Saturday, April 16, 2011

Situation Normal All F**ked Up (S.N.A.F.U)

Two hours. We talked about Snafu and all his life issues for two solid hours with Dr Judy Herman, a homeopathic vet in Augusta. It was awesome. I am a cat person and I can talk about my cat for two hours with great ease. Of course we have 8 cats and all of them (plus our 4 dogs) have a role to play in Snafu’s life, some more than others, and the hours flew by.

Without spending 2 hours revamping our conversation, which also had a healthy dose of dog training story swapping between DP and Dr Herman, we were both pleased with the plan she devised for us and answered a lot of my questions.

I wanted to know if spending more one on one time with Snafu would reinforce his insecurity and subsequent lashing out at the other cats, but she assured me it would not. I know cats are not like dogs, but still it’s easy to fall back on the monumental knowledge on dog behavior that’s already known. I feel so little is known about feline behavior that isn’t anecdotal.

Dr Herman confirmed a lot of what I “thought,” but was not confident enough to say I “knew.” He has fear anxiety towards the other cats and not simple dominance aggression. He did not learn good social skills when he was a kitten during that crucial learning time. He needs more one on one exercise to burn off his anxiety and he needs to have a “safe bed” that no one else is allowed on when he is out of his room, which is put away when he is in his room.

We are taking him off the Amitriptyline as I figured we would, and will try a dose of Album tincture. This was chosen based on his fear anxiety and the fact that he is a decent groomer and seeks heat to calm him. Additionally, DP will engage him in more clicker training, which he had learned about a year ago. He loved clicker training and learned to jump up, sit down and lay down on command. I will also take more time with him in his room to play and give him one on one.

That’s all we’re to do for now. And we’re to check in with Dr Herman 5 days after his one dose of Album tincture (we’re waiting a day or two to allow the Amitriptyline to wear off).

We’ll continue to hold off on an animal communicator, but if we do, I’m learning that it’s not just Snafu that’ll need a talking to, it’s also Penny, Angus, BJ, Nick, Wizard, Yukon and Owen.

Thank you all for your support!


  1. Paws crossed. It is so very hard as soon as one has more than one cat in the house!

  2. When Em passed, there was some dominance issues in my crew. Ollie was insecure about taking Alpha, and would dominate Jack at every chance.

    The book Cat vs Cat was very helpful to me in understanding his behavior and what I could do to help.

  3. How wonderful to have a vet spend so much time with you! Fingers and paws crossed that Snafu will feel safer and less anxious with the new regemin.
    Good luck! We have our issues with The Horde and I'm interested to see how things work out, especially with the Album tincture.

  4. What a great trip to the vets! No easy answers but at least a start. Wish I had thought of a "safe bed". A simple idea that could do so much. We've had safe rooms but this really sounds great because you could potentiall create safe areas as needed.
    Fear induced aggression. I've been there and I really feel for you. Its a really tough nut to crack, but doable. My 28lb ( big , not fat) cat took years to "cure" of fear induced aggression. When he was uncomfortable, he used to attack me as well as the other cats. There was one cat who especially triggered him. A tiny little female! It got so bad I had to remove
    my bedroom door and replace it with as screen door(the old fashioned Victorian style wooden ones) so he could be separate yet still be a part of the family. Where is he in your adoption order. He isn't last is he?
    Hand in there. It will eventually work out. It will take time but it will work.

  5. Well, I certainly can relate! Zoey suffers from fear induced aggression too...and she didn't learn social skills either when she was young. When she sees Wally, she wants to attack him. I cannot have the two of them together. Your vet recommended some of the same things that my veterinarian behaviorist suggested as well.

    Kari mentioned something that I have done as well...replaced the bedroom door with a door with a 20"x20" screened window in the bottom so Zoey can see out and be part of what's going on. We had it special made at a door company; didn't cost us much because they used an old door that would have been thrown out. We can cover the window when necessary too (right now we have it covered with opaque plexiglass...long story, but it's what the behaviorist recommends right now).

    I think you are on the right track and I hope this works out for Snafu and you!

    Island Cats' mom

  6. I am heading to the health food store for Album tincture as soon as I post this. I have no idea what causes Margaret's agression, I just think she doesn't like other animals period. Please keep us informed when you start Snafu on this. I am really interested and hope it will help him. I know the cats themselves can't be happy when they behave this way, uncomfortable is the operative word.

  7. Sounds like positive steps, best of luck!!!

  8. How interesting that vet visit was. Very knowledgeable. We have no experience with this. Banshee is a little territorial but nothing we have had to intervene with. We are not adding to our crew though ant time soon as she would have extreme issues, we think.

    Good Luck!!

  9. I had two cats at one time... Tiamat was NOT happy with the other one. EVER. A lot of anxiety towards Oreo... And Oreo learned to tolerate it. Eventually, after a few years... they were finally sleeping side by side. It just took time, thats all. A lot of time.


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