I am reading a short summary on the treatment of an aggressive Maine Coon cat. The summary does not paint the entire picture which in one way makes it interesting and in another it makes it irritating. There are some holes in the story.
This is the story: a Maine Coon cat was being aggressive towards their owners. The cat was actually aggressive to other people but mainly the owners. But here’s the interesting part: the cat reacted towards “different, non-specific sounds with abrupt aggressive behaviour and injured the victims at this juncture with moderate scratching and biting.”
So, this Maine Coon cat was provoked into aggressive behaviour because of the sounds that he heard. Surely that requires deep investigation. It sounds to me as if he was suffering from quite a well-known condition called “feline audiogenic reflex seizures” (FARS). This is a condition which causes a cat to have seizures and behave strangely when they hear particular sounds like the crinkling of tinfoil or perhaps even plastic bags.
In my view, all domestic cats do not like sharp crinkling sounds from any source. The sound might not always produce a seizure which is very dramatic but it may produce behaviour which indicates a dislike of the sound and this prompts me to believe that this Maine Coon cat might have suffered from a lesser version of FARS but it is not mentioned in the summary to the study.
Putting that to one side for the moment, they tried to cure the cat with behaviour-modulating therapy. I guess that means they tried to train the problem out of the cat through classic positive reinforcement training.
It didn’t work. They decided on medication which was fluvoxamine, a well-known antidepressant for people. It is one of those selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
In addition, they carried on with the behaviour therapy. The aggressive behaviour problem was resolved. It appears that it was entirely resolved although that isn’t stated.
In all, they administered fluvoxamine for 63 weeks and it was then discontinued by gradually reducing the dosage without a recurrence of the aggressive behaviour.
There were no side effects to the medication that were noted.
Study title: Treatment of inter-specific aggression in cats with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluvoxamine. A case report.
Link to study: https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0038-1623668
Comment: why give a cat a long-term antidepressant when he was not depressed and why not simply protect him from the sounds that upset him? That would have resolved the behaviour problem immediately without drugs, which should always be avoided if possible as all drugs are essentially poisons.
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