Aggression, Bullying, Dislikes Artificial Pheromones

yamashta

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Last year I acquired a kitten from a friend. Said cat was born September 17th (so she's nearly a year old now, I got her at 10-11 weeks of age). She's a dilute calico, short-hair.

Her entire litter was born with SEVERE fever coat (I had only ever seen fever coat in black cats/primarily black cats, but this litter only had one primarily black male kitten, the rest were one male brown tabby, one female standard calico, one female torbie, and two female dilute calicos. They all looked ashy grey-white with slightly darker heads. Three kittens were born with regular tails and three kittens (the torbie, standard calico and one of the dilute calicos) had irregular, kinked tails. The torbie and standard calico had shorter than average tails, one with a kink at the base and one with a kink at the tip. The dilute calico (my cat) had/has a kink mid-way through the tail.

Anyways, her name is Pecan. She was the runt of the litter and the last to learn how to walk- she dragged her hind legs at first and while she's able to run, walk, jump and climb just fine now her gait is a little odd and her hind legs seem a bit longer than 'normal' and angled out. She looks a bit bow-legged, really.

She was a very affectionate, playful, amusing kitten. She's still very very playful and can be quite amusing and has her moments of affection but she's very aggressive. I have a very difficult time trimming her claws (she squawks at me, bites me very hard, jerks her head around while she's biting me, kicks me, etc.) and I can't brush her because she'll attack the brush and fight it/bite it.

A few months ago she started getting more aggressive to the other two cats we have (both sixteen year old females). What started out as annoying kitten-play toward them turned into stalking, staring, intimidation, swatting/herding, etc. Our short-hair calico Artemis has developed toileting issues because Pecan will attack/stalk Artemis while she's in the cat box. I don't think Artemis has used the cat box for over a month, she's been going in the bathroom in the tub and on the floor if there's clothing/a mat/towel to go on. Even then, if Pecan sees her go into the tub she'll wait at the edge and 'trap' Artemis in the tub and won't back down until I or another person living here physically removes her from the bathroom. Artemis has basically become a cupboard cat- she never, ever leaves the bathroom cupboard unless she needs to toilet or if the door is closed and Pecan isn't able to get to her.

She attacks and bullies our medium-hair tortoiseshell Callisto as well, however Callisto is a very docile, patient, submissive cat and was 'under' Artemis in 'ranks' so to speak, so she hasn't gone down in 'rank' with Pecan being introduced. If anything, it seems like she's gone up in 'rank', since Artemis has been basically reduced to an anxious hermit that has to be fed and watered IN the cupboard. (She won't eat or drink if it's outside of the cupboard, even if it's in the bathroom on the floor nearby.) Artemis will even urinate in the cupboard if she feels she can't get out and go safely in the tub.

Pecan also is not receptive to being taught not to do things. She does a great many 'naughty' behaviors and rather than learning from being relocated/deterred, she continues to attempt to do them. After a time she gets frustrated by my persistence and will bite/attack me and it hurts.

I've installed multi-cat feliway pheromone plug-ins and have gotten pheromone collars. Artemis and Callisto like them, they' sniff as if very interested, will rub their cheeks/lips on them, etc. If I offer it to Pecan to sniff, she squints and rears her head back and will run away if I try to offer it again.

I'm not sure what to do. I'm reluctant to take her in to see if she needs medication but she does strike me as neurologically different and her aggression/intimidation/etc. is getting worse, it seems.

While amusing, she does a strange behavior (and she's done it since she was very small) where she'll be be playing and suddenly kick herself in the head or face with her back foot, then proceed to attack/bite her leg/foot. It's funny, but it's also bizarre and a bit concerning at times.

Any thoughts, comments, concerns, recommendations, advise? I am not going to rehome my senior cats and I am very reluctant to rehome Pecan. I met her before she was old enough to leave her mother (I want to say four or five weeks old) and she 'chose' me- crawled into my lap and fell asleep and stayed in my lap for two hours. She's also my first OWN cat, as these senior cats are family cats we got when I was a small child.

As a footnote, before I forget, all cats are spayed. Seniors were spayed at about 6-7 months of age, and Pecan was spayed about that age as well.
 

