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Cats/cat suddenly at hisses and draws blood

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Question
my cat is very sweet.  (most of the time)  However when she comes for me to pet her I do.  I know not to pet stomach, so I do the side and top of head.  She is fine - purring and rubbing head on my head and hand, and then out of no where hisses and swats or bites me.  It makes me sad, because I had cats before and never had this problem.  she is a rescue, and I play fetch every day.  I want to make her happy.  She is 2-1/2 and a calico.

Answer
Hi Loretta,

Sorry to hear you're having a hard time with your kitty. I would have her checked out by the vet to ensure that she doesn't have any dental disease. Some cats get bad periodontitis early in life, and this causes extreme sensitivity in the gums. Rubbing anywhere along the cheeks can cause them a lot of pain, and they can react aggressively. Some oral surgery to remove bad teeth may be in order, or an antibiotic to clear an infection.

But assuming her health checks out fine, it sounds like she just becomes over-stimulated very easily. If you can spot any signs of this before she lashes out and stop petting right away, that's your best bet. Most times, cats will start to twitch/swish their tail. Their pupils may become a little dilated, or their ears may turn back a bit. These are all automatic responses associated with the increased excitation of nerves that causes cats to lash out.

To try to lengthen the time that she stays relaxed during petting, see if you can keep her otherwise engaged. If she enjoys treats or playing with toys, and she does not become aggressive over them, interactively play with her or give her treats while sneaking petting in. Since her attention will be spread out over multiple stimuli, the effect of petting won't feel so overwhelming.

Good luck!
Jessica

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Jessica

Expertise

The areas in which I have gained the most experience are cat health and feral cat management/rescue. I provide supportive care to chronically ill cats, hospice care to terminally ill cats and also am involved in trap-neuter-return efforts. My specialities lie in taming feral cats and in the allopathic treatment of cats with illnesses or special needs. I also have owned Siamese, Himalayans, Abyssinians, Russian Blues, Savannahs, Bengals, Peterbalds, Don Sphynx and Oriental Shorthairs and am well-versed in cat breeds as well as cat behavior and nutrition.

Experience

I have 15 years of extensive experience with cats ranging from breeding to medical care. My daily routine consists of caring for cats with diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney failure, feline leukemia, feline AIDS as well as feral cats. I have experience with liver patients, heart patients, feline infectious peritonitis, cancer, recovery from amputation and trauma, congenital deformities and most every disease in between. I have assisted cats giving birth and hand-nursed kittens who were neglected by their mother from 2 days old through weaning.

Education/Credentials
15 years' hands-on experience. Current nursing student. I've studied the parallels of human and cat anatomy as well as zoonotic disease, so my studies are broadening the depth of my understanding of feline anatomy, physiology and pathology.

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