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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey everyone, I know I have been rather absent over the past few months. Things were ticking over well, hordes of foster kittens have passed the house and everyone was getting along just dandy. This is a long one, so thanks for reading and if anyone has had any experience with something like this before, I'd really appreciate hearing about it. I'm at my wits end as to what to do with these animals, I can't re-home the aggressor in good consciousness and the victim, Kiska, is an elderly dog, so re-homing is a poor option for her as well.

One morning this past August I woke up to pure chaos. I had fallen asleep on the couch the night before and didn't see any reason to get up when I realized it was already 3 AM. So I stayed there. Everything was fine, Callista was cuddled in her usual position in the crook of my neck, Xerxes was on my hip and Jasio splayed out across my feet with The Niblet (our current foster) snuggled up tight against him (they're in luuurrrrvvveee).

The next thing I know it is pandemonium, all three adult cats are viciously attacking Kiska, get her cornered and knock her down. She is such a honey despite the fact that she could kill them easily she didn't even try to defend herself, just tried to get away and snapped her jaws in a treat display. The kitten was no where to be seen during, or even after the attack. (she finally came out about 20 minutes later...)

I separated everyone, checked everyone for wounds and gave the dog quite a bit of first aid as well as a bath just in case the cats thought she smelled funny. Perplexed as I was I figured it was an isolated incident and once everyone settled things would be better.
Well after 24 hours of crated pets, rotating one out at a time I figured I could introduce them all slowly to each other again. Everything seemed hunky-dory for a couple of days. Then it happened all over again. This time the cats weren't stopping, I actually had to use pillows as mittens to pull the male cats off the dog. I decided that the cat I *thought* was the instigator would remain in lock-down until the following day when I could take him to work for a vet to examine and maybe run a few tests to just make sure there wasn't a physical reason for this. Just to be safe I felt him at the hospital overnight so he could have extra cool down time and the dog would feel safer. Poor Xerxes. The reason I thought he had started it was he was the most persistent in continuing it...

Well I was wrong about it being Xerxes, that is for sure. The next morning Jasio decided it was kill-the-dog time and went for her again. This was an all-out attack. What puzzled me it was a fear attack, not dominance. His eyes were dilated, ears back but not totally flat, whiskers back coat fully erect, tail fully fluffed, yowling and hissing. I stepped in before it became a dog-damaging fight (again) and stuck his furry rump into a crate. Off to the doctor he went (much to The Niblet's dismay). On physical exam we found a healthy, strong 7 year old male neutered cat. Blood work was perfectly normal. He stayed there for a few days to allow the dog some peace, and everyone got along quite well with Jasio out of the house.

He was started on Prozac with a side of Lorazepam for really bad days, and Kiska went to live with my friends for a full month. We slowly re-introduced her to my home, my friends would bring her by every day on her evening walk. We did the classic, "here is food, eat. open door so he can see dog, close door before he can react" slowly ramping up to bringing her in for extended periods of time.
Initially I kept him locked up when I wasn't home, but things were going great I started experimenting with longer times unsupervised. The biggest hurdle was walking Kiska, upon returning if he wasn't confined he's freak out and start yowling. I'll mention at this point poor Kiska was getting weekly baths since I wondered if she wasn't bringing some threatening smell in to the house. The baths made no difference to him.

October was a really good month. The few incidents where he regressed did not involve attacks, just fluffing and yowling. Jasio would allow me to pick him up and remove to his "safe-zone", after being locked up for about 15 minutes I would dose him with lorazepam, give it an hour to work and crate the dog before letting him back out. He'd come out full of purrs and cuddles, totally blissed out. Once he felt secure and comfortable I'd let the dog back out and things would go well again for weeks.

Then last week the dog got up and went into the kitchen, Jasio was in the dinette next to it. Next thing I know the dog is screaming in pain and I run in to see Jasio ATTACHED TO HER FACE. She has multiple bite wounds on her face and ears, and a large laceration (likely from a claw) under her eye. Back into lock-down for Jasio. He has spent the past week and half at the hospital with visits from The Niblet to help with his stress (he really is in love with her. The groom each other, spoon, hug, play. She has attained the failed foster status, though I am currently in denial about that)

In the past couple days he has started showing signs of boredom and irritation, including hissing at anyone that enters his room. We are currently weaning him off the Prozac and considering options for a different drug. I brought him home since the hospital was stressing him so badly, he has hated being there ever since had to have hairballs removed surgically from his stomach, (I wonder why?). Currently he is living in the walk in closet. Lots of vertical space, a window, cat tree, litter box etc. The kitten stays with him for part of the time. At night I crate and cover the dog so Jasio can get out and stretch his legs a bit, as well as get some lovings.

