Lux the Cat: Jackson Galaxy Updates The Kitty’s Progress
According to an article in the Seattle Times about Lux, the Portland, Oregon “Attack cat” (aka the 911 kitty), Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy said;
“I can say without hesitation that Lux is the most complicated character I think I’ve ever dealt with.”
Following its international media release last March, Lux’s story went viral. I suspect that most cat lovers would find it difficult to forget the hair-raising account of the close to 22 pound black and white kitty who, due to his aggressive behavior and “vicious” attack on their seven-month old toddler, drove his guardians, Portlanders Lee Palmer and Teresa Barker to lock themselves and their son and dog in their bedroom and call 911 for help and rescue.
Since Palmer admitted that he kicked the cat after he witnessed Lux attacking his son, the fur started flying around the internet. Some people angrily accused Palmer of animal cruelty while others were worried about what might ultimately happen to the distraught kitty
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Although the production of the current season of “My Cat from Hell” had ended, fortunately for all concerned, after Jackson learned about the disastrous and dangerous situation, he became committed to find a way that would allow both the apparently combative cat and his terrified human companions to live in peace.
During Jackson’s first home visit encounter with Lux, he joined the kitty in a bedroom where his guardians had him locked away. Lux peeked up at him from a box in which he was hiding. The cat’s pupils were dilated; he growled and was obviously distressed. But after Jackson spoke softly to him and made eye contact, offering him some treats, Jackson was easily able to pick him up and put him in his lap. Jackson remarked,
“I do not see a vicious cat. I do not see a killer.”
After thoroughly evaluating the kittys behavior, Jackson suspected it was possible that Lux had an underlying medical condition causing his aggressive behavior. As part of their homework, Jackson asked the couple to have Lux evaluated by a veterinarian. The veterinarian found nothing wrong with Lux, but Jackson remained unconvinced and saught a second opinion.
Finally, Jackson was able to convince Lux’s guardians to allow their cat to be fostered by Mollie and Jim, a couple with no children or other pets living in their home. The couple fell in love with Lux and all went well for a few days. But once again Lux became extremely aggressive; attacking his foster parents.
However, another veterinarian finally diagnosed Lux with feline hyperesthesia syndrome which can trigger violent behavior. This painful neurological condition generally causes cats to attack themselves, but with Lux, his behavior was targeted at humans. To control his violent outbursts, Lux was put on anti-seizure and antidepressant medications.
Unfortunately, Jackson’s recent update is one that leaves us hanging. Due to Lux’s aggression, Mollie and Jim were not able to consistently give him the medication, or institute Jackson’s behavioral plans. While they loved him deeply, they too became extremely fearful of the kitty.
As a result Jackson felt that for the sake of all concerned it was time to put some short-range plans into effect. Jackson got Lux under the care of what he referred to as an “amazing cat hospital” where he could live temporarily, receive his medications and get the attention to start working on the behavioral plan Jackson had assigned to Mollie and Jim.
Jackson remains optimistic that once Lux’s condition is stabilized he will be able to resume his adoptive life. But for now, Lux is being housed at a very unique open veterinary space which is as similar to a home situation as possible. Under the care of this veterinary hospital, Lux is doing very well. He is responding to the medication and socialization project.
At the same time however, the Cat Daddy remains cautious since after making certain assumptions he has on occasions been fooled. But throughout all of these ups and downs, Jackson is remaining totally committed to this rather remarkable cat, as he is too all the cats with whom he works.
Mollie and Jim continue to participate in Lux’s life and his “journey to wellness”. All of Lux’s connections hope and believe that this battle can be won.
What makes Lux’s story so compelling to this writer, is that it illustrates how crucial it is not to jump to snap decisions when working with a fractious cat. We who greatly love and admire felines must be ready to commit to dig deeply and creatively when trying to solve difficult and mystifying feline behavior. Jackson Galaxy is a powerful exemplar of someone who is truly committed to helping cats. We all have much to learn from him.
How did you react to Lux’s story when you first heard about him? Have your opinions changed? Tell us in a comment.
Lux should have been killed with a baseball bat.
I would enjoy ripping that cats head off and shitting down its neck. Pouring gasoline on it, and lightning t on fire sounds fun too
I have deleted most of your other comments and banned you. You are a troll and we know what trolls are like: sick, sad twits.
With the admission that the husband kicked the cat, you can guarantee that this happened more than once, especially if the wife was out of view or out of the house. Men are notorious for “hating” cats, and just because your chosen mate loves her cat doesn’t mean the guy will too. Guys seem to think that wrestling with a cat when it’s young like a dog is OK, until they get scratched or bit. Then they take out their stupidity on the cat and beat on it. Dogs take that, but cats react totally different, by attacking their antagonizer. People also have trouble with jealousy, “the cat or me” problem. What better way to alienate the cat from your partner than to make it aggressive and undesirable? People are selfish and cruel when it comes to their perceived control. If any one of us were kicked repeatedly by a bully, we’d either run away or attack, eventually.
