Be sensitive to your cat’s needs

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Sometimes, cats can show aggressive behaviour, which can be a manifestation of several factors – guarding territories, defending offspring, protecting themselves or health issues. Here’s to understand their needs and keep them secure.

Rahana Chowdhury
Pet parents share…

Suchetana Lahiri, a pet parent to a nine-month-old Gullu, shares, “Gullu is small and does not like to be cuddled him. He gets jittery especially when someone tries to cuddle him. He tries to break free.” While, Rehana Chowdhury, another pet parent to six-year-old Bhola and four-year-old Newton – both Persians, informs, “My cats are territorial and snarl for their own respective space. They also don’t like an unknown intruder – human or cat.”

Vets say…
Dr Lohith from the Bangalore Pet Hospital is of the opinion that aggression in cats most often depends on how they have been brought up as kittens. “We must remember that cats need a lot of sensitive handling. One must allow them to settle down first in their own space before getting them to follow instructions,” he states. “In fact, even in the clinical set up, we have noticed how restless they get if they aren’t comfortable with the surroundings. Allow them the space and time and the rest will fall in place. Studies have shown that environmental enrichment plays a major role in feline behaviour. No cat is born aggressive,” Dr Lohith adds.

While, Dr C Ansar Kamran, a vet in Bengaluru, talks of the strong feline instincts. “If a pet cat isn’t comfortable in a particular situation, her aggressive instincts depend on how pet parents handle it. Contrary to popular belief, they are pretty docile creatures and don’t want any intervention in the way they lead their lives,” he informs. Bouts of aggression in cats are basically simple insecurities that need sensitised handling. A status quo in the environment is what any cat wants the most. And a shift from this is often the reason for aggressive mood swings.

Reasons for cat aggression…
Socialisation issues: All cat parents must take special care to help socialise their pets – just as with humans, socialising can work wonders for them and eventually, you.

Environmental stress: A change of place, strangers in the house, another pet in the house – all canmake a cat distressed and lead to aggression.

Reaction to threat: When they face threat and fear that they cannot escape it, they show aggression signs.
Petting – only when they like: Some cats like to be petted while others don’t. Those who like being petted, might not tolerate it for long. So, whenever you see your cat giving negative signals like vocalisation, twitched skin, etc – it’s time to stop.

Defining territory: If one really needs to figure out reasons why cats behave aggressively, then a major factor would be territorial aggression. Such behaviour is often because of lack of socialisation with other four-legged companions. In such cases, they will ferociously guard their zones and go to any extent to ward off ‘impending danger’.

Rough play: It is their predator nature and should not be confused with aggression. So, it is best for pet parents not to encourage rough play.

Maternal aggression: When a queen cat and her kittens are approached, she might get intimidated and perceive it as a threat and hence can be aggressive. It is best to avoid handling kitten in first few days after birth.

Health issues: The reason could also be health concerns and as a pet parent, one needs to look out for any startling signs. Take him to a veterinarian for his health check-up.

Respect – always: Be sensitive and always treat them with respect.