Sudden and violent aggression towards dog

texasredreb

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My cat is an 8.5 year old 30lb Maine Coon who was neutered prior to my adopting him at 6 months old. The dog is an 8 year old Boerboel (mastiff) who is also neutered. He weighs 180lbs and is active and agile. He was purchased when he was 10 weeks old. Both are current on vaccines. The dog has had extensive training. The cat has always been aloof towards humans and aggressive if provoked by petting. He has occasionally attacked a person without provocation. 

Two weeks ago, I had to have my 16 year old spayed cattle dog euthanized due to old age related ailments. 

Since the passing of the older dog, the cat has become violently aggressive towards the dog. The cat will stalk and attack the dog both when the dog is asleep and when the dog is awake. The attacks include biting and scratching.

They have always gotten along prior to the other dog's passing. What can I do to save this poor cat's life? I'm afraid the dog is going to reach his breaking point and kill the cat. 

I do have an appointment with the vet so I can discuss the cat's sudden change in behavior--if the dog doesn't kill him first. I'm not being flippant--this is an urgent situation.
 
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texasredreb

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Okay....well thanks.
 

whollycat

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Hopefully others will weigh in, but I'll try to help in the meantime. It is good you're getting him checked by a vet to rule out physical problems. Make sure the vet checks for arthritis, vision, hearing, and especially his heart as Maine Coons can be prone genetically to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Also, is he overweight? At 30lbs, even for a MC, that is pretty large (I have a huge MC boy, but he is not overweight at around 18+ pounds).

If behavioral, here are a few things you can try:

Use an interactive toy like Da Bird and play with him every day. If he is being aggressive because of his natural instinct to hunt prey, this may help with that. When using this toy, DO let him "catch" it during play time or he may become frustrated. There are other types of aggression, so maybe take a look at these websites and try to define the type of aggression you are seeing, then let us know and we can help further. Here are a couple sites: http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/101/Aggression-in-Cats.aspx and http://www.perfectpaws.com/agg.html.

Does he have a tall kitty tree where he can climb and be up high where he feels safe and secure? I would invest in a very sturdy one, especially given his size. MC's can be quite rambunctious, so a sturdy one that can take a lot of heavy traffic is a must for them.

Have you ever taken him for walks on a harness? This is a great way for them to be outside without the worry of them getting away or getting hurt. Also, it may be a good way to try and contain him around the dog--never let the dog tease him if he is on the harness, and don't let kitty get close to the dog.

Speaking of which, if his aggression has increased since the loss of you other doggie, he may be going through his own grieving process. Try to spend extra time with him and do a lot of comforting talk with him.

You might look into Flower Essences. You choose which best fit the behavior of your kitty; you can use more than one FE at a time. Here's how to use them and evaporate the alcohol that is used to preserve them (alcohol is not good for kitties): http://blog.spiritessences.com/2012/05/how-to-use-essences/. Spirit Essences are also sold at the above link for FEs. I can attest to the fact that these do work when you find the right one or combination of remedies because I use them for my kitties.

Well, hopefully that gave you something to start with.
Please do let us know what the vet said.
 
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texasredreb

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Thank you for your helpful response! Here is my (long) reply to many points you've brought up. I hope I've addressed them all. If not...ask again. I want help and I'm not trying to hide anything.

The aggression is definitely offensive. His posture is described perfectly in the ASPCA article. He also does most of the following when attacking the dog:

·         Swatting, striking with paws

·         Biting

·         Fighting

·         Growling, shrieking

·         Scratching

·         Preparing for an all-out attack by rolling onto side or back and exposing all weapons: teeth and claws

The cat is also guarding the dog’s resources. He will lie on or near the dog’s food bowl (I’ve started picking it up) and the dog’s toys (which I’ve also started picking up) and will growl at and/or chase the dog away from those items.  Incidentally, this is behavior that the cattle dog (RIP) used to do to the mastiff.

Most of the attacks have happened when the dog is asleep or laying quietly on the floor.

When they were much younger; the dog was chasing the cat when the cat stopped suddenly and the dog ran over him. The cat’s ACL was torn. This was 6-7 years ago.

As far as being able to get vertical—the cat has a 7-8’ climbing tower. It is home made of carpet covered 2x4’s. It has a solid box on the bottom (all carpeted) with an access hole to out the top and another hole  out to  the side. The middle and top shelves have access holes as well. The upright posts are covered in various types of rope and it has hanging toys. He loves it. His litter box and food are inside an un-used bathroom with access via a small doggie door.

He also has access to a large screened in porch via a small doggie door. The porch is 30’ long by 14’ deep. It has patio furniture (tables, chairs, couch, futon,  chest freezer, etc.) that he likes to lay on. He loves the porch.

We live on acreage—and he also goes outside. In 8 years, I’ve never seen him off of our property. Our neighbor’s don’t even know we have a cat.