You make some very good points, Dave. I can’t disagree with you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I’ve based my comment on personal observations of various guys who go along with the wife’s desire to have a cat, which is then named by the guy with names like “Ruffino” or “Toughguy”, or “TG” for short. Both of these cats were pretty mean and aggressive towards strangers and men in particular. I saw both kittens roughed up with hands when these guys and their drunken, football watching buddies were over at the house. Those cats grew up into the worst cats, with men, I’d ever seen. The wives were given a pass by the cat, but not the men. You’d walk into Ruffino’s home and first thing it would screech at you, go after your legs or leave a smelly BM in the litter box. Guys just need to stop agitating cats and they need to remember, you get out of a cat what you put in or give. If you can’t be gentle, get a dog for a pet. Thanks for commenting on my post.
I am still seeking updates about Lux’s condition and his progress. So far nothing new has been added. I must agree with the commentor that said that at this point we don’t know precisely how the veterinarians that Jackson is working with has come to this diagnosis. I am most eager to find out why and what medication he is getting and the behavioral plan Jackson has in store. Will update when I get this information.
Our cat was always a bad-tempered madam. It just seemed to be in her character to be miserable and grumpy. That was until I took her to the vet and he found some bad teeth. These were taken out and a transformation occurred. She still dislikes other cats but now has the loudest purr on the planet and loves being brushed, doesn’t moan too much having her claws trimmed, likes to sit on laps and snuggle up at bedtime. It seems the infection from her bad teeth was getting into her bloodstream and may have been affecting her brain, turning her into PMS cat! She’s now an affectionate talkative 17/18 year old home-loving moggy.
Thanks Sue for sharing. You experience is confirmation that pain and discomfort (as for humans) aggravates a cat and makes him/her irritated and potentially aggressive.
we want our animals to live a good and happy life,if the meds they are trying just make him so docile he sleeps all the time, that isnt much of a life.i hope they can help this fella eventually without the meds.i really go along with someone who said it sounded like PTSS, i believe Lux suffered a very traumatic event at some point and may even have brain damage.with the right home, no kids or other pets, i think he will come around in time.if not i guess hishumans will jut need to watch their backs and wear long sleeves!!!!
I have been following this story intently. This is good. having this cat be with other cats will properly socialize him. This is what Cesar Milan does with dogs who have not been properly socialized. I predict the outcome will be good here. As a fellow behaviorist, I applaud this move. I also volunteer to help Jackson with this problem animal, as this is also my specialty.
Thanks John for commenting. I hope we see a follow up. But if Lux is tranquillised he is bound to be docile isn’t he? Don’t these drugs just mask problems?
I believe so. And i also believe that being part of a pack, his behavior will be in line for a correction. Do I think that’s the TOTAL fix. I’m leaning maybe to no. Do I think it part of the solution, yes.
I took the worst behaving cat in NYC in June of 2012 and turn him. Attacks on humans and other cats were part of the problem. BUT, I also realize every situation is unique to the cat involved.
If Jackson would consider my offer, I believe I could help either way, from being totally corrected and socialized, to finding better ways of medication. I have access to some of the best doctor’s living in Green Bay, WI of all places. If you wish to know this story, I could expound.
had an uncle once whowhile we were at get togethers at his home would be laughing and hugging us and having a wonderfl time, when like the flick of a switch would start screaming i hate you all get out of my house, and actually try to do physical harm to us.we would all leave of course and he wouldnt remember being abusive the next day. this went on till he died we all just got used to it,because it didnt happen that often.he was bi-polar.Lux sounds just like him!
Interesting comparison. There are lot of similarities between cats and people, in fact — anatomically anyway.
actually emotionally, cats are the closest to humans of any other species. I don’t agree that all cats know what babies are and that tail pulling is an innocent act, definitely not the kicking. Like humans, some can brush things off, some are traumatized. Cats are as individual as humans. Yes, his reaction is severe and I do blame the new man in the house, the baby just topped it off. I agree cats shouldn’t always be with small kids, but the cat was there first. I know my friend who rescued and fostered most of my cats is very wary of adopting to people with kids, they have come back abused by them before.
Elisa wrote a page on kids and cats. I think they are fine together provided the parents supervise and train their child to handle a cat.
I was moved by the “foster parents and Lux and my wife for her compassion and her wisdom. Great job pumpkin!
