Cat Is Vicious Over Food

 

Ask A Vet | Jo Lewis BSc BVMS (Hons) MRCVS

How Can I Stop My Cat Being Vicious Over Food?

She had kittens in October, and she even eats their food and blocks them from it. She will try and take food from me by sticking her paw into the food and running with it. I put her down on the floor while I'm eating, etc., but she keeps jumping back up on the table.

She is a rescue kitten, long story short, her mother was an outdoor cat that got killed, and a lady took the kittens in and fed them with bottles. I got her when she was about 2-3 months old and she is just over a year old now, and she is becoming more aggressive as time goes on. I do not spank her, but other than keeping her in a kennel all the time, I'm at a loss for what to do.

The other question I have is about the litter of kittens she just had. They seem healthy except for the fact that their eyes keep caking up and sealed shut. I use a warm washcloth to wash them out, but I was wondering if there is something else I should be doing? I am taking them to the vet in January for their first shots and to get mommy cat spayed, but until then, I don't know what to do about the kitten’s eyes. Thank you very much for your time.

 

Wow, two questions! I'll tackle the second one first as I think this is the more urgent priority.

Please take the kittens to your vet - the sticky discharge sounds like conjunctivitis, particularly given you say it keeps recurring even though you are washing them. It is common for kittens (and cats) to get a mixture of bacterial and/or viral conjunctivitis. Both need assessment and treatment by a vet. Once the eyelids stick together it creates the perfect environment for the infection to fester underneath. All eyes are fragile but kitten's developing eyes are even more so. If left, severe ulcers can leave the kittens blind or even cause the eyes to rupture so this needs urgent attention.

Regarding the aggression you are experiencing it sounds multi-factorial - being hand raised, she will not have learned normal cat behaviours particularly around feeding (mother cats often put their kittens in place with subtle reprimands even around feeding times) so she will not have experienced this by the sound of things. Many owners do not realize that cats, in general, do not like to be fed with other cats. If they are competing for resources this adds stress which can turn into misdirected aggression. Feed all cats and the kittens in separate bowls and out of eyesight of each other.

I think one of the key things though given her recent pregnancy and birth is that chances are even with the best of intentions she may well be ravenous and even undernourished through having to produce enough milk to feed all those hungry mouths so be sure that she is on a kitten food herself as she'll need the nourishment. Hunger can make the best of us snappy ;-). Add to that the fact that if she has just had kittens her hormones are likely running all over the place and she may be feeling more sensitive/moody. Talk to your vet while you are there with the kittens' eye check as they will be able to advise further and also when the best time to have her neutered would be - she could even be pregnant again already (cringe!). If they have not all been wormed then this is definitely worth getting your vet to do - might be contributing to the frantic need for food? Good luck!

Best wishes

Jo Lewis BSc BVMS (Hons) MRCVS

The Cat Vet