ArtNJ

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You said (emphasis mine):

"I'm reluctant to take her in to see if she needs medication but she does strike me as neurologically different and her aggression/intimidation/etc. is getting worse, it seems."

Why? Getting a vet's opinion is a logical first step to rule out health issues causing the behavior. She might be in some pain from her congenital issues, and it could make it harder for her to regulate her behavior. Cats hide pain really really well, but it can manifest itself indirectly in bad/aggressive behaviors. Good vets also give good behavioral advice, and don't recommend meds like prozac or pain meds until they are sure you have tried what can be tried, and the need is significant.

Many cats don't like being brushed or having their nails cut so I don't make too much of that. As far as the pouncing the older cat, is there hissing, growling, screaming, is fur pulled out? Note that the older cat's reaction seems abnormally severe, and a large part of the problem. The older cat should probably do into the vet as well, to rule out a health issue impacting her ability to deal with added stress.
 
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Furballsmom

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Hi!
Pecan is probably ruining the physical health and definitely is ruining the emotional health of Artemis. This doesn't seem to really truly concern you, at least not enough to actually do something about the awful behavior of Pecan.

Yes you're here and asking, but it doesn't feel like you are fully vested in the older cats' health and well-being, and you should be.

You should be trying a HISS. That is language cats understand because it is how their nama cat teaches them.

Currently Pecan is holding the entire house hostage, and at the very least this is incredibly unfair to your other cats.

Even if the HISS works, and I've gotten a lot of feedback that it does, all three of them need to go in to the vet, especially Artemis that poor sweet baby.
 
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yamashta

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I do care. You're making unfair, somewhat hurtful assumptions about me without even knowing my situation. I asked here in hopes of recieving advise or recommendation.

It costs $360+ USD where I am just to be seen for an hour by a behaviorist to determine whether treatment is appropriate and an additional $160+ USD for each consecutive 20 minute appointment to do god knows what. I am disabled, unemployed and living in one of the most expensive cities in my state (and before someone says that I should move, I was born in this city, have never lived outside of it and literally cannot afford to move or to live on my own.) I get $730 a month from the government. All of it goes into rent. My mom buys food for me because I can't afford to buy food for myself. We have had these two older cats since I was a small child, before the cost of living skyrocketed due to gentrification. They are family cats. Pecan is mine, and I only just barely was able to get her spayed and chipped and vaccinated because I qualified for a low income bundle being offered by the humane society.

Yes, the other cats growl and hiss and fur gets pulled out. Pecan is quiet though, never hisses or growls. I have tried growling and hissing. It doesn't work. I love all of the cats and do my best to protect Artemis and Callisto from Pecan's behavior but I'm only one person and none of my other family members living here (there are five of us because we can't afford to live on our own)do much. My mother is severely depressed, my great uncle is incredibly emotionally abusive to her and I, my Grandma has dementia and is getting worse and worse each month and her boyfriend is just a tick in her armpit she seems too attached to to dig out.

So please, don't say hurtful things suggesting I don't care. I do care. I was just trying to reach out to people who may be able to give me constructive feeedback, since at this time it's all I can do.
 

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Hi! I'm sorry and i sincerely apologize, but hearing that a cat is being terrorized by another cat to the point that it is literally living in a cabinet, and holding its pee and poop for far too long because it's afraid to come out because the door isn't being kept closed, means the aggressive cat is putting the victim cats health at serious risk. Plus Artemis isn't eating well and is in a constant state of fear, which is very hard on her heart etc.

A I'm Not Backing Down I Mean It hiss works, but it sounds as though you're up against it and can't be there to protect the victim cat every time, since you don't have Artemis in a room where she's protected by a closed door.

She, as well as the other older cat, needs to be put in a room with a door that remains closed until the aggression gets toned down, --a lot, which will take time.

You've gotten good advice, I so very much hope for your older cats that you take it.

Please do take a look at these two links; and see about getting those cats on to a vet.