While cats with this condition can typically self mutilate, there are several feline behavior experts such as Dr. Nicholas Dodman and Pam Johnson-Bennett who also talk about how FHS can cause aggression directed at other animals and humans.
Johnson-Bennett’s article is extremely fascinating and does shed some addtional light on the condition.
Dr. Dodman’s article is also one to check out.
I am not a veterinarian, but from Lux’s symptoms and his background it seems to me that a correct diagosis has been made- which may lead to helping him lead a more normal life and hopefully a suitable permanent home where he will be loved, cared for and cherished.
Thanks Jo, the reason why it was held for moderation is because it has two links and the software sees that as spam.
After watching the episode about Lux and the one from this past Saturday night with the cat that had PTSD from being in a house fire, and having a cat of my own that has feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS), I do not feel Lux does have FHS. I think Lux is more in line with PTSD. I don’t feel we got a true history or Lux’s life after the boyfriend came into their lives and found them to be off and a bit flat in their episode of My Cat From Hell… not accusing anyone of any wrong doing, but I feel there is much more to Lux’s life story than we know or will ever know. Our cat with FHS only has episodes that involve herself, her twitching tail and will stomp, hiss and growl and usually go off by herself. She is never aggressive towards us. Never has been. I think Lux is in a place now that can give him what he needs so badly. I feel very sad, though, that he has had to end up in another facility. I hope all goes well and they can get Lux to wellness and to a loving home situation.
I am in total agreement with you Evelyn. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Please come back some time and do it again.
Lux was alone with his owner from a very young age and was even bottle fed. There must have been a close bond between the two of them. Bring in a boyfriend, a stranger, who for some reason Lux doesn’t warm up to and then bring a baby into the family… perfect storm for Lux to feel less secure. I’m not saying that anyone intentionally harmed Lux. The new people, which includes a baby, who makes noises that must disturb Lux, having lived in a quiet home for so long. Add into this now a baby who is active and crawling and even innocently pulling Lux’s tail, it is the perfect storm for Lux to freak out. Then the kick, now the mistrust, animals feel your emotions. If you feel stressed, they feel stressed. Not all animals are compatible to a family environment. Some dogs don’t adjust to babies and young children. Something in that household set Lux off. Lux, who had ever been aggressive before, suddenly holds a family hostage in a bedroom?? And the room they had him locked up in piled with junk and a filthy litter box… Lux had no place in that home of his own. No where to get out of harms way and feel safe.
We all have opinions and all, I know. And like I said, I am not trying to accuse anyone of any wrong doing.
Clearly this situation is extremely unusual and extremely confusing. But FHS? I personally don’t think so. I said before, I have a cat with FHS. While her behavior is bizarre at times, she has never been aggressive to us or any visitors. She is very social and sweet. I am fortunate that her case is not as extreme as it can be.
I hope and pray Lux can be rehabilitated and have a happy home someday.
I absolutely agree with this.
Lux was pushed out of his own safe home by the new person. I sure he felt confused and threatened with the changes and physical harm. Poor kitty does not understand all of this and why that family, especially the woman who raised Lux, didn’t try harder to understand and respect the cat’s feelings is beyond me.
And, personally, I would not stand for anyone hitting or kicking any of my pets or any animal. After my divorce, my cats were much calmer and happier.
A neighbour’s black cat used to visit me, it was friendly, and loved fuss, rubbing itself against me. I used to stroke it a lot, then one day I stroked along it’s back and right up it’s tail, at which it turned round and tried to bite me. I never stroked it’s tail again, and it never tried to bite me again. Although it was a very unpredictable cat, sometimes very friendly and sometimes not interested.
I wonder if this cat’s tail being pulled started it’s aggression, and at times it remembers this and just becomes aggressive? I feel really sorry for this cat and hope it can eventually live a normal, loving life.
Another intelligent thought. Thanks for your contribution. These are great comments.
I have a cat with this condition– he used to lash out at other cats and himself (never us thankfully). He was originally on Amitriptiline (sp) and was so hard to pill– apparently the taste is horrible. We had him switched to Prozac and he has been doing GREAT! His affect is wonderful– friendly, loving, and just a “normal” cat now. Our cat’s cause for FHES was probably due to past trauma (he was a rescue that was found with wire wrapped around a leg). As long as we don’t pet him past the shoulder blades, he is a good boy. Hopefully, Lux will find the right environment!
