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Friday, April 23, 2010

kittens stressed to the max

JJ and Socks are possibly the most violently feral kittens I have ever had to foster, and it isn't their fault either.

At first they were all nice and quiet, not fierce, when they arrived. The situation took a turn for the worse when I noticed JJ was slapping the other younger foster kittens. Then, I return home from work and realised that Socks had started doing the same. After observing them, I realised they were not only picking fights with the other foster kittens, they were also deterring them access to their food and litter tray. And only Socks had eaten, JJ went on a fast.

At around 1 a.m. the situation escalated. The two NUS brothers started growling and meowing like crazy, like as if they were two entire male cats fighting for a mate. Yes, the kind that elicits complaints from neighbours. The slapping of the kittens continued. Spitty couldn't even move from the first floor of the pen to the second because Socks kept slapping her down.

This, despite catnip-marinade galore. I frantically decided to isolate the two brothers in a carrier for the night, thinking it would be safer before any real fighting and injuries start.

The two brothers started fighting with each other in the carrier. The caterwauling continued. I started to have fears that every one in the block would hear them and one inevitably complain.

By this time, I had emailed Branden of The Water Dish to try and get for us Pet Calm or a Feliway refill, thinking the problem couldn't possibly get any worse between now and when the products arrive.

I then tried to separate the brothers. I carried JJ in my arms to try and stroke him to calm him down. He was so stressed, he peed on me. I then brought him to the litter box to continue his business. The loud meowing did not abate. He roamed around the room trying to find a way to get out. He also bit my toe, sudden and hard, till my toenail dropped off.

Desperate to calm them down because they were in such distress, I went to read up on whether I could give Xanax to cats. I researched the dose:

Alprazolam (Xanax) is used to treat anxiety in dogs and cats.

Specific uses of alprazolam include treatment of thunderstorm phobia and other phobias, separation anxiety, and situational fears (such as car travel and veterinary office visits).

In cats, the dose is 0.125 to 0.25 mg per cat as needed up to every 12 hours.


So I immediately dosed the brothers with the lowest dose each because I had Xanax in my medicine box.

Subsequently, they calmed down. I reunited them inside the carrier. I then informed the NUS folks on the situation so that we could plan a contingency if their behaviour was irreparable. Finding them a foster home without cats is one option, releasing them back to their territory in NUS was the last resort. I reckoned that their stress was mainly from being near to other cats, even though no one has picked a fight with them. The two brothers growl at any living cat that goes remotely near them.

As I type this, the caterwauling suddenly started again. They fought so hard they toppled over their water and food bowl and are on opposite ends of the carrier in hate with each other. The NUS folks will be bringing them back to school in a while. The caterwauling continues. I hope my neighbours still love me in the morning.

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