Chavvy Cat Foster Carer Claims Cat has a Severe Personality Disorder but Does He?

This is the story of a domestic cat called Bradley who is said to have a severe personality disorder by her chavvy former foster carer because does not like to be locked up and neither, apparently, does he like people although that is in question judging by what I have gathered from an article written on the Daily Mail website.

Note: People should hesitate before diagnosing domestic cats with human mental conditions. Ninety-nine per cent of the time it won’t be a mental condition but a personality trait being expressed under certain environmental conditions that the cat dislikes or finds difficult.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

This is an interesting case. We are told that Bradley, a male ginger rescue cat, does not like people or being locked up and that he has a “split personality” – a Jekyll and Hyde character. When he is locked up he tries to escape. Sometimes when he is stroked he doesn’t like it and apparently he has scratched his owner. Because of this behaviour he has been branded a cat with a “severe personality disorder”.

“He is just like Jekyll and Hyde – one moment he will let me stroke him but the next moment he will just go for me with no warning.” (Zoe Whittaker) – comment: this is not strange cat behavior. Often stroking can lead to play activity in the cat which then leads to play aggression and then stronger aggression wound up by the human caretaker.

“Bradley is a lunatic cat – he is a complete one off and really does have special talents. He’s a right character….When I first picked him up I realised straight away he was one of those cats who didn’t like being stroked.” (Mr Richards who runs a cat charity)

Do you see the problem? They have tried to stroke him. Not all cats like this. Some dislike it more than others. Does this make him ‘mad’.

I don’t know exactly what happened in this household but it can be stated with some certainty that this cat has not got a severe personality disorder. He’s got a mind of his own. He might not like people that much. He might be quite wild in his character. He might distrust people and be anxious. He might prefer to live on a farm. But all these things bundled together do not mean that he has a severe personality disorder. It just means that he has a character of his own which may be difficult for humans to cope with. It just means that he likes certain things and dislikes other things and what he dislikes are what cats typically dislike.

Bradley is a rescue cat. He may have had a bad past during which he learned, perhaps, to distrust people. However, when he was at the veterinarian’s clinic he behaved impeccably and he allowed the people there to stroke him. Therefore he cannot dislike all people all of the time. This indicates that he has been living in the wrong households with the wrong people.

The person who agreed to foster him from a rescue centre (Friends of the cats in Accrington, Lancashire) was 41-year-old mother of four Zoe Whittaker. I hate to say this but I will say it anyway. Look at the picture below of her hands and look at her nails.

Ms Whittaker's scratched hands
Ms Whittaker’s slightly scratched hands

scratched hands

When I see nails like that I see a person who is unlikely to be thoughtful. Sorry to say that but that is just my opinion. They are indicative of the person’s character: chavvy. Am I being snooty and prejudiced?

In addition there are four children living in this home and Zoe is a single mum. You get the picture. This environment is far from ideal for a cat. Perhaps there was lots of noise and mishandling of Bradley. I don’t know but I think it is fair to make that suggestion. If I am correct it is unsurprising that Bradley was behaving in a way which indicates that he was anxious and defensive.


Zoe Whittaker decided to give Bradley back after he attacked her and caused damage to a carpet in the living room. I don’t know how or why the carpet was damaged. But I do know, according to the report on the Daily Mail website, that she put Bradley in a bedroom with the door firmly shut and he managed to escape by jumping up and pulling down the door handle. Well, Zoe locked him in the bedroom! It doesn’t surprise me that he wanted to get out. He had the intelligence to actually do it.

Bradley does not like being cooped up in either a room or in a cat carrier. The fact of the matter is that no cat likes to be cooped up like this. All domestic cats that I know dislike being in a cat carrier. Most often they remain passive but sometimes they try and escape. This is normal behaviour. It is not the behaviour of a cat with a split personality. Neither is it the behaviour of a cat who is deranged and vicious as described in the Daily Mail article.

When a person is bitten or scratched (and I have said this before on numerous occasions) it is normally because the person has mishandled that particular individual cat. Sometimes you have to handle a cat quite roughly under certain exceptional circumstances but usually in a home you learn to handle a cat in a way which the cat finds acceptable. It is the duty of the cat owner to learn what his/her cat finds acceptable by way of handling. A cat owner cannot presume that their cat would like to be handled or like to sit on their lap et cetera. While the person is learning what their cat’s likes the person has to be extremely sensitive and patient towards their cat and avoid forcing any issues or forcing the cat to do something that he/she might find uncomfortable.

