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Playing or Aggression?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
First time to this site, but I need an answer, so I hope someone can help.

I adopted 'Meg Ryan' about 6 months ago from our local humane society. The vet says she is about a yr. old (add a few months to that now). She is a long-haired, black tortoise shell, and a real sweetie. I don't know her back ground prior to us, so I'm not aware of any behavioural problems or trauma she might have been exposed to.

I noticed that whenever I was making the bed, she seemed to be playing a game with my feet. but she only does it in the one bedroom. She runs under the bed and as I walk around pulling and tucking the sheets, she dashes out and touches my feet as she runs by.

Just really cute but not aggressive, ie; no bites or scratches. Lately, she has started watching my feet from the middle of the room, as I move around the bed, and then suddenly, as I pass by, she grabs hold with teeth and nails, then lets out a meow as she runs away from me. Yesterday, she actually scratched my leg, drawing some blood. It makes me very nervous now, and today while I was making the bed, I talked to her constantly, never taking my eyes off of her. She didn't make an attempt to do anything, but I believe she was considering it, judging her body language at one point.

Is this playing? Or has she suddenly become aggressive and should I be concerned? Is there something I can do to arrest this worrisome behaviour? Help!.. and thanks....

Me & Meg
post #2 of 5
Your cat sounds just like my 2 year old shelter cat! I think it's playful aggression, from talking to people and reading about it. My cat started out by just batting my ankles and running away, then it progressed to biting and gnawing, not enough to draw blood, but enough to hurt! I was developing a fear of my little 6 pound cutie monster!

If it's only bed making that gets her excited, maybe you just have to keep her out of the bedroom at that time. But if she keeps doing this in other rooms, here's what worked for me, although it took a while (a month, at least).

I could also tell from Mindy's eyes and body language when she was up to something mischievous. I carried around a noisemaker (empty soda can with pennies) pretty much all the time (probably a spray bottle would work too) and when I heard or saw her about to pounce on me, I shook it just as she dashed toward me. Usually this startled her enough to stop the attack right then.

Also when I could tell she was getting in the "mood" I would immediately bring out her feather wand or her aluminum foil balls so she could direct her energies to something else. She loves pounce/attack games and I think this was her way of telling me what she felt like playing right then. It sounds like your kitty may be looking for something to attack, and your ankles are the most interesting target!'

Anyway, I'm not saying this is a miracle, but she is now down to maybe 1-2 (much milder) ankle attacks per week, instead of several per day. It taught me to be patient and consistent, which helped my nerves.

By the way, I heard different advice on what to do when the cat has actually grabbed onto or bitten your ankle. Some say squeal in pain, because that's what a mother cat or littermate would do (plus, you're already in pain so it's a natural reaction ) Others have said stand still don't struggle or squeal, because that makes it more of a game to the kitty. Standing still and making it as boring as possible worked for me. But either way, I would recommend wearing socks for the next few weeks!

Good luck!!! Serena
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mindy.

This makes me feel better. I was really getting nervous. She didn't do it at all today, and I watched her very closely while making the bed. I think you're right about it being more play than anything. I will definately try your suggestions if she persists. Thanks again.

post #4 of 5
Something that has always worked for me ...

Sometimes kitties can get a little rough when playing. They may bite or scratch without realizing it can hurt. What has always worked for me is that whenever my kitty bites or scratches too hard, I let out a very loud yelping meow sound. This startles them and they will usually stop immediately and will eventually learn not to bite or scratch. For me, it has only taken a few yelps before the behavior stops completely. Of course, I've usually started when they were kittens, so I'm not sure how long it would take to change an adult cat's behavior.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks foro the 'yelping' tip. I am happy to say that since I posted my original concern over Meg Ryan's agressive play, she has stopped. She continues to watch my feet as I move around the bed, and has tapped me with her paw (sans claws) as I walked by, but that's it.

I like the idea of communicating with her in 'cat-onese' though. So, thanks again for that tip.

Me & Meg
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