I fostered a cat with feline hyperesthesia syndrome once. She mostly directed her aggression towards herself, and it was scary–it was like a switch flipped and she’d start keening, chasing and biting her tail and she’d hiss, spit and back away from me. She was also afraid/riled up by the sight of other cats and would try to attack them. The foster group had her on a psychotropic medication, a gel that had to be applied to her ear. I called her “The Mrs. Rochester of Cats” because she had to live in my attic away from other cats. After time with me she’d improved to the point where she could live in a space with other cats. Such a lovely cat, but so mental.
Interesting comment because it indicates that hyperesthesia can cause a cat to be aggressive towards another cat and therefore I suppose could be aggressive towards a person.
Here’s another thought: animals react to scent, sometimes a very strong defensive reaction. Maybe Lux is hyper sensitive to some kind of scent that we humans cannot smell?
Good thought. Thanks Cynthia.
Very possible. What I am not sure about is giving him drugs for this. I understand why but I’d love to get the bottom of the matter rather than killing the emotion with a drug.
I feel so bad for this kitty. How old is Lux? I have heard of cats having seizures and attacking when they get elderly, but I don’t think it is common. I had a Siamese mix who was a very affectionate, easy going and devoted companion 99% of the time…but once in a while he would get stressed and seem to ‘lose it’ and strike out at everyone. When this happened I would put him in a confined space until he calmed down, which he did. I don’t know what triggered it but it was not often. And I would never give up on him. I imagine Lux is in some kind of pain, physically and psychologically. I’m sure he doesn’t understand why his family treated him that way and he is fearful for himself now. A veterinary hospital may just be the best place for him and to study this feline behavior for future cases. Lux is beautiful – I hope he gets better and will have a peaceful life. He deserves it.
I wonder if many other domestic cats feel like Lux but don’t express it like he did. It is possible. Cats may be more stressed that we think.
They did examine the possibility of a mild stroke or strokes but there was no evidence of that–as there was not in Lux’s case. This is repeated but sporadic behavior too, which points more to something chronic.
I really do not know anything about agressive cats. I do however know that I would not ever have him around a small child again. Now before anybody pounces on me, although I love all animals, I would not have one that would be a danger to anyone. I hope Lux can be loved and cared for someone with experience in this kind if behavior.
The small child probably caused the poor cat’s aggression, pulling his tail and whatever else he did that we don’t know about. The doting father allowed it and kicked the cat when he retaliated!
I’m just glad he’s out of that hell hole but how many more cats are living lives of abuse and misery because of irresponsible parents?
Any cat would turn aggressive living in that situation.
No cat should be subject to a small child’s abuse, idiot parents should supervise them at all times.
If Lux was in his right frame of mind, I highly doubt that he would have retaliated to the baby after one tail pull. Animals know a baby when they encounter one. My Bizby can be vicious but has NEVER been mean to my little nephew. The worst thing that she does is pop his hand when he gets grabby. She was in the semi with me for 11 years and exposed to carbon monoxide several times. We both had CM poisoning many times. She has torn my arms up for petting her. And I’m not talking claws. She bites and rips!! But she will only pop the baby. She likes him and is very curious about him.
Personally, I feel that abuse to Lux has been an ongoing thing, and then they brought this miniature intruder home. I may be wrong, but I really feel Lux has had it rough. Even without his health issue, it’s going to take a lot of patience to bring him out of the dark side. My Bizby has issues that nobody else would ever take on. I have to outlive her so that she has a loving home all her life.
Hi Ginger. Thanks for commenting. My initial thought was like yours, underlying hostile environment and then compounded by tail pulling and shouting etc and being hit as I remember = cat aggression.
I was angry and quite honestly confused when I first heard about Lux. How can a grown man be so afraid of cat? Why would Lux strike out so viciously? I was sure she was abused. Well, now that I’ve seen the show I must admit I am convinced the Cat Daddy did his very best, but I am unsure Lux of the facts surrounding the diagnosis. I would like to hear from the vets and techs who believe this to be true.
The one thing that I believe 100% is that those people do not deserve a cat. Kicking an animal for reacting naturally to a tail grab? Come on man. Think! I wish charges would of been at least considered in the case.
So I say it was a great success with and asterisk. I want to know who diagnosed Lux and why.
TYSM, Dan. Couldn’t have said it better.
One person commented that the tail grab may have damaged the spinal cord or the tail causing pain making the cat aggressive. Long shot. No idea if this possibility has been checked out by the vets.
Firstly, Palmer needs to be prosecuted for cruelty. That bunch should never have been able to have a cat in the first place. I’ll stop there, rather than ranting on about each family member in turn.
