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Immediate Help Needed!

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
We have 7 indoor cats that all get along very well. Tonight Tinkles lost his mind and starting attacking everyone like he was going to kill them. When I went to pull him off whoever he was attacking he totally shredded my arm and I have some very deep bite puncture wounds I have to go to the doctor for tomorrow.

I locked Tinkles in the bathroom. Let him out after 10 minutes and he lost it on the other cats again. So he is back in the bathroom again.

I called my emergency vet (it is 1 am here she wasn't very happy) and told her the situation and all she suggested was that I keep Tinkles up in the bathroom overnight ... I need help, PLEASE...will explain more in my next post...
post #2 of 35
Keep him confined and away from the other cats and humans he may harm for now to see if he calms down on his own. You will of course need to get him in to the vet immediately to make sure he is OK, but I wouldn't attempt trying to catch him until you are confident you can handle him safely.

Do you have any novasan or neosporin in the house? If so, wash those punctures really well with antibacterial soap and as hot a temperature of water as you can reasonably stand. Take the novasan or neosporin and literally plug it into the holes - it will hurt and it won't be pleasant, but you will begin a process sooner than the doctor will tomorrow.
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 
Tinkles has always been the top cat in our household, but he has never outright attacked anyone like this before.

This all started a few nights ago. Peter and I have been feeding a group of about 6 feral cats on our porch, and Peter insists upon leaving the door open with just the screen door open because he wants air. Well a few nights ago when Tinkles first went crazy we *think* it was because one of the male cats outside was standing up looking in the screen door. Tinkles immediately started the yowling and attacked any of our cats who was closest.

Then this hasn't happened again until tonight, and I know it erupted at the screen door.

I do not understand this behaviour. Does Tinkles feel threatened by the feral cats? If he does why does he feel the need to attack the cats he has lived happily with for the past 3 years?
post #4 of 35
His sense of place in the heirarchy is gone. The ferals on the porch have given him reason to believe he must now defend his place as alpha even though the residents are not the ones threatening him.
post #5 of 35
Thread Starter 
I mean I am seriously worried about Tinkles. When I got him in the bathroom I sat with him in there and his heart was racing and his pupils were fully dilated (but reactive, I checked with a flashlight) and he was panting and breathing through his mouth.

I am hoping this is just a behaviour issue because of the outdoor cats. We think one of the feral males is spraying near the screen door, as our cats have been peeing in front of the door on the inside, could this have set him off?

I hate to think this is some neurological disorder or something, if it is just caused by the feral cats we can feed them elsewhere and I can put my foot down on not leaving the door open to "get some air".

I am just so worried because the first time he did this a few nights ago we let him out of the bathroom after 10 minutes and he was fine. Tonight he was not...

I am really very scared...
post #6 of 35
Also I would bet you have cat pee sprayed outside on the walls of your home. There are blacklight flashlights you can purchase, I would suggest you get one and check it out. When you see the stains use www.urine-off.com to get rid of the stains, it will work no matter how old the stains are.
post #7 of 35
Ok, lamb, just breathe. He is in the bathroom now, right? Is the light on or off? If on, go ahead and leave it, but if you can get in there safely and feel comfortable doing it, turn it off. Just leave him in there until YOU regroup.

I know well the look you are describing. But he is just trying to defend you, his people, the other cats and his territory all at the same time. He has to be feeling rather ferocious. Just let him calm down in there for now.

It might be best if you didn't feed the ferals up close to the house if this is going to set him off and I agree that's what it sounds like. Take their gear away from the house and away from windows or doors that your boy could see/hear them. He will still know they are there because he will smell them, but if he can't see them, it might not upset him quite so badly.
post #8 of 35
Thread Starter 
Yeah he is in the bathroom with the light off. I was just sitting in there with him petting him and he was purring. I let one of our other cats sniff him through the door with me holding it barely cracked and he was just fine. He is acting normal now, I even put a bowl of food in there and he ate some. I put a cat bed in there and he is lying in it now peacefully.
post #9 of 35
OK good - get a litter box in there for him too unless you want a mess. But let him stay in there overnight, just in case. Don't let him out with the other cats unless you can sit up and supervise. Do you have any Feliway or other calming agent there, Rescue Remedy or Clomicalm? Anything? Soft music and dim light is good if you can muster that up in the bathroom ...
post #10 of 35
Just let him decompress- now is it possible that a cat actually got into the house without you knowing it? You would be surprised, we had a little black cat sneak in one day in our cat door and hide upstairs in a cupboard. My cats went ballistic and we couldn't figure it out at all until the cat got spotted-
post #11 of 35
Thread Starter 
This is the damage. One of the bites is up on my palm near a joint and that is the deepest one, I felt his tooth tear into my flesh pretty deeply, and that was from his broken front upper canine that is very very sharp. Some more bites and scratches on my arm too. Also got a scratch on my foot when trying to pull him off Grayson.

