Understanding Your Cat’s Wild Side

by | Cat Care |

You love your kitties, and you know they love spending time with you! Well … most of the time.

cat
Photo provided by Dennis.

Maybe you’re petting your cat, or playing with them, and all of a sudden you have scratch marks on your arms and a bite mark on your hand. How could this be coming from your sweet kitty, you may ask?

Sometimes it might be as simple as your furry friend getting bored, but it can also be a result of a few things. One is that as you pet your cat, you don’t know grooming between cats is a short experience, and you’ve exceeded your time quota as to what they are comfortable with.

In other cases, your feline is practicing skills they would normally need for survival in the wild, such as chasing, stalking, swatting, scratching and biting. This is normally playful, but can cause harm to an unprepared owner.

Here are a few tips from the Ontario SPCA fact sheet, Avoiding Catty Misunderstandings: Play and Petting, on allowing your kitty to express their wilder side, while keeping scratches on your skin to a minimum:

cat
Photo by Jennifer Barnard.

Encouraging appropriate play with your cat

  • Channel your kitty’s energy into positive play by trying out some fun feline sports two to three times a day for three to 10 minutes each session.
  • Include daily interactive play with your cat using imitation kitty fishing poles, feather wands, catnip mice and bugs on a wire (keep them out of reach when your cat is not supervised).
  • Build an outdoor “entertainment centre” enclosure for your cat with perches, boxes and shelves to redirect your cat’s energy.
  • If you can afford the additional costs, and have the time, consider adopting a young feline companion for your home-alone cat so he will have an outlet for his youthful energies (make sure the new cat has the same energy level).
  • Avoid rough play with your kitty or encouraging him to bite your hands or feet during play (and make sure all family members comply).

Distracting and diverting “play attacks”

  • If you can predict when the attacks are likely to happen, toss a toy ahead of you to attract your cat’s attention away from your feet.
  • If your attempts to distract and redirect your cat fail, withdraw all attention by walking to another room and closing the door long enough for him to calm down.
  • Avoid hitting, tapping or flicking your cat for rough play (or blocking him with your foot or running away). These tactics are likely to frighten him, intensify his play, or cause him to switch from play to aggression.
  • Be sure to thoroughly clean all bites and scratches and apply an antibiotic ointment. If you receive a bad bite, you should seek medical attention immediately.

These are just a few tips to help you in your resting and playing time with your feline friend. Good luck, and keep loving your kitties!

For more information on your cats and how to care for them, see these past blogs:

PET HEALTH CORNER: Why ‘Indoor’ is the way to go with your cat 

How To: Trim Your Cat’s Claws

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