I accept this may end up being status quo for the rest of my dog's life, but if anyone has any ideas or experiences, again, I'd like to hear from you. I'm so frustrated and depressed, they used to friends and play with each other but now I cannot even allow him to see her. Poor Kiska doesn't know what it is she did wrong, she just knows that her buddy her turned into her worse enemy. Thankfully she doesn't hold it against the other cats and continues to let them eat out of her food dish without complaint, and romps with the kitten when she can find the energy. I am also concerned about Callista, who has always disliked ALL dogs except the one she grew up with. Ever since the most recent attack she has been ramping up her bullying of the dog, feeling more confident that she can get away with pushing her around. With Callista it really is a dominance thing, she will evict Kiska from her sleeping spot on the couch, sit there for a moment, then evict Kiska from where ever else she may have chosen to lay down.

There are a couple of possible scenarios I've posited for Jasio's sudden fear aggression towards Kiska;
1.) Callista instigated the initial attack in August and he is over-reacting to it.
2.)Kiska accidentally frightened or hurt him and he is continuing to react to that incident
3.) Jasio is insane
 

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I'm sorry to hear of your troubles and frustration. With cats, you never really know what's going on in their minds and things can change at a drop of a hat. I really don't have any concrete advice for you, but just wanted to give you some hugs. I sincerely hope you find a solution to your situation.
 

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I have two theories.

1. It's the kitten. Despite neutering, he may be having some sort of mating response and any "threat" will be destroyed.
2. You have something new outside be it cat or predator and he's redirecting. The dog is coming in from the place that holds what's upsetting him and he's going nuts.

Either way good luck. I had to deal with this issue recently and it sucks royally. It is much easier to tame aggression in a dog than in a cat.
 

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It seems to me that you've done many good things to try and correct this dilemma. I take it that it's just Kiska that Jasio is attacking and not any of the other cats? It is very difficult to know what started this attack on the dog in the first place....maybe just the fact that she is old, and the cats sense her weakness? who knows? Is Jasio a keeper or would you have him rehomed? Some people have had some success with Feliway or other such calming products. I haven't had any experience with them, but may be worth a try. It may be that you will has to keep Kiska separate from the cats for her own protection, she really doesn't deserve to be beat up so badly at her elderly age (whatever it is?), and you owe it to her to let her live her remaining years in peace. An animal psychic or a communicator may be able to determine what's at the root of the attacks....maybe worth a shot. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
 

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I haven't heard of this as much in cats but I've definitely seen it in dogs.

I would take your DOG to the vet and get her checked.

The few times I've seen something like this what's happened is the older animal has had a seizure or something and theres a very slight change in their behavior. Maybe even something you wouldn't notice, but to the cats it's enough that this isn't the same dog to them anymore.

It sounds to me like this was the cause of the first attack, and after a few it's become sort of a habit.

Start with taking your dog to the vet. After that I, personally, would keep the cats seperate from the dog entirely. TBH I'm not sure if rehoming is an option either. Once a behavior escalates to this point it can easily transfer, so instead of attacking the dog they switch to attacking you, or another dog, or a child...ect.

I think the best option is management (ie seperation), but it sounds like a complete nightmare.

I'd wean him off the meds entirely and see how he does with just the other cats. If he's ok I'd keep him off the meds and not try and re-intro the dog for at least 6 months, if then. You want him to totally forget about the dog.

Maybe switch shampoos and see if you can't get the dog to smell different. Use doggy perfumes/vanilla. I know it sounds silly but now your cats are associating her smell with these attacks, maybe if you change her smell you have a better chance of success.
 

