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Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on July 29, 2013

Question

I am writing to get some advice and help dealing with my cat, Timothy.

Ever since my daughter left for college in August, Timothy has become very aggressive during mealtime. If I put food in his bowl and then try to touch his bowl, he growls and attacks my hand. While he eats, he growls until his food is gone.

He is a good-tempered animal and aggressive only at mealtime. I have tried to make him feel more comfortable by sitting with him in the kitchen while he is eating. I have also tried to feed him by hand, but he just becomes more aggressive.

After my daughter left for college, Timothy became depressed and had a urinary tract infection. He also had constipation problems.

When my daughter comes home on her breaks, Timothy is fine. He does not growl or have problems with bowel movements. I do have children come over once a month to visit, and I worry about him becoming aggressive toward them.

L.P., Clinton, Md Jul 29, 2013

Answer

As the caregiver of your daughter''s cat, you deserve better!

My first question to you is: Have you considered the possibility of your daughter finding suitable accommodations where she is going to school so she can keep the cat with her? Clearly, the cat has a strong bond with her. I know of several cats who have become depressed, disinterested in food or more anxious when their human caregivers have left home for college or a job.

In the interim, give poor Timothy space and solitude while he eats, and put him in a separate room when children come.

Have your daughter mail you a T-shirt (in a plastic bag) that she has slept in for a week or so, and give it to Timothy to snuggle into.

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