Just as an anecdote, I grew up with a cat who would probably have received this kind of diagnosis but it never occurred to my parents to seek one. He was moody, unpredictable, and would “attack” on occasion. Again, it never occurred to my parents to seek a diagnosis, put him on drugs, betray and abandon him, or anything of the sort. He was a beloved member of our family for life. He was found as a kitten in the street sitting beside his Siamese mother, who had been killed by a car/driver. Our elder cat and he became friends and they were always close — never any problem there. My mom was the one he “attacked” and the reason, we guessed, was because she would go up the hill into the part of the yard to hang clothes, where his “lizard patch” was. He was very territorial about his lizard patch. His defense of it meant he often drew blood; but again, in our family, he WAS family, and there was never any question of anything else, no matter what. When you love someone and commit to them, you take them as they are, warts and all.
You said it all.
Exactly how I feel too.
😉 *Great minds think alike?* 😉
I really have no understanding of even the fosterers at all. So, you feel and are “attacked”. So what? We are 20 times the size of any cat. If a human can’t figure out how to subdue and “talk down” a cat, there’s something wrong with them.
I grew up as you did. Those situations were accepted. Scratches/bites were just a part of it all; washed off, salve applied, and on we went.
Good gosh, yeah. Some people act like their fear responses are out of control. Guess they watch too much tv or something. Anyway, yeah, I always figure even a kid like that little brat is bigger and a lot more powerful than a cat, and I’d be worried for the CAT, not the kid. If the brat hadn’t pulled his tail, he wouldn’t have tried to DEFEND HIMSELF. I know what my mom did when I ignorantly pulled my “big fur brother”‘s tail — she pulled my hair, hard enough that it hurt, and when I responded, she said, “See? That’s how it feels when you pull his tail!” As far as I know, I never did that to him or any other cat again, because I got the message on the level I needed to get it on. That’s inspired on my mom’s part!
If you saw the original episode you would have “met” the foster parents. They have a ton of experience, but I think they probably minimized the kind of aggression that Lux displayed. He was a perfectly normal cat in their care for awhile then reverted. They knew that this was possible, since Jackson explained that carefully to them.
I don’t think they were to blame in backing out for now. They were not the youngest people either, but had tons of experience fostering. I wonder how many of us could put up easily with the kind of aggressive attacks that Lux would make?
But they are ready and willing to try again if everyone feels that he is ready for another try- or perhaps to another person who may feel more confident handling these episodes. I am not sure I could handle them, and I consider myself very flexible about kitties.
I have received some pretty serious scratches from Sir Hubble when he jumps off my lap ( if I am bare legged- and neglectful in trimming his hind claws) but that doesn’t bother me at all. I just wonder how I would do with a very vicious attack and a cat that acts like he wants to kill me.
I can’t assign any blame to the fosterers really. I’m more baffled by their actions than anything else. They seem perfectly lovely and well experienced with cats. I understand that they turned him over because they were unable to be compliant with his med regime and behavioral therapy and not, simply, because they were afraid of him. It’s hard medicating a wild cat, but it can be done. I assume that they have only dealt with domesticated cats.
In any case, no matter how vicious Lux could become, I don’t think he would be able to kill me. There are some ways to subdue a cat-gone-wild that aren’t cruel.
I’m in agreement that he, more than likely, suffers from some sort of seizure disorder that all the MRI’s in the world won’t detect.
Prozac with the addition of Dilantin would seem appropriate. I hope he’s not on phenobarb because it can cause agitation.
There is no further information about thetype of medications being used for Lux except for anti-depressants and anti-seizure meds. But apparently Lux is responding to treatment. Will keep looking for new updates.
Mollie was attacked so severely she went to the hospital. Cat bites can be very dangerous even if they are much smaller than we are. My family had a cat who had seizures and she would attack the family if we even got near her during one–she wasn’t even aware of doing it.
Cat bites can be dangerous – agreed.
I’m not a vet either. However, I tend to believe that Lux suffers from some sort of seizure disorder that is triggered at times. It could be triggered because of past abuse or something environmental. But, I believe that he is extremely fearful of something. Brain scans and EEG’s aren’t always 100% reliable.
I wish I could foster Lux. I’m not intimidated by an aggressive cat. I believe that he has a disability; and, there is nothing that would make me turn my back on him.
What would be good, but nearly impossible, is a brain scan during one of his outbreaks, to see which part of his brain is hyper-reacting.
This is the sort of thing that doctors do for people and it is a very good idea. I guess there is no money for it or commitment.
I see a great deal of commitment to find out what is wrong with Lux. The challenge is he can’t talk and tell us what is going on. I trust the people who are taking care of Lux now. I keep hearing “I am not a Vet”… They are, and if I know Jackson he picked a good one. We should not put our own emotion on what is going on with Lux. We should really stop saying he was abused when we truly don’t know that. My 5 cats were around an active toddler and they survived. This is a high profile case and the blame is flying. We should wait to see how Lux does on the meds which it sounds like they are working.
