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I’m sitting with my cat, and she’s being very nice to me. She’s purring, and she’s sleepy and calm and very nice. However, yesterday she was on a wild streak and attempted to bite and claw me to get me off my bed so she could sleep on it instead of me. I had to use a blanket as a shield to remove her from my room. But now as she’s nice and calm, I’m starting to realize a pattern with this and the cyclical abuse model: rising tensions (when her eyes get wide and she starts running all over the place), an incident (when she approaches me unprompted to bite or scratch; this isn’t petting-induced aggression), reconciliation (she rubs around my legs and headbutts me once she’s calmed down), and a period of calm (right now, when she’s sleeping next to me and it’s very warm and relaxing). This happens every week or two weeks.

Can cats have abusive personalities? I know she has aggression issues towards other cats, because I got her when my parents’ friends found her on their property but she would try to claw their cats so they couldn’t keep her. And if she does, is there anything I can do about it? I don’t want her to have to be put down, though I don’t think cats get put down like dogs do. Maybe they just take aggressive cats to barns so they can catch mice. But my cat isn’t very good at catching mice so she would probably die of starvation which is worse than being put down.

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  • Cats cannot be abusive to people. They are animals with no sense of morality. If your cat is too aggressive to live with then that is a problem. But the cat isn't manipulating you. And from your description this is extremely normal behavior for a cat. Maybe you don't like cats.
    – ribs2spare
    Apr 6 at 19:21

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"Abusive" is a pretty loaded word. People generally call what you describe simply "aggression." When cats act aggressive seemingly out of the blue when normally they are friendly, to my knowledge usually it's either:

1. Play aggression.

Cats that are understimulated will often suddenly and frantically dash about the house for no apparent reason, and aggressively play. Try playing and entertaining your cat more to see if this will help decrease the number of incidents. Make sure to encourage non-aggressive play by never using your hands to play with the cat, and stopping if the cat gets too aggressive.

2. A fear or anxiety reaction.

The cat might be freaked out by something that's perhaps even unrelated, like animals outside, and acting aggressively as a result. See if you notice a pattern. Time of day, what location the cat is in when it starts freaking out, and so forth. Especially if the cat is near windows. See if you can notice anything outside the window that might be making the cat freak out. It isn't necessarily animals either. Cats might freak out over intense unnatural stimuli, such as flashing car lights, for example.

3. Something physically wrong.

Next time you take it to the vet, tell your vet about the unusual behavior. There may be something wrong causing the unusual aggression, or the vet may prescribe some sort of mood stabilizing medication.

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Cats have different personalities.

I don't think "abusive" is an acceptable term for cats, just like "forced copulation" is preferred over "rape" in animals. But she probably has a more aggressive personality than many other cats.

Moreover, humans do not hold the monopoly for mood swings. She might be displaying mood swings slightly out of the acceptable norm, or she might suffer from bipolar disorder, which rarely affects cats.

Another possible explanation might be that she is reinforced to behave this way. If she really wants to get you out of the bed and if this is the way that works best for her, she just use it like a temper tantrum as any kid would do.

As Kai suggested, the best way to approach the situation is to check if there is something physically wrong with the cat. Then, you can consult a behaviourist.

My suggestion is to handle this situation similar to how you handle a child with a bad temper tantrum. If she is aggressive, shut her in the room or shut her out of your room and let her be until she is calmer. I have seen cats way worse than what you described to eventually have less impactful and fewer episodes of aggression.

I hope this helps.

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