No Money For Vet Care? How To Find Help And Save Your Cat's Life

Financial Aid for Pets
 

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yamashta yamashta - I understand your predicament. One of my cats with anxiety often bullies the most senior cat in the house. :bat:
I would recommend that you do bring Pecan to the vet though. I wonder if she may be in pain. When she was spayed, did the vet ever mention, or did you ask anything about her legs??:confused2:
Once she is cleared of a possible condition that affects her behavior, there should be no need to hire an expensive behaviorist without first doing things on your own.
One thing you should start with right away is to bump up Artemis' confidence. Things to try include :
Play with him multiple times a day, and when play time is done (when he's tired) give him a small meal or treat.
Place a litter box for him where he feels comfortable going that Pecan does not have access to or where she does not tend to go. You said he pees in the cupboard? If there is room for it, maybe place the litter in there for him. The reason for his inappropriate peeing is probably because Pecan has taken the litter boxes hostage, and attacks or does not allow Artemis to use them. It is recommended that you have one litter box per cat plus one, to help eliminate fighting over them.
Make a sort of cat highway high up so Artemis can move about the house without out having to confront Pecan. This does not need to be expensive either, you can use strategically placed already existing furniture, and well anchored (non-slip) shelving in between (ex: unfinished wood, carpet covered....)
Also look to see if there is an area where Pecan tends to hide to stalk your other cats. Try to remove or at least limit areas where she can "ambush attack" from. If Artemis can see her coming, he has more time to escape, but hopefully with added confidence, he'll stand up for himself and they will hopefully learn to live in peace.
There are some calming treats out there that you could give him to help with his stress levels.
Artemis might even be more comfortable if you give him his very own space (bigger than a cupboard...poor thing:(.) that Pecan has ZERO access to. Where if you are not able to keep an eye on them, put him in there so he knows he is safe and secure, with toys, a litter box, food, water, beds and blankets...
Sometimes bullies continue to pick on the "weak" simply because they are an easy target to take out their frustrations, which in turn makes that "weak" cat even less confident continuing the vicious cycle. :frown::frustrated:
I would also recommend that you pay very close attention to Artemis' urination habits though, sometimes stress will cause inflammation and spasms of their urinary system, which leads to a very painful and potentially fatal (if not corrected in time) condition. If he seems to be straining to pee, or he pees in small puddles, or he tries to go but nothing comes out....He needs a vet IMMEDIATELY, no ifs, ands or buts.

OK so that was a few suggestions for Artemis, now to Pecan...
Well, I have to repeat myself a bit and say that her behavior could very well be pain induced, and no amount of behavior training will work if it's pain or illness causing it. Bringing her to a vet to rule out an illness will save you a lot of heart ache and additional costs form trying this and that, that as I mentioned, won't work if it's health related.
An aggressive cat, is either in pain/ill or scared/stressed. And it's always best to rule out pain/illness first. Then work on why they are stressed.

In the mean time though, I have found that when trying to correct aggressive behavior, cats do not respond well to "aggressive behavior" from the human. It only makes it worse because they now have MORE things to be stressed about. So what you do is give her love and treats when she is being calm, relaxing, ignoring the other cats, etc....And ignore, or if it's really bad, remove her without even acknowledging her in any way, (eye contact, talking...) NOTHING, when she is acting up. Just pick her up, place her in her own room (with food, water, litter...), close the door and give it at least an hour. She will hopefully associate calm, peaceful behavior with good things, and aggressive behavior with bad.
There are multiple different behavior modification tips, but unless and until you rule out an illness and figure out WHY she is aggressive, and what type of aggression she is displaying (pain, play, redirected, over stimulation, territorial, dominance, and more....) your just wasting your time and money.
I wish you all the best, and hope Pecan comes back with a clean bill of health.
:catman:
Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helps.
 

jen

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A house full of territorial female cats, calicos nonetheless, is asking for drama IMO lol.

Keep those feliway diffusers plugged in. They aren't supposed to walk up and sniff it at full strength, it is meant to diffuser throughout the room. I am not surprised she reacted that way having it stuck in her face. You could put calming collars on them too.

I think they absolutely need a vet though. You took these cats on and it is your responsibility to provide a loving, stable home for them. Artemis is living a high stress life and that is terrible for her health (UTIs, etc).

You have multiple litterboxes right? One per cat plus one? Clearly poor Artemis needs to be in her own room with her own litterbox until you get the 1 year old medicated and under control.
 

