Kitty City Kansas Rescue Announces New Location

Our friends at Kitty City Kansas Rescue are pleased to announce the opening of their new Adoption Center!

Visit 12800 Santa Fe Trail Dr. Lenexa, Ks to meet a kitty perfect for you! It’s just a few blocks East of Mariposa Veterinary Center (the old adoption location). Adoption hours are every Saturday from 12-5.

Kitty City Kansas Rescue is a no-kill 501 C3 non-profit group of rescuers and individuals who have an affinity for cats. We take special needs kittens and cats from various area shelters and occasionally the public, that are too young or ill to thrive in the traditional shelter environment.

They also specialize in Siamese, Maine Coon and other mixes. Cats are then placed in foster homes and nurtured until they are old enough and healthy enough to be adopted. Since many of the animals taken in are very small or many times ill, monetary support is always needed to help with medical expenses. Or just make a general donation. Since this is an all volunteer group, all monetary donations go towards the care of the animals…not pay checks!!!

To learn more about KCK Rescue, click here

How Many Calories Does My Dog Need?

Source: Pet Md: Dr. Jennifer Coates

A couple of weeks ago in response to my post about the new AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) labeling requirement to include calorie counts on all pet foods, Tom Collins asked for “guidelines for recommended daily calorie intake for various pets, age groups, lifestyles, etc.” This isn’t as easy as you might think, but I can provide some guidelines that can help. First a caveat or two.

Even when taking into account a dog’s lifestyle, age, activity level, etc., it is impossible to mathematically determine exactly how many calories (or kilocalories as they are called in veterinary medicine) a pet needs. Variations in metabolic rates can alter this figure by as much as 20 percent either way. Therefore, any number that you come up with needs to be viewed as an estimate only. Feed that number of calories, monitor the dog’s weight, body condition, and overall wellbeing, and adjust accordingly.

Include your veterinarian in this conversation, particularly if your dog has any health problems or special dietary needs. Nutrition, including determining how many calories a pet should be taking in, is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Calorie “calculators” or tables cannot take into account what might make an animal’s situation unique.

The standard steps used by veterinarians to determine a dog’s caloric needs (otherwise known as their maintenance energy requirements) are as follows:

  • Divide a dog’s body weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms (kg)
  • Resting Energy Requirement (RER) = 70 (body weight in kg)0.75
  • Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER) = appropriate multiplier x RER

Commonly Used Multipliers:

typical neutered pet


typical intact pet


weight loss


weight gain


light work


moderate work


heavy work


growth (less than 4 months old)


growth (more than 4 months old)


Here’s what the calculations look like for a neutered pet dog weighing 45 pounds that is at his or her ideal weight.

  • 45 lbs / 2.2 = 20.5 kg
  • 70 x 20.5 0.75 = 672 kcal/day
  • 1.6 x 672 = 1075 kcal/day

Remember, this is just a ball park figure. This pet’s actual needs may actually be anywhere between 860 kcal/day and 1,290 kcal/day.

If your eyes have glazed over with all this math, you can use tables like the ones put together by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA) Global Nutrition Committee instead. They are available for both dogs and cats, but are only designed to be used for “average” healthy adults that are in ideal body condition.

But guess what? The value in the WSAVA dog table for our hypothetical 45 pound dog is roughly 805 kcal, which doesn’t even fall within the range I mentioned above. See what I mean when I say that these references and formulas can only be thought of as “ball park” figures?


Dr. Jennifer Coates

Beware of This Deadly Spiked Plant That Can Invade Your Pet’s Body

Mercola shared this article on the dangers of foxtail plants – they appear harmless but can be deadly for your pets.

If you’ve never heard of foxtails, you may hear about them soon enough, and regardless of where you live, I urge you to be on the lookout for them. These treacherous little plant awns are ubiquitous in California, reported in almost every state west of the Mississippi, and have recently spread to the east coast as well.

Foxtails and Barbed Grasses

There are many varieties of foxtails, both native and non-native, but only some have harmful spurs. Among them is foxtail barley, which is found throughout the U.S. except in the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, and also grows throughout Canada and in parts of Mexico.

Foxtail Barley

Other harmful varieties include the giant foxtail, cheatgrass, and ripgut brome.

Giant Foxtail

In an interview with The Bark, botanist William Lauenroth of the University of Wyoming warned that Midwestern states have seen a sharp increase in foxtail-related infection rates in field dogs. Sporting dogs often run through thick brush where they can inhale or swallow foxtails.

Lauenroth is working with the AKC and sporting dog groups to combat grass awn disease, also known as grass awn migration disease. They suspect that barbed grasses, in particular Canada wildrye, planted on land where field dogs train, may have caused the spike in cases of the disease.

Lauenroth discovered that not only has Canada wildrye been planted in the Midwest, it is also common along the east coast.

Why Foxtails Are So Dangerous to Pets

In late spring and early summer, foxtail plant heads turn brown and dry, and scatter across the landscape. The tiny spikes on the plant heads allow them to burrow into soil, and wildlife also helps spread them around.

The foxtails eventually and inevitably make their way into the noses, eyes, ears, mouths, and just about every other opening of dogs’ bodies, including the vulva and penis. They can get deep into your dog’s nostril or ear canal or under the skin in no time, and often too fast for you to notice them.

These deadly little plant heads can burrow into your dog’s fur and pierce the skin, often between the toes. They can end up virtually anywhere in your pet’s body, and symptoms depend on where the foxtail is located. For example, if your dog is shaking her head, there could be a foxtail in an ear canal. If she’s suddenly sneezing uncontrollably, she could have one in her nose. Foxtails in the lungs can cause coughing and difficulty breathing.

A dog’s body isn’t capable of processing foxtails, either degrading or decomposing them. To make matters worse, foxtails carry bacteria and can only move in one direction (forward). Unless they are found early, they can continue to travel throughout a dog’s body, creating abscesses, damaging tissue, and causing grass awn disease.

A grass awn infection can be very difficult to diagnose, in part because the infection occurs behind the migrating foxtail. In addition, foxtails are hard to see using traditional imaging techniques, because they are small, covered with infection and scar tissue, and are invisible on x-rays.

As you can probably imagine, once a foxtail is roaming around inside your dog’s body, it can be incredibly difficult to find. It’s not uncommon for veterinarians to perform multiple surgeries before a foxtail is finally located and removed.

Protecting Your Pet from Foxtails and Grass Awn Disease

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to foxtails or is exhibiting suspicious symptoms, I recommend you consult your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic immediately to find out how to proceed.

Obviously, avoiding foxtail exposure altogether should be the goal, but that’s not always possible. If your dog does encounter foxtails, it’s important to carefully comb through his coat – and also check his ears, mouth, and between his toes – a few times each day to remove any that you find before they have an opportunity to wreak havoc on your pet’s health.

You might also want to investigate these safety devices other dog owners have created to keep their canine companions free of foxtails:

Missing Cat? 10 Tips for a Safe Return Home

July is Lost Pet Prevention Month, so we checked in with the latest advice on finding lost cats. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, nearly one out of five pets go missing after loud noises scare them away.

Paul Mann heads up Fetch! Pet Care, a professional pet sitting, dog walking and pet fitness/exercise services franchise. Mann says surveys show that 93% of dogs and 75% of cats reported lost are returned safely to their homes.

He offers the following tips:

1. Contact shelters. File a lost pet report with every shelter or animal control office within a 60-mile radius of your home and visit the nearest shelters daily, if possible.

2. Tell all vets. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. Contact veterinary offices in your area.

3.  Search your neighborhood. Walk or drive through your neighborhood several times each day. Get friends, family and others to help you. Ask neighbors, letter carriers, and delivery people if they have seen your pet. Hand out a recent photograph of your pet and information on how you can be reached if your pet is found.

4. Talk to neighbors. The more people know you have lost a pet, and that you are upset, worried and desperately trying to find your pet, the more people will call you if they see an animal in the woods or on the road, or in their back yard.

5. Put up flyers. Post notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, traffic intersections, at pet supply stores, and other locations. Also, place advertisements in newspapers and with radio stations. Include your pet’s sex, age, weight, breed, color, and any special markings. To avoid scams, when describing your pet, leave out one identifying characteristic and ask the person who finds your pet to describe it.

6. Post to websites. Sites like allow you to broadcast your missing pet info quickly. National pet care providers can be hired to assist you in your search for your lost pet.

7. Consider recovery services. There are now numerous lost pet alert services, such, that will contact homes, veterinarians, shelters and animal control organizations for a reasonable fee.

8. Offer food and water. Your pet may eventually return to your home when they get hungry or thirsty. Consider placing the food in a rented or purchased humane pet trap to capture them.

9. Spread the word.
 The more people you alert about your missing pet, the greater the chance someone will recollect seeing your pet in their area.

10.  Stay on it. Keep up your search, solicit help and put out the word right away. Don’t wait a few hours to see if she’ll come home on her own; you need those early hours to put up posters and start your search.

What to do When Your Dog Snaps at a Guest

If you’ve never had to deal with that alarming moment when your beloved dog snaps at a guest in your home, you are fortunate. I hope you never do. But just in case, it’s good to know that, first, you’re not alone – lots of dogs have snapped at guests in their homes (or worse!). Second, it’s not the end of the world; it doesn’t mean you need to euthanize your dog and it doesn’t mean your dog will inevitably maul someone. It is, however, an important heads-up for you. How you handle the situation can often determine if your dog’s aggression toward visitors escalates or diminishes. So if it happens, here’s what you need to do:

1. Calmly remove your dog from the situation. No scolding, no yelling, and no physical punishment. Gently take hold of her collar, lead her to a quiet room away from the action, and leave her there with a bowl of water and a chew toy. Your visitor may expect you to punish your dog, even “alpha roll” her, if he’s watched a certain television show. Don’t let your guest pressure you into doing something you know is wrong and that you will regret later. Your dog is your dog!

2. Calmly apologize to your guest. Of course you will make sure your guest wasn’t injured (“snap” implies no actual contact). But then it will suffice to say, calmly, “I am sorry Missy snapped at you.” Your guest doesn’t need an anxious, shrill litany of “Omigosh Missy has never, ever done anything like that before! I am so, so sorry she did that to you! I can’t imagine what got into her! I hope we don’t have to get rid of her!” Histrionics will inflame the situation and can turn a minor incident into a major event.

3. Calmly deconstruct the incident. If this is new behavior on Missy’s part, you want to identify what might have happened so you can take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. (If it is not new behavior, shame on you for allowing it to happen again!) Quietly ask your guest some version of these questions in a non-accusing manner:

– Can you tell me what happened?
– What were you doing when she snapped at you?
– What was she doing just before she snapped at you?
– Did you see any signs that she wasn’t comfortable with you?

4. Make notes. As soon as you are able, write down everything you can think of about the incident. Describe the person she snapped at in detail – age, gender, race, size, unusual features (beard, glasses, etc.), what the person was wearing, if there was anything in his hands, and yes, what he was doing.

Include information about where the incident happened, the weather, and any unusual occurrences in the dog’s world over the previous two days (for example, she killed a bunny yesterday in the yard, there was a thunderstorm last night, she didn’t eat her breakfast this morning). Because stress is cumulative and aggression is caused by stress, this may help you come to understand why this out-of-character behavior happened. If additional incidents do occur in the future, you will have a good record to share with the behavior professional you enlist to help you.

5. Closely monitor your dog’s behavior around future guests and other humans in any context. Watch carefully for signs that she is stressed, including the dog lowering her body and tail, turning her head, averting her eyes, pinning her ears back, panting, licking her lips, avoiding contact, rolling over, and more. (For more information about recognizing signs of stress in dogs, see “Listen by Looking,” WDJ August 2011.) Manage her carefully to avoid putting other guests at risk. Remove her to a safe place if she appears anything but relaxed and happy with visitors. If you continue to see signs of stress or distress around visitors, keep taking detailed notes, and seek the assistance of a positive behavior professional who can help you help her become safer and more comfortable with humans.

From Whole Dog Journal

Photos from Bier, Barkery and Barks!

Did you make it out to Bier, Barkery and Barks last night?

The special event was a huge hit – and we had a huge crowd!

The weather was perfect, and guests had a great time, all while supporting a great cause – the KC Pet Project.

Each guest had a chance to spin our prize wheel, enjoy a slice from Minsky’s Pizza and try out brews from the new KC Bier Company.

We’re pleased to announce that the event raised an awesome $2,511!

Thanks to all who attended – and be sure to stop in and use your Barkery gift certificates today!

Storing Pet Food in Hot Places Can Ruin it

How You Store Dry Pet Food Will Affect Your Pets’s Health

from The Natural Paw blog

Keeping an open bag of dry dog food for weeks in your kitchen or garage will cause changes in the food that may lead to serious health problems. Learn how to properly store dry dog foods to help your dogs and cats live longer.

Would you keep a loaf of bread open in your kitchen for 39 days?

We hope not. That’s how long the typical opened bag of dog food lasts.  Lengthy storage time and poor storage conditions lead to nutrient degradation, oxidation of fats, and infestation by molds, mites and other food spoilers. One in three dogs dies of cancer. We think improper storage at home is a major contributing factor.

Dry dog foods usually have a one-year “shelf life.” That means the food is “good” for up to one year after the manufacturing date. Many dry foods stamp a “best if used by” date on the package. This applies only to unopened bags.

High-quality dog food companies use bags that provide protection from oxygen and moisture. If the bag is intact, not enough oxygen and moisture can migrate into the food in one year to cause significant oxidation or microbial growth problems. Though problems can occur between the manufacture of food and the customer opening the bag, it’s what happens after the bag is opened that we are most concerned with in this article.

What happens after you open the bag of dog food?

As soon as you open a bag of food, oxygen, moisture, light, mold spores, storage mites, and other potential spoilers enter the bag.

Oxidation of fats

Oxidized fats may cause cancer and contribute to many chronic health problems in humans. The same is true for dogs.

Dog food companies use antioxidants (sometimes vitamin E and other natural sources) to forestall oxidation. Every time the bag is opened, oxygen enters. Eventually the antioxidants are all oxidized (used up) and some of the fats are damaged, starting with the more fragile omega –3 fatty acids.

Degradation of all micronutrients

Vitamins particularly susceptible to oxidation and damage due to long term room temperature storage include vitamin A, thiamin, most forms of folate, some forms of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal),vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. The nutrition in the food at the bottom of a bag left open 39 days will be considerably less than the nutrition in the top of the bag. Fresh is best.

Molds and mycotoxins

Storing open bags of dry dog food for 39 days in warm, humid areas (most kitchens) promotes the growth of molds. Some of the waste products of these molds (mycotoxins) are increasingly being implicated as long-term causes of cancer and other health problems in humans, poultry, pigs and other animals. Dogs are particularly susceptible to these toxins[i].

Keep food fresh!

1. Keep food in its original bag, even if you use a container. Plastics can leach vitamin C out of the food. The components of the plastics themselves may leach into the food. Rancid fat, which lodges in the pores of plastics that are not food-grade, will contaminate new batches of food.

2. Keep food dry. If the food looks moist, throw it away.

3. If the food has off color, throw it away.

4. If the food smells rancid or like paint, throw the food away.

5. If your dog says no, do not force her to eat.

6. Avoid leaving food in a hot car! Heat will leach micronutrients and ruin the food’s nutritional value.


The Signs and Symptoms of Parvovirus

The ASPCA has a wealth of information on their website, including this informative article on the Parvovirus.

What Is Parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems.

What Are the General Symptoms of Parvovirus?

The general symptoms of parvovirus are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.

How Is Parvovirus Transmitted?

Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract parvovirus from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.

How Is Parvovirus Diagnosed?

Veterinarians diagnose parvovirus on the basis of clinical signs and laboratory testing. The Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test has become a common test for parvovirus. The ELISA test kit is used to detect parvovirus in a dog’s stools, and is performed in the vet’s office in about 15 minutes. Because this test is not 100% sensitive or specific, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests and bloodwork.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Parvovirus?

Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. The canine parvovirus affects most members of the dog family (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.). Breeds at a higher risk are Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers and German shepherds.

How Can Parvovirus Be Prevented?

You can protect your dog from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations. Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. It is usually recommended that puppies be vaccinated with combination vaccines that take into account the risk factors for exposure to various diseases. One common vaccine, called a “5-in-1,” protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.

Generally, the first vaccine is given at 6-8 weeks of age and a booster is given at four-week intervals until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age. A puppy’s vaccination program is not complete before four months of age. Older dogs who have not received full puppy vaccination series may be susceptible to parvovirus and should also receive at least one immunization. Consult with your veterinarian about how often your dog will need to be revaccinated.

Because parvovirus can live in an environment for months, you will want to take extra care if there has been an infected dog in your house or yard. Some things are easier to clean and disinfect than others—and even with excellent cleaning, parvovirus can be difficult to eradicate. Parvo is resistant to many typical disinfectants. A solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water can be used where organic material is not present. The infected dog’s toys, food dish and water bowl should be properly cleaned and then disinfected with this solution for 10 minutes. If not disinfected, these articles should be discarded. You can also use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you’ve walked through an infected area. Areas that are harder to clean (grassy areas, carpeting and wood, for example) may need to be sprayed with disinfectant, or even resurfaced.

How Can Parvovirus Be Treated?

Although there are no drugs available that can kill the virus yet, treatment is generally straightforward and consists of aggressive supportive care to control the symptoms and boost your dog’s immune system to help him win the battle against this dangerous disease. Dogs infected with parvovirus need intensive treatment in a veterinary hospital, where they receive antibiotics, drugs to control the vomiting, intravenous fluids and other supportive therapies. Should your dog undergo this treatment, be prepared for considerable expense—the average hospital stay is about 5-7 days.

Please note that treatment is not always successful—so it’s especially important to make sure your dog is vaccinated.

What Are Some Home Treatment Options?

Because parvovirus is such a serious disease, it is not recommended to attempt home treatment. Even with the best veterinary care, this disease is often fatal.

When Is it Time to See the Vet?

If you notice your dog experiencing severe vomiting, loss of appetite, depression or bloody diarrhea, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Are Some Other Health Issues with These Same Symptoms?

A puppy with a bloody diarrhea could have a parasite problem, a virus other than parvovirus, a stress colitis, or may have eaten something that disagreed with him or injured and blocked his digestive tract. It’s crucial that you see your vet for an accurate diagnosis.

Bark at the Park

Summer means you hang out with your dogs outside.  Summer also means baseball.  If ONLY there was some sort of magical way to combine the two. Wait!  There IS!  Join us for Bark at the Park!
You can bring your dog to Kauffman Stadium to watch the Royals face off against the Seattle Mariners on June 22!  And you can hang out with US while you do it!
Wayside WaifsYour $35 ticket includes:
  • Human and canine game ticket
  • Royals canine bandana
  • $5.00 from each package purchased is donated to Wayside Waifs Animal Shelter
We’ll be there, giving treats away and spinning the prize wheel, all to benefit our friends at Wayside Waifs! So bring your dog and bring your team spirit!
Would you like to know more? Click here

Feline Aggression Explained and Solved

Cornell University – College of Veterinary Medicine, has compiled an excellent guide regarding aggression in felines.

Aggression in cats can be a complicated and upsetting problem for owners to solve. An aggressive cat can be very dangerous, especially toward children who may not be able to recognize the physical cues that are the warning signs of aggression. Additionally, cat bites and scratches are painful and can transmit disease.

The different types of aggression are not mutually exclusive. Your cat may show more than one type of aggression, and the problems may be more or less serious than those described below. However, some general principles apply to all types and levels of aggression:

  • Early intervention is best, before your cat’s aggressive behavior becomes a habit.
  • Physical punishment, even a light tap on the nose, increases your cat’s fear and anxiety. Some cats may even see it as a challenge, and become more aggressive.
  • Certain medications can help, but only in conjunction with behavior modification and environmental changes.
  • Recognizing the signs of aggression, then startling your cat without making physical contact are effective in curbing most aggression problems.
  • Whenever possible, avoid situations that increase your cat’s aggression.
  • Separate cats that have aggression issues and re-introduce them slowly.
  • Treats can be used to effectively reward non-aggressive behavior. 

My cat is aggressive toward me and my other cat. What should I do?
Because aggression may be caused by a medical problem, first take your cat to your veterinarian, who will perform a physical examination and appropriate diagnostic tests. Painful conditions, like arthritis and dental disease, as well as central nervous system conditions and hyperthyroidism, have all been implicated in aggression. Alleviation of underlying medical conditions often resolves the aggressive behavior. Once medical causes have been ruled out, it is important to determine what kind of aggression your cat is displaying in order to formulate a management strategy, and ultimately, a solution. If there have been recent changes in their environment, their aggression may have been triggered.

My kitten sometimes bites and scratches me when we play. I know kittens love to play, but her attacks are painful.
Biting and scratching during play are typical of play aggression, a behavior most commonly observed in young cats and kittens. Kittens raised with littermates learn how to bite and scratch with reduced intensity, because play that is too rough causes pain to a playmate, resulting in either retaliation or the cessation of play. Consequently, play aggression is usually seen in kittens that were not raised with littermates or playmates, are under-stimulated, or lack appropriate play outlets.

Play aggression can usually be recognized in a kitten’s body posture. The tail lashes back and forth, the ears flatten against the head, and the pupils (the black part of the eyes) dilate. This sort of posture usually develops from normal play and is followed by biting and scratching. Kittens that stalk moving objects, like your hands and feet, are also displaying play aggression. Play aggressive cats often stalk or hide, then jump out and attack as you pass.

Try keeping a record of when this occurs to see if there is a pattern. You may learn, for example, that your kitten tends to hide under your bed and jump out as you’re getting ready to go to sleep. By anticipating this, and encouraging play prior to the attack, you may be able to curb this behavior. A bell on a breakaway collar around your cat’s neck clues you in to his whereabouts. You may need to deny him access to his favorite stalking places in order to stop this behavior.

Another management technique is to use noise deterrents, such as a human-generated hiss, or a blast from a compressed air canister. These must be used within the first few seconds of the onset of aggression to startle, rather than scare the cat, into ceasing his behavior. Do not physically punish your cat, even with a slight tap on the nose. The pain of being struck can lead to more aggressive behavior, and your kitten will learn to fear and avoid you. Additionally, any physical contact may be interpreted as play, which rewards your kitten’s rambunctious behavior. Simply walking away and ignoring your kitten is much more effective; it teaches him that the consequence of rough play is no play.

All of your play objects should be at a distance from your hands, so your cat has no opportunity to bite or scratch you. For example:

  • Toss moving objects like ping-pong balls, walnuts, or aluminum foil balls for your cat to chase.
  • Provide climbing perches, scratching posts, and ball toys that deliver food when batted about.
  • Buy a fishing pole toy with feathers on the end to dangle in front of your cat. 

My ordinarily nice cat gets very agitated whenever anyone new comes into the house; she has even attacked some visitors. 
These are signs of fear aggression a defensive behavior toward unfamiliar stimuli, like people, animals, and noises. Unpleasant experiences, like a trip to the veterinarian’s office, may also trigger fear aggression. A cat displaying this sort of aggression hisses, bares her teeth, and crouches low with her tail and legs tucked under her body. Her ears are flat against her head, her pupils are dilated, and her fur stands on end.

The management of this problem involves identification and, if possible, avoidance of fear-eliciting stimuli. You can attempt a gradual desensitization program, in which your cat is exposed to such stimuli a safe distance away for short periods of time, then rewarded with food treats for non-aggressive behavior. For example, if your cat has a fear of men, a man might stand at a distance that does not trigger aggressive behavior in your cat. Your cat gets a treat for her calm demeanor. With each session, the man moves closer, and gradually, the cat learns to associate the man’s presence with a tasty treat.

There are two important things not to do with a fear aggressive cat:

  • Do not console her. Kind words and petting communicate your approval of her inappropriate behavior.
  • Visitors to your home should not retreat or show fear in front of a fear aggressive cat, because this teaches the cat that her behavior can make unwanted visitors go away. Lack of attention is a better strategy.

My cat kills outside mice and birds. I worry that he will attack our pet gerbil.
A normal, instinctive desire to hunt prey, predatory aggression includes the stalking, chasing, and attacking of rodents and birds. This behavior is inappropriate when directed toward humans, and can be disturbing when directed toward wildlife or small indoor pets.

A cat on the prowl shows hunting body postures. He slinks with a lowered head and a twitching tail, and lunges when the prey is within reach. Because this behavior is instinctive, it is especially hard to control. There are, however, some effective management strategies.

If your cat shows predatory aggression toward indoor pets like gerbils, hamsters, or pet birds, it is wise to deny him access to those animals. If you do not want your cat to hunt wildlife, consider keeping him indoors. Some wildlife can also be deterred from your property by removing bird feeders and using tightly sealed garbage containers.

Putting a bell on a breakaway collar around your cat’s neck so you know his whereabouts can help foil his sneak attacks on people. Take precautions with infants and toddlers, who are especially vulnerable to predatory aggression.

My arthritic cat growls and hisses when I pick her up to give her medicine. I don’t want to hurt her, or be hurt, but I have to give her pills. 
A cat that dislikes being touched in a painful area may display pain-induced aggression in an attempt to stop you from handling her. This behavior can also be associated with past trauma. For example, a cat whose tail was once caught in a door may continue to resent any touching of his tail long after the pain is gone.

Resolving or alleviating the pain is the best way to manage this problem. However, like the arthritic cat described above, you may need to handle a cat in pain in order to treat her. If so, handle her as gently as possible, wear gloves if necessary, and give her food treats so that she associates your touch with a tasty reward. If she acts aggressive while you are handling her, do not reward her with kind words and petting; this demonstrates that aggressive behavior is acceptable. Finally, ask your veterinarian about medications that can help your cat cope with her pain.

Sometimes when I approach my cat while he’s on the windowsill looking outside, he turns around and swats at me, unprovoked. Why? 
Redirected aggression typically occurs when a cat is aroused by one stimulus, but another pet or person intervenes. In the example above, a bird outside the window may have stimulated the cat, but the unsuspecting owner became the recipient of the lashing instead. A cat exhibiting redirected aggression may growl and pace; his hair stands on end, his tail swishes, and his pupils dilate.

Avoid the cat until he is calm. Interaction can lead to injury, and any attention, including punishment, may encourage his behavior. You may have to gently herd your cat to a quiet, dark room for a “time-out;” if necessary, use a thick, folded blanket or a board to protect yourself from injury. Periodically, enter the room, turn on the light, and put down a bowl of food. If your cat is still aggressive, turn the light off and leave. If he is calm, pet and praise him.

If your cat has exhibited redirected aggression toward another cat in the house, re-introduce the two cats slowly, once the aggressor has calmed. Place the cats on opposite ends of the room and feed them; if necessary, you can place each cat in a carrier to ensure their safety. This will allow both cats to associate food with the other’s presence. Such behavior modification techniques are important for maintaining household harmony; if severe redirected aggression occurs regularly, your two cats will learn to fight whenever they are together.

You may be able to prevent your cat’s redirected aggression if you can identify the stimulus that sets him off. However, if the stimulus is an outdoor noise, smell, or sight, you may have to block your cat’s exposure to the outside world. You can install electronic mats that deliver a harmless, mild shock, or put sticky tape on your windowsills. Window blinds are also effective deterrents. You can discourage outdoor animals from coming near your house by installing motion-activated sprinklers, removing bird feeders, and using well-sealed garbage containers.

Finally, you can interrupt redirected aggression between cats by immediately startling them with a water gun or shaking a jar of pennies. This sort of remote punishment keeps you from getting hurt, and if consistent, may discourage further attacks.

My cat begs for attention, but when I pet him for too long, he lashes out and runs away.
A cat exhibiting petting-induced aggression will usually seek out attention, but at some point while being petted, he acts as though he’s had too much, and he attacks.

Although a tensed body, flattened ears, and lashing tail are typical of the warning signs a cat gives before an attack, cat owners must learn to recognize signs that are particular to his or her cat. Young children are especially at risk because they may be unable to read a cat’s body language.

To manage this problem, examine the ways in which you handle your cat. Try holding or touching your cat only when he seeks you out; avoid uninvited handling, physical punishment, or picking up your cat when he’s eating. When petting your cat, do not use physical restraint; this can increase his anxiety.

You can systematically discourage your cat’s petting-induced aggression with the following tactics: Entice your cat onto your lap with a tasty treat, and lightly stroke him. Well before you detect his aggressive warning signs, place him on the floor with a treat to reward his peaceful behavior. Gradually increase the length of time you spend petting him, and he will learn that calm interactions are followed by treats.

