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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 33258
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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We have had our cat from six weeks old,she is now 3.We noticed

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We have had our cat from six weeks old,she is now 3.We noticed that she had certain physical disfigurements.Her tail was very short and bent half way down,there also seemed to be a slight disalignment to her back legs,which affects her ability to jump fences etc.Despite that she seemed generally happy and sociable,but wont be picked up,and can be very aggressive,even to people she really loves.All of this was liveable with,but now despite being fully outdoor toilet trained,she has suddenly begun go in the house,and when she does go outside,it is right ouside the back door and makes no attempt to cover it over.She overgrooms,and despite being very loved (at a Distance) her behaviour gets worse and worse.I contacted the vet who neutered her ,but the only notes made were that she had been neutered.I am not financialy in a position to pay vet bills,and actually getting her in a cat carrier to get her there is virtually impossible,let alone allowing herself to be examined.I assume that she maybe ferel,but since we have had her since weeks,would have thought she would have settled by now.Can you suggest anything,we are getting desperate.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. You've presented quite a laundry list of disorder with Bootsy and although I have advanced training in feline behavior I must tell you that compromises are going to be necessary. Here's the problem list for review:1) physical disfigurements - unlikely to be a factor at this time2) conflicted behavior - sociable but aggression arises3) inappropriate eliminative behavior4) unable to be picked up or brought to a vet I need to preface my discussion by telling you that feline aggression toward the owner can be challenging to manage. Many cats display aggression toward their owners when displaying assertiveness. Cats that have this type of problem usually display a confident temperament. They exhibit assertive or status aggression by biting or threatening when the owner attempts to approach or handle them or to simply show their displeasure or anxiety with their place in the hierarchy in your home. The bite behavior may be an attempt to control these situations. Assertive displays, pushy attention-seeking behavior and attempts to control the environment by blocking access to doorways and refusing to be moved from perches or sleeping areas may also be displays of social status. One sign that might signify this type of aggression is aggression toward members of the household that a cat can control (you), avoiding aggression with family members that control the cat and do not routinely give in to its demands. The prognosis is guarded as these cats may be dangerous and the problem may have both innate (she may have been feral as a kitten) and learned components (she may not have been socialized prior to the important age of 7 weeks). Too many of my owners have ended up hospitalized due to cat bites. You must decide whether Bootsy's risk to you is warranted vis a vis attempting to manage her inappropriate behavior. If you're willing, management involves the following:Make the situation safe - identify stimuli leading to aggression - avoid confrontation and any stimuli or interactions that elicit aggression - teach simple commands such as "come" or "sit" by using food lures whenever she is receptive to food or play.Withhold rewards unless earned - Bootsy should be taught to defer to you for any treats, affection or play. For instance, play, affection and treats should never be given on demand but can be given if she responds to a command. After a few weeks of teaching deference, she can be taught to accept stimuli that have triggered aggression. You would need to begin by performing a behavior that has triggered aggression in the past but in such a muted way that no aggression is elicited. If no undesirable behavior is exhibited, she is given a very tasty food reward or play. Once she's conditioned to accept a mild level of the stimulus, the sessions can progress with stimuli that very gradually become stronger.Punishment must be avoided but undesirable behavior can be interrupted with alarms or a can of compressed air. Care must be taken with this approach since some strong stimuli can make a cat more aroused and aggressive.Uninhibited aggressive displays that appear impulsive, explosive or excessive may be reduced with psychotherapeutic drugs - SSRIs - such as paroxetine (Paxil) or fluoxetine (Prozac). I prefer not to prescribe these drugs for what, in essence, is normal behavior for many cats. Drugs, however, are an important resource for the determined owner.As mentioned above, Bootsy is a significant danger to you and others to whom you might rehome her. If you're highly motivated to keep her in your home, I would suggest your seeking council with a board certified veterinary behaviorist who will come to your home and examine the dynamics therein. Her vet should be able to refer you to such a specialist or you can find one here: ($$, however) I like the idea of keeping her sequestered in a quiet and dimly lit room until her level of arousal abates or perhaps allowing her outside more - where she needn't socialize to an extent past that which she's amenable.Her inappropriate eliminative behavior is another trying behavior on owners. I can't know if she has developed a litter aversion, is unhappy with where her litterbox is placed or, instead, is marking her territory and so I'm going to post an amazingly thorough and appropriate commentary concerning this behavior for you. This was written by a specialist veterinary behaviorist and presented at a continuing education seminar: Please let me know if this link opens up for you. If not, I'll post the entire article for you in this conversation.Once you've had time to peruse all of the information made available to you, please return to our conversation with additional information or further questions or concerns if you wish.
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Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.