'The Cat Whisperer' offers clues as to what set off ferocious feline

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A local cat behavior specialist is explaining what may have set off a cat that attacked its family and forced them to take refuge inside a bedroom.

Since we first reported on the story this week, media attention has grown. News outlets across the world are interested in how Lee Palmer called 911 to get help. It's a comical scenario to many, but at least one cat expert has seen it before.

"I have clients who couldn't get in their front door coming home from work," said Mieshelle Nagelschneider. "They have to go rent a hotel."

Nagelschneider has been dubbed "The Cat Whisperer." She's written a book on cat behavior and runs a cat behavior clinic from her Portland-area home. Although she hasn't met Lee Palmers or his family, she believes she knows what set his cat, Lux, off on a rampage.

"This cat wanted to defend itself from the owner who had kicked it," said Nagelschneider.

Palmer admits kicking the cat after it scratched his 7-month-old son, but calls it a knee-jerk reaction to protecting his child. Nagelschneider doesn't fault him for that reaction but hopes the situation can be a learning experience about how to address cat behavior.

"I don't think he was trying to hurt the cat," said Nagelschneider.

Nagelschnieder also offers advice that may have prevented the family from calling 911.

"Get a toy, stick it through the crack of the door, and if you trigger their prey drive, half the time they'll snap out of the fear state and get into this animated play state," she said.

She admits trying to distract an angry cat with a toy may not always work. Other options include using catnip or simply letting the animal cool off for a while.

Regardless of how a similar situation is resolved, Nagelschneider wishes people wouldn't view the story in such a comical way.

"I think probably the humorous side for most people is that this little cat has these people held up in their bedroom," she said. "It is serious. It's not funny. To me, it's not funny."