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‘Charging’ cat to be assessed by TV expert

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LOS ANGELES – The large cat that attacked a baby and trapped an Oregon family in a bedroom touched off an Internet uproar that worries Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell.”

Cats don’t become ferocious felines that turn on their families for no reason, says the cat behavior expert, who is heading to Portland soon to work with the 4-year-old part-Himalayan pet named Lux. Galaxy will film the visit for his show’s fifth season, which kicks off April 26.

“Every parental site on the Internet blames the cat for this confrontation. Every pet site blames the family,” he said, adding that something is wrong if the cat is acting out. “We need to step away from the hysteria. There is a story behind all this. Don’t assume anything.”

Lux became a worldwide phenomenon after owner Lee Palmer called 911 and said the cat had cornered him, his girlfriend, their baby and the family dog inside a room.

Palmer says his 7-month-old pulled Lux’s tail and he kicked the animal after it scratched the child. Then, the cat “just went off over the edge,” Palmer told an emergency dispatcher after the family barricaded themselves. “He’s charging us,” Palmer said, as the cat was heard screeching in the background. Officers arrived and caught Lux with a dog snare.

Palmer said the cat had a history of violence, but the family kept Lux until Monday, when they turned him over to a Portland-area shelter. But the family assured Animal Planet they were going to keep the cat and agreed to therapy with Galaxy.

Palmer didn’t return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.

There are many reasons a cat can turn aggressive, and there is no universal way to deal with it, Galaxy said. But the star feline behaviorist provided some ways to tame out-of-control cats:

  • Never leave a young child unsupervised with a cat.
  • Take the cat to a vet at least once a year. If a cat is acting suspiciously, the owner needs to pay attention. “I’ve known cats who acted out similarly to Lux because of an abscessed tooth, a brain tumor, hyperthyroidism or diabetes.”
  • Make sure cats can literally climb out of a situation. Having a space up high, like a cat condo, to get away from children and other pets is crucial.
  • Timeouts are good things. “… in the world of cats, timeout is not a punishment.” They can go to a designated place where they can settle down, come back to a peaceful moment or ground themselves, he said.

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