ate one full-moon night last spring I received a frantic call
from one of our very good clients. She had been coming
to our clinic for years with both dogs and cats. She had an
excellent overall knowledge concerning pets and often had the
correct diagnosis made before she reached our clinic. This
time however, she was terrified and didn't know what to do.
Her cat had seemingly gone berserk and was chasing and trying to attack the other
pets living in the house - including their 80-lb. Golden Retriever. Over the phone,
above the agitated voice of the owner, we could hear the loud vocalizations and
screams of the cat.
We practice in the forested area of Northern
Wisconsin and there is always the potential for
our domestic pets to be infected by Rabies or
other serious diseases. It turned out that this cat
had escaped from the owner's home about 6
weeks before and was gone for several days. The
owner was concerned, even though the cat was
up to date on all of her vaccinations.
According to the owner, both the dog and the
other cat were terrified and the aggression was
continuing. All of this had come on suddenly
and according to her was getting worse by the
minute. We asked her to bring the crazed animal
to the clinic that night if she could safely do it.
As she entered the clinic, loud screams emanated
from the carrier she held. I took the crate
and went into an exam room closing the door
behind me. In twenty-some years of practice
I've only been bitten once and had no desire for
a repeat performance. I put on a pair of heavy
gloves and carefully opened the crate door. Out
came a large, open and noisy mouth carried
by the rest of a calico cat. I expected at least
some aggression to be directed at me but there
was none. My plan was to observe the cat for a
minute before I attempted to physically examine
her, but her behavior immediately gave me a
She was loud, and to some would seem frightening, but what she really wanted to
do was rub the sides of her body back and forth across my legs. She didn't attempt
to bite and after a few minutes lay on the floor on her stomach, meowing loudly and
kneading all four feet up and down on the tile. I kept the cat overnight but informed
the owner that I believed that the only problem was that her pet was "in heat."
In the spring, female cats respond to the changing of the daylight periods and
go into heat on a regular basis every 14 to 21 days and will continue to cycle until fall. This cycling
stops immediately if they mate. Typically the cats become vocal, calling for a male cat.
She will roll and roll on the ground or floor and constantly rub against furniture, your
leg, or another animal. She will often assume a breeding
posture with her head and front legs near the ground
with her back end elevated. With her feet and claws
she will knead at the floor.
Our client's cat was abnormal in that she was
forceful to the point of being aggressive
and scratching the other animals. With
one surgery we eliminated her unwanted
heat behavior and helped the cause of pet
overpopulation. "Mrs. Hyde" was never seen
or heard again.