This is just not Tinkles, he is a peaceful cat!!!

So do I try to let him out tonight? Or wait until morning? Or take him from the bathroom straight to the vets in the morning? The vet on call said they could just do a basic checkup, they do not have a CTscanner or anything there...
post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 
Got a litter box in the bathtub, food bowl and water bowl near the door, and a cat bed and a towel spread out in there for him...

I don't think another cat got inside, but I have seen them stand up and look inside the screen door...
post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 
Look at the damage (can't remember how to post pictures)


The worst bite I told you about I have a band aid over, but it is turning purple around it from bruising already.
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
It is 2 am here but I am wide awake. I am fully capable of staying up for another few hours. I want to let Tinkles back out because I hate to have him locked in the bathroom, but if he is going to freak again I don't really want to put my other cats through that again, not to mention get my arms shredded again...

On the other hand he seems perfectly happy in the bathroom, lying cozily in the bed, not digging at the door or meowing to get out...
post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 
We let Grayson (Tink's best friend) in the bathroom with Tink and Tink is being very sweet and licking Grayson's face and they are both purring...so this is good...

OK so I am really thinking this is just because of the feral cats and I don't need to get him a CT of his head...

Do you guys still think I need to take him to the vet in the morning? I mean all they are going to do is listen to his heart and lungs...
post #16 of 35
This doesn't sound like a neurological problem - it sounds like a hierarchy issue. Get the ferals away from the house and keep them away. Watch Tink around the other cats closely and if you see any aggressive posturing, then immediately separate and confine. You might also want to clean around your windows and doors tomorrow. Also, it will help to get the feral males neutered as soon as you can.
post #17 of 35
Thread Starter 
Thank you SO MUCH for consoling me, gayef & hissy.

Tinkles is laying on his back in the middle of the living room floor right now and all the other cats except Cleo are back to normal with him.

Cleo was the first one he terrorized tonight, and she is still very upset by it. She won't get within 4 feet of Tink.

Peter and I will stay up with the cats for another 1/2 hour or so just to make sure everything stays cool. If this EVER happens again I will put on the oven mitts before trying to separate a cat fight!

We went outside with a flashlight and sprayed nature's miracle around the doors and windows. Will scrub everything tomorrow. We already moved the feral cat food away from the windows where our cats can not see them

What a nightmare, that really scared me so bad. I was worried about Tink really hurting our other cats, and worried he was going to have a heart attack he was so stressed.

Everything seems OK for now.

Thanks again for everything, really you guys...

post #18 of 35
Update us, Sarah, OK?
post #19 of 35
Thread Starter 
Of course...

I am pretty positive it is a dominance issue. When we got Tink he was a stray adult intact male, our vet at the time guessed he was 3 or 4 years old. So when we took him in we got him neutered, but a lot of his BOSS CAT attitude has stayed with him. He is so mellow and self confident usually that these episodes really bothered me.

Right now everyone is sitting in the living room, with one eye on Tink. Nobody seems to know what happened.


Great as I wrote that he got Grayson cornered under our bed and started the yowling thing again. I threw a towel over Tink and picked him up and tossed him in the bathroom without him shredding me this time...

Looks like Tink is spending the night in the bathroom after all.

We will try this again in the morning, in the meantime I have got to get some sleep.

post #20 of 35
Yes, please keep the cats separated for everyone's safety. I would finish cleaning everything to get rid of the stray's sprays before letting Tink out to mix with the other cats. He might calm down in the bathroom but he will get re-agitated because you aren't done cleaning yet.

I don't think any vet visits are needed unless a cat is physically hurt. Please take care of your own injuries -- they look pretty nasty.

