Adopted stray Maine Coon transferred his aggression and bit the owner and was given Prozac

I'm going to comment on this. These are my views only. I respect the views of others. The story comes from the AVMA Journals website under the heading "Animal Behaviour Case of the Month". It is a story about inappropriate feline behaviour and how they dealt with it. They treated this Maine Coon cat as a patient with a mental health problem (my words) it seems to me from the way that they proceeded. I disagreed immediately with that method of proceeding.

What happened is that the owners of a Maine Coon found the animal as a stray. The cat was neutered and about 4.5 years old. The cat was doing quite well and was fairly passive to the point where the woman of the house took the cat on the leash into the backyard. This proves that the cat was pliable and well behaved.

While outside the cat saw an intruding cat. The woman picked up her Maine Coon to take him into the house. The cat redirected his aggression at the intruding cat onto the woman and bit her hand. The bite broke the skin. We don't know but the woman may have struggled with her cat and tried to restrain him which would have made things worse.

It was decided that the cat was aggressive. Comment: the cat was not aggressive although the mentality of this former stray cat was going to come out under certain circumstances such as this one. In other words this cat was probably a little more feisty than normal because of his time as a stray fending for himself.

In my opinion, after he bit the woman, all they had to do was to provide a calm, sound and tranquil environment for the cat during which he was not able meet any intruding cat. And during which they did not play too roughly with the cat or in any way stimulate aggression. Enjoyable play could have happened. Over time the cat would have calmed down and returned to normal. In the long term the cat would have become more and more domesticated and pliable in my view.

But what happened was they sought advice and the advice was to administer Prozac which is not approved for cats but it was administered nonetheless. This drug is called fluoxetine hydrochloride. They also used the usual pheromone diffuser such as Feliway which calms cats. Personally, I disagree with the use of drugs in this instance. But that's a personal choice. As it happens the drugs did not apparently cause any harm and they appear to have assisted the cat to become more calm.

The advice also was to prevent the cat seeing invading cats outside which aroused his aggression. In addition, there are told not to play too rough with their cat and to reward their cat after successful interactions. Further, they were told to pet there cat when he was calm and to not overdo it and to handle their cat for short periods of time at first and then extend these interactions. 

This was a process of desensitisation as they called it to achieve counter-conditioning so that the cat would seek attention and interaction with their owner. Good behaviour was to be rewarded with a food treat. The dosage of fluoxetine hydrochloride was increased. This is because the cat tolerated the previous dosage well and the owners wanted the cat to further reduce what they perceived to be anxiety.

I agree it all save for the Prozac which was not needed and was an unnecessary risk.

From my perspective, the bottom line is that it seems that the cat acted normally and indeed predictably. He did not have any 'mental health problems' and therefore I can't see the point of administering drugs which are meant to deal with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety leading to so called 'behavioural problems'.  This Maine Coon did not have behavioural problems based on what I've read.

The whole problem kicked off with the cat transferring his aggression to the woman. If he haven't done that none of this process would have taken place. 

If he'd just run away back into the home or if he had attacked the cat that would have been normal but he bit the woman. It is entirely normal for a resident cat to hiss and growl and go sideways on with bristled fur in the presence of an invading cat onto their territory.

It is also entirely normal for a cat to transfer aggression to another if they can't direct their aggression at the desired recipient. It seems that that point was not picked up by the experts. What I'm saying is this was normal behaviour and therefore there was no need to resolve anything. There was no problem. This was perfectly acceptable under the circumstances. I got the say that the story indicates to me a lack of understanding by the experts which put a Maine Coon through unnecessary treatments.


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