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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question

Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 26301
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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I have two cats one mKe, one female. Both sprayed and neutered.

Customer Question

I have two cats one mKe, one female. Both sprayed and neutered. The Tom cats, who is by nature a loving and friendly creature and in particular with his sister. Recently he has even behaving aggressively towards her when she comes in from outside, he sniffs her and then attacks her . What can I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
I have advanced training in feline behavior and am pleased to discuss Olly and Kitty with you. Your tom's behavior does seem silly, doesn't it? But it's not unusual. Aggression can arise when a cat has been out of the home and then returns (e.g. from a groomer or veterinary hospital stay). This may be due to pheromonal alterations (pheromones are chemicals that transmit information between members of the same species), anxiety or discomfort of the returning cat, or the response of one or more cats that remained in the home to some alteration in how the cat looks, acts, or smells upon its return. There may also be territorial and status issues that need to be re-established, even if the departure has been relatively short. Many of these problems are mild and will resolve themselves over time, particularly if there is enough space, perches, and hiding places for the cats to avoid interactions while they again "recognize" each other and re-establish a compatible relationship. This may take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks for some cats, while on rare occasions the problem may be sufficiently intense to require a formal reintroduction program of desensitization and counterconditioning in much the same way as a new cat is introduced into the household. You're necessarily constrained by how much you can do but wiping her down with a dry shampoo or even moist towel might remove the scent she has accumulated while outside. You can also strategically prevent your tom's interaction with her until she's safely ensconsed in a safe and "secret" space. Ideally, whomever she is meeting outside will leave your neighborhood and your tom will recognize her once again. Redirected aggression is a related disorder and so I'd like you to review my synopsis of this behavior...This occurs when the target of your toms's aggression (your female) is not the stimulus that triggered the state of aggressive arousal. 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 your tom'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.
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 26301
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
Dr. Michael Salkin and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for such a detailed reply. As the aggression is very short lived, he sniffs her the moment she comes in, sometimes just "washes her face" and I think you are right , there may we'll be a stranger in town. I wondered if he could have "sprayed" her and it is this that makes him cross . Is there a spray I can use on her that will eliminate the odour ?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
You're quite welcome. Cats don't spray other cats but she certainly could have come into contact with either urine or feces of another cat. No, it's nigh impossible to cover these chemical odors/pheromones with something else. You'll need to remove them as I described above.
Please continue our conversation if you wish. I have to leave my computer for a couple of hours but I promise to reply as soon as I return if need be.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

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