Here is a random story about Nano...keep in mind she is a 6-8 spayed cat! Our neighbor has unspayed indoor cats and they can be heard a block away. Anyway, when these girls get in heat we gets lots of visitors and there is a ruckus. I am not sure what happened, but about a month ago something REALLY agitated Nano and she charged across the living at full speed and crashed head-first into the door. Then she hissed, she screamed in aggression, she tore at the door, broke off the kick-panel and ripped up the carpet right in front of the door. This went on for five minutes, continuing with the hissing and these angry screams I'd never heard before. Now remember she was inside a locked door and reacted this way to unseen adversary on the outside. If she would have got out, there would have been one helluva fight. Anyway, it was some sort of a territory problem.

Hopefully for you it is just a matter of cleaning up and allowing a little time for things to get back to normal. Good luck!
post #21 of 35
Oh Sarah I'm so sorry you're having all this trouble!! And I can sympathize with you on the bites - I'm still on Augmentin for my run-in w/my feral girl on Monday, and I narrowly avoided surgery. (she got my R index finger, on the first joint.)

Sending lots of "You STILL da man" vibes to Tinkles, and calming vibes to YOU. Glad MA and gayef were here to help you, and I hope you got some rest before you read this!
post #22 of 35
Poor guy! Glad you moved the feral cats stuff away from there. He should feel a little better now.
post #23 of 35
Hi Sarah,

I just found this thread. You have my complete sympathy with this as I underwent a very similar situation mid January. What you are experiencing is called 'Re-directed aggression".

Tink, who is a dominant cat, was threatened by one of the ferals -probably the feral tom sprayed the screen - and Tink's instincts kicked in. He couldn't get the outside cat, but because he was so instinctually 'hyped' up he ended up attacking the first thing he saw - one of the other cats. He was not able to differentiate between the threatening situation and the friendly cats he lives with. I am sorry to say that it may be a while before you are going to be back to inside harmony.

It is now April 1 and I am still having to be watchful to keep harmony in my house. I have 5 cats and mid-January a neighbour cat jumped at the back door window during the middle of the night. 3 of my cats were there meowing at my closed bedroom door (because they were wanting to play and not sleep) and one of them - the dominant male- got caught in the corner when one of the youngest males' instincts took over.

Like you, I ended up picking up one of the cats to get him away from the attack, and the main attacker then climbed over me to get to the first cat. Get to a doctor and get some antibiotics, especially for the main bite wound on your hand. Bring your rabies certificates for the cats with you to your doctor to prove that rabies is not an issue and he will probably not have to file a 'bite' report.

You will need to plan on setting up a sanctuary area where you can either separate Tink or Cleo. You will probably need to keep Tink or Cleo separated for some of the day or night each and every day for a while so it is best if you have a space other than the bathroom. The 'time outs' are important because they will allow the cats to restore their 'balance'. Their emotions are going to be heightened for a few days no matter what. The whole inside balance has been disrupted and all of the cats are going to be confused about what is what. You and/or Peter need to become the alpha cat now and reassure them that order will prevail.

Some of the things I did that helped. Get the Feliway air diffuser. It will make your cats feel more relaxed - that doesn't necessarily mean more calm, though, because they will have a lot of pent up stress and the difusser initially may make them very playful - they will run and play. Supervise them at this time and be prepared to interrupt any play. You may wish to keep Tink separate from the others and play with him until he 'wears out' a bit, then once he is calm let him out with the others, again supervised. Have small blankets or throws throughout the house so you can pick one up at a momen'ts notice and throw it over him, or over any other cat with whom he gets into a dispute.

Do talk with you vet. If you are not able to restore harmonious relations, you may need medical intervention. I have amitriptylene - a type of mood enhancing anti-depressent - prescribed by my vet. Fortunately, things were beginning to improve so I haven't used it yet, but it may be a necessary component combined with behaviour modification.

I have also used a variety of homeopathic remedies, flower essences and soft music to try and counteract any aggressive tendencies. Time outs have been the most successful thing - it allows the cats to forget the danger and remember the 'good' things. You want to prevent any incipient aggression from happening again - and I am sorry to say that Tink will still be 'wired' and in aggression mode for a while yet - so be prepared. He is not crazy; he is not mean; he isn't even vicious - he is just being a cat reacting to his instincts.