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This might seem a little stupid, but can you put a collar with a bell on Pecan? This will enable the other two cats to hear where Pecan is or when Pecan is coming to minimize her ability to surprise ambush them. My nine month old kitten was inadvertently terrorizing my niece's timid/traumatized cat through his efforts to get the older cat to play with him. I took the older cat's collar off so he could move around silently but left my kitten's collar with the bell on so the older cat knew where he was. I don't know how much that contributed to him settling in and calming down, but the older cat has slowly been getting more confident. It's not the same since the kitten wasn't trying to be vicious or aggressive, he just doesn't have good social skills when it comes to other cats.
 

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To the OP, I'm so glad you came back, hopefully some of the suggestions help you and the cats :)
 

PushPurrCatPaws

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Hello, yamashta yamashta -- (this will be long and I apologize in advance!)

I have been trying for over a day to gather my thoughts to write a good message for you, but I honestly don't know if what I will have to say can really help you and Pecan in your situation. My heart really goes out to you --and to Pecan and your other kitties-- with what you are going through.

I am sorry if we are struggling here in how to find the right answers for you, as your situation is really intense and complicated, with the two 16-yr-old females and the little teenager kitty, Pecan, plus your living situation, with your family, and an income stretched thin. Life is never easy, is it. I've read your posting history here and caught up on what some of your concerns and issues were some years ago with your 2 older kitties. Things are very hard when income is limited, and I know you love Pecan, the cats, and wish the best for them.

I saw the photos of your cute kitten!
https://thecatsite.com/attachments/23519039_10212055721683240_1074014120998713129_n-jpg.205482/
https://thecatsite.com/attachments/23518870_10212055722203253_7074983928514628367_n-jpg.205483/
https://thecatsite.com/attachments/23519108_10212055724523311_7250247409218992774_n-jpg.205485/
:heartshape:

We can only respond here at TCS with what our personal experiences have "primed" us to react to, and so a lot of members here have experience with living situations involving multiple cats, how cats can get along, aggression and "purrsonality" issues and the like.

All of the above posters who mentioned to you that pain can make a kitten or a cat act out and be more aggressive are correct. That is one of the things that can cause aggression, especially if the pain is persistent, feels especially weird or tingly or unpredictable, and is frightening to the cat. And if the cause of that pain isn't fixed or alleviated, then the aggression can turn into a learned behavior pattern. I personally don't like just resorting to drugs like kitty Prozac or whatever right off the bat, until a health or physical reason for any aggression has been ruled out. Drugs have their own drawbacks, and not all cats react well to them.

For me, my input here would focus on my gut feeling that you can learn more if you get your kitten, Pecan, checked out by a vet for possible congenital and/or genetic issues with her bones and bone growth. A kitten goes through several growth spurts, when the bones and muscles and soft tissues are really developing and lengthening, and often one sees congenital issues appear when a kitten is 3-4 months old up to even 2.5-3 years old. Cats grow at different rates. If you can find a lower cost orthopedic vet to really check out your Pecan, that would be wonderful. By "checking out" I mean, full xrays of her back, spine, ribs, and back legs, for starters, and a good physical (manual) exam, even just by a low cost but good, regular vet would also be great.

Why do I suggest possible congenital issues? Because of the many things you brought up in your first post, which I'll copy here (I've highlighted them in a blue color) --

Last year I acquired a kitten from a friend. Said cat was born September 17th (so she's nearly a year old now, I got her at 10-11 weeks of age). She's a dilute calico, short-hair.

Her entire litter was born with SEVERE fever coat (I had only ever seen fever coat in black cats/primarily black cats, but this litter only had one primarily black male kitten, the rest were one male brown tabby, one female standard calico, one female torbie, and two female dilute calicos. They all looked ashy grey-white with slightly darker heads. Three kittens were born with regular tails and three kittens (the torbie, standard calico and one of the dilute calicos) had irregular, kinked tails. The torbie and standard calico had shorter than average tails, one with a kink at the base and one with a kink at the tip. The dilute calico (my cat) had/has a kink mid-way through the tail.

