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Update on Personality Change

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I surfed a lot yesterday and found several documents on the Internet that applied to my cat's personality change.
But I found -one- in particular that -has- to be the case with Woody.

But I have to say that I used some key words from the posts on this forum to help me. You guys have been great.

I plan to take Woody in for a 2nd opinion but right now I think I know what's happened with him.

Somehow, someway he was seriously traumatized. Whether it be poison, human abuse or another animal(s), doesn't really matter. I may never know.
But the key is now he seems to be stuck in a cycle of Feline Redirected Aggresssion. (for which I had NO clue about as far as a "syndrome") It seems as if Woody is still ancy about the thing that traumatized him and takes this aggression out on the closest thing to him. Namely me. (it's only me & him)

And, according to this article, it could take many weeks for my cat to fully pull out of it. This has been the confusing part to me.
But it is possible I think. Like I said...he is getting better....albeit slowly.
Good news...he didn't nail me last night. But I think that's because I'm learning when he's had enough and when I need to back off.

Anyway...read this article. It's a little technical but it's still very good. Any feedback will be welcome.


Feline Redirected Aggression

Niwako Ogata Japan

There are various types of aggressive behavior in cats as in dogs. One of the most difficult types of aggression for owners to understand is called “redirected aggression.†In this form of aggression, a cat generally attacks the closest object, often a family member or a cat in the same household, when it is frightened or excessively aroused by a stimulus that is inaccessible. The most common stimuli leading to redirected aggression are the presence of another cat, high-pitched noises, visitors in a house, a dog, an unusual odor, and being outdoors unexpectedly.(1) Although there may be some controversy as to whether redirected aggression is a motivation for aggression, (2) in wild or laboratory settings it is a well-recognized phenomenon and is considered a normal behavior.(1) Redirected aggression often breaks the bond between the aggressive cat and family members or other cats because they are not the direct cause of the problem and the wounds of the aggressive attack are often severe. Therefore, the key to preventing the destruction of the bond is to make an accurate diagnosis and to provide treatment advice based on the typical behavior and response of cats.

It is known that animals have specific responses to deal with threats: Flight, Fight, Freeze, and Appeasement.(3) Each species has different responses, but “Flight†takes priority over others in cats. When this response is obstructed, many cats panic or get so aroused that they lose control. This may be because they believe that they cannot escape from the threats. The cat then attacks the nearest object with piloerection and dilated pupils, which is called a panic response. By this time, the aggressor is highly aroused but not toward the original stimulus because the original cause is unavailable. The attack is surprising to the victims of the aggression since they appear to have been attacked for no apparent reason. In response, the victim fights back with defensive or fear aggression. It is important to know that the victim’s response turns redirected aggression into fear aggression between the aggressor and the owner or victim cat and may be accompanied by defecation, urination, or vocalization as physiological signs.

Generally speaking, the owner can usually identify the trigger for the fear-related aggression such as unfamiliar people or a physical exam by a veterinarian. However, there is another form of fear-related aggression that arises out of redirected aggression and its cause or trigger is a family member or a cat. Since there is no obvious reason for the aggression, this is very confusing to the owners. Because of this lack of understanding, most owners, unfortunately, try to give a treat or pet the cat to calm its aggression. Some owners still believe a cat is similar to a small dog and try to apply the same treatments, such as physical or verbal reprimands or the use of a water gun. These techniques further provoke the fear response of the cat and are not recommended.(4)

The following three points are common factors in redirected aggression:

1. It can take a long period, even a few months, to recover its composure. The stronger the trigger for a level of arousal or stimulus, the longer it takes to recover.

2. If a cat keeps living in the same environment as the location of the event, the tension stays at the same level and the threshold for fear and arousal will be lowered. As a result, the trigger may be likely to be generalized to anything in the environment.

3. Repeated exposure to the stimulus, which provokes the emotional response, consciously or unconsciously, reinforces the panic response and its prognosis becomes poor.

Considering these points, the treatment will be to:

1. First of all, ensure enough security for family members by confining or isolating the cat, because its threshold for fear and aggression is low.

2. Provide consistent desensitization and counter conditioning to the original trigger (if it can be identified) and to the environment of the event and or the triggers of the secondary fear response.

3. Use antianxiety drugs (e.g., Clomipramne, Amitriptyline, Buspirone, Fluoxetine) if it is possible to medicate the cat. However, it is generally more difficult to medicate an aggressive nervous cat.(5)

Treatment of redirected aggression is difficult because the stimulus for the aggression is unavailable and most owners do not have appropriate information about feline normal behavior. To prevent disruption of the cat and owner bond, it is important for veterinarians to advise the owners about normal feline behavior and how to deal with redirected aggression.
post #2 of 7
I would still suggest you try the flower remedies from Bach before conventional medicines. Organix.com has a good selection of the essences and knowledgable people to guide you.

I had an instance here a few years ago where a sicko got a hold of one of my ferals and with a scalpel slit her from belly to rectum! Thankfully the perv only penetrated the fat wall. But after that episode, and her recovery, this cat was never the same with us again. It is sad that there are evil people in the world who delight in tormenting such creatures, and we never did find out who did it. But yes, it changes them, makes them passive aggressive and really is hard to work with them.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you Hissy for telling me about that. So you've been through something similar... This is my 1st time.
That's interesting.
Was your cat aggressive after that...or just different?

Man...people are so evil. It makes me crazy. Is your cat alright now?

To be honest, I'm not sure if it's something that someone did to him...although it could be. Heaven help that person if I catch them though.
But rather, I think it was something he ate. He's always playing around "Monkey Grass" (not sure of the technical name) in our yard. From what I read this plant, it can be toxic to cats.
Plus...when he threw up...it was a -very- strange smell. Almost plant like...but a strong plantlike smell.

As before...the Vet found nothing wrong with him physically, so I don't think he was beat around by someone or anything like that. But it could've been dogs I guess....whatever.

It's really ok with Woody. If I can understand what's actually going on with him...I can deal with it.

Thanks again.
post #4 of 7
Sadly we lost her this year. Yes, she was very aggressive after this happened to her. Not only with us, but with all the other cats that she was so used to. We just ended up not petting her anymore, and giving her the space she needed. But it was a 180 change in her behavior and it was a lasting one.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Wow...thanks for sharing that. I had to have my cat of 9 years put to sleep about 3 years ago. It was gut wrenching for me. I never want that to happen again. He had cancer as a result of a vaccination. Very weird. The vet said that one in 10,000 get it.

But then...you pays your money and you takes your chances. I just like cats too much not to have one around.

I think Woody will eventually be alright...but he may not totally get his personality back. That's ok. If I understand...I can deal...
Just so he's not being a 'mean animal' or something...

I see him in the corner the last few days laying on the rug and "mixing bread" (on the rug). So, he looks content when he's alone. It's just when I try to love on him that it makes the difference. The article talked about cats being "overstimulated" and unable to handle the input. This seems to be the only explaination I have for the whole thing. But it seems to fit...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. tc..
post #6 of 7
You didn't say whether you ever read this thread about stopping aggression. As I mentioned in your other thread, at the bottom of the aggression thread you will find a section on how to stop the kind of aggression you are describing. It would be worth your while to read this if you have not already.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Yes I did read that post. It was very helpful and I used some keywords to help me find more information about this problem.

Thank you a lot!
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