Kodos the Executioner

It’s official: my cat is a psychopath. Kodos has gone from “just” attacking the other cat to attacking my roommates. The adjustment is not going well. I know what you’re thinking: how can a cat so cute be so evil? I don’t have an answer for that. Things seemed to be getting better for a while and I was letting him out of my room for hours and hours at a time, but now I’m loathe to let him out at all whenever anyone else is home. I’ve never seen any of the attacks but last night when I was having people over he sat under the table growling and hissing. It was certainly unexpected because Kodos and Zuul (Marlo’s cat) lived in complete harmony for weeks, though that was on Kodos’ home turf at the time. Kodos attacked Max (Mike’s cat) twice as far as I know – once when Max was walking by outside my room and once when Max trundled into my room. Now Max avoids Kodos like a dog plague. Luckily Kodos is a ground cat and Max is more of a climber and even a one foot difference in elevation keeps them from interacting – Kodos the idiot generally doesn’t notice Max unless Max moves. Just like a T-Rex, if Jurassic Park is to be believed (Sam Neill wouldn’t lie, would he?). Anyway, I’ve been looking into solutions for problem and here’s what the internet has to say:

Fearful or Defensive Aggression

Defensive aggression occurs when the cat perceives itself to be under a threat from which it cannot escape. This type of aggression may be recognized by the typical body postures which accompany it: crouching, flattening of the ears against the head, hissing and spitting, piloerection (hair standing up). These are all signals to the other animal or person that further approach is likely to lead to a defensive attack. The defensively aggressive cat only attacks when approached, it does not seek out the source of the threat or pursue it if it withdraws.

The best way to deal with a defensively aggressive cat is to avoid the cat until it calms down. You should not try to comfort the cat by approaching it or picking it up. The cat should be left alone until it relaxes enough to eat, play, or show affectionate behavior. In some cases, several hours or more are required for the cat to settle down.

It is important to minimize any behaviors that would frighten the cat (eg., loud voices and quick movements) and at the same time encourage a nonfearful behavior in the cat (eg., eating or playing). Ask your cat-friendly acquaintances to sit on the couch or even better, on the floor after entering your home. Give them your cat’s favorite food treats which for training purposes, will only be offered by guests, not the family. If the cat will not approach the visitor, it can be tossed to him. A toy attached to a long fishing pole is another way to win over a reluctant puss. When Kitty begins to connect good times and good food with people who come through the door, the hissing will be replaced with purring. Patience and persistence, as always, pay off.

To this end I have bought some treats – which I normally never give to Kodos – for my roomies to give to Kodos whenever they like. Additionally:

The phenomena of redirected aggression can be puzzling and frightening to cat lovers. It occurs when a cat is highly aroused and in an aggressive state (for instance, by the sight of an outside cat, by just having been in a fight, or by a loud, disturbing noise), and the cat attacks a person or another animal within reach. Generally, cats do not redirect aggression unless they are touched or closely approached by another animal or person.

If a cat is in an aggressive state or mood, it can be very dangerous for the owner to approach it, or try to pick it up. The owner should wait until the cat has changed its mood before interacting with it. The state of arousal can last two hours or more, but in most cases is over within thirty minutes. After the cat has engaged in another behavior, such as grooming, playing, or eating, it is usually safe to approach it.

To treat this type of aggression, the arousing stimulus must be identified so that it can be eliminated. For example, if the cat is upset by looking at other cats through the window, the outside cats should be kept from passing near the window or the resident cat’s view should be obstructed by pulling a shade or keeping the cat out of the room with the windows. If the triggering stimulus cannot be removed, [in this case it can’t because Kodos and Max have got to live in the same house] then the cat should be systematically desensitized to it.

If the owner is the victim of redirected aggression, it is important that he not retaliate so strongly that the attacking cat develops a fear of him and becomes defensively aggressive toward him, thereby creating another, more difficult problem to solve. Keep in mind that it is the cat’s predatory nature that enables it to concentrate so single-mindedly on a particular object (or animal) of interest. This all-consuming focus of the cat’s attention is not easily transformed into a recognition of the touch of an old friend–so don’t take it personally!

Even so I’m definitely going to get a spray bottle or gun to exercise some damage control when Kodos starts trying out for the next video of WHEN HOUSECATS ATTACK.

2 Replies to “Kodos the Executioner”

  1. kodos lived his entire life in your old apartment, didn’t he?

    he’s probably still freaked out by the move and the new digs. it will probably be awhile before the new apartment begins to feel like home to him.

    that old apartment probably had kodos scent everywhere, in every nook and cranny, so even when zuul came over, kodos didn’t feel any territorial problems, because there was no mistaking the apartment, zuul around or not, as kodos’ domain.

    not so in the new apartment.

    just my take on the change in behaviour. you probably posted previously with this very hypothesis, as i scroll back i may find it.

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