Obviously Bradley isn’t the easiest domestic cat to deal with or to live with but I strongly feel that all the aggravation could have been avoided with a different approach from the people involved. And it is unfair and unwise to brand him a cat with a severe personality disorder.

You can read the full, verbose, over-engineered and misleading story here.

7 thoughts on “Chavvy Cat Foster Carer Claims Cat has a Severe Personality Disorder but Does He?”

  1. What a cute guy Bradley is!! I am partial to orange cats! No personality disorder!! Just a mismatch!! For whatever reason, the rescue did not match the foster to the cat. That’s quite important if you want to happy cat to adopt out to the family. Being the rescue myself I would never adopt a cat out to a family where the fit was not almost perfect. I would never do the same in a foster situation. That said, rescues are often desperate for fosters and I imagine that’s what happened here. Someone did not do their due diligence. And the ultimate mistake wasn’t blaming the cat instead of the human error. Anyway, Bradley was returned. And hopefully it was ASAP. I just hope no one continues to blame the cat and that there is a happy outcome for him!! I love you Bradley! You are a good boy!

    • Oops, my bad… did not correct my voice-to-text typos well!! I’ll leave the unimportant ones but correct: …mistake was in blaming the cat….

  2. I think you all have some logical advice and discerning analogies about Bradley’s situation within this family A new owner should have been more interested in learning everything they could find out , past history and any health issues before agreeing to take in a new pet. It is clear he was thrown into an environment and expected to blend in without any regard for his personal well being. Most rescue animals need a patient and caring individual who will earn the cats trust and respect their character traits, likes/dislikes and personal limitations. We as humans assume that this type of acceptance should come automatically, without question?
    Bradley seems sweet and innocent from my viewpoint. He does not trust people for a good reason.
    Remember_he opened that door to escape and although he is an exceptionally smart cat, he cannot be asked to give something he never had for himself. _Love_Respect_Trust_Tolerance_Security_Loyalty_Patience_Tenderness_ etc…


  3. I agree. I don’t think any cat likes being locked up in a room, in fact my previous cat didn’t like closed doors inside my home, even if she wasn’t locked up. If the basement door was closed, she’d meow until I open. Then she didn’t bother going in. Eventually, she learned to open doors by putting her paws under it and pulling.

    Neither my previous cat nor my current two like being picked up. They’d just meow (or rather scream) until I let them down. My previous cat scratched me when she was young, my current ones are sweethearts. Only one of the three is a lap cat. Actually people who are complaining that their cat isn’t a lap cat don’t understand that lap cats sit on your laps when they want to not when you want them to. When they want to is usually 3 minutes before you want to go to eat or to the bathroom or when you are in the middle of something.

    When my previous cat was young the amount of petting she tolerated was very limited. She mellowed down a lot as she got older. Sometimes their skin is just sensitive or there is static or something. The trick is to read the signs and stop before they get annoyed. Masha used to give many signs she’s had enough. Later I trained her to meow instead of scratch me if I missed her signs – I did it by not stopping petting right away if she scratched me, but stopping immediately if she meowed. Otherwise, they get a message that scratching stops unwanted behavior and it reinforces the impulse to scratch.

    About this lady’s fingernails. I wonder if to a cat they look like extended claws and very large claws at that. So when she tries to pet a cat, it might look to the cat like she is making a movement to attack.

    I have to say that occasionally cats do have mental issues e.g. feline hyperesthesia or a brain tumor.

    • Thanks for a excellent comment Kitty. I like the thought about her nails being potential problem for Bradley. I agree that sometimes cats can have personality problems but the more obvious cause in this instance is the cat’s character combined with the environment in which he lives.

  4. Yes, I agree micheal. Sometimes cats just want to be left alone.
    I never pet (stroke) a cat that doesn’t want to be touched. That’s something I’m able to sense almost instantly. I like to respect my cats likes and dis-likes.And not to mention those nails ! Yikes ! Also, I would imagine Bradley doesn’t live in a quiet and calm household.
    I would like to say how I really feel about that, but I don’t want to insult anybody with children.
    If I was Bradley, I wouldn’t be to happy either.

    • Pleased you have similar thoughts to me, Kevin. My impression (which I rely on) is that the foster carer was just unsuitable and Bradley is a bit difficult but does not have a personality disorder. I deliberately chose a slightly provocative title. I have to really.


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