There are three excellent books I suggest you get. They have helped me enormously as they provide insight into how cats perceive the world and why they act and react as they do: by Pam Johnson-Bennet - 2 books, "Cat vs. Cat' and 'Twisted Whiskers". She is a cat behaviourist and experienced in these matters. The third book is "The Cat Whisperer" by Claire Bessant.

Good luck with this, and please don't hesitate to e-mail me privately if you need any support or advice or assistance.

post #24 of 35
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much Kathryn for your helpful reply.

I went to Petsmart this morning and bought two of the feliway air diffusers. One is in the bathroom with Tink and the other is in the living room near the front door. I also bought some spray and sprayed it on every corner in the house and door jams where the cats like to rub their faces.

I also bought some Cat-eze tablets, that are supposed to have a calming effect. They have chamomile and l-tryptophan in them. I gave tink one when I got home.

Tink was doing this better this morning then things got worse again. I let Tink out for about 10 minutes at 5 am and everything was fine. Then I put Tink back in the bathroom and went back to sleep. I let Tink out again this morning around 8 am and everything was fine for 10 minutes, then Tink cornered Grayson and was yowling and spitting at him and about to pounce. I threw a couch blanket over him and put him back in the bathroom.

While I was at PetSmart peter let Tink out and he said he made a beeline for Grayson. Put him back in the bathroom. Then when I went to put the Feliway in the bathroom Tink ran out and immediately began going after Grayson again.

So Tink is back in the bathroom with the feliway diffuser, and I sprayed the feliway around the door so if tink sniffs another cat under the door that might help???

I also called my vet back in Texas who was the best vet I ever had. She is in surgery but the tech assures me she will call me back when she gets done.

I suppose I will set up my office as a Tinkles space. He likes sitting on the window perch next to the computer anyhow, that is where he usually is during the day. I will move the litter box and food and water and feliway plugin in here too, since it seems that unlike last time, Tink isn't going to get over this quickly.

Part of the problem (although I may be wrong) was that when I let Tink out this morning he was fine until Grayson pinned his ears back and hissed at him. It's like now that the other cats are all freaked out at Tinkles they are on the defensive, which just upsets Tink more.
post #25 of 35
Sounds like you are doing the right things, Sarah.

Yes, Grayson's absolutely reasonable action to Tink would set Tink off again. He is still wired from teh experience even though he appears calmer. You will find over the next few days that almost anything will set them off as they are going to be 'wired' for a bit. Outside noises, loud music, car doors banging, a hiss in play, someone running past in play, all of these may turn into 'triggers' unfortunately. The next few days are going to be the hardest for you and the most likely for aggression to re-errupt.

It appears that Tink and Grayson are going to be the problem characters in this situation. Over the next few days see if you can identify one or two of your cats who are not interested in being alpha or territorial. You can then have these cats help you to restore calm. These are the cats who don't respond in an aggressive or defensive way if Tink starts his aggressive posturing. I was able to use my two who weren't involved as 'companion keepers' when I had to divide the household up into separate rooms - I had 3 main antagonists - or 2 antagonists and 1 victim who also gets defensive/aggressive.

All of yours are going to be on the defensive for the next few days because they just don't know what to expect. Their normal order has been thrown into chaos. So, it may take a few days before you find out who your 'peace makers' are.

Two things to think about right now: 1) your own stress level is going to be high because you are just as confused as the cats are; you can't predict what is going to happen any more and that will make you prone to being over-reactive too. This is 100% normal! It is important that while you and your cat and human family are re-learning how to live together peacefully that you find ways to reduce your own stress levels. Try and think positive thoughts at the cats - consciously remember them being good friends and try and project those images to them whenever you find your mind beginning to think about them fighting. You are all going to have to re-pattern how you react and it isn't an easy thing to do. 2) you will begin to notice times of days that are more susceptible than others to aggression and you can use that to your advantage as well. For mine it is early morning any time between 4 am to 9 am and then around bedtime. That is when the cats seem most active and energetic, and where they will likely take 'umbrage' if some one does something out of the ordinary or unexpected. Once you identify those high-risk times, those are the times you will want to keep them separated for now. Focus on getting positive interactions to happen when they are quiet or more sleepy and use that to start rebuilding the relationships. Once they are back to interacting without problems during the easy times you can start working on creating positive interactions during the high stress times.

