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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28505
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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4yr old cat,male goes through house growling wagging tail

Customer Question

4yr old cat,male goes through house growling wagging tail randomly mornng, evening. He had a run in 3mos back with a skunk. Is he just practicing a new skill to be ready next time. There are no other pets in household. He does catch birds and presents them to us, 4 a week. Is it possible that growling is from tummy ache. Feathers. He does have long hair, however no fur balls.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I have advanced training in feline behavior and would identify Smokey's behavior as a response to his territory being invaded by another cat or animal. That animal can be quite far away from your home. Smokey's ultra-sensitive nose can detect pheromones - chemical substances secreted by other animals - which signal the presence of them. Be careful when approaching or handling him when he's aroused. Redirected aggression is relatively common in cats. Here's a synopsis of this behavior for you:

This occurs when the target of Smokey's aggression (you, for example) is not the stimulus that triggered the state of aggressive arousal (another animal). 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 Smokey'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 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.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.