Aggressive Cat Behavior – My Inside Edition Interview
How I Would Have Handled Toulouse
Not too long ago, I received an urgent call from the producers of Inside Edition, wanting my opinion about a viral cat video. To be more specific, a video was taken of a “nasty cat” who had trapped his cat/house sitter inside of a bathroom.
Video Courtesy of Inside Edition
If you listen to my advice given on the show, I would hope any reasonably intelligent person would know that what I said was taken out of context, and was part of a much larger conversation and analysis of the situation.
Did I mean to say that the person should just plop down on the floor and make himself vulnerable to an angry cat that may well lash out with teeth and claws? Of course not! That comment was just one part of a series of actions I suggested that would 1) defuse the situation, 2) allow the guy to escape the bathroom unharmed, and 3) make peace with Toulouse so this situation would not happen again.
Here is how I would suggest handling a situation such as this. Remember, as a cat behaviorist, and owner of Just For Cats Pet Sitting, I have been in this situation more than a few times.
1. To get out of the immediate situation of being trapped by a snarling kitty, toss a toy, some treats, anything that will distract the cat’s attention elsewhere. If that does not work, sit or stand quietly until kitty gets the message that you are not a threat. He will eventually walk away.2. Once the kitty walks away from the situation, you need to walk slowly away from the space where he had you trapped. Any sudden movements will get his “fight or flight” instinct going again.3. To win kitty’s trust, don’t try to approach or touch him at all. Sit quietly, read a book or watch television. Let him observe you from a safe vantage point. If he has a cat tree, mostly likely he will be hanging out there to watch what you do.4. Talk softly, read aloud, or sing to get the cat used to your voice and your presence.5. Start to sit on the floor, a good distance from the cat but near enough, and offer him something he cannot resist. Some chicken, a treat, something special that he gets no other time than when you decide to give it. At first you may need to put it down and sit far back before he will come and eat it. But he will slowly get braver and less afraid of you each time, and you may even get a nudge for pets, eventually. You will be slowly gaining his trust.
So, does following these step assure that you and the “Cat from Hell” will become lifelong buddies? Maybe. If this is a cat you’ve recently adopted, that would be the ultimate goal, and there are other methods that would go hand-and-hand with these steps to accomplish establishing a bond. But if you are visiting a friend who has an aggressive cat, or cat sitting for someone who has such a cat, your goal is to be able to be in the same room with this cat, without fear of aggression.
Remember, aggression is usually born of fear. It is highly likely that cats of who act this way, and whom do not have neurological issues, have had trauma in their lives. Usually, these cats will become bonded to only one person, and will continue to feel threatened by others.
I believe that is the case here with Mr. Toulouse.
No situation is impossible; it just takes patience, a willingness to understanding the cat’s point of view, and a calm, thoughtful demeanor to turn an attack cat into an attract cat…
Avoid these cat hazards to keep your holidays happy!
The holidays are upon us again, and in all the excitement and rushing around we sometimes forget about our furry companions. Decorations, holiday preparations, and parties might be fun, but they can create dangers and stress for both you and your cat.Please consider the following as you prepare for the festivities, so you and your cat and have a peaceful and happy holiday:
Holiday decorations with glue and glitter may attract your cat, but can cause harm if eaten. Hang those high on your tree or mantle, or better yet avoid them altogether.
If you put up a tree, your cat may decide to try to climb it. Also, watch those low hanging ornaments; noses and tails can knock them over and your cat may get hurt on the broken pieces.
Wrapping your packages with ribbons and string may be irresistible to kitty if she decides to chew on them. These items can get twisted inside your cat’s intestines if swallowed, and that could prove fatal.
Poinsettia plants are among the most toxic of plants for cats and can be fatal if eaten. Skip them if you have a cat, or you may end up with a very sick kitty and a vet bill you didn’t count on.
Be careful using candles! Noses and tails could get burned if your cat decides to get too close!
If you have a party, it might be a good idea to put your cat in a separate room with a cozy bed, his favorite treats, and maybe some soothing music. Put a “do not enter” sign on the door. The sight of a house full of strangers can panic a cat, and all the opening and closing of your front door could also give your cat ample opportunity to escape into the night. One of our clients at Cats 90210 LA Cat Sitting hires us to stay with his kitty and keep her company in a separate room whenever he gives a party.
Also, don’t forget to make time to give your cat playtime and lots of love. In the busyness of the season, it’s easy for your cat to get neglected. Do remember to give your kitty a gift! A special toy or treat will make your kitty feel like she is part of the celebration.
The love she gives you all year long is worth these simple steps to ensure your cat remains a healthy and happy part of your family.
If you are asking that question, then he probably is.
As owner of a pet sitting company that visits only cats, I am often asked questions about cats and their health needs. The number one question I hear all the time from both clients and friends alike is “Does my cat need to see the vet?”
My first response is always YES! No one knows your cat better than you do, so if that question is even crossing your mind, then you already suspect something is wrong.
Sometimes it’s a subtle shift in behavior that perhaps someone who doesn’t know your cat well would not even notice. One reason we assign one primary cat sitter to each of our clients at Just For Cats Pet Sitting is so they get to know your cats well enough to notice these subtle signs.
But sometimes things are more obvious. Here are some tell-tale signs that your cat is in need of medical attention:
Decreased Appetite is the number one sign that something is wrong. If your cat is not eating or drinking, this can be a sign that your cat is ill, and this should not be taken lightly. Just 3 days without food could result in Fatty Liver Disease, which is very serious and often fatal.
Lethargy is another sign something is going on that could be a medical problem, such as Urinary Blockages or Anemia.