If you do have a incident of active aggression, allow at least a day for the tempers to cool (so to speak) before you let those two together again. This is where your companion cat peace-makers are very useful. You will want to rotate the cats through different rooms together to make sure they all keep that 'family scent' so you may find having Tink in your bedroom for a while, then in the office for a while and in the main living area for a while will take some co-ordination but will help.

The first 2 to 3 weeks are the worst because anything seems to set them off - we have construction going on here and they chose those weeks to do pile driving the next street over. It did NOT help, hehehe. It will be discouraging at times, but and this is a big BUT - it will improve and it will get better, it will just take some time. I made the mistake of moving too fast and lost ground the first time I allowed the 'victim' to stay out overnight with the others. I had to go back to square one although we made faster progress the second time around. The biggest challenge in multi-cat households is that you have all of the cats involved in one way or another, as well as the main players, and one of them may end up causing a repeat unexpectedly. So, just practise relieving your own stress levels and you will find you will also be able to intercept potential problems before they develop. Your cats will take their cues from you - if you are stressed, they will stress; if you laugh and cuddle and play, then they will 'let it go' more quickly.

One of the best tricks I found was to iinterrupt their stares. You will notice if one starts to stare at the other, he will then start getting 'posture-y' and the initial aggression will start. Interrupt that stare even if it means putting your hand over the cats eyes and making him blink. Get both of them to blink or interrupt that focus. I used the word 'blinky, blinky' at the same time and just keep repeating it while I am interrupting their focus and have noticed now that when I say the word' blinky, blinky' that they will usually look away or interrupt their stares - a welcome result that I hadn't anticipated but helps.

Good luck.

post #26 of 35
Thread Starter 
Thanks again Kathryn.

There is one cat Tinkles has never gone after. That is Marge, Cleo's sister. Last night when all the cats were freaking out, Marge got puffed up, but stood still, didn't run around like the rest of them.

Marge also was playing with her toys and in some packing boxes while the others will still upset. So I think Marge will be a good intermediary.

I;ve got my office all cleaned out and almost ready for Tink to move in. I am in my office most of the day, so Tink will have plenty of attention.
post #27 of 35
Thread Starter 
Well, I am pretty upset right now. Our doctor's office says they don't have any appointments open today, not until middle of next week in fact. When I explained the situation she told me to go to the health department or the ER. No way! I would rather have my hand cut off than have the health department think about quarantining Tinkles! And my ER copay is $100, which I don't really have right now.

I am keeping my hands clean and everything looks good except the deep bite near my finger joint on my palm. That one is puffy and red circle around the puncture about the size of a nickel. I have a band aid over it with neosporin on it.

If the bite gets worse I will of course go to the ER, but it seems OK for now.
post #28 of 35
now that sucks!

Ok, for the spot that is also red and inflamed, try putting an ice pack or a ice compress on it as well. I found that helped the last time I got badly injured during an 'incident'. I thought I was going to have to go for another round of antibiotics and didn't look forward to explaining that to the doctor. I put an ice gelpack on the area that felt hot and swollen and by the next day it was down significantly and I didn't need to repeat the antibiotics after all. I also tried to keep the puncture area open and used hydrogen peroxide on it as well, trying to get the peroxide into the puncture.

Good luck
post #29 of 35
Thread Starter 
post #30 of 35
Originally Posted by PrissyKitty
Well, I am pretty upset right now. Our doctor's office says they don't have any appointments open today, not until middle of next week in fact. When I explained the situation she told me to go to the health department or the ER. No way! I would rather have my hand cut off than have the health department think about quarantining Tinkles! And my ER copay is $100, which I don't really have right now.

I am keeping my hands clean and everything looks good except the deep bite near my finger joint on my palm. That one is puffy and red circle around the puncture about the size of a nickel. I have a band aid over it with neosporin on it.

If the bite gets worse I will of course go to the ER, but it seems OK for now.
Sarah, please be very careful about the bite on your palm! A couple of years ago, our then-cat (a feral) bit me in the calf. I cleaned the wound immediately, and got antibiotics, but still ended up with a really horrible infection and could barely walk for six months. Cat bites are dangerous; their teeth are so sharp that they really penetrate. One thing I was told then: All cat owners should have up-to-date tetanus shots!
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