Why cats suddenly attack

April 30th, 2010 by

REXBURG – Monday we aired a story about a cat attack in Rexburg that sent two people to the hospital. The story was seen all over the country, and it has a lot of you talking.

When Jackie Ostermiller grabbed her cat while it was reacting to a perceived threat, it jumped at her. Dr. Paul Tew says in an agitated state, cats attack everything non-specifically.

“Often when a cat or a dog attacks, I see especially in cats, there’s a release of epinephrine, or adrenaline hormone. The nervous system reacts in a fight or flight mode,” said Tew.)

In the Ostermiller’s instance, there wasn’t an opportunity for their cat to flee, so… It attacked.

“Suddenly they will turn into a rage, the fangs and the claws come out, the eyes dilate and they go into a fearful rage. And that’s because cats have an easily provoked rage center,” said Paul Tew, with the Upper Valley Vet Clinic.

The damage done to Jackie Ostermiller has many baffled. How could a cat do this much damage? But Dr. Tew says it’s possible for cats to inflict massive damage. Giant fangs give deep puncture wounds, and all four claws work together in a raking motion.

The Ostermiller’s contend that when their cat attacked it was going for the kill. But that may not be the case.

“When they’re out hunting, they are ambushing a prey, and they have to go in for the kill. They’re going to claw and bite and try to bite the neck of the prey. Now when they’re attacking a large person or large animal, they’re not going to be able to kill it, but if they can cause pain or inflict enough damage, they can scare that person or predator away,” said Tew.

Dr. Tew says the best advice is to never try to touch a cat in an agitated state, and isolate cats that have recently given birth. Or even better, spay and neuter your pet.

The Rexburg police department say that they’ve received numerous emails and calls about the possible euthanization of the cat. The cat’s future is still in question. For now it’s finishing 10 days in quarantine.

During the month of May the Upper Valley Vet Clinic is offering a $20 discount off of all spaying and neutering of cats and dogs.

One Response

  1. brooke

    can we ban cats now?
    with all this talk about banning dangerous dogs; what about cats?

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