Thanks Ruth for visiting and commenting.
PS: My friend lives in another country so couldn’t apply to Jackson for help but yes, she did try many behaviorists and cat communicators as well as medical specialists and vets and had the MRI and other expensive tests done, with the same kind of results Lux had–nobody could identify the problem. But neurological problems in humans are pretty hard to diagnose and treat sometimes too. Good luck, Lux, and I hope if good comes out of your situation it will be publicizing this situation enough (through Jackson’s show) that some research vet will find a cure for it.
Jo, I have a friend who had a cat who behaved similarly to Lux in one of his hissy-fits increasingly often as she grew older, attacking my friend and her littermate brother quite viciously and without any aggressive behavior or other provocation on the part of either human or co-cat. My friend loved this cat so dearly and tried everything she could think of to find out what was wrong and cure the kitty, whether the problem was behavioral or medical, over a period of years. But it did not end well for anyone. My friend still is heart-broken and guilty over the eventual outcome although I think anyone else I know, including me, would have given up on the cat long long ago. I guessed when we were discussing it that it sounded like a seizure condition, possibly one in which the cat experienced quite a lot of pain, which is how Jackson and the vet described this condition and really fits the behavior of this other kitty as well as Lux, but, as with Lux, this condition began when the cat had already been with the human for many years, which made it even harder and sadder. I hope Lux can survive but I hope even more than someone can find an actual cure for this disease instead of debilitating drugs that rob the cat and his humans of the normal behavior that is present the majority of the time. If only the cat just did this at the full of the moon, like a werewolf, and could be locked up at just this time and he and his humans enjoy each other’s companionship except for the occasional lapses! But I know from my friend’s situation that this is not behavior arising from extra stress or lack of love or abuse or failure to care enough, and how hard it is to love someone so much and be terrified of them at the same time. It’s like the worst case of domestic abuse ever except that the abuser is totally incapable of controlling him or her self and doesn’t seem to realize what happened afterward. It’s one of the most tragic things I’ve ever known to happen to a kitty and a cat/guardian relationship. Poor Lux and I feel so badly for the people who love Good Lux but can’t live with the threat of his unwitting and unwilling violence.
What about a mild stroke that caused mild brain damage which in turn changed his character. Cats can have mild strokes without it being noticed. Long shot. I suppose the vets have covered all the angles.
I am so glad Jackson stepped in to help Lux!!! I scour his website looking for updates 🙂 Getting him stabilized and then finding a family willing to continue treatment will be difficult at best! Awesome article Jo!!!!
I would imagine that Lux is receiving a Prozac-type medication, along with phenobarbitol to control seizures. According to Dr Dodman, serotonin (the happiness hormone)helps to promote a feeling of well-being, and it has something to do with muscle contraction.
The cat did have an MRI (under sedation) of course, and full xrays. I wish I knew more about all of the medical/psychological findings, but apparently what he is receiving now is doing a really good job at controlling seizures and helping him to feel more at ease.
I’d like to know what meds the cat is on. Wheez has been on amitryptiline for a bladder problem, but it also had calming effects on her. In the pharmacy, we’ve seen kitties on prozac and even valium, which in the correct doses shouldn’t cause excessive sleepiness or laziness. I for one would not be against medicating the cat versus putting him to sleep. First he would have to be stabilized though, perhaps via injections in the vets office before anyone tried to orally medicate him. Or, injections might be the way to go…a lot of people give their cats daily insulin for diabetes…any route of giving medication would be acceptable to euthansia.
I’d also like to know if the kitty has some sort of constant pain that may not have been discovered yet…have they exrayed his back/tail to rule out a disk problem that could be causing excruciating pain?
The tail should also be checked for a possible dislocation/nerve impingment.
It seems that all this started when the baby pulled Lux’s tail. I’m wondering if that did not cause a nerve injury that the vets missed. Also, if this were a human, he might be classified as bipolar. Another possibility.
Hi Helena, So glad to see you here!
According to Dr. Dodman, pulling the tail could cause an episode of aggression in itself, since the spine is extremely sensitive. The baby did pull the cat’s tail, which apparently caused Lux to attack the baby. I think that Lux’s case is extremely interesting and may help more kitties that have this condition.
