Cats need to play. Play is vitally important to a cat’s mental and physical health, and it’s especially important for indoor cats. Even though cats may sleep up to 16 hours a day, when they’re awake, they need stimulation, and the best way to accomplish this is with play. In the wild, when lions, tigers and other wild cats aren’t sleeping, they’re either hunting, or teaching their young to hunt. And play is nothing more than channeling your domestic tiger’s hunting instinct into play.Continue Reading
Your two cats are best friends. They play together, groom each other, and sleep curled up with each other. Then one day, you take one to the vet’s for a check up. When you return from the clinic, instead of receiving a warm welcome, the cat who stayed home hisses and attacks the other cat. Your two former best friends have turned into sworn enemies, and your formerly peaceful home has turned into a battle zone.
Aggression between cats is always a distressing problem for the cats and the humans involved. Whether it’s play aggression, petting aggression, or redirected aggression, dealing with feline aggression is stressful and requires commitment, staying power, and the help of experts such as your veterinarian and/or a feline behaviorist.
The cause of on-recognition aggression is not entirely clear, and the bad news is that it’s not easily fixed.Continue Reading
We recently covered petting aggression and play aggression in cats. Today, I’d like to address one other form of feline aggression, and it’s one that can be very frightening, as well as damaging, for cat guardians. This form of aggression is called redirected aggression, and it happens when a cat is agitated by an animal, event, or person it can’t get at. Unable to lash out at the perceived threat, the cat turns to the nearest victim. This may be another cat or pet in the household, or it may be the cat’s humans. These attacks happen seemingly out of the blue, and they can be fairly damaging to the victim.
Redirected aggression is not unique to cats. The human equivalent is the man who gets so angry he wants to punch someone, and ends up punching a wall instead.Continue Reading
Next to failure to use the litter box, the second most common reason cats are given up to shelters is aggression. Last week we talked about petting aggression, when a cat is so sensitive that our failure to read her request to “stop!” petting sends her into overload and she gives us an urgent message to stop in the form of a bite.
What is play aggression?
There’s another type of aggression that is all too common, and that’s play aggression. If a petting aggression bite is our fault for not understanding our cats’ language, play aggression is our fault for not understanding our cats’ brains.Continue Reading
When I first adopted Allegra in April of 2010, she came to me with some behavioral challenges, namely, play and petting aggression. Most of her play aggression was directed at me and demonstrated mostly by Allegra attacking my ankles every chance she got. The petting aggression manifested in a typical pattern of low tolerance for extended petting sessions.
These issues intensified after Amber passed away. I found myself with a single, high-energy only kitten (Allegra was seven months old at the time) while grieving the loss of my 12-year-old soul cat. I knew that one fairly simple fix would have been getting Allegra a playmate closer to her in age and temperament, but I wasn’t ready to even think about a new cat at that time. So I had to step up and work with Allegra and be her substitute playmate.
I consulted with Marilyn Krieger, the cat behaviorist who has a regular column in CatFancy magazine. Marilyn advised me on how to enrich Allegra’s environment and increase vertical space. She also introduced me to the concept of play therapy. I learned a lot from that consult, and began working with Allegra. Continue Reading