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Q Socks, our long-haired tabby, has a seriously bad temper. He's bitten and scratched my two young girls completely without provocation, and even though they don't go near him now he will run over to try and bite them. I was told that a medical condition could have altered his mood, but he's always been overly-aggressive. We can't rehome him as nobody wants him. What should we do? Kate A Illness or pain can be a cause of aggression in cats, so I would recommend you get Socks checked out by your vet, as there could be a long term issue you are unaware of. If he has no underlying medical problems, then the problem could be due to what behaviourists refer to as "petting and biting syndrome", when cats will initiate contact with people, but then will suddenly bite.

Cats displaying this are often described as friendly but unpredictable, and there is a sudden change from accepting attention to reacting in a hostile way once they reach their tolerance threshold. Treatment involves raising this threshold, which your vet or a pet behaviourist will be able to advise how to do. Additionally, if your children do get injured by your cat it's important to take them to see their doctor, as bacteria can often cause serious infection in cat bites.

Q My rottweiler Polly is two years old and keeps going to the toilet inside my house. She won't go on walks, only in the back garden, but even when she has constant access to this, she goes inside the house, even if I'm only gone for 20 minutes. How can I stop this behaviour? Robert AI would recommend that you take Polly to your vet to make sure there are no underlying medical conditions such as a bladder infection, enzyme deficiency or tummy upset, that might cause her to go to the toilet more frequently.

If she gets a clean bill of health, then you will need to work on retraining Polly, as she may think that a certain room or area is her "loo". Take her outside at regular intervals to where you want her to go, or if she is showing signs that she is about to go to the toilet, such as sniffling and circling.

When Polly does "go" where she's supposed to, immediately give her plenty of praise and a healthy treat. Also, make sure the area in the house where she goes is cleaned thoroughly to get rid of any "smell" triggers. It will take time, but with persistence she will eventually learn to associate going in the right place with something nice.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 24, 2013
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