LOS ANGELES (AP) — The large cat that attacked a baby and trapped an Oregon family in a bedroom touched off an Internet uproar that worries Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet's "My Cat from Hell."
Cats don't become ferocious felines that turn on their families for no reason, says the cat behavior expert, who is heading to Portland soon to work with the 4-year-old part-Himalayan pet named Lux. Galaxy will film the visit for his show's fifth season, which kicks off April 26.
"Every parental site on the Internet blames the cat for this confrontation. Every pet site blames the family," he said, adding that something is wrong if the cat is acting out. "We need to step away from the hysteria. There is a story behind all this. Don't assume anything."
Lux became a worldwide phenomenon after owner Lee Palmer called 911 and said the cat had cornered him, his girlfriend, their baby and the family dog inside a room.
Palmer says his 7-month-old pulled Lux's tail, and he kicked the animal after it scratched the child. Then, the cat "just went off over the edge," Palmer told an emergency dispatcher after the family barricaded themselves. "He's charging us," Palmer said, as the cat was heard screeching in the background. Officers arrived and caught Lux with a dog snare.
Palmer said the cat had a history of violence, but the family kept Lux until Monday, when they turned him over to a Portland-area shelter. But the family assured Animal Planet they were going to keep the cat and agreed to therapy with Galaxy.
Palmer didn't return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.
There are many reasons a cat can turn aggressive, and there is no universal way to deal with it, Galaxy said. But the star feline behaviorist provided five ways to tame out-of-control cats:
— Never leave a young child unsupervised with a cat.
— Take it to a vet at least once a year. If a cat is acting suspiciously, the owner needs to pay attention. "Know what suspicious looks like," Galaxy said. "If they're not feeling well, cats will socially withdraw themselves, or they will lose weight, or they will gain weight, or they'll be howling in the middle of the night when they never did before.