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El Diablo Gato

Frequent readers here may recall that last year we hand raised and bottle fed tiny, week-old baby kittens when Mama Cat was killed by a neighbor’s dog.

At that time I was severely allergic to cats, but I sacrificed my nasal comfort and stayed jacked up on Benadryl for 6 weeks to make sure those kittens thrived.

As it turned out, the kittens didn’t at all appreciate or honor me for my sacrifices. They did not take my example of treating others the way you want to be treated or learn from my loving and gentle nature.

In fact the very opposite happened.

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We had created El Diablo Gato. That’s “The Devil Cat” for you non-Spanish speakers.

We gave away 3 of the kittens and kept the tiniest, most fragile one for ourselves. She was also mauled in the attack and we found her bloody and limp. I was pretty sure she would die before the next morning, but we managed to pamper her and love her back to health.

Even so, we are now very cautious around our little devil because we never know when walking too close to her or sitting in “her” chair might make her hiss at us and swipe at us with extended claws.

Since the whole “bottle feeding orphaned kittens” days, we have heard from more than one veterinarian that bottle fed kittens are the meanest things this side of junk yard dogs, which as you probably know are almost as mean as Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. And Old King Kong.

You see, since they don’t have a mama cat to put them in their place when they misbehave, and humans are generally much too sweet (and genetically impaired) to smack a cat across the face with their claws out, the kittens never learn how to behave as proper, civilized kittens should. They don’t have painful consequences for their misdeeds, as kittens do who are raised with their mothers, so they go about doing whatever they please.

This makes them very unpleasant to live with. In fact, one veterinarian said he gets requests to euthanize grown up bottle fed kittens more than any other healthy animal.

I visited recently with the woman who took one of the kittens we gave away and she showed me the bite and claw marks on her arms and legs. She said the cat regularly attacks her out of nowhere and hisses at her if she sits in a chair the cat was considering climbing into. She is afraid of the cat and doesn’t know what to do.

All of these experiences with El Diablo Gato got me to thinking about the scripture “A child left to his own will bring his mother to shame.” When children (or cats) are left to their own ways, undisciplined and untaught, they will surely grow up to be unpleasant company.

Mamas, take note. We can’t expect our children to see our good examples of serving others and cleaning up our own messes and not crying when we don’t get our way, and expect our children to follow suit. We must make them do what is right, and yes, even dish out unpleasant consequences for not doing it.

Now, this analogy isn’t perfect because I don’t have claws and my children don’t bite me around the ankles, so don’t be gettin’ all up in my grill, because I am not saying children should be treated like animals. What I am saying is I think there is a lesson to be learned here.

Mamas play a critical role in teaching our young to be pleasant. Disciplined. A blessing instead of a burden.

No one likes to be around undisciplined cats or children.

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Comments

  1. Bite back, sorry I am surprised you have not found this. I had a devil cat, but he was the sweetest thing to me and me alone, I bite, I also discipline, a nip on the ear, and a not too hard swipe but not gentle swipe and pin does wonders, so does a water bottle, all my friends got equipped with one when visiting. I cried for a year after we left him at the pound where I am sure he was euthanized, because my husband was afraid for our 4 yr old. he was great with her as a baby but got steadily less so as she stopped smelling like me and got her own scent.
    It may be too late for your now grown cat, just thought my wisdom might help in the future for some other kitten.

  2. OK, I have a bottle fed orphan cat who is extremely loving. His brother (took in by my sister in law) isn’t really a devil cat either, so I was wondering how that worked out. Then, my husband reminded me of the 3rd of the litter…Sassy (who went to a different non related person). So now I can understand where you’re coming from because that cat was Satan incarnate! So I’m thinking that a bottle fed orphan kitty can be salvaged if 2 of the 3 still ended up somewhat loveable. lol Maybe it’s because we do discipline our animals when necessary, ie: we’re not afraid to swipe them off the table or grab them by the scruff or use the water bottle? Who knows. Suffice it to say, there is hope for some of them;) hehehe

  3. Sounds like you need a visit from Jackson Galaxy! You would think bottle fed kittens would be sweet, especially to the people how fed them!

