bedroom and hid under the bed. When I went to check on him later, he hissed and latched onto my arm and wouldn't let go.
I must add that during all of this, Addie, the most vocal and dramatic kitten I've ever encountered, was having her own issues. She would hardly eat (Brozhy was barely eating either). And when she wasn't asleep, she was screaming. If she was alone locked in the bedroom she would scream and scream like she was being killed (I am not joking) and ram into the door. I've never known a cat to do that, especially not a 6-week old kitten.
Monday afternoon I was at my wits' end, I had a huge list of chores and things that needed to be done that I couldn't do because I had to juggle that in addition to checking on Brozhy every few minutes, and, if she wasn't asleep, sitting and playing with Addie until she got tired and fell asleep so she would stop screaming and ramming the door and making Brozhy freak out more. It felt a little like having an infant during that stage where all they do is cry while simultaneously trying to take care of a sick toddler throwing a tantrum and clean the house, on little to no sleep because the kitten kept us up at night. But what do I know about that?
We'd put up a listing on KSL when we got Addie just in case things didn't work out and we had to give her away. But after 4 days, we hadn't had any serious calls. When Sam got home Monday evening and saw me in tears from the stress of the situation and heard Addie still screaming and found Brozhy again cowering in the litter box, he suggested we got to the Humane Society and give her up.
I'd considered this, and had for some reason posted a question regarding our situation on Yahoo Answers (a note about Yahoo Answers-- don't ever post a question unless you want to be publicly ridiculed with no way to retaliate). All I got were people yelling at me about my ignorance to the ways of cats, how cruel I was to consider "ditching" Addie at a place where she'd be euthanized in 3 days, how stupid I was for not just putting them in the same room together and letting them figure it out (really?), yada yada yada. Awful stuff.
Sam reassured me that she would find a home quickly because she was cute and young and impressionable. So we put her in a basket and set out on our way. A little way down the road, Sam decided to double check the shelter hours, and saw that we had missed the time by 45 minutes. Addie started screaming louder, in that murderous-cry way. And loud enough it was hurting my ears and making me crazy.
Poor Sam. He has to deal with all these crazy people and animals all the time. And no doubt he felt a little guilty because pushing the kitten idea was his thought the other day. After sitting in the car for a minute, he decided to call the woman who had originally given us Addie and tell her that Addie wasn't eating and it was possible she needed to be with her mother a week or two longer, and besides that, our cat was getting sick with the stress of having her around.
Thank goodness people in Utah are so kind. She agreed to take Addie back without question, so we made the drive back. It was the longest 25 minutes of my life, with Addie still screaming and the stress still ebbing.
In retrospect, I know we should have considered the kitten idea a little longer, but it had to be done at some point. Now we know that Brozhy can't be socialized. He is still attacking me today, but I've found that as long as I talk quietly and calmly to him, myself, Sam, and inanimate objects, then the likelihood is lower that I'll end up with bleeding welts on my arms and legs.