Life with Max Pt 4 - Spitting Back


Max was fascinated by Eloise.  She could not get away from him, he was always staring at her or climbing all over her or chasing her around the house. They wrestled frequently. Eloise would growl and howl at Max to no avail.  If she got the better of him, Max would make the oddest little sounds. Sounds that reminded me of monkeys chattering.  The sounds would go on for a very short time and then he would lunge at her and the wrestling would start again.  Max was now one pound heavier than Eloise.  I knew if he continued his bullying behaviour, he would be hurting her as he grew bigger and bigger.   He was still biting a lot.  He didn't use his claws much but his teeth were always in action.

He was a smart little devil kitten, though.  After I had said “no bite” half a dozen times, he figured out what I meant and learned to instantly release when he heard that phrase.  He was becoming more respectful of me, but Eloise wasn't so lucky.  All her hisses and screeches were in vain, Max was still jumping on her and chasing her relentlessly.   I couldn't let it continue without reprieve, so I tried giving Max time-outs in the laundry room when it got to be too much.  He didn't get it.  I tried shouting at him, pulling him off her with a shake and a warning and even tapping his nose and saying no.  I’m sure he did get it, he just didn't care.  He was going to master that other cat or die in the attempt.

I Googled ways to handle aggressive cats but none of the suggestions worked.  I decided to use a technique that had always worked with my dogs – behaving like the Alpha dog.  Only in this case it would be the Alpha cat. That is, it would be an Alpha cat if cats actually were pack animals and had Alpha cats… Oh well, it was worth a try.

The next time the interaction grew to a fevered pitch, I flew into action.  I stomped over to where they were and hissed and spit with as much gusto as I could muster.  Max was surprised to say the least.  It stopped him dead.  Eloise escaped in a hurry but Max just sat there and looked at me with the funniest expression on his face.  Then he got up and chased after Eloise again.  I ran behind him, still stomping my feet and hissing and spitting like the best of them.  Max decided to flee and hide instead of pursuing Eloise and he stayed where he was hidden for an hour.  Hmmm maybe this technique would work!

For the next couple of weeks, I repeated my performance every time things got out of hand.  Max was beginning to understand that I meant business.  Eloise was comforted by the fact that I was rescuing her from this idiot kitten who wouldn't take no for an answer and all of us were beginning to enjoy some quiet time when we were together.

Around this time Max began demonstrating what I now refer to as "conductor" tail.  His tail was more expressive than his vocabulary.  When he was happy, his tail wafted gently from side to side.  When he was intent on something, it was held straight out behind him. When he was playing it was held in an upward curve.  When he wanted treats, it was held high in the air.  Then there was the I-don't-know-what-mood-I'm-in motion resembling a bouncing conductor's baton moving up and down and side to side while keeping tempo during a particularly complicated piece.  When he was being told off and/or picked up and set down somewhere he clearly did not want to be, it was flicked sharply up in the air.  Flicked once - he was hugely affronted by whatever indignity he was being subjected to.  Flicked twice - very succinctly giving me "the finger".   Yep, that's my Max.  

Since Max was being such a bully, he was still being locked up in the laundry room when I was at work.  Every time I opened that door, he would repeat his bat-out-of-hell race into the master bedroom to fight with the faux fur throw.  The funny thing was that even if Eloise was right by the door he would tear by her without a second glance.  Clearly he was learning to run off his energy on his own.

On day 14 of this I-Am-Alpha-Hear-Me-Hiss behaviour, I got a glimmer of things to come.  Max and Eloise actually knowingly slept together on the couch – and this time, they stuck it out for over an hour!

Wonder of wonders - everything might just work out okay after all!


If you missed the first three chapters, click HERE

Have a great week!


  1. Anne,
    This was a great chapter. So smart that you started to think like a cat and react to Max's agression like a alpha cat would. Sometimes we try to "humanize" our pets and they cannot understand that. What a cute pic of them slumbering together. Ahhhhh it is all good. Can't wait for chapter #5.
    Have a wonderful week end.

  2. Oh, the images I have in my mind of you hissing as Max!

  3. LMAO! Oh boy Anne, I have visions of you running around like a crazed woman thinking she's a cat! I'm glad it seems to be working for you... and Eloise... poor thing! I'm curious, did you try the squirt bottle technique on him? I've always heard that works wonders.


  4. Wow! You were clever handling the situation. I'm wondering if I should try & embody the alpha male (female?) in my own home. Maybe it's more difficult for me because they are all males and all were adults when they came to the Cottage and they had to fight to find a home... But there are also moments of peace...

  5. Hah! I had a feeling you'd master the problem. You have that never-give-up attitude required in an animal behavioral problem. Looking forward to the next chapter in The Max Chronicles. xo ~ Nancy

  6. And you can also say, I am woman hear me roar....along with the hisses and spit!!....Another great Max Chronicle...

  7. That's interesting that hissing at Max worked. Have you see Jackson Galaxy's Show My Cat From Hell? My daughter use to watch it on Netflix, but I don't think they carry it anymore. Anyway, she is so into cat behavior, and has read both his books. xoox Su

  8. LOVED this chapter Anne and I especially loved that last cute!!

  9. The chapters are getting better and better. You're alpha cat and I'm alpha dog. What we do for our fur babies


  10. I'm not only enjoying the MCs, but I'm actually learning more about cats and their behavior, which helps with getting to know my little guy better. Eloise's face in that first photo is priceless, as is the results from all your hard work evident in the last photo :)

  11. I really like your hissing behavior...and it's seemed to work! I'll have to try that with my darling! ;)

  12. I loved this chapter on the chronicles of Max, it has such a lovely ending too! Sarah x


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