Anyways, her name is Pecan. She was the runt of the litter and the last to learn how to walk- she dragged her hind legs at first and while she's able to run, walk, jump and climb just fine now her gait is a little odd and her hind legs seem a bit longer than 'normal' and angled out. She looks a bit bow-legged, really.

She was a very affectionate, playful, amusing kitten. She's still very very playful and can be quite amusing and has her moments of affection but she's very aggressive. I have a very difficult time trimming her claws (she squawks at me, bites me very hard, jerks her head around while she's biting me, kicks me, etc.) and I can't brush her because she'll attack the brush and fight it/bite it.

A few months ago she started getting more aggressive to the other two cats we have (both sixteen year old females). What started out as annoying kitten-play toward them turned into stalking, staring, intimidation, swatting/herding, etc. ...

Pecan also is not receptive to being taught not to do things. She does a great many 'naughty' behaviors and rather than learning from being relocated/deterred, she continues to attempt to do them. After a time she gets frustrated by my persistence and will bite/attack me and it hurts.
...
I'm not sure what to do. I'm reluctant to take her in to see if she needs medication but she does strike me as neurologically different and her aggression/intimidation/etc. is getting worse, it seems.

While amusing, she does a strange behavior (and she's done it since she was very small) where she'll be be playing and suddenly kick herself in the head or face with her back foot, then proceed to attack/bite her leg/foot. It's funny, but it's also bizarre and a bit concerning at times.

Any thoughts, comments, concerns, recommendations, advise? I am not going to rehome my senior cats and I am very reluctant to rehome Pecan. I met her before she was old enough to leave her mother (I want to say four or five weeks old) and she 'chose' me- crawled into my lap and fell asleep and stayed in my lap for two hours. She's also my first OWN cat, as these senior cats are family cats we got when I was a small child.

As a footnote, before I forget, all cats are spayed. Seniors were spayed at about 6-7 months of age, and Pecan was spayed about that age as well.

This is definitely something for you to check out, in my view. I speak from my own experiences with my current kitty, Milly, who (as I found out when she reached an age just a bit older than your Pecan is now) had two congenital luxating kneecaps in her back legs. She's always had a kink at the end of her tail, but that often is not a big deal. She is a rescued kitten that came from a backyard breeder, and there was likely a lot of inbreeding. I've recently found out through another xray that my kitty also has: "L1 vertebra is transitional with hypoplastic ribs and there are only two sacral segments present." (>per the radiologist reading her latest xrays). That L1 vertebra hopefully won't be a future pain issue, but having only two sacral segments when cats should usually have three sacral segments... it's no wonder she spazzes out sometimes if we touch her butt near the base of her tail, esp. when she was younger and going through growth spurts. Who knows how the nerve endings in my kitty's back are reacting and tingling at times! She only likes to be picked up and held in very particular ways. Your Pecan could be having a lot of nerve endings going haywire at times, too, if she does end up being diagnosed with certain spinal issues. Sometimes if a litter has a lot of tail abnormalities in the kittens and some of the kittens have obvious issues with walking or moving, you can wonder if there is something genetic or congenital going on. The tail is just one part of the cat's whole spine and it might be really good to get xrays done of her spine, tail and back legs. You wrote about how many of Pecan's littermates had kinks in various tail locations, and that your sweet Pecan walks funny at times and often bites herself or reacts weirdly to her body, is aggressive and doesn't like her paws and legs touched during nail clipping and such. I think my cat was also the runt in her litter, and if a momma cat was stressed or had a high fever (in your case, the fever coat issue you wrote about), or had a lot of kittens, or other issues during pregnancy... sometimes congenital growth issues are 'baked in' to the situation. :dunno:

I think those blue highlighted points you talked about should definitely be relayed to a vet, if you do wish to try to rule out congenital bone issues as a possible problem with pain and the resulting aggressive behavior. She might be being aggressive to the other cats, and to you and your family, as she doesn't know how or why or when she will next feel sudden pain(s) in her legs or spine.

