Severe dominance aggression in felines
Cats can be the snuggliest, cuddliest, most personable of pets…and then there’s the rare deranged feline. No, I’m not referring to feral animals with a biological rationale for appropriately aggressive behavior. Rather, I’m talking about the felid indoor fauna capable of launching a devastating surgical strike at the exposed bit of ankle peeking just ‘twixt your jeans and your sneaks.
Before you know it, you’re bloodied again—just because you forgot to tread carefully while rounding the corner that marks her favorite ambush spot. But don’t confuse this behavior for exuberant play or prey-game confusion. The cats I’m talking about in this post are serious about keeping everyone and everything in line—humans are no exception.
I just spent the latter half of the weekend with this kind of cat. After a blissful two days surrounded by happy-go-lucky dogs in the East Village, we migrated to the Upper West side to hang out with a slightly different crew. The friends were great. Their cat was a nightmare. Within five minutes of our arrival, both vets (myself and my boyfriend) were bleeding from cuts on our legs (luckily she’s all claws and seldom gets a chance to use her teeth).
Me: Ummm….is she always like this?
Them: No way! You should see her at the vet’s place. They make us tranquilize her at home before sedating her again when she arrives. We try never to go there anymore.
Houston, I think we have a problem…
I mean, if you have a cat that’s so out of control that everyone who comes over has to wear protective gear, remain vigilant of her movements and skirt her favorite attack sites, this is a major issue—not to mention a serious liability.
Me: How do your friends feel about her?
Them: Oh, no one ever comes over here. But since you guys are vets we figured it would be OK.
Me: And does she ever relax…with you, I mean?
Them: Sure she does, but we have to be very quiet, like when we’re watching a movie. Then she comes and lays on us. But we have to be very still or she’ll start to hiss.
Hmmm…sounds like a romantic night of Wild Kingdom Russian roulette.
So you know, this degree of aggression is rare in cats—at least when it comes to humans. We call it dominance aggression. In other words, this cat is convinced of her dominance over everything in her territory—and beyond. She has no qualms about keeping everyone in line so that her world works just as she likes it. Meanwhile, her humans are kept as her slaves, reacting obsequiously to her every whim and caving to her demands on every score.
So was she born like that or did they train it into her? It’s always a bit of both, but this cat was clearly born with an inclination towards having things her own way. Definitely an alpha female, if felines can be categorized by pack standards.
I can think of better ways to have your cat evaluated for severe aggression than to subject two vets to her dangerous tactics. I suggested they seek out the services of a behaviorist—ASAP—before their first baby is born this coming New Years. In the interim, Prozac’s not a bad place to start.