In-Depth Mojo: Ozzy & Allie – aggressive cats

In-Depth Mojo Ozzy and Allie

Here’s some behind-the-scenes commentary on Season 4, Episode 2 of My Cat From Hell.

These cases both involved cats that seemed to constantly be in “attack mode.”

  • Ozzy was intent on attacking fellow house cat Lily
  • Allie was intent on attacking her 95-year old guardian

Jackson uses what he calls “Cat Mojo” — observing and interacting with the cats in order to understand their world and their motives — to help him solve the most difficult cases.

In this post, he’s talking about some really in-depth mojo here…

(L-R) Lily, the ex-victim.  And  Ozzy, the ex-attacker.

(L-R) Lily, the ex-victim. And Ozzy, the ex-attacker.


Quotes from the episode:
…I’ve had this happen with litter mates before.  They’re sitting in a window and they see something going from over there.  And one goes, “*GASP* What’s that?!” and the other one goes, “Ah!  What’d you just do?!”  nd they beat them up.  And the second that happens, I don’t know who the hell you are anymore.   It’s called redirected aggression.  With redirected aggression, if the traumatized cat can’t lash out at whatever was making them crazy in the first place, they’re gonna turn that aggression onto an innocent bystander.  In this case, Lily.

Ozzy and Lily were not only one of the more severe cases of redirected aggression I had worked with, but Deborah’s strain from the frayed relationship was affecting her in so many ways, causing a vicious stress-induced downward spiral.  One of the things that we ran out of time to talk about was how when I first arrived, the place looked like a storage locker.  It seemed nothing was unpacked, boxes everywhere.  The cats and the human were manifesting this state of “neither here nor there.”  Spiritually, physically, this small space had to be home before any behavioral action plans took place.  That was our big starting point and Deborah knocked it out of the park!

(L-R): Callie and her cat Allie

(L-R): Callie and her cat Allie


One of the components of Allie’s treatment plan was the placement of those flags around the living/dining room.  At first glance, it could be construed that they were placed just so that Callie and Pam could be reminded to “steer clear” of the area.  That exercise serves no real purpose.  The [real] purpose in this case was to identify territorial “hot spots.”  By just seeing the patterns behind Allie’s actions, not only can we determine the “why” in her behavior but also we gain a deeper understanding of this cat that moves her past the rough tag of being just “a cat from hell.”

The key to every case is engendering empathy towards the cat.

No cat pees, poops or draws blood for sport; they do so because of deep seated fear and/or anxiety.

By uncovering those, we can feel for the cat, become more invested, and act on their behalf in trying to solve the issues.

For more about Ozzy and Allie, and how Jackson uses holistic remedies as part of his behavior work, check out this post here.

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  1. Mel   April 27, 2013 at 11:13 am  

    I rescued a cat Shorty who was very loving but very sick. I had to take him to the vet a lot at the beginning and now he is terrified of me no matter how I talk to him, how far away I am or if I have food. It is getting better but after 2 months, he is still so skittish and if I get to close he will hiss or swat at me..
    I have 2 brother cats in my house as well. Ziggy and Wally. They don’t bother Shorty during the day but at night it is war. I have tried playing with them before bed and I am trying to do the challenge line but unfortunately that led them all to start peeing on my seat. I know they are trying to tell me something but I don’t know how to approach the problem.
    I have now separated them and I will continue to do the challenge line for mealtimes but Shorty cries all night(sometimes even when he was not in the separate room.)

    1. Hami   December 23, 2013 at 3:07 am  

      try soothing calming spiritual music or classical music. Cats respond to music.

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  3. Alyson Sarraga   January 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm  

    My two cats had been living peacefully together for 3 years until my mom brought a stray dog home one day and it scared the cats. Since then one of the cats is attacking the other, who just hisses and cowers away from the attacking cat. I have tried almost everything to get them getting along again but nothing has worked. Not even feeding them on opposite sides of a gate. I just really want them to get along again because I love them both and dont want to give either of them up. Please please help!

  4. Kathypatty   January 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm  

    Feeding them on opposite sides of a gate might be too much too soon. Can you feed them on opposite sides of doors first? The eye contact allows them to still threaten each other, but if they can’t see each other they can do the association thing of smell the other cat + food = good things. Preventing eye contact seems to be pretty important (at first).

  5. Whitney   March 14, 2014 at 7:24 am  

    I have two cats that I adopted last year. They have lived for over a year in relative harmony until recently. I suspect redirected aggression because the cats were up at the front door looking out the side light windows. I was not in the same room at the time it started. Now one cat is highly volitile when he sees the other cat. I have them separated. I’ve tried to slowly reintroduce, but I’m not sure if it’s going to help. They are both highly food motivated, but only when they are calm. The one that’s not calm is so upset he hissed and growled at us and the other cat and ran away from fear. I am fixing to take him to the vet to make sure he’s not sick, but I had to get a late in the day appointment because he needs time to unwind after the reintroduction first attempt. I don’t want to try to get him to the vet when he’s in a defensive mode. Anyone have any advice on steps to reintroduction, how slowly I should go, if cats can ever be friends again after an incedent like this?

    1. KathyPatty   March 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm  

      Sounds like you’re doing the right thing in reintroducing. I’m in the middle of a three month introduction. Pretty challenging. One of the suggestions that has helped me that sounds so odd, but that might work for you as well, is to read to them in a calm voice. The primary goal is to help sooth the cats, but the secondary goal is to help you calm down. Your cats know you, you are likely tense whenever they encounter each other as you brace yourself for the worse, and they respond to your stress. Self-soothing, i.e. reading out loud will help you which in turn helps them. I don’t bring my two cats together until they are tried from play, and full from eating. This is when they are least likely to fight. I am trying to build on calm encounters. Are you site switching to make sure they don’t get too territorial about any one area? Also, special treats that they only get when they are in sight of each other creates positive reinforcement. I used freeze dried chicken from the pet store. Or as I call it kitty crack. I think taking the kitty to the vet is a good step, the vet can make sure there’s not a health issue here.

  6. Susan Butler   February 4, 2015 at 5:58 pm  

    We have three cats. The eldest (Dana), a female, is 4 years old. The second (Tater), a male, is 2 years old. The youngest (Gary), a male, is 9 months old – and definitely thinks he is the alpha. Most of Gary’s alpha cat antics are not disruptive, and seem to be well tolerated by the other two. He has, in the past month or two, taken to dominating Tater by biting his neck. We initially noticed this because Tater, who is a fluffy black cat, has lost all the long hair from his neck. We find tufts of hair throughout the house. He never had and wounds until recently. He now has a scabs on his neck and the back of his head. I squirt a water bottle whenever I see Gary on the attack, but he usually doesn’t attack when we are present. We keep them in separate rooms at night. This behavior takes place during the day, when we are at work. Dana is not involved.

    What are my options?

  7. Ashleigh Robinson   April 18, 2015 at 1:32 am  

    Hi, how is Callie getting on?

  8. Paty   October 2, 2015 at 9:54 pm  

    What was used to enclose the patio? It looks like some black plastic screen material. Where can I get that?


We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

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