  4. KATENA DYSER says:

    I raised kittens all my life they are like children and need to be put into their place once in a while. I had what you called the devil cat a child not as bad. The last few days I have had to put him in his place. We have to raised our pets and children alike. Great post.

  5. Kristine Rhodes says:

    Lol and Amen, sister! My first thought after reading yet another one of your adventures turned into a wisdom nugget was, “Yay! She’s back!”

  6. Lisa Beth W. says:

    What a great object lesson! Yikes–kitty would be getting what for in my house!

  7. This is quite helpful and explains a lot. We got a feral kitten and she’s always been unpredictable. Sometimes loving, and then out of nowhere she’ll scratch up your legs for no reason. Or you’ll be petting her and all of a sudden Wham she turns to bite you. So maybe this is why. After about 5 years we realized that she needed to be declawed because we now had children and she was just too unpredictable. I have taught the children to stay away from her. I rarely pet her. She hasn’t slept on my bed in years (I kick her off.) In recent years she seems to have gotten nicer. I still don’t trust her though. The kids do pet her a little now right on top of her head. Anyways, your post helps to explain my little animal. She doesn’t sound as terrible as your gato though. yikes. (And on another subject, can we all just agree that we probably need to learn Spanish? How many Spanish speakers need to live here before we admit it might be darn helpful nay necessary to learn the language?) Anyways, as far as child rearing…yes. I too often see advice that parents just need to model good behavior. Or that any type of spank is violence. This is total nonsense. Any video I’ve ever seen of some lion or wolf or bear shows the cubs all over her or playing near her, and she’s licking them or letting them nurse or whatever. But once in awhile she whacks them with her paw or turns to growl at them or something. I had a friend who believed that children will self-regulate just as they do while nursing. So if they wanted to eat cookies for breakfast, that was fine with her. She believed they would get tired of it and their bodies would naturally crave other foods to balance out. We all tried to tell her this is not true, that children’s diets need to be monitored and directed. Well the kids are now 10 and 7 and you guessed it…really heavy.

  8. ha- No one likes to be around undisciplined cats or children – Amen! Sorry for your cat struggles, we aren’t much into domestic animals, but I’ve been around scary cats before.

  9. In my experience as a kitten raiser, there are two factors that go into the attitude of a hand-raised kitten.

    The first is the genetic makeup of the kitten, it is important to realize that a kitten from a feral mommy that was generations from a domesticated pet will have been selected for suspicious and wary temperaments, as this is what has kept them alive. You can teach these cats to tolerate and live with humans, but they are very challenging and often end up as aggressive or ‘unpredictable’. They do best when allowed to be barn or primarily outdoor kitties as this removes the stress of constant human interactions as it is these interactions that trigger the negative behaviors.

    The second factor is handling and training while young. There are two simple parts to kitten training (for temperament). The first is “no wiggling”, eg if the kitten is being held it must be still and calm before being put down. This is the most important and teaches the young kitten tolerance of human closeness, and more importantly, that passivity will stop the interaction (versus struggles). The second part is simply to stop petting the kitten when it is still purring. It is easy to lose the interest of a kitten, like small kids, to lots of attention and petting; they want to play. If they are petted until they are impatient they learn the human touch is aggravating and will tolerate less as they age, and often display touch aggression.

  10. For “El diablo gato”, to help the territory guarding (swiping at passerby) you can create a desirable but out of the way perch for her and reward her for sitting in it.

    A window perch or top of a cat tower is often perfect, it could also be a pet bed in a room corner (must have a view of the room) but make sure it is out of normal traffic patterns. Call her to the location and reward her with a tasty morsel for going there. You can use bits of cooked meat or cat treat, but it should be something she wants and eats quickly. You can toss the treat to her, no proximity required. Do this multiple times a day (as often as you remember) for several days in a row and she should start roosting in this spot. Any time you see her in the correct spot reward her with a treat and a bright happy “Good Diablo!”. Do not interact with her in this spot otherwise, consider it her alone time area. Training her to prefer this spot with get her out of the traffic patterns and stop the swiping and aggression directed at passerby.

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What's the big deal about Young Living