Q: My male neutered cat Giorgio has been acting out for about a year; he is 100 percent indoors. Sometimes a cat outside will make him hiss and growl, but he also lunges if I go nearby, even an hour later. He continues to have a low growl and will attack anyone or my other cat with vicious intent. He then goes under a bed and will stalk and continue to growl for three to five days. All is well in the food and deposit department.
Dr. Nichol: Giorgio is certainly one mad cat, but at least he’s regular. Those visiting hooligans are not his friends. More than just dropping by to swap jokes, they could be defiling his territory with the feline art form of graffiti by urine. Giorgio may be intent on invoking the castle doctrine by mangling, dismembering and pulverizing those intruders. He may also feel trapped in his own home.
Some cats can count to 10 and get over it, but prolonged agitation is not unusual. When Giorgio’s adrenalin is running, any stimulus, however slight, can quickly ramp up his aggression all over again. Keeping your hands at a safe distance, gently cover him with a blanket or coax him into a box and move him to a dark, quiet room. Keep the lights, stereo and TV off and your voice low for as long as it takes for the relaxed and jovial Giorgio to re-emerge. Change out his food, water and litter as surreptitiously as possible.
The best way to keep the peace in your home and protect Giorgio from all that angst will be to take the neighbor cats out of the picture. Tape colored construction paper to the lower portions of your windows so Giorgio can see outside only when perched on his floor-to-ceiling cat tree (essential for the mental health of most indoor kitties). Then install an outdoor booby trap that will remove your address from the list of free community litter boxes. I recommend the Scare Crow (motion-activated sprinkler) or the Cat Stop (high-pitched sound).
Finally, don’t attract stray cats. If you must feed famished feral felines, do it away from home — but not in my yard, please. My pets are already busy.
Dr. Jeff Nichol provides medical care for pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital in Albuquerque (898-8874). He treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and in Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by U.S. post to 6633 Caminito Coors NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120.