Behavior Tip of the Month
Feisty Feline - Play Aggression
I have an 8 month old kitty who crouches behind doors and ambushes me. She pounces and bites my feet as I walk by. How can I teach her not to be "vicious"?
Scratching, swatting, pouncing, wrestling, leaping, biting, attacking -- these certainly sound like a "vicious" kitty.
However, don't panic. It's likely that your playful youngster is just practicing her normal hunting behaviors. In the wild, this is what she would be doing with her littermates to perfect their hunting skills. She's hot wired to do it.
It's our job to teach her that she should practice her hunting skills on toys -- not on humans.
Here are some suggestions from Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D. found in her book, Pet Behavior Protocols.
1. Buy toys that your kitty can bat, chase and carry in her mouth. Flexible rods, fur and catnip mice and treat filled activity balls keep your kitty active.
2. Have boxes and paper bags that your kitty can hide in so she can pounce and attack her toys.
3. "Interrupt playful attacks on people with a loud noise". You can wear a fanny pack which contains a foghorn or an ultrasonic device. Alternatively, a tiny hair spray container containing water can startle your feline.
4. Never physically punish your cat. She will think you are playing rough and will attack you even more. The idea is to startle, not punish. Be very fast and try not to let your kitty know you're doing the startling. We want your kitty to think that the great feline g-d of the house does not like it if she ambushes you.
5. Immediately after the startle, toss a toy mouse for your kitty to chase. Redirect her attention to her toys.
6. Try to assess when your cat will pounce and before she does it, redirect her to a toy. You will be able to do that more easily if you follow the suggestion
of Karen Overall, Ph.D. of attaching a bell to your feline's collar. That way you will know when your cat is coming.
7. In some situations, getting another cat could be the answer. Try to find a young one but not a kitten who could be hurt by your kitty's rough play.
I hope these suggestions will help your "attack" kitty learn to ambush her toys rather than you.
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.