Hi Jo, I do hope they find a workable solution. I almost always read your blogs. Sorry I’m such a poor poster. Busy, you know. lol
I feel so very bad for this cat. I have seen these symptoms before and they can be scary. Smokey was a beautiful cat but had issues just as Lux has. Because of his aggressive behavior he was euthanized. It broke my heart to take an otherwise healthy cat and have him out down. If he had been my cat I would have tried to work with him. I honestly think that this is what was wrong with Smokey. I am hoping that Lux will do well. Please keep us posted for further information. I saw the Lux episode of My Cat From Hell yesterday. I have to say that I wonder how Lux’s former owner will raise a baby if they couldn’t deal with this cat. I saw a lot of things in that episode that make me question whether this was all the cat’s fault. When you have toddlers and cats together there is always going to be scratches. I hope this couple never has pets again.
I wish in Lux’s new home when Lux started having aggression outbursts that JG had set up a video camera to capture what was happening in the house at the time his attitude changed.
Surely, they are video taping him in his new environment?
I hope they are Cindy, then they can pinpoint what actually triggers his aggression.
It could be hardwired from early days of socialisation.
I do believe that Lux was mistreated at his first home. The young parents let their crawling baby pull the cat’s tail and when Lux defended himself he was kicked in the rear. That is clearly abuse. When JG went to his first session he found that the cat has been locked up in a bedroom , alone and left in there for much of the time. No one knows what actually went on in this home and what kind of treatment Lux received from his owners. The owners seemed to display only fear or anger towards this cat. The cat was isolated with no love or affection.
We know how often humans are misdiagnosed. It took nearly 15 years for my mother to get a correct diagnosis to her physical issues because when her problems started there wasn’t an MRI to pinpoint the problem. The same happens in animal medicine and would be harder to diagnose because you can’t ask the patient questions.
I don’t know if it is the abuse/neglect or a physical or physiological problem or a combination of both, but hope that JG follows through on getting the best help available for this cat that deserves a happy and well adjusted home.
I tend to agree. I believe it is more about socialisation and environmental issues than medical conditions – I sense this because he is healthy.
I have thought all along and still think, that Lux was abused in some way. Something, a sound? a pitch of voice? a certain smell? triggers his memory of the abuse and puts him on the defensive.
We know that cats never forget. So I say his aggression was caused by a person and drugs will never erase from his memory whatever was done to him by that person.
I tend to agree with you Ruth. The hyperesthesia diagnosis doesn’t ring true for me but I’m not a vet.
No nor am I a vet Michael, but it doesn’t ring true to me either. Lux doesn’t attack himself as cats with hyperesthesia normally would do.
I agree with both of you. I have a cat with FHS. She is not aggressive to us at all, and is quite social and loving.
Having the addition of a boyfriend, who you can tell is NOT a cat person by any stretch of the imagination and made it clear he wanted Lux gone. Then bring in a baby, and we all know how babies cries are shrill and alarming to the human ear sometimes, imagine a cat with hearing that is much more intense than ours…
There is noting in that home that provides Lux with places to go to or climb on and that room he was tossed in was an absolute mess, especially the litter box.
Maybe I am an unusual person, but I always make sure my cats are set up first when we move. I set up their cat towers in a good spot. And whenever we are looking for a new place to live, I consider the cats needs as well as our own, looking for places that has a good place for litter box and feeding locations.
Lux just seemed to be an afterthought. Which is sad, since his owner bottle fed him as a tiny young kitten… their bond should have been strong. She kept saying I want to keep my cat, but her body language and facial expression said something else.
I think more along the lines of PTSD than FHS. This cat is freaked.
I’m no veterinarian myself, just a cat owner for most of my life. I have seen all kinds of cat behavior. I have never had or seen a cat that attacks humans like this. It is very puzzling.
I agree with PTSD. The descriptions of Lux definitely leans that way. Poor baby. I hope he is healed by now.
I totally can see the diagnosis to be true. Not every cat that acts out has been abused. I have a cat who has the same thing. In fact it was one of Jackson’s episodes that finally cinched it for us. We had 7 vets look at our cat and wanted to do everything from “nothing is wrong with her” to amputate her tail. She is now 17 and has been the “psycho” cat since she was around 2. Her tail seems to be a demon that she can’t get away from, she will just up and run through out the house for no reason, you can see the start of it when her back starts twitching. The only calming thing that works is when she lays with me on the couch and I hold her tail so it doesn’t “get her”. Because I am not one who likes to drug a kitty up, we are trying the non prescription suggestions that you read in the article. They are working but we still see the behavior.
I agree it could be purely medical.
I agree – I think you are bang on there. I wonder if he acts out on men or women specifically or both. If he was abused by one or the other then you would expect him to react noticeably whichever it was.
But Ruth you are right that there are so many small things that cats sense which we dont. They have powerful physical senses so we can’t necessarily spot the trigger if there is one. That makes it a bit daunting.
