Cat Parent as Mouse – Don’t Fight Nature

angry cat


Russ, neutered, age 2 years, was rescued with his mum and siblings. I adopted him at 14 weeks. He was crazier than any kitten I’ve ever known. His aggression started at age 10 months. He stalks me when we’re playing and lunges and attacks several times a day, grabbing and biting my legs and sometimes my head. He has a large cat tree, food puzzles and access to the outdoors during the day; he’s inside at night. I play with him daily.

Dr. Nichol:

You’ve done an excellent job of enriching Russ’s life but, sadly, he has directed his aggression toward you so many times that you have become the mouse in his life. So, of course, he stalks and mangles you. You could spray him with water but punishment won’t change who he is. Only hose him down if he catches fire.

Purchase a Clik Stik online. Smear liver pate on the bulb, then point this extendable target in Russ’s direction. At the first sniff and lick say, “Target,” push the clicker button, turn away, and repeat. Carry out 2 daily sessions of just 4-5 minutes. Before long Russ will see you differently – the person who points the Clik Stik in a different place each time, always rewarding him with a click for touching it with his nose.

Now you’ll be ready to teach that naughty boy an alternative to his homicidal urges. Ideally, before that murderous gleam appears in his eye, point the target stick in his vicinity. As he approaches say, “Target,” click when he touches it, and then toss him a tasty cat treat. Repeat hundreds of times.

Lose Russ’s dinner bowl so he can direct more of his predatory proclivities at the food-dispensing toys and puzzles you provide when you’re too busy to play the target, click, and treat game. A Twist & Treat stuffed with canned food and frozen overnight, will require a lot of work. A tired cat is a happy cat. A safe antianxiety medication like paroxetine could help improve life for everybody.


For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom ( Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Email pet behavior or physical questions to or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.