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Festus update (cat attack)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello -
I posted a couple of weeks ago re: my cat Festus who has shown escalating aggression toward people outside of the family since my daughter was born (2 1/2 yrs ago), and a couple of weeks ago he attacked me (hissing, scratching, yowling, biting - it was scary). Anyway, people on this board were so kind in their support and advice, so I wanted to post an update.

We took Festus to a behaviorist/vet yesterday, where he checked out ok physically, but the dr. acknowledged Fessie being "a ball of nerves." Long story short, the behaviorist gave some good ideas for helping to calm, etc. - almost all of them involve treats, so my husband joked that we're just going to get him so fat he won't be able to attack. I'd be happy to share the list of tips with anyone who's interested, since I know there are other aggressive cats out there. Also, Festus received a prescription for Paxil, which the dr. said has about a 75% chance of calming him/getting rid of the attacks. It's that 25% that I'm still concerned about, though - the dr. was very kind, but did say that the unpredictability of Festus' attacks are a concern, and there is a chance that he could attack our daughter at some point out of fear (e.g., something scares him and our daughter is the first person he sees to "vent" on). Anyway, we're going to give everything a try and just take it a day at a time for now.

Thanks again to everyone for their support, and I look forward to visiting/contributing to the boards lots more in the future!

Noelle
post #2 of 13
Yay!! I'm so glad that the behaviorist was able to help you. Did they recommend separating your daughter and the cat? Is it more of a rewarding-good-behavior sort of thing? Has he attacked you since? I've been wondering sporadically.
post #3 of 13
I would love to hear the tips. I'm glad Festus is getting treatment. As a people nurse, I know paxil is a good med. For people, they should not miss doses, so be sure your Festie gets all his doses!
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi -
The behaviorist did recommend more "confinement" of Festus in a nice room w/ toys/treats, especially when we were going to be doing things that might be potentially upsetting to him (e.g., vacuuming, using the paper shredder/coffee grinder, being loud & rowdy with our daughter). And yes, he also recommended catching Festus in the act of being good and rewarding it. He also recommended sporadic "treat parties" and more one-on-one play. I'm still wondering if Festus wouldn't be better off in a calm, adults-only home, as hard as it would be to give him up, but we'll see.
- Noelle
post #5 of 13
I'm really sorry to hear about your cat! I hope things improve! I have a question. I have a 4 year old male (neutered). He has attacked me twice in the last week for no apparent reason. I'm taking him to the vet on Friday, but in the mean time I'm freaking out wondering what is wrong with him. On both occasions, I was laying down on the couch or floor with a blanket over my legs. He loves to cuddle with me so as he is pushing the blanket around with his paws trying to get comfortable, his body starts jerking like muscle spasm. It's really weird. Then he gets really angry and attacks me! His eyes get dialated too! The first time he attacked my head and started biting my hair. Last night he just attacked my head. It scared me to death! After a few minutes he's fine! Did your cat shake at all prior to the attacks?
post #6 of 13
I'm really sorry to hear about your cat! I hope things improve! I have a question. I have a 4 year old male (neutered). He has attacked me twice in the last week for no apparent reason. I'm taking him to the vet on Friday, but in the mean time I'm freaking out wondering what is wrong with him. On both occasions, I was laying down on the couch or floor with a blanket over my legs. He loves to cuddle with me so as he is pushing the blanket around with his paws trying to get comfortable, his body starts jerking like muscle spasm. It's really weird. Then he gets really angry and attacks me! His eyes get dialated too! The first time he attacked my head and started biting my hair. Last night he just attacked my head. It scared me to death! After a few minutes he's fine! Did your cat shake at all prior to the attacks?

Has anyone ever heard of this happening before?
post #7 of 13
I think you need to do what you feel is safe for you and the family especially your daughter. I wish you luck.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey Beckiboo -
Here are some of the tips the animal behaviorist gave re: aggression, etc.:
* Keep a diary (date, day of week, time, comments) to track aggresive behavior and try to find a pattern.

* Isolate aggressive cat more often than before with treats and toys in a comfortable place.

