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Almost two months ago, we recently welcomed a 1 year old black cat into our family. We believe he's part Siamese: he's got the sleek jawline and he's very skinny.

Our problem with our cat is that every day he has several episodes of unprovoked craziness: he'll run from room to room, jumping on any surface he can find and he'll claw furniture incessantly. However, the most problematic part is that he will, without provocation, charge at us and bite/attack our hands, ankles, arms and feet. Nothing initiates it; he'll be in one of his crazy states and suddenly lock eyes on you, run towards or sneak up on you, and pounce on your flesh.

We believe that this is happening because he's bored, so we've been trying to find him another energetic friend but have not done so yet. This attacking business makes sitting in a room with him peacefully almost impossible when he's crazed... every time he looks at me I'm worried he's going to rush at me and tear me apart. We try to play with him to dispense with some of his energy, but he gets crazy so many times during the day that we can't always drop everything and grab a toy.

Do you know what might be causing this behavior? Are we on the right track with the boredom theory? This cat can be really sweet when he isn't so crazy but he's quite unpredictable and it leaves everyone on edge. Do you have any suggestions on how to manage this behaviour and/or cope with it?


Additional info from comments:

We haven't really done anything specific to prevent any attacks, except for keeping skin covered and keeping our hands close to us when we sit down. The attacks are usually harmless if our skin isn't exposed, but he can sometimes draw blood -- his teeth are quite sharp.

We play with him multiple times a day, totalling about 30-45 minutes. As for interaction, we're around him the entire day, and if he isn't around us he'll move around the house to where he can be. For entertainment we play with him using toys and I will sometimes put bird videos on the TV to captivate his attention. We're seriously looking at getting him another cat friend.

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    This, to an extent, sounds like normal cat behaviour. What have you tried to stop him from attacking you? How hard is he attacking you?
    – SerenaT
    May 2, 2022 at 5:30
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    @Kman3 sounds like you're seriously deficient on enrichment options, then. He should also have toys he can play with on his own (in a variety of options--balls, "mice," kickers, crinkly things, etc), as well as places to climb (cat trees) and hide (cat tunnels, paper bags, tents, etc).
    – Allison C
    May 2, 2022 at 16:40
  • This might not be a full answer. Imagine how another cat would discourage attacks. Get loud, tell him no. If your voice sounds angry or annoyed, he will get the message.
    – SerenaT
    May 3, 2022 at 9:11

1 Answer 1

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Your theory that he is bored is correct. And not just a little bored. He sounds very bored and full of lots of excess energy to be doing this several times a day.

Regarding a cat friend

A cat friend that actually wants to play with him will almost certainly help. But there's no telling that any pair of cats will get along like you want. I would be careful to actually explain your situation to the people you're adopting from, and see if they're willing to work with you to find the right friend for him. You might try fostering, which could be a way to try out cat companions for him.

More playtime.

At a very basic level, he simply just needs a lot more playtime. I know people often give advice of thirty minutes a day or whatever. But don't listen to them. Listen to what your cat is telling you. As long as you continue to see signs he's bored, you need to keep increasing playtime.

When you do play, really try to tire him out.

A wand toy is best for tiring a cat out, or maybe a laser pointer in a pinch. The laser pointer doesn't satisfy his desire to grab and hold onto things though, and he clearly likes to do so since he's currently doing it to you.

Really get that wand toy moving, so he has to run to chase it down. Try getting it up in the air, and see if he'll jump to try to catch it. Some cats are really into jumping, and that burns quite a lot of energy too.

Don't stop when he grabs it and just lies there holding on, or if he's just sitting and watching. Sure, he isn't actively chasing, but this is also part of cat play. Try to only stop when he's no longer paying attention, which means he's truly tired of the game.

Anticipate those times your cat will have the most energy.

Cats tend to follow a pattern, where they'll sleep for hours, then when they wake up, they're ready to hunt and eat, burn off their energy, and then they get tired and go back to sleep. Try to predict this patten, and you can have better success if you can play with him before he starts pouncing on you. You can do this by timing his serious play sessions around mealtimes. Make sure his meals are very regular and punctual, and it'll help even more to get him on a schedule.

Get more enrichment that doesn't require human interaction.

  • Windows. Make sure they're easily accessible to him, so he can watch outside. Put cat trees right by the window, so he can comfortably lounge next to it. Put up bird feeders to give him even more to watch.

  • Cat furniture and scratchers. Place the cat furniture in locations to help further engage him. Again, near windows, but also in rooms that you tend to hang out in, so he can see what you're doing and not be alone. Get a bunch of cat furniture and use them together to create an alternate path through the room. That way, there's places it can get to by climbing along the furniture, making it even more interesting to the cat.

  • Toys. Get more toys, and a variety of them too. See if you can find some toy he'll play with without any human interaction.

  • Automatic toys. Though they sound convenient, automatic toys very much come with a warning: do not make the mistake of using automatic toys as a replacement for interactive play. Automatic toys are a bandaid for when you really can't drop what you're doing at the moment to play. They aren't going to really get out his energy, since they can't respond to the cat a way a human does in interactive play. The one I prefer is Smarty Kat or similar. They seem better at drawing their attention than most, but the drawback is they tend to get broken.

  • Build an outside enclosure aka catio.

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  • I'd add "cat furniture" to the last header for additional enrichment; it doesn't sound like he has much, if any, in the way of scratching posts, cat trees, and "hidey holes," all of which are things my own cats use to burn their energy in various ways.
    – Allison C
    May 3, 2022 at 16:43
  • Thanks for the suggestion. I'll add it.
    – Kai
    May 3, 2022 at 17:10
  • Another very satisfying enrichment is hunting or foraging for food. Just throw his usual kibble or cat treat where he can see and chase it. You can also throw it on the sofa or any furniture your cat is allowed on. If you don't have time to throw one kibble at a time, hide a hand full in various places in the room and let him forage for it.
    – Elmy
    May 4, 2022 at 5:35
  • Hello -- my sincere apologies for forgetting to accept your answer. I've done it now. Thanks!
    – Kman3
    May 22, 2022 at 4:02

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