The problem is, that depending on what you find out, it could just be the start of more financial and health recovery troubles, if surgery is recommended. It is not an easy thing to go through, for sure. I know. But only in going to a vet will you find out more, and get some help for Pecan, whether it is taking care of her through low cost vets and surgeons? or rehoming her to someone who might have better circumstances? I know you love her, so this is really hard, if she does end up being in a difficult position physically. She's just a normal happy teenager-kitten in so many ways, and some of her behavior is just normal and probably a phase. But from the things you wrote about, my "spidey senses" are wondering if it is a congenital bone issue at the core of this. If that can be improved over the long term, her behavior issues should also improve. And that's a start.

This is hugely long post already, or else I'd go further into the surgeries my own kitty had the last few years. But there might be no point yet in getting ahead of ourselves.
:grouphug2:

edit: the best thing, of course, is if you get Pecan xrays and checked out, that she won't have any congenital issues! I don't mind writing what I did in any case!:) Maybe it will help someone else out!
 
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yamashta

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Sorry for the delay in responses, everyone. Things have been busy here. I keep leopard geckos and welcomed a new baby boy gecko into the family so I've been fussing over him as he settles into his new home while also, of course, fussing over Pecan, Artemis and Callisto.

To start this reply off, I'd like to say that while Pecan is still being a bully and still prone to being very mean, I do think the pheromones are at least helping Artemis. She still spends most of her time hiding either in the bathroom cupboard or in my closet (it doesn't have a door and is empty so I can see her and keep an eye on her), but she has been coming out more and 'visiting' us occasionally, and will eat/drink at the 'communal' dishes in the kitchen. (I make sure she always has food and water in the cupboard or closet, depending on where she is.)

We have been trying to figure out a way to set Artemis up with her own private toilet that Pecan would not have access to or at the very least, have minimal access to. Pecan has established herself as the new queen of the house so she likes to urine-spot in all of our cat boxes, even if she doesn't actually use all of them.

I've been discussing with my mother about Pecan and her potential pain issues/congenital issues and she's been receptive and has been considering investing in pet insurance for her, since she's still very young and has a very short medical history. While I'd like for all of the cats to have insurance, Pecan getting it is better than none of them getting it.

Thank you very much @PushPurrCatPaws for your post. I do not mind that it was long- it was genuinely helpful and pleasant to read, as you shared some of your own person experience with Milly and I appreciate that. It made your reply more relatable. I will look into orthopedic vets and try to keep this post updated. Like you say, I love Pecan immensely, she is my baby, so if I can help her I want to, even if it means potentially re-homing her to someone who can afford the medical care she needs. I will do what I can for her for now and hope for the best.
 

Furballsmom

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welcomed a new baby boy gecko into the family
awwww, that's so cool!

"but she has been coming out more and 'visiting' us occasionally, and will eat/drink at the 'communal' dishes in the kitchen."
This is terrific news, GO ARTEMIS-KITTY :thumbsup:
 

PushPurrCatPaws

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Sorry for the delay in responses, everyone. ...

Thank you very much @PushPurrCatPaws for your post. I do not mind that it was long- it was genuinely helpful and pleasant to read, as you shared some of your own person experience with Milly and I appreciate that. It made your reply more relatable. I will look into orthopedic vets and try to keep this post updated. Like you say, I love Pecan immensely, she is my baby, so if I can help her I want to, even if it means potentially re-homing her to someone who can afford the medical care she needs. I will do what I can for her for now and hope for the best.
You are welcome. I sure hope it is not what I fear it is, as it is a long, expensive, grueling thing to go through (e.g. knee or hip surgeries & then recovery, and with a cat). Maybe it is just behaviorial. -cross fingers-

But I know that with my cat, she started getting very klutzy, falling when jumping from this cabinet to that platform, getting more "bitey" and fussy as she acted out... until we finally witnessed her knee(s) luxating in and out when she walked and ran. (We were able to get some videos.) She was about 11-14 months old when we really starting noticing her knee issues. Since it was congenital with her, it would just progress and get worse and worse. Eventually, it would result in full lameness and probable amputation if it reached constant Grade IV luxations (the knee always dislocated), or at the least, horrific arthritis and constant pain for the rest of her long life. Surgery could reverse all that, as long as she was "good" during her cage rest. We were lucky to be able to do knee surgeries, and each knee one year apart, just as she was reaching Grade II-Grade III luxations with each knee.

I'm glad it is over with. :paperbag:
 

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