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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24380
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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I got a cat from a man that mistreated it. I had her spayed,

Customer Question

I got a cat from a man that mistreated it. I had her spayed, she's an indoor cat. I have had her 2 years. she sees a cat outside and she goes crazy throwing herself against the window hissing and growling then she attacks me. she has viciously attacked me 4 times. the past 2 was this behavior has increased. it's not just when she sees cats but there are rabbits in the area she now reacts to
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

I have advanced training in feline behavior and can tell you that Poppy is demonstrating redirected aggression toward you. This occurs when the target of Poppy's aggression (you) is not the stimulus that triggered the state of aggressive arousal. Territorial, fear-induced and defensive aggression are the types of behaviors that are likely to be redirected by her. Stimuli that can cause an aggressive state of arousal include the sight or sound of another cat (at times quite far away from the home), unusual noises, odors of other animals, unfamiliar people, and unfamiliar environments. A common situation is one in which the pet becomes aroused upon seeing or hearing another cat while sitting in a window...as you're now aware of. When the owner attempts to pet it, pick it up, or nudge it away from the window, it attacks. It may show aggression toward another pet when approached in similar situations. Redirected aggression is a common cause of the sudden appearance of aggression between cats in the same household that have been living together amicably for quite some time. This type of aggression is probably the most dangerous type of aggression cats exhibit due to the uninhibited nature of the bites. Treatment involves identifying triggers for arousal and then removing the pet's access to the stimuli such as keeping window coverings closed which I understand isn't desirable in most instances. Medication can be beneficial for reducing Poppy's response to environmental stimuli - psychoactive drugs such as Prozac have been used. The most important thing that I can impart to you is to be careful around Poppy when she is aroused. Too many of my owners have ended up in the hospital due to infected bite wounds. One encouraging fact is that many of our cats will habituate to the arousing stimuli and "self-cure" within weeks to months.

This isn't a behavior I can train out of a cat. Owners have to learn to recognize when their cat is aroused and avoid them. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.
Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin