Calling all amateur Jackson Galaxy-wannabes: why is my cat such a jerk toward guests, when he's a bundle of love the rest of the time?
I'm not sure what the problem is with my cat Barricade.
He's the most affectionate cat (toward me & my husband) that I've ever met. But as soon as guests come over, he turns into a little demon: hissing, swatting, growling. He doesn't act scared--it feels more like territorial aggression, even when my guests ignore him. For example, one time a friend (small, female, quiet) was sleeping on our couch. Barricade tried to attack her while she was asleep, clearly presenting no threat to him. I am a huge fan of My Cat From Hell
and have tried every hint from the show that I can think of, but nothing's working.
all the details:
Barricade & his sister Beatrix are our only pets. They are about 2 years old. We got them from a rescue organization. They get along great, cuddling & playing.
There are no medical issues that we're aware of. No litter box problems (at the moment--there were some "pooping outside the box" situations before we got the right food & litter combo, plus eradicated all the intestinal parasites the kittens came with).
We play with them all the time. They both love to chase the feathers-on-a-string.
They are both indoor cats.
He is neutered and his sister is spayed.
The house is pretty large--1500 square feet with a 2nd story. It's not like he doesn't have anywhere to go if he's annoyed.
We provided them with lots of "vertical space" (awesome cat tree by the window) though they don't use it that much (we think they are bush-dwellers). But they hang out on top of the couch or my desk to look out the window. They have toys galore and a few scratching posts.
My husband & I are both somewhat introverted & don't have guests that often--maybe once every 2 months. However...
...the problem started when my sister was staying with us for 7 months straight after she graduated from college & was looking for work. At first the cats were very affectionate with my sister, but after she had been living with us for 3 months Barricade started with the growling and hissing. My sister tried ignoring him, playing with him, being the one that fed him, being the one that gave him treats. But nothing helped. And yeah, I was kind of ready for her to go, so it's possible that Barricade was picking up on my own tension/stress. But still--sometimes in life you need to put up with guests that you'd prefer to leave. It's not ok that every time I have someone staying with me that I'm not 1000% delighted by at every single moment that the cat's going to attack, you know?
As soon as my sister left, he returned to normal. Until someone comes over.
He is okay with some people more than others.
He does seem to be more aggressive toward women.
My husband & I are talking about having kids in the next year or so. I'd hate to have to get rid of the cat if he can't be trusted around the theoretical baby.