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Pets Q&A

Q: It saddens me that the best, most beautiful cat I’ve ever had is a stalker. That was the opinion of the pet therapist. She said I should consider having the cat euthanized. This cat attacked my mom when she visited. Soki lunges at anyone she sees, and bites and scratches. My 8-year-old son is afraid of her, and I don’t want him to be traumatized. What should I do? – B.C.

A: Who was it who advised you to euthanize your cat? The pet therapist? What you need to do is contact a certified cat behavior consultant (, veterinary behaviorist (, or veterinarian with a special interest in behavior ( A veterinarian might be the best good place to start to rule out any contributing physical explanation.

A more detailed description is necessary to pinpoint the cause of Soki’s aggressive behavior. One possibility may be what’s referred to as redirected aggression, or perhaps this cat just isn’t otherwise engaged in chasing or pouncing.

“Absolutely, use an interactive or laser light toy to play with your cat,” says Becky Robinson, president/founder of Alley Cat Allies, a nonprofit national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. “Perhaps, weaned too young, this cat doesn’t understand bite inhibition and perhaps your responses are perceived as a game from the cat’s perspective, unknowingly encouraging the behavior.”

For now, don’t give Soki an opportunity to practice the aggressive behavior, even if this means confining her in a room with the door closed when guests arrive. Members of the household could carry little toys in their pockets.

Then, when Soki is in a doorway ready to pounce, they could toss a toy one way, and walk in another direction. Ultimately, though, you may need hands-on help from a professional.


Q: My friends have a 2-year-old Coton de Tulear and a terrier-mix the same age. When these dogs visit my house, within seconds each goes to its special “spot” and pees. Both dogs are housebroken, so that’s not the issue. Is this territorial behavior? Should I ban the dogs from my home? – H.D., Woodbury, Minn.

A: “That’s right, lock the door and throw away the keys!” jokes pet writer Sandy Robbins, of Irvine, Calif.

Certified animal behavior consultant Darlene Arden, of Framingham, Mass., has another idea: “Let the dogs in the house on leash, so your friends can control them. Immediately give them something to chew on, something else to do.”

Arden, author of “Small Dogs, Big Hearts: A Guide to Caring for Your Little Dog” (Howell Book House, New York, NY, 2006; $25.99), says the behavior may be territorial.

“Cover up the places where they typically have accidents with an upside down plastic rug runner or plastic shower curtain liner” to make it uncomfortable to go there again, Arden suggests.

Also make sure any previous accidents are thoroughly cleaned up with an enzymatic odor remover, Robbins advises.


Q: My 3-year-old Chinese Crested was neutered as a puppy but continues to get aroused daily. When this happens, he goes off on his own, stands hunched in a corner, and nearly cries. He also licks at his “private area.” These episodes usually occur late in the evening. We’ve seen three different veterinarians without finding an answer. Can you help? – D.M.

A: Your description is somewhat perplexing. Dr. Mark Russak, of Berlin, Conn., immediate past president of the American Animal Hospital Association, says that based on your description, this isn’t typical hormonal behavior seen in dogs neutered with a retained testicle.

“Still, I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said. Cryptorchidism or retained testicle(s) is when one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum.

Dogs in pain often stand motionless, as you describe. But typically, pain doesn’t occur at a specific time of day.

This prompts Russak to wonder what precipitates the “hunched” behavior you describe. Did the dog just eat? If so, gastrointestinal pain is possible. Perhaps certain types of exercise are causing pain.

It might be best to see an internal medicine specialist. Bring along a video of that hunched behavior so the veterinarian can see exactly what you’re talking about. Something is definitely going on, and with persistence you’ll find an answer.