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Feline Behavior Issues: Portrait of Foot the Problem Child Cat
This would be AWESOME for a vertical-loving cat.
I have 9 cats. How and why this happened is unimportant. What matters is: having this many cats is expensive. I have also figured out where the point of diminishing returns came in regard to the number of cats I have. When I only had five, everyone managed to stay healthy and I really only have to shell out once a year to get them all their shots and updated tags.
I added three more cats about two months ago and that’s where things started getting complicated.
This may have been a coincidence or this may have been the tipping point where everyone became stressed out to the point that it affected their furry little immune systems. I’m going to write several hubs outlining the problems I have had with them and the tips and tricks I have learned in dealing with them.
Today I will deal with our most recent kitty issue:
Foot the Problem Child
About a year ago, we moved in to a house twice as big as the house we were living in previously. In anticipation of the move, we added cat number 6.
With the introduction of Syd Vicious, just a tiny little kitten at that point, Foot - Male, then 4 years old - flipped his lid and went on a hunger strike. I spent gobs at the vet getting him observed and pumped full of subcutaneous fluids. I also force fed him, yelled at him, apologized to him, talked sweet to him, ignored him, coddled him - you name it - all trying to get him to eat. And then just as quickly as it started, it stopped. He sidled up to the food bowl and chowed down, literally appearing to finally be pleased with the amount of attention he received and the amount of money I shelled out on his behalf. Moving to the new house also helped as he suddenly had twice as much territory as before.
Things settled down with him until the addition of the three newest cats: Rosie (7 year old female Persian), Peter (8 year old male Persian) and Ed (7 year old male Himalayan) rescues from an overpopulated retiring breeder’s house in the Dallas-Ft Worth metroplex area.
In acquisition order, my family goes like this: Her Cat, Minkus, Foot, Minnie, Annabelle, Syd, Rosie, Peter, Eddie. So Foot was not the first “child” or last so I guess it comes down to Middle Child Syndrome. With the addition of each new cat, the previous last cat acted aggressive to the new kid until they got used to each other. I really didn’t think the addition of the three rescues or “The Noobs” - as I affectionately refer to them - would retrigger any issues with Foot, but I was wrong.
Eddie ended up with an abscess that - after the vet trimmed the fur away and cleaned up (another chunk of change) - was revealed to be an infected bite. We were flabbergasted since the most aggressive thing the whole herd ever does is hiss, spit and swat at each other.
Yesterday - the real culprit was revealed (at least with a 90% certainty in our minds) to be Foot. A quiet weekend morning was shattered with the sounds of cats fighting - not the normal hissing and spitting we are used to, but the “I’m gonna kill you” RAWWWRING that you are more likely to hear from the bushes outside your window while you are trying to sleep.
I ran to investigate and found Foot and Ed with their fangs attached to each others’ throats. The hallway was already filled with a pound of creamy Himalayan fluff where Foot kicked Ed into submission. When I broke them up, Foot tried to open a vein in my wrist and then tried to go after Rosie when it was clear he was no longer able to get at Eddie. This was wholly unacceptable. Eddie is probably 10+ lbs and Rosie is probably 6lbs soaking wet. Foot is somewhere in between, but “pick on someone your own size” totally applies here. If I hadn’t been there, at the least he could have dealt Eddie another poisoned fang hole and at the worst, he could have jumped on Rosie or Peter - who has been very sick lately and is in a weakened state - and KILLED them.
My initial reaction as I cradled my ripped and bloody hand was that Foot just bought himself a ticket to a new home, but now that a day has passed and Foot is curled up here on my feet with me as I write this and has all, but looked me in the eye and said, “I’m sorry for flipping out,” I’m entertaining more ideas. I mean, his only real crime is being young and male and under stress, right? Can’t we all have claimed something like that at some point in our lives?
Suggestions that were made to me by Facebook friends included Feliway and - from her own experience with an aggressive cat - one friend of mine said she had experience giving an aggressive cat female hormones to calm him down.
My boss - also a cat lady - even outlined to me a time when she kept her daughter’s cat who then freaked out and started peeing everywhere. The vet ended up giving kitty Prozac that was put in a cream form and applied by rubbing it in to the skin of the ears.
This made me look at 1800petmeds and saw the proliferation of human meds (like Fluoxetine and Amitriptyline) available for animals.
The fight between Eddie and Foot happened not 6 inches away from the Feliway plug in we had already bought to try and calm everyone down because it claims to help with the scratching impulse (apparently kitties scratch more when they are anxious) as one cat loves to scratch the wallpaper and they all would probably like to have a go at our new sofa. But that’s neither here nor there - just know that’s a big old “check mark” next to the Feliway option.
I will be checking with my vet in regard to meds for Foot.
I will also be exploring how to make the house more vertically friendly since Foot is a cat who enjoys his high places and hangs out on top of bookcases, shelves, the bed headboard and wherever else he can access. I have read articles about territorial aggression that state you need to maximize you vertical space as well as your horizontal space. Kitties may not get in each other’s faces as much if they can go over each other as well as or instead of next to each other - the conflict happened in the hall that everyone has to navigate in order to get to the main feeding source.
I will also be purchasing more feeders and waterers to put in different parts of the house to try and defray some of this aggression.
The approximate costs of the issues in this article (so far) are as follows:
$300 for the hunger strike
$200 to clean Ed’s fang wound (including a $20 tube of cream I had to treat him with for about a week)
$50 for the Feliway plug in that may or may not even work
$8 to dress the gash in my hand