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Aggressive with food.

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic
Age: 1-2 years
Dear Dr. Marie:

My husband and I adopted our kitten, Tigger, last April, so we've had him for a good 9 months. He is generally a well-behaved cat, if not a bit stubborn. However, lately (within the last week!), he has become incredibly possessive about his food. He growls and hisses at us if we even come near him while he is eating and has even resorted to clawing and biting. It has gotten to the point where he is coming up to us and clawing to get the food that we are eating.

My initial thought is that some sort of medical reason is prompting this behavior--like maybe he has worms or something like that. But, we have been diligent with taking him to the vet and he's up to date on all his shots and everything.

I'm at my wit's end trying to figure out how to deal with this kitty. We love him to death but can't be around him if he's going to continue to behave this way. Do you have any advice for how to address this problem?

Thank you so much!

Blessings,
Julie


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Julie. Sorry to hear that Tigger is becoming agressive. This is not very common.

My first question is to ask you whether he is neutered. If not, then having him neutered will likely improve his attitude greatly. By 9 months an unneutered male cat will be starting to get some hormones. Testosterone can cause all sorts of behavioral issues.

My next thought would be to have your vet examine him. It is definitely possible that there is a medical issue that is causing him to be aggressive. I have seen cats do this if they have pain somewhere (such as back pain or dental pain.) I have also seen cats do this if they are agitated because they have fleas. Or, they can do this if they have issues with their urinary tract.

If there is no medical reason found then your vet may talk to you about a trial of anti-anxiety medication for a few months. I have had good success with a product called Reconcile, but others such as Clomicalm or Amitryptyline may work as well. In many cases we can use the medication for a short term and then eventually wean the cat off.

You can also ask your vet about a new prescription food called Calm diet. This diet has natural products in it which helps to reduce undesirable behaviors.

I really hope that things are improving soon!

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.