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How to sort out your cat's attitude

Mean cats can also dent a person’s self-esteem
Mean cats can also dent a person’s self-esteem

CATS may be small, but they can be intimidating. Bites and scratches are damn painful, and living with a nasty cat often means living in fear.

Mean cats can also dent a person’s self-esteem. When you open your home and your heart to an animal, it can be deflating when they don’t return the affection. 

The cat behaviourists at PetWave share with us their simple steps for overcoming the aggression and forging a real friendship with your mean cat.

For more top tips, see www.petwave.com

First, Visit The Vet 

Some cats are aggressive because they are angry or afraid. But in some cases, there may be another cause. Before attempting behavioural modification tactics, take puss to the vet to be sure she is not ill or in pain. 

Mean Cats Are Often Afraid 

Aggression is typically a sign of a fearful cat. They hiss, growl, swipe, bite and flatten their ears to keep frightening animals at bay. They may also exhibit other behaviours like spraying, defecating outside their litter box, hiding,  or freezing in place when afraid.

There is usually a triggering event that causes puss to become fearful - a specific sound, person, animal or motion. Or a stressful events like a vet visit or a house move. 

Pay attention to what happens immediately before puss acts out in order to isolate her triggers. If possible, try to limit her exposure to that triggering event. 

Give The Cat Space 

When a cat is mean she’s telling you to leave her alone. So back off and give puss plenty of space. Force a cat out of a hiding spot or attempting to pick up an agitated moggie and get into her space will worsen the situation. 

Entice The Cat With Food 

Dogs associate their owners with food, and are closely bonded with the person who feeds them. Cats are usually free-fed (they can access their food dish at any time) so they never learn to associate their human with food. 

If a cat isn’t bonding with you, stop free-feeding her. Instead, put her on a feeding schedule: fill the food dish, then sit on the opposite side of the room as her. Do not make eye contact or pay any attention to her. Every few minutes, inch slightly towards her, sliding the dish with you. Go very slowly and refrain from making eye contact. If she backs away, stay where you are for a while, then inch forward again. 

Puss may take off without eating, so put the food away and try again later. Let her set the pace for building a relationship. 

It is helpful to keep cat treats hidden around the house. When you see puss, place a few treats on the floor, then step away. This will help her associate you with pleasurable experiences. 

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise 

Cats need exercise, just like dogs do. But they get their exercise through play. Playing helps alleviