Sunday, October 01, 2006

Psychotic Cat close to exile

Chairman Mao has had his 3rd serious psychotic episode. I'm not referring to a hiss, a firm bite to indicate annoyance or any of the like. I mean a 100% flip so that when you look into his eyes you see a blank sea of inexplicable fear and hatred. Until he flips back. It's like a switch.

It's not fun, it's not acceptable and it's not going to be tolerated when there's a toddler around. Which is deeply depressing, but non-negotiable.

The first time was when Minh-Minh, his half sibling, came on board. He really was a nut, for a couple of days, before becoming an apprehensive but vaguely sane creature and adapting soon after. Because I'd read that that's what cats do I accepted it, but was apprehensive. You'd have to see it to know the extent of the contrast, the flip.

The second was the last time we put him, with Minh, in the cattery, where previously he'd adjusted well and been loved by all the attendants. He did the flip again, and no-one could go near him until we arrived to take him out.

When we next holidayed we got a cat sitter. I hoped that was the last time we'd see it.

Today he did what he does quite often: jump the fence to explore the 2nd garden, then wander under the house. Usually you wait 10 minutes at most and he wanders back out, and when you grab him at first opportunity he might struggle to get away and keep 'playing' but he takes it all with fairly good humour.

But this time he spent an hour. Though he'd been in a good mood beforehand, as far as I could tell, he stayed under there glaring at me, and hissed when I showed him Minh. Hissing at her is a good sign he's flipping I think, because usually he defers to her and is affectionate.

When he eventually wandered out, looking quiet and benign, I reached down and grabbed him- pretty lightly- and he absolutely flipped. I couldn't control him properly because my other hand was holding her leash and when she saw him flip she panicked and started jumping around as well.

I made a split second decision that if I let go of him while he was flipping he'd potentially disappear for days so I held onto both of them while trying to wriggle back through the front door.

He absolutely gave it to my hand and wrist, big, deep bites that bled all over the ground and the walls in the house. When I had her in the door and could use my other hand I got him under control but not before he put a good couple of toothmarks in that hand and wrist as well.

He copped a slap far less than he deserved and is currently locked in the laundry until he cools. Minh keeps wanting to know what's going on but if she gets close while he's nuts he'll just put holes in her.

I guess all pets are wild animals, but perhaps the difference between those that genuinely adapt to domestic life and those that can't is the threshold it takes to snap them into pure, psychotic violence against the hand that feeds them.

I don't think he'd last long as an outside cat but we are going to have to do some thinking. I've already heard a number of sad tales of pets who couldn't handle newer additions to the family. I don't want us to join that, but there really is no room to move in the order of priorities.

Depressing. But the hands that feed are currently bandaged and bleeding, and I'm off to the doctor to discuss tetanus shots tomorrow. This will NOT happen again.

UPDATE: By late eve he was sheepish but sociable. Completely calm (4 hours in the laundry did the trick apparently). This morning jumped up for a nuzzle. I reluctantly let him, and his eyes closed with that adoring look he gives when he's handing out the love.

It was, as I suspected, a psychotic episode rather than some ongoing malaise. A slight wariness is all he displays to show that he's got any memory at all of the incident. Meanwhile, I'm off to the doctor.

On a slightly more comical level, apparently my mother got a full earful of everything. She'd called just before he came out, insisted on talking to beloved who'd just arrived home, leaving me with a cat in each hand when it was action time. However for her recalcitrance she got to hear the cat screaming like a banshee and me shouting "fucking c..[not cat]" at the top of my lungs.

I'm pretty loud. She might agree to call back later next time there's a crisis.


naomi said...

Have you had him checked out by the vet? Physiological problems can cause them to flip right out (the only time my boy attacked me like that was when he was seriously ill with an abscess).

My bloke is a fairly bolshie individual, but usually within limits. He simply disappeared when the baby first came home as he hated the crying, then moved closer when baby became compus mentus. As baby started to manhandle cat the cat gently but surely guided him to behaving in a respectful way. First soft paws, then teeth, upping the pressure until finally baby got the point. I was amazed by how gentle and patient the cat was, and it's been great for my son. The cat would sleep on the boy now, if he ever stopped still long enough.

My mother-in-law's cat did however take chunks out of all her grandchildren. For no reason, completely unprovoked.

If you suspect your cat is like this he needs to go to a place that is child-free. They aren't ever going to approach dogs in terms of damage they can do, but they are still hard on soft baby skin.

Another Outspoken Female said...

My mum was bequeathed a cat like this. A male, neutered moggy. I never experienced the attack, but she always said his eyes would go black. Physiologically I guess that means they were dilated and he was in some kind of super stress survival mode.

Luckily she had a vet live 2 doors away that would do something (?what I don't know) to get him back from the edge. So the obvious thing is talk to your vet...though I don't think back then he had a solution to prevent it.

If this was a kid - I'd take him off additives. Commercial pet food, even the vet endorsed ones and the super expensive luxury brands are full of it. What do you have to loose to try fish (I find tinned sardines are a good cheap back up), roo, beef, chicken necks or wings - for a month?

Good luck.

BTW tetanus spores tend to live in horse manure. Though cats mouths are the most bug ridden things on the planet, I don't think tetanus is one of them.

Ron said...

"I'd take him off additives. Commercial pet food..."

Good point there. My Jack Russells get hyper on some pet foods, a bit like kids with red cordial or lollies. I feed them raw chicken wings or necks twice a week for their teeth and the vet says they are perfect (the teeth, that is!).

Idiot/Savant said...

What about fake claws?


Anonymous said...

Two words: Cat hat

JahTeh said...

I'd go for the complete Vet check-up including cat scan (snigger, sorry) but if this is a recent thing, it could neurological. One of my cats used to get hay fever symptoms in spring and would lash out at anything because of head pain.

Armagnac Esq. said...

May do... he's completely backto normal tho, was the next morning.

Me on the other hand,well, arm's just come out of sling, still on antibiotics!

Guy said...

Time for a dog mate! You could call him Deng.

obtuse-a said...

clip the tips of the claws
a couple of drops of Bach flowers rescue remedy in the drinking water, me no kidding

nailpolishblues said...

My [um, psychotic] cat gets some kind of calming stuff, of the Bach flower variety, in her water. It kinda seems to help. But then, she has behavioural problems that have baffled her vets. It's embarrassing to know that your cat needs a padded cell...
Mao might just be reacting to yur stress. Definitely take him, take both, to the vet or at least talk to the vet - you've got plenty of time to sort out their problems.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am glad to see that I am not the only w/ a cat that seems to have a switch that flips. My cat full on tried to kill me yesterday morning. The trigger was apparently a card that when opened has pooh talking. And pooh was the absolute devil. He thought it was me and next thing I knew I was having to fight for my life. I was thankfully on my way out the door, so I had on jeans and shoes. And for a cat that has no front claws...he certainly caused a significant amount of damage to my leg. And my arm seems to have a swollen lymph node now. I have had "cat scratch fever" before, and I am thinking that I have it again.
I left him in my apartment for the bulk of the day and when I came back...he was still trying to attack me. My parents came out and wrangled him into his cat carrier and took him to there house. Last I heard he was still in it b/c he was still aggresive. They were going to try and let him out later to roam the basement. He is going to the vet tomorrow, when it opens. I hope that they are able to fix him. But at the same time, I am sufficently scared of him and don't know what to do. I am going to wait to see what the vet says.
I miss him something terrible. He was my baby boy. I saved him from my apartment parking lot. After a he had taken a ride in the engine of my car. ((I doubt that helped w/ his sanity.))
And I, ironically, already had a doc appointment Monday and will be having her take a look at my wounds. And will probably be on antibiotics for the next month.