* Make time for play every day - divert cat's attention with toys (especially when around child or other potentially upsetting things)

* Occasionally have "treat parties" where it's just you and your cat alone together, enjoying each other. Flip treats and heap on the praise/love.

* Keep treats on you (e.g., in your pocket) when you're home and toss a treat when you walk through "problem areas" in the house and also when you catch your cat "being good." Decrease treats gradually over a couple weeks so you don't have a total butterball on your hands!

* Use less direct eye contact with your cat, and encourage visitors to do the same. Also re: visitors, tell them to ignore your cat at first and then (after the cat has become comfortable on his own terms and if the person is willing) have the visitor occasionally toss your cat a treat.

* With re: to kids, use confinement more, but also involve kids in giving treats and play (with lots of supervision, of course)

So, there you go - pretty common sense stuff, but also helpful, I think.

momof3rugratz, you pretty much hit it on the head - we have a real dilemma here. We want so badly to help our cat who we dearly love, and we've already invested so much, but this little voice inside my head keeps nagging at me. How could I live with myself if our daughter was attacked at any point? I don't know - I just feel so sad tonight, and extremely frustrated, b/c I've tried about 50 times with the Paxil and he won't take it. Sigh.

Noelle
post #9 of 13
When you say he won't take the Paxil, is it a pill? How are you trying to give it to him?

For what it's worth, I never had kids. But I have had cats that are just the most gently, non-aggressive animals you have ever seen, but when they get around a baby, the get crazy. There is something about the scent that, or maybe the baby products, I don't know, but that seems to get them very upset. Babies and young children. Perhaps it's the feeling that they are dealing with another that they can't communciate with, even body-language wise. Who knows.

I'm hoping that also time, and getting used to the scents and the baby being around will help too.

I had a cat once that would go crazy and literally attack me in a total rage and frenzy any time I brought another cat home from the vet. The first time it happened, I was able to throw her in a closet and get the door shut. I was all scratched up and terrified. Yet when I very cautiously opened the door about 4 hours later, she walked out purring, rubbing against my leg, like nothing happened.

Eventually she just stopped doing it, and was one of my most affectionate cats ever until she died about 4 years ago at the age of 22.

I hope you can find a solution.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi Charmed -
I just tried giving Festus the Paxil via Pill Pockets (treats you "hide" small pills in) - a neat idea, but of course he won't touch them, even w/o the pill inside. My other cat, of course, just gobbled up a couple like they were the most delicious thing on earth. I've also tried crushing the Paxil and hiding it in various types of food - nothing has worked so far. This is so frustrating!

I feel a decent amount of guilt re: the effect of my daughter on Festus - we tried to do everything the "right" way, but I guess sometimes there's just no predicting how an animal is going to respond (same with people!).

Thanks for your message, and for sharing the story about your cat - I'm glad she was able to work past the aggression and live such a long life!
Noelle
post #11 of 13
Noelle, I hope Festus is able to work through his "rages" & become the loving cat you know all of the time.

I have to give our dog one half of a hormone pill 2x a day & she hates it. I put her body(she's only 50#) in between my legs(while I am on my knees on the floor). I push in on the side of her mouth & put the pill as far back in her mouth as I can. Granted, I am sure she will take the pill, she just wants to skip it & go straight for the peanut butter treat. I always reward her after she gets her pill. As long as you are giving Festus tons of treats already, what's another few?

Good Luck with Festus!
post #12 of 13
Another thing you might buy is a "piller". It's a plastic syringe type thing you can get at a pet store. The pill goes in it, and it goes in the animals mouth rather than your fingers!
What we did with our big boy cat (who is a sweetie, but has these razor sharp talons) is I would "sit" on him like white cat lover suggested above and keep his front paws down so he couldn't scratch us. Then fiance' would open his mouth and place the piller as far back as possible and "pop!" in goes the pill and down the throat! He really struggled the first few days but eventually realized we were doing this to him no matter what and he eventually settled down so that it only took one person to pill him.
Here's what I'm talking about!
http://www.petsmart.com/global/produ...sText=pill&N=2

~Julia
post #13 of 13
My Vet used this when he gave Skittles if correct the worming tablets.
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