Anesthesia #3July 4, 2022
Older CH CatsJuly 4, 2022
The reason why you've gotten so many suggestions to neuter Vicious is that it really CAN help lower aggression, particularly in male cats. You said that he's a young kitty - just under a year - and kitties that age is a bit aggressive at any rate and when you mix hormones with it, well, you get the picture.
I do recommend neutering - because it will likely help - but it's not the only thing you should be concerned about.
I don't know Vicious' background, but the behavior you describe is actually very common in kitties that suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are common when a kitty suffers from "orphan cat syndrome" -
essentially, a kitty who was either weaned too early or who was bottle-fed (believe me - I know - I'm dealing with an issue with one of my adult neutered males right now) often shows "orphan cat syndrome". Essentially, cats in the wild (if you can picture domestic cats in the wild!) live in pretty strict social/organizational structures. There is always only one adult male - the pack leader. There are often multiple adult females (who are commonly related)
and are the mothers in the group. Finally, there are a host of immature and adolescent males and females who are reared by adult females. The adult females have a dual role - they are the "nurture" part of the equation,
comforting young and adolescent cats when they are frightened or stressed. But they are also the "disciplinarians" in the equation. They teach the young ones how to and not to behave. With cats who lack a mother entirely or who have been weaned too early, they never learn the "right" way to act and they have a
baseline of behavior that equates to uncomforted anxiety and stress. Make sense so far?
At nearly a year, it's virtually impossible to undo the learned behaviors you describe *behaviorally*. In other words, you can't re-introduce a mother figure yourself at this point in the game so that Vicious can learn the right way to act. But you CAN try to minimize the behavior you describe. It often takes a combination of medications and behavioral retraining.
Medications like fluoxetine (kitty Prozac) can help greatly. Vicious would need to go to his regular vet and be fully checked out (bloodwork) to ensure that fluoxetine is safe for him and in what amount. You also want to rule out that aggressive behavior is being caused by some underlying medical (not behavioral) condition that can be treated. Most vets will refer you as well to Cornell University's Veterinary program - specifically, the Animal Behavior Clinic. For about $75 (I did this in July), you can have a phone consultation (believe me, it works) with one of their vets who has also gone through an additional year of post-doctorate coursework in animal behavior. Let me give you a link:
You'll see at that link that you can download a feline behavioral history form.
This is a LOOONG form, and it will collect a great deal of detailed information on Vicious, the household generally, the troubling behavior, etc. You would submit this prior to your consultation. The consultation itself lasts about 90
minutes and is VERY detailed. The vet will ask a bunch of very specific questions to come up with a treatment plan for Vicious which does typically involve medications and behavioral recommendations. I am doing both in my home.
What really hit home for me, Chrissy, is that aggressive behavior really typically does stem from some level of anxiety and frustration. I was really on the fence about putting Rufus on fluoxetine - but after the consult with the Cornell vet, I realized that the medication would help him live with less frustration, fear and anxiety. He's been on the medication for coming on four weeks now and his anxious behaviors have definitely decreased. Another recommendation the Cornell vet made was to simply disengage when Rufus would do
something he shouldn't - i.e., bite - to put him down and just ignore him (which is the complete opposite of what they want, of course).
The question for you would be whether this is an underlying emotional issue or whether it's somehow a factor of age. Take Vicious to the vet and ask them about medication. Have the appropriate tests done to ensure the safety of medication for Vicious? Finally, absolutely avail yourself of the expertise that Cornell offers. Their recommendations will be detailed and extensive, as well as knowledgeable, and will give you a sense of process and control over how to help Vicious to be happier and less anxious (because that's the goal), which will help decrease/stop the behavior that he's exhibiting.
Let me also give you a great document on aggression in cats:
You describe some level of "petting aggression" (good entry on that here:
http://www.petplace.com/cats/petting-aggression-in-cats/page1.aspx) - one thing that I didn't know before the Cornell consult is that cats are very sensitive to repetitive petting. In other words, if you pet the same area over and over again, it can actually become a bit painful for the cat. The recommendation was to vary the petting locations lightly and to keep them focused on the head and neck area.
Hope that helps. Don't be angry with people recommending the most common help (neutering). It's an obvious first step, but hopefully, I've given you additional information to carry it further.
Good luck to you and to Vicious.