Saturday. One of my clients just had a very bad day. And it’s only 9AM.

When they woke up this morning, this client’s dogs decided they no longer liked the household kitty cat. Poor kitty. She spent a little time in each of three large sets of jaws (the smallest of these dogs weighs about 75 pounds).

Mostly, these kitties die—quickly. They seem to have what is known in animal behavior circles as a “prey response,” in which lots of stress hormones are released, producing a state something like a mild anesthesia. It’s a way for these little animals to deal with the pain and stress of the attack. Unfortunately, this state has the side effect of hastening death.

This kitty was lucky (open to interpretation). Her mom intervened bodily in the melee, thereby preventing a lot of trauma.

Now, ordinarily, animal professionals will advise people who find themselves in the midst of an attack to stay out of it at all costs. This was no exception. This woman should have stayed a safe distance away. Now her hand is all bitten up and she may need surgery. Her cat, however, may yet survive. This is doubtful, but just maybe…

What happens is that when dogs attack their prey, especially in the presence of other dogs, they go into instinct-mode. They have this predatory-pack reaction that becomes difficult to overcome, much like sharks’ feeding frenzies. It’s nearly impossible to get a dog’s attention when they’re in this mode by any conventional means of address. Broomsticks and high-powered hoses sometimes work and with smaller or weaker dogs a well-placed kick can help.

Nonetheless, a human’s best bet is to stay far away. Kitty’s mom learned this the hard way. She’ll be spending the rest of her Saturday getting IV Timentin at the local emergency room and waiting for the on-call hand surgeon to evaluate her injuries.

We wish her luck.