The cat weighs a lot…and I’m sure he’s over-weight. I’ll find out for sure when he goes to his appointment. He only eats the food prescribed by the vet. The cat is vicious to the vet and caused one vet to get stitches in her hand. He now has to be “boxed” before handling—that is gassed inside his carrier prior to handling.

He has aggressively attacked us—but we respect his boundaries. We cat pet him on the head only—about four strokes before he gets annoyed. I can pick him up and carry him, but my husband cannot. He will sleep in the bed with us, but we can’t touch him or he will growl and bite.

We adopted him, but he was originally purchased from a breeder as he was micro chipped by that breeder. Apparently, he was played with too aggressively in his first home and was dump for aggression on a hwy outside a rural town. The only rescue in town wound up with him and they had to keep him in a kennel in someone’s office because he was aggressive to other shelter animals and staff. We’ve made our peace with him and I think he likes us and he used to love the dogs. Now that one has passed—he is very openly aggressively to the remaining animal. 
 

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Quick questions:

1) Is/are the dog's food/water bowl(s) inside the home or outside?

2) Do you notice anything to indicate that kitty is in pain still from torn ACL? (I would for sure have the vet check this out--could be that arthritis has also set in.)

3) What is kitty's name?

 
 
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texasredreb

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1. Dog is fed and watered inside the house and always has been. The dog (named Brew) lives in the house, but uses a doggie door that gives him access to a fenced yard. 

2. I will have the vet check the ACL. The appointment is Friday.  It did not require a surgical repair. He has not been limping. 

3. His name is Logan. 


I don't know if this is relevant, but Brew is currently injured and on restricted exercise. The sequence of events in the last two weeks happened as follows:

1. Dog Brew beings limping on both front feet. Went to vet and was diagnosed with injured paw pads--probably from a sliding stop on gravel he did a day or so before. Vet prescribes rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications. His allergy medications are temporarily stopped.

2. The very next day, our older female cattle dog (Sydney) falls and can't get up. To the e-vet we go. After extensive diagnostics and talks with the vet, she is euthanized. Her hip is broke and she has the pre-existing conditions of arthritis and Cushings. It was a sudden end that left us all shocked and sad. 

3. A day or two after putting the cattle dog down, Brew becomes very depressed. He is both injured and in mourning.

4. A day or so later, Logan seems to realize Sydney is missing.  He begins being aggressive towards Brew; and his behaviors seem to be mimicking those of the cattle dog. The behaviors have been increasing with the passage of time. 
 

whollycat

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Thanks for the info!
I'm short on time right now, but I'll get a reply off to you either later tonight or sometime tomorrow. Didn't want you to think I deserted you!

 
 
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texasredreb

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Thank you! I look forward to it.
 

whollycat

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When they were much younger; the dog was chasing the cat when the cat stopped suddenly and the dog ran over him. The cat’s ACL was torn. This was 6-7 years ago.
Was it Brew that was chasing Logan when he got injured?

I'm still trying to decipher information to narrow things down.
Thanks for all the information previously supplied--it helps a lot!
 
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texasredreb

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Yes. Brew was chasing Logan when Logan was hurt. When they were younger; the "chaser" and "chasee" often changed in the same play session. One or the other would start the play and then they would chase each other.

Brew plowed into him because at that time, we just had our floors re-done. Carpet was removed and the concrete was stained and polished. Brew put the brakes on, but trampled Logan as he was trying to stop. I initially thought Logan's back was broke... Brew was a large (100+lb) clumsy puppy who wanted to play, play, play. 

After the injury, I discouraged the game and taught Brew a, "leave the kitty" command; which he learned very well.  Brew went on to receive his CGC and TDI as well as agility and lure course training. After Logan recovered, he received his exercise and stimulation by us (humans) playing with him. Logan is very easily aroused during play time and often winds up attacking us by lunging full body at our faces, trying to bite and scratch. We tried to engage him in calmer play/petting sessions, but he wants none of that and will bite and growl to tell us to go away. When we play with him now, we play for a few minutes and discontinue before he gets overly aroused. When we are doing this, we crate Brew with a Kong so that Logan doesn't transfer his aggression to Brew. 

Logan goes to the vet tomorrow for an exam and vaccines. Unfortunately, the vet will not work with Logan when he is conscious, so he may not be able to tell if Logan is in pain as he (cat) will be asleep during the exam. Any diagnostics will have to be done via blood work, x-rays, physical exam, or by observation after the cat awakes. 

I don't know what I'm hoping for with the exam and with answers from this forum. A magic pill would be nice... Mostly, I don't want the dog to kill him as he is certainly capable of doing so.
 

