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Cat Training and Behavior (Domestic and Feral)/Ozzy is acting scared to one family member


Hi Melissa
We have two cats, an older female Shelby, ans a younger male Ozzy. They have different personalities, and sometimes Ozzy tries to dominate Shelby, but for the most part they get along.
My concern is that for some strange reason Ozzy is acting scared and hissing when my adult son comes to visit. My son was still at home when we got Ozzy, and has been on his own for five years. There was never a problem when he came to visit until recently. Of course my son is disturbed by this new behaviour. The only thing we can think of is that Ozzy is smelling my son's roomates dog. My son doesnt spend a lot of time with the dog or even at his house as he travels a lot. My daughter who recently moved out also has a roomate with a dog, but when she comes to visit all is well. So whats up?
Thanks for your thoughts!

Hi, Bud. I'm wondering how your son acts when he comes home and tries to pay attention to Ozzy?  And since he doesn't react the same to your daughter, how is she acting? I don't think it's the dog since your son isn't around it much and your daughter is around a dog as well. Since right now we're trying to pinpoint things, I would have your son not try to force as part of me thinks that Ozzy is angry for some reason. He could be upset that your son moved out. Were they close before? My own cat that currently lives with my mom will treat me like a stranger when I visit because she doesn't understand the situation and I have to just wait patiently for her to come around and let her as she allows. He can try using toys to her to play as well as feed her, hoping she is able to see him do it.

Touch base as things go so I can help further. Thank you.  

Cat Training and Behavior (Domestic and Feral)

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Melissa Burg, RVT/Behavior Consultant


I have experience dealing with different cat behavior signs, including separation anxiety, possible aggression and the difference between fear aggression and actual aggression, this would include possible feral cats. I also am familiar with the several different approaches to introducing a new cat to the environment as well as how each cat or cat and dog and live comfortable and dealing with litter box issues and help you decide if the problem is medical or behavioral.


My experience began with my own cats and escalated while working with area animal shelters for the past 10 years. I was able to watch and learn how the cats would react to different stimulus and each other. My experience grew during college and became able to distinguish between medical and behavior issues.

"Pawfect Pets," a weekly column in my local newspaper with pet health and behavior and training tips.

I graduated with an Associate's in Veterinary Technology in 2009 and became RVT in the state of Iowa in 2012 with a focus on Behavior.

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