The hardest part of dealing with petting-induced aggression is accepting that your cat has limits to what he will tolerate. Yours may never be a cuddly cat, but he can learn to interact without violence.

Our cat growls and hisses when we try to move her off our bed, although she constantly seeks our attention. 
This cat is attempting to control the situation through status-induced aggression. Other examples include cats that block doorways, or solicit attention from their owner or another cat by biting or swatting them as they pass, often with unsheathed claws. The signs of this kind of aggression include tail swishing, flattened ears, dilated pupils, growling, and hissing.

To manage this cat, the owners must ignore the cat’s demands for play, food and attention; such rewards must only be given when the cat is relaxed. A relaxed cat holds her tail up, has normal sized pupils, and does not swat. Owners should never physically punish their cat; even a harmless tap on the nose may be viewed as a challenge and the cat may become even more aggressive. The most effective reaction to status-induced aggression is to ignore the cat completely.

My cat has been very nasty toward the new cat I just brought home. They have violent interactions and I worry that they’ll hurt each other. 
Cats tend to defend their territory by exhibiting territorial aggression when a new cat is added to the household, and even when a resident cat returns from a hospital stay bearing unfamiliar smells. Owners often observe the territorial aggressive cat swatting, chasing, and attacking the new or returning cat.

The most effective management of territorial aggression is to prevent it from occurring when first bringing home a new cat. However, the following steps can be taken even if you have already introduced a new cat and your cats are brawling. All of the following steps should be taken slowly; rushed introductions are the most common cause of failure.

  • Your new cat should be confined to his own room with litter, food, and water. The two cats should be able to smell and hear each other through the closed door, but there should be no physical contact.
  • After a few days, switch the positions of the cats. Allow your cat to investigate the smells of the newcomer, while the new cat explores the house and the scent of his new playmate. Expect some hissing. Switch them back after they have had some time to explore.
  • The next step is place them on opposite ends of the same room, either in carriers or restrained with harnesses and leashes. Both cats should be fed, so that they learn to associate the pleasure of eating with each other’s presence. If the cats won’t eat, or seem anxious or aggressive, they are probably too close together. However, if they eat and seem relaxed, they can be moved closer together at the next feeding session.
  • The final step is to release them from their carriers and feed them, still keeping them far apart. Monitor them for anxiety and aggression.
  • This whole process can proceed only as quickly as your cats allow, and can take weeks or even months. Signs of anxiety or aggression usually indicate that the introductions are proceeding too quickly.If the territorial aggression still cannot be controlled, your veterinarian may prescribe medication for both the aggressor and the victim. Keep in mind that medication is only part of the solution; it must be used in conjunction with slow introductions and consistent rewards for peaceful behavior. 

We took in a pregnant stray cat that recently gave birth. The mother cat gets very agitated and hisses if we try to approach her or the kittens. 
The mother cat has maternal aggression. This behavior usually subsides as the kittens age. In the meantime, it is best to provide a low stress environment, keep visitors to a minimum, and avoid approaching or handling either the mother or her kittens if you are met with maternal aggression.

If you must handle the mother cat during this time, she can be muzzled or gently restrained. If the kittens need to be held, try to entice the mother away with some tasty food.

Our two male cats wake us up with fighting and hissing. 
Male cats are often involved in inter-cat aggression, which usually erupts as one cat reaches social maturity at two to four years of age. Although this type of aggression is usually seen in males due to hormone-driven competition for mates, it can occur between cats of any sex when territorial conflicts occur. Such cats exhibit the typical signs of aggression: flattened ears, puffed-up hair, hissing, and howling.

Because there is a hormonal component, the first step toward alleviating this aggression is to neuter or spay all cats involved. If this has already been done, the cats should be separated, each with their own food, water, and litter box, whenever they are unsupervised. When you are monitoring them, they should be rewarded with treats for peaceful interactions. Put distinct sounding bells on breakaway collars on each cat so that you know their whereabouts. Immediately startle them with a loud noise (i.e. a compressed air canister, or shaken jar of pennies) or a squirt from a water gun whenever they behave aggressively.