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After Logan recovered, he received his exercise and stimulation by us (humans) playing with him. Logan is very easily aroused during play time and often winds up attacking us by lunging full body at our faces, trying to bite and scratch. We tried to engage him in calmer play/petting sessions, but he wants none of that and will bite and growl to tell us to go away. When we play with him now, we play for a few minutes and discontinue before he gets overly aroused.
Do you use your hands to play with him? Can you describe a bit, please?

I'm just full of questions, eh?
 
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texasredreb

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No problem with the questions!

My answer this time is: OH HECK NO!!! We would draw back bloody stumps! The dangling end of the rope wrapped around the upright posts of the cat tower are what we usually use. In the past we've used various store purchased cat, "fishing pole" type toys. Those never last long as it usually only takes a few seconds for him to chew through the string portion.

More back story: We were actively looking for a young cat when we found Logan. At the time we had two aging cats (in their 20's) who were healthy, but aged. We wanted a younger, more active cat. We looked at various shelters for a few weeks. I wanted another lap cat as our two elderly cats were both very loving. We heard that a shelter in a remote rural town was having trouble with their "No Kill" policy as they had too many animals and too few adopters. Logan was due to be euthanized as he was not friendly to people, dogs or other cats. He was stunningly beautiful and a registered pure bred Maine Coon. They waived the adoption fee as he was not fully vaccinated and identified to be behavioral. It wasn't exactly love at first sight! The shelter staff tried to take our picture while we were holding Logan. He was trying to scratch our eyes out! We knew he was going to be a difficult cat. Our vet made suggestions that we followed and Logan warmed up--a bit.  Logan seemed to know he was home and he formed relationships with the dogs, but not the cats. He seemed to like being near us (he sleeps with us); but he only wants attention and affection on his terms. 

Both of the elderly cats died when Logan suffered kidney damage from the melamine tainting that occurred back in 2006 (I think); which was when Logan was about 2.5 years old and the mastiff Brew was about 2 years old, The melamine also damaged the recently departed cattle dog and our English Bulldog--who passed of kidney failure at age 15 in 2009. We stupidly fed the same "super premium" brand to all of our animals. Brew was the only one who suffered no lasting damage. We think it was because of his youth and his size (mastiff). 

Logan didn't seem to mourn the passing of the other animals, but we had a lot of animals and now we only have him, Brew and a 70 year old Amazon parrot.
 

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Oh my goodness, my Maxie is a Maine Coon (from a breeder from SC, I'm in IA)! I love this breed, and so love my Maxie. Kinda kismet that we've connected here with me trying to help your boy, eh?

Do you have more detail on Logan's background before he came to you? I'm thinking it was pretty abusive, but just want to clarify.

He uses the litter boxes okay? No marking or inappropriate peeing/poohing?

When you pet him are there any areas of his body that seem to set off the aggressive behavior?

A little of what I'm thinking is that Logan has PTSD from past trauma (e.g. mistreatment before you got him, ACL injury that he is associating with Drew) and is easily set off. Also because I watched a recent episode of "My Cat From Hell" with Jackson Galaxy and one of the kitties he treated, Xena, was a literal terror in the home. Seems her PTSD was triggered by an outside event--and man, did she become a scratching, biting machine. This also reminds me of Logan because of the traumas he's been through. NO one was safe when she was set off. It was also discovered that she was almost fully blind and in pain (think ACL injury and Logan).

I don't know if you're open to Flower Essences at all, but they did wonders for Xena. Here's a link to Xena's story with the FE's that Jackson used for her: http://jacksongalaxy.com/2012/07/11/spirit-essences-report-xena-•-gigi-suki/ and the reasons he used the FE's he did.

to you and thank you for caring so much about Logan. Poor boy has been through so much. More to come...I've got food on the stove that is probably burning by now.
 
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whollycat

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Oh! Make sure you get his kidney labs run tomorrow (plus all other diagnostic lab work). And don't forget to have his heart checked out to make sure he's not affected by HCM. Kinda bossy, aren't I?
Logan needs a thorough going over from the tip of his cute nose to the end of his long tail--and all parts in between.


Also, what did the vet have you do before to try and help Logan?
 
 
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texasredreb

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Nice to meet you too!!

Logan was purchased by a family from his breeder. He was found on a rural highway when he was about 5-6 months old and taken to the shelter. Since he was microchipped, the shelter was sure that he was just lost, but the family who purchased him didn't claim to own him--although they were the family on his chip. He was many miles from home--over 100. The breeder also did not want him back (boo!). 

The shelter believes that the children in the family (said to be young teen boys by the breeder) played too roughly with him and "riled" him up without giving him the chance to recover when he got over stimulated. The shelter also thinks that it was likely that Logan got too aggressive and was driven "out to the country" and dumped. He was un-neutered when they acquired him.