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it sounds like FELINE REDIRECTED AGGRESSION or sometimes knows as FELINE MISDIRECTED AGGRESSION. There could be a reason the cat gets ticked off and just takes is out on the poor dog. Google it and see what you learn from it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the support everyone, it means a lot to me.

Kiska is a 12 to 14 year old dog of middling size, so definitely elderly at this point. While she has some weird issue related to her GI system we've been unable to identify the source of the problem. Bloodwork is always normal, ultrasound came back fairly normal excepting a rather small liver and some irritated looking intestines. Neither of which explain the swollen pot-belly look she has attained in the last year. While she is mostly a happy critter with only occasional vomiting I know something not good is going on inside of her, just don't know WHAT that is yet and may not know until it progresses further.

We've tried 3 different shampoos, including the cat's shampoo (what? Jasio LOVES getting bathed! Everyone else, not so much, but my allergies demand it.) I have feliway diffusers all around the apartment and have had them for a couple years now since I do so much fostering. On the fostering side, no more of that for a long time. The Niblet is going to stay, and 4 cats is more than enough for me.

For now Jasio is going to spend his days in lock-down, and Kiska goes into lock-down at night. It is as even of a trade off as I can think of for them and honestly, if this is how it has to be until Kiska passes on then so be it. Jasio has always been a bully type of cat and while he respects me he doesn't respect other people very often. Given the ferocity of aggression he has displayed I would be very uncomfortable placing him with anyone else. We're continuing the taper off from Prozac, but I'm keeping the idea of a new med open because if it helps him feel better sooner then everyone wins.


Divine Miss- I've considered the kitten as the source myself. They are both nuetered and she's never had a heat cycle. However, truth to tell, except the sudden fear of the dog the kitten has had a moderating effect on his personality. He has been calmer, less bossy and more relaxed about everything in general. The aggression started about a month after her spay surgery so I'm not sure he sees her anything but another cat.

CatLover and Partial- I've been keeping my eye out for new animals in the area. There is a new yappy small dog across the courtyard from us, but at my request the owner has kindly decided to take it out the back door rather than the front so my animals can't see it (kindness of strangers? Never underestimate it) However this dog just moved in last month, so not likely the cause.

The extra frustrating part of this is I work in animal health and help people with problems like this ALL THE TIME. It is so different when it is your own pets and your own sanity teetering in the brink. I'm seriously considering calling in a behaviorist to try to help work this out, even if I have to pick up extra work to pay for it.
 

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Neutering occasionally just means no pregnancy. We had a neutered male dog who mated in a bonded fashion with one of our females for the duration of her natural life to the point of consumation just without any consequences. It could also be a parental feeling. Again this example is in a dog, but I had a dog that was a natural born "nanny" dog. He loved anything he considered a baby and only aggressed when there was a "baby" in the house. He would go nuts if he thought the other dogs were being too rough with whatever it was we had in the house at the time.*

Again, I feel for you. Almost two months ago, two little 3-4 week old kittens were dumped on my doorstep. The dogs behaved wonderfully. The kittens? Hissing, yowling, and lunging attempting to chase the dogs. They'd see the dogs and puff up to twice their normal size and turn into vicious beasts. Almost two months of time out for viciousness and some good old fashion scruff and grooming, they now tolerate their canine siblings. Barely, but it's a start. Honestly, it sounds like you're in a no win situation. You say rehoming is not really an option for either one, but I'd consider it. Cats can inflict some nasty wounds and have a major bacterial load. As careful as you are, all it is going to take is one slip up not even necessarily from you for your cat and dog to come in contact. And next time, your dog may not be as lucky as she has been up until now or your cat for that matter because next time could be the time your dog decides she's done putting up with it and bites back which could be fatal for your cat. Is it may be possible for the friends who fostered your dog that month to permanently foster her? Or is it may be possible to locate a cat savvy enough owner to take on Mr. Bully?

*ETA: Just remembered a cat doing the same thing. A year ago in January a feral female had two kittens to the side of my house. I found them cord still attached, but left them alone in case she returned not knowing a neighbor unaware of the babies had taken her inside. I returned to the nest multiple times to check on them only to find two males guarding the nest. One was a neighbor's and would allow me to examine the kittens. The other was scary aggressive about the nest. He was not going to let ANYONE or ANYTHING anywhere near those kittens.
 
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