The emergence of Fluffzilla
As we all know by now, amygdala fires the fight or flight response in our brains. Same goes for all living creatures. Some run and try to hide in face of danger. Others get ready to fight to the last breath. Difference? Humans have evolved a great deal away from our primal instincts. Cats have not. If we can control our actions 10%, Fluffy can do it less than 1%.
So, what to do and more importantly what NOT to do when Fluffy faces real or imaginary danger and turns into Fluffzilla?
1. Put your flesh between Fluffy and the threat
Truth is that cats are much better equipped to take each other’s aggression then we are. Yes, occasionally they get hurt and they certainly can kill each other. But mostly it’s a lot of noise until one (smarter if not stronger) leaves the duel.
2. Do not yell or scream
This will redirect Fluffy's aggression towards you. The screaming is understood as another challenge, especially in the middle of a fight and Fluffy would (rightfully) feel that you might attack him.
3. Do not use the water bottle
It's a similar frame of thinking, where the water bottle would be perceived as a challenge and initiate redirected aggression.
What you can and should do is:
a. Throw a blanket, pillow or a box aiming to hit Fluffy or close to him. Do this from a safe distance.
b. Wait until one of the cats decides to leave the duel and try to stop the other from chasing. Again, throw something over the aggressor, like a blanket or a pillow.
c. Wait it out. I know it's hard but sometimes it's all you can do...
Real Life Stories
Years back I rescued a tripod cat, named Cale. We had a very rough start, he escaped the house and I was working on getting him back inside for a couple of weeks. So, he had a special place in my heart. At the time letting cats outside was the only way to have them. And sadly, I lost most of them to cars and predators.
One evening Cale started a fight with another of my boys that was now living with someone else and just came occasionally for extra food. I was afraid that he will hurt him and stop him from coming all together. And I did the most foolish thing ever... I came and tried to pick Cale from the back.
And no I will never forget the experience. I paid a very low price of a little scar on my nose that is still there. The other claw went about 1/4" from my eye. And hallway was freshly painted in bright red.
Cats? Both were unharmed at all. Cale was extremely sorry and apologetic and it took me 3 days to get him to relax and stop blaming himself for hurting me.
Annie was a declawed stray cat living outside in someone's car. Somehow, she ended up at CACC and somehow I saw her there. Poor thing was about 13 years old and I can only wish her suffering upon the ones that caused hers.
Anyway, to make a very long story short I managed to adopt her after 6 long weeks of begging and standing in line and asking questions. To this day, I am convinced the only reason I managed to get her was that the supervisor that worked there was from the same country I am. So, she took pity on my endless trips to CACC asking for this cat and hooked me up with a rescue group.
But Annie was no easy kitty. We called her Annie 4 pistols after a comic book heroine that was tougher than any and all men she encountered. And Annie was tough. After just a few days she bit me out of blue. I was cuddling her and she turned and ugh... it hurt! And she was hissy and not cooperative. But we kept working with her.
Eventually, we let her out of the room and she seemed fine with my other babies. Until Keke (my orange shy boy that stole my heart the first time I walked into CACC) climbed on a table and hissed at her. My guess is that the height combined with hissing provoked Annie and she went into a full attack. And this was my special boy she was attacking, the one I told a million of times he is safe with me...
I acted instinctively again and got in between them. I screamed too. Somehow Annie did get back into her room. And somehow my walls were not as red as you would think. But good thing was that I had a tetanus vaccine when she first bit me. And the rest of the antibiotics...
Keke was completely unharmed though a little frightening...
Unfortunately, Annie was in the end stage of kidney disease and we lost her couple of months later. It is likely that the pain and weakness she was living with got her to this level of aggressiveness.
NEVER USE YOUR LEG IN A KICK MOTION TOWARDS A CAT
IS YET ANOTHER CORE RULE
One of my first rescues was almost a disaster. I was fresh and my knowledge about cats and their behavior was limited to my cats and how they interacted with me and each other. But there is a huge difference between an established cat and a newcomer.
I went to CACC and rescued Neptune, a gorgeous black long haired guy that was sitting there for almost 9 weeks because of his aggressive attitude; Frankie a sweet low key black boy that was overlooked for shyness and his color; and an orange boy who his feeder (that brought him to CACC in the first place, thinking he would get help there but almost getting him killed) called Kindness. Kindness was on euthanasia list due to testing positive for FIV.
With my limited knowledge and naivete, I just placed all 3 boys in the same room. Guessed right? Not a good idea... But they were ok for few days. They each carved their own portion of space and stuck to it, coming close to each other only when I was inside feeding and cuddling them.
Until one evening when Neptune decided to check out the rest of the place. I was afraid that he might attack my cats and my Fluffy's are no aggressors. I did not think much about the movement as I did it so many times before (and never again...). I tried to push him back into the room with my foot in a slow kick motion.
That's when Hell broke loose. Little did I know that Neptune had all 4 of his canine teeth broken as well as few others, by someone who was repeatedly kicking him in the head. My non-threatening attempt to keep him inside the foster room brought so many bad memories and this sweet cat attacked with all his might latching himself on my leg with blood freezing screams. I added my screams to the melody and in turn, we both got Kindness extremely provoked. He jumped on Neptune in attempt to protect me. And believe me, there was nothing fluffy about his attack. I had no doubt that Kindness would kill him if he just got the chance.
There were the three of us screaming and trying to do something, not sure either knew what exactly. I managed to get Neptune into a cat carrier (thank God!) and it saved his life, literally. But my interference and screaming got Kindness to go after me.
A scene was rather humorous if you were not in pain (and I was). A grown-up woman jumping on top of a table in an attempt to get away from a cat. And Kindness was certainly not the biggest cat I've seen. But he sure looked as big as a lion that night. The only smart thing I did that evening was to throw a jacket over him. He did try to shapeshift it into a red spaghetti bowl and somewhat managed to do it.
Poor Frankie was hiding in a corner during this ordeal. Trying very hard to blend in with a wall and be invisible. But since Kindness could not get to me he went at him. The last thing I saw while escaping the room, was him growling all his mighty voice at Frankie and Frankie squeezing more and more into a wall.
My fear was now for Frankie and as I did not know what to do myself I called a lady that I knew did rescue and lived relatively close by. I did not think she would come as it was well after midnight but she showed up in 20 minutes with a net. With courage I will admire for the rest of my life she walked into the room to find things have quieted down somewhat. Frankie was showing no signs of accepting the fight so Kindness did not see any reason to hurt him. And she was able to get Kindness into a cage without any issues. He stayed in that cage for the rest of his time with me.
She saved all 4 of us that night and I will never forget it.
All 3 boys went on and got adopted without any incidents. But that night will stay etched in my memories forever.
As everything, dealing with cats is a never-ending learning experience. Each will react differently to different scenarios. But some things are better left unchallenged. And the rules I just told you about definitely belong to that category.