His registered name contained the word Regal and his breeder's name. The family called him Regal. The shelter re-named him Rogue. We originally kept Rogue, but he never seemed to know it was his name. We also tried calling him Regal (though we hated that name!), but he didn't know or respond to that name either. Hubby started calling him Logan out of the blue and the cat looked. We call him Logan and/or Lo and he knows and responds to his name by running towards us. He also responds to, "Kitty."

Incidentally, he never meows and rarely purrs. I've only heard him purr when he is getting fed. He will manage one or two short--like 1 second long--purrs. 

Onto the other questions!

Litter box habits-- He always uses the litter box or outside. Shortly after we first got him, he developed horrible smelly diarrhea that was mostly deposited on our leather furniture--which he ruined. We took him to the vet and he had a terrible intestinal infection. What a trip it was trying to get a course of antibiotics into him, but persevere we did!

Petting --He likes and enjoys short term (3-4 strokes, max) petting on top of his head including scratching behind his ears. Just recently he started tolerating and even liking scratching at the base of his tail. His back, belly, feet, tail and legs are totally OFF LIMITS! Under the chin is a no go as well. He has never sat on or near us--except at night. Very rarely he will sleep at night on my hip or try too---he's heavy!!
 

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Could you check out the Xena link re Jackson Galaxy and give me your thoughts, purrty please? I see similarities and makes me wonder about PTSD for Logan. (http://jacksongalaxy.com/2012/07/11/spirit-essences-report-xena-•-gigi-suki/)

Also, are you open to trying the Flower Essences that are recommended there?

I know behavior modification/desensitization is going to need to happen for Logan, but some well-used FEs can help in that regard too.

What did the vet have you try previously with Logan?

Thanks for the previous info!
 
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texasredreb

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Adding--I've never known him to pee outside the box. He has access to our yard and property, and I've seen him mark on bushes and whatnot. 

I will request a kidney profile and observation of his torn ACL.

I'm not against any type of remedy--including flower power!
 
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texasredreb

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Okay, I read the Xena link. She looks like a smaller, tidier version of Logan! I see some similarities with the aggression towards Brew. Logan's aggression towards us has mostly faded, but he does still randomly bite me in the shin (while I'm sitting) or on the scalp (while I'm sleeping). I think the biting on the scalp is his way of waking me up to feed him at night. It's never overtly aggressive. The shin thing is aggression. Of course, we can provoke him into attacking--but we never intentionally antagonize him.

Tomorrow--we see the vet. I'll report back with what the vet suggests. We're seeing our vet's son who has joined his mother's practice, so we might get a different perspective from him.

In the past the vet had suggested to allow for the passage of time--which worked, somewhat. She wanted us to give him all the time he needed to become comfortable. She also prescribed a sedative that we rubbed into his ears. That also took the edge off in the very beginning. She wanted us to play with him during regularly scheduled intervals with toys, not hands. 
 

whollycat

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Okay, I read the Xena link. She looks like a smaller, tidier version of Logan! I see some similarities with the aggression towards Brew. Logan's aggression towards us has mostly faded, but he does still randomly bite me in the shin (while I'm sitting) or on the scalp (while I'm sleeping). I think the biting on the scalp is his way of waking me up to feed him at night. It's never overtly aggressive. The shin thing is aggression. Of course, we can provoke him into attacking--but we never intentionally antagonize him.

Tomorrow--we see the vet. I'll report back with what the vet suggests. We're seeing our vet's son who has joined his mother's practice, so we might get a different perspective from him.

In the past the vet had suggested to allow for the passage of time--which worked, somewhat. She wanted us to give him all the time he needed to become comfortable. She also prescribed a sedative that we rubbed into his ears. That also took the edge off in the very beginning. She wanted us to play with him during regularly scheduled intervals with toys, not hands. 
Aw...a smaller, tidier version of Logan...how cute! Yeah, when you get back if you can post about the labs and the new vet's perspective that would be great. Passage of time is only going to go so far with Logan, I think. His trust is blown completely and he feels small and insignificant, so he lashes out at any perceived threat--whether real or imagined or a "flashback" to another time. Maxie will do a small hand bite (kind of hurts and I'll push my hand towards him so he let's go) or grab my hair with his big ole paws/claws and then bite my scalp (love bites
) when he is behind me on the sofa.

He could also be grieving for Sydney. And call me whacky, but when Abby's brother Tuffy left us after a long illness, Abby took on some of Tuffy's characteristics for a time. So, Logan taking on some of Sydney's doesn't surprise me one bit.

Yay for Flower Power!!
 
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texasredreb

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Logan is at vet now. They are doing vaccinations, kidney analysis, complete dental, full blood panel and external exam. They did find a broken tooth with pulp exposed--that was certainly causing a lot of pain. Bill is now around $800.00. YIKES!!!

edited to add--they are also doing a grooming (bathing and brushing) to remove as much hair as possible because I told them he has hairballs and isn't tolerant of a brush. 
 
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