I agree it is often difficult to find a cause. I still sense that the cause was environmental – perhaps during socialisation – and the problem surfaces under certain circumstances. This is more likely and in which case, personally, I’d question whether drugs are a good idea.
Perhaps it was the intention to tranquillise Lux but they had to find a medical reason to do it and chose hyperesthesia. It is the first time I have seen this condition described as causing aggression towards people.
According to the article, though, he is not on tranquilizers, only an antidepressant and an anti-seizure. I’m happy that Lux is in this new setting so that he can be observed by professionals daily. If they can gather enough evidence to change the diagnosis from hyperesthesia to something that better reflects the nature of his condition, I’m sure they will.
Thanks Jas. Is there a difference between anti-depressants and tranquillisers?
Hi Michael. Most likely there is a difference, though I’m not sure what medication they are using on Lux. I know that a commonly used antidepressant for cats and dogs is Prozac. That class of medication works by adjusting the levels of serotonin (our natural mood-stabilizing chemical) that bind to the postsynaptic receptor. As someone who has personally taken this class of medication for panic attacks, I can attest to the fact that it does not have tranquilizing properties, but rather, serves to make the person or animal feel more “normal.” Lux would be more likely to experience some sedative effects from an anti-seizure med. Phenobarbital, for example, can have mild sedative properties, but it’s main mechanism of action is to deal with the parts of the central nervous system which would cause convulsions and seizures. If they were just looking to give Lux something to tranquilize him significantly, they probably just would’ve given him Valium. I’m hopeful that they’re really trying to do right by Lux.
Michael, I know if they are using human medications, a tranquilizer of any kind would fall under an anti anxiety medication, not anti depressant, which tend to have an elevating effect. I didn’t watch the show, but know the original woman guardian bottle fed him, so she had him his whole life. If he’s never lashed out until the abusive bf (in my opinion) and the baby then it could be emotional/behavioral. Who knows what her bf had done to the cat before. I have a cat who is aggressive to other people (not me) and some cats. She is bitey with me, but contains herself and was not abused. She is healthy, just spirited I’d say. She is ironically meanest to other cat lovers. I hope for the best, I am mainly glad he is out of that original house and I hope the man’s first instinct isn’t always to act in violence for their child’s sake.
I tend to agree. I know I am bit cynical in my old age but there was probably more mild abuse going on behind the scenes than admitted.
I tend to clump together anti-depressants and tranquillisers into one: “mood enhancers”.
Thanks for the update, Jo. Excellent, but what worries me slightly is the second veterinary diagnosis of feline hyperesthesia. As you state this condition is not known to cause a cat to be aggressive. It is about self-inflicted activities. This causes me to doubt it. Perhaps a third opinion would have been wise for such a high profile cat. After all we have one vet saying Lux is not ill and another saying he is. A 3rd opinion is needed.
Also Lux has been put on what I presume are tranquillisers. This will kill aggression but they kill normal activity as well. Dulls the mind. How long must he be on them?
I think he should have had more time in foster – a long time, say 6 months – to see if he could shake off his learned aggression.
Anyway, I am not sure that the outcome is good and correct.
Michael, in fact this condition can be outwardly directed. While this is fairly uncommon, it definitely can become outwardly directed toward humans.
That he is responding well so far to the treatment protocol makes me a little more optimistic for his outcome. The foster parents were really trying hard, but I am sure that his outbursts are very frightening. Basically he has a “semi-foster” at the clinic in “homelike”environment. I have my paws crossed for him.
Here is an excellent description of the condition- treatment, causes, written by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, one of the leading veterinary behaviorists in the country. He is spot-on about the condition. Please do read this article for more information about this condition. In his book, “The Cat that Cried for Help” he gives a long case history about a cat that has the condition.
Thanks Jo, I’ll check it out.
One of things he says is:
So the second hints at possible aggression at a person or cat.
But if the causes are unknown, for me, it raises a lot of questions. What if the cause is stress or general environmental issues? He more or less says it is. In which case I’d like to see a greater emphasis on environmental treatment. I wonder if Lux was given enough time to self-cure in a better environment.
I think that the foster parents Mollie and Jim- if I recall correctly- were scared by his sudden and what seemed like to them- out of the blue attacks. They seemed to be the perfect people to foster Lux, and they wanted to adopt him.
I am really hoping that the treatment he is receiving now will work really well, and that he can be returned to this foster family- leading to a permanent adoption. Of course he may have episodes- but I imagine that keeping a very calm environment will be very helpful for this very needy kitty.
Is everybody bringing the same article that I’m reading cuz that article Jo gave the link for describes what has been said about Lux to the letter. There need not be all symptoms, just like the article said…
Reading, not bringing…
Thanks for the great link! Very interesting and sad disorder.