SPECIAL REPORT: Pets Gone Wild - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Pets Gone Wild

(WXTX) -

Aggression is the most common and most serious behavior problem in dogs and cats.

It's also the number-one reason why pet parents seek professional help from behaviorists, trainers and veterinarians.

In this special report we look at reasons behind "bad" pet behavior and tips that can help you tame the wildest pets.

A Portland, Oregon family was forced to call 911 after their crazed cat attacked their baby and held the owners hostage in a bedroom.

According to police, the ferocious feline –  a 22-pound Himalayan named Lux –  "went over the edge" after it was punished for scratching a couple's 7-month-old baby. The baby was not injured, but this incident opened the eyes of pet owners about a growing problem.

Surprisingly, this odd type of behavior is not uncommon these days with pets and their owners.

"The people did the right thing; they took themselves out of harm's way," said Dr. Hank Hall with Northside Animal Hospital in Columbus. "As silly as it sound your own cat has you cornered. They did the right thing, they did not put their family at risk."

According to Dr. Hall, cats normally attack their owners because of fear, anger and aggression. He says cats that have not been effectively gentled and socialized during their kittenhood are generally suspicious and fearful of people who are around them.

As a result, this can create behavioral problems that can make it difficult for a loving relationship between the pet and the pet owner.

"You have to read them, you have to read these animals," Dr. Hall explained. "Cats with their ears back and their eyes dilated. You have to be careful with that cat. Go easy, don't push it. Growling, hissing, a protective stance, a crouching stance."

Dr. Hall says outrageous behavior among cats and dogs can be prevented, but now-a-days with moms and dads working and kids in school he says a lot of animals are left alone with no physical contact with anyone and are left with feelings of abandonment.

"People work they work all the time, they don't have as much time for their pets, they leave them at doggie daycare or have someone take up some time with them," Dr. Hall said. "They come home, they rush off in the morning, they're gone all day, they come home and the dog or the cat just sits over there and there's no time for them."

Animals are just like people, they have their good days and their bad days, but for some animals with severe behavioral problems medication may be the answer

"We have several animals in our practice that are taking some form of medication just to kind of calm them down," said Dr. Hall. "It makes them a better pet".

Meet Mater, he's the four-legged boss of Northside Animal Hospital.  

He looks calm now, but according to Dr. Hall his behavior wasn't always like this.

"He was aggressive, quite aggressive, fighting, wanting to fight, wanting to mount other cats, aggressively grabbing and biting at people," said Dr. Hall. "So one of the reasons we inherited Mater and we gave him medication and he's turned around and became a mellow excellent kitty cat."

There are plenty of drugs on the market that are strong enough to calm the rowdiness pets.

A product called Buspirone has worked wonders for Mater.

"He's a great cat; he doesn't have any behavioral issues at all," Dr. Hall said. "If you provide a good place for them, a home with love they tend to mellow out. Some of them need a little chemistry help, a little medication and later we see if they can be taken off those."

Medication is effective in up to 90 percent of the dogs treated for aggression and up to 60 percent of dogs being treated for anxiety or phobias.

Only turn to "puppy Prozac" if exercise and training are not working on their own, and only administer pills under your vet's supervision.

If you're still finding it difficult to socialize your aggressive cat, your vet might also recommend some homeopathic calming drops that can sometimes help mellow out an aggressive kitty.

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