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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24471
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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Customer: , I have just returned from a 12 day holiday. My

Customer Question

Customer: Hi, I have just returned from a 12 day holiday. My 12 year old cat is growling and vicious towards me, and also when no-one else is there. Very uncharacteristic. I think this might be as my bedroom was closed and this is where he used to spend his time. He is currently on the stairs and will not let me pass. I am concerned he might be ill bus suspect he is angry with me for taking away his favourite spot while I was away. He was not left alone in the house, my mother was there but she is unable to get upstairs.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Anything else I can tell the Veterinarian before I connect you two?
Customer: His food was changed before I left, had tried him on it and seemed to like it. Also my son said there was another cat at the bottom of our garden, he was found growling near the cat flap so thought this might be the cause of his territorial behaviour but since he is lashing out at me, I am not so sure.
JA: I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and connect you two.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I have advanced training in feline behavior and can tell you that your 12 year old is most likely demonstrating redirected aggression towards you. The clue to this type of aggression is the history of another cat at the bottom of your garden. Redirected aggression occurs when the target of his 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 him. 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. 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. You may have to be quite the detective as stimuli can be imperceptible to owners. Medication can be beneficial for reducing his 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 him when he 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. Don't hesitate to keep him sequestered in a quiet, dimly lit room until his level of arousal abates - which can occur quite suddenly if that other cat leaves your area never to return. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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