Urination Outside The Box could be a behavior issue but it also could indicate a medical issue, like the ones mentioned above. Before soliciting the assistance of a Cat Behavorist, be sure to rule out any organic causes first. Also please refer to my Behavior Blog, where I wrote an article about Litter Box Avoidance and tips to keep your kitty “going” inside the box.
I cannot stress enough: If you think something is wrong, you are probably right! A check up with your veterinarian will give you both peace of mind.
Adopting a kitten is a happy and exciting time. You’ve found just the perfect little bundle of fluff and now you are preparing to bring him home. Especially for the first-time kitty parent, knowing what to expect from your kitten’s first days in your home will help you better prepare for his arrival.Give Kitty Time to Adjust. Once you get your new kitten home, he may feel overwhelmed and scared, and he may try to hide under a bed where you can’t interact with him. After all, he’s just been taken from what is probably the only home he’s ever known. He doesn’t know you or this new environment. It’s best to start him off in a small room, such as a bathroom, where you can visit with him in a quiet place and he can’t hide away. Bring some toys and treats, talk in soothing tones, and let him adjust to his surroundings and begin to feel comfortable with you before you let him explore the whole house. This could take just a few hours or several days.
Prepare A Quiet Place. Put his litter box and food in a quiet place where your kitten will be undisturbed and that he can get to easily. Putting the litter box near Fido’s dog bed is probably not an ideal set up. Be sure to keep the food and litter separated; cats do not like to eat near their litter boxes.
Kitten-Proof Your House. Many hazards lurk in your home, especially for curious kittens. Get down on his level and take a good look around. Make sure there are no buttons, twist ties, or anything else lying around that he may decide to eat. Keep strings and ribbons put away too, as ingesting these items could cause serious health problems or could prove fatal. Keep in mind that kittens are extremely high-energy, and will play with whatever they can reach. Put breakable knick knacks up high to prevent breakage. Likewise put your plants in a place that’s out of reach, too. Some plants are toxic to cats, and he may decide to have a taste!
Two are Better. When it comes to kittens, two are better than one, and will be easier for you, too. Kittens are bundles of boundless energy, and having a buddy to play with will keep your kittens well adjusted. As your kittens get older, those cute little play nips won’t feel so cute to you. Having a kitten buddy to rough house with will enable them to use those natural play behaviors on one another instead of on your hands and feet. Also if you work outside the home, your kittens will be much happier with a friend to spend the day with instead of being at home all day alone.
One last tip: be sure to spoil your new kittens with plenty of love and affection, and they will become your happy little companions for life.
More and more often, I find myself standing in line waiting to use my sink, my tub, and sometimes even for my water glass.I live with three older cats who are all water obsessed.
Oh you thought cats and water were mortal enemies, right?
Wrong! Especially as cats grow older, they become more and more fixated on water, especially (but not exclusively) running water. If you find yourself constantly turning on the faucet even though your cat has full bowls of water, it can be a little annoying unless you understand just what is going on with your water obsessed cat.
Reasons for the Water Obsessed Cat
Mostly it’s older cats who get extremely and stubbornly fixated with water to the point of annoyance, although younger ones certainly can and do enjoy a good splash. In this article, I am really addressing the issue of cats who will lay by, or even in, the sink, tub, or water bowl for hours on end. They often cry for you to turn on the faucet 23 hours day and won’t let you alone until you do it. They are relentlessly fixated, and nothing you do deters them from what they want most.Unfortunately, there can be medical issues contributing to the behavior of your water obsessed cat:
Urinary Tract Infections
A visit with your veterinarian is in order to rule out these or other medical reasons for your cat’s keen interest in water, especially because these diseases can seriously affect your cat’s longevity and quality of life if left untreated.
As I mentioned, I have three cats who are water obsessed. My Trouble, pictured above at the sink, screams all the time for me to turn on the water for him. I cannot wash dishes without him rushing for the faucet the moment he hears me turn it on. While he has not been diagnosed with it, at age 15 he is approaching that age when Kidney Disease often sets it. His numbers are fine right now, but I can tell he is headed for it soon. Sweet Pea, directly above, is Trouble’s sister. For her, it’s Hyperthyroidism that has her laying down in her water bowl, even though she is on medication for it. Sadly, at age 18 my Sebastian (below) is now in full blown Kidney Failure, and he too is obsessed with water.
Accomodating the Water Obsessed Cat
Now that you have ruled out, or ruled in, medical reasons for your cat’s focus on water, there are some things you can do to make life easier.
Offer a Pet Fountain: Cats in the wild never drink from still water, they look for fresh running streams and other moving sources of water. You may even notice your cat pawing at the water to make it move. Offering your cat a pet fountain that simulates running water will satisfy this natural instinct. The fountain will also encourage your cat to drink more often, even if he is not a water obsessed cat. My cats love the Pioneer Stainless Steel Raindrop Fountain. Also offer a large water bowl, like my Sebastian is using here. He may want to stir it with his paw.
Add Water to Wet Food: This is a good strategy to get more water into your cat’s diet, whether or not he needs it for one of the medical reasons listed above. Many cats do not get enough water into their diets, and this can lead to kidney stones and urinary blockages. A totally dry food diet can also contribute to these issues.
Give Milk Replacements: While a cat should never be offered cows milk because cats are lactose intolerant, cat milk replacements can be given to get more liquid into your cat’s diet. Cat Sure Liquid Nutrition is great for the older cat. It will give him a nutritious liquid supplement that also adds additional hydration to his diet.
If you do all of the above and your cat still prefers your faucet, you might just have to give in and learn to live with it. After all, I’m sure you love your water obsessed cat just as much as I love all 3 of mine. I gladly share my sink, my tub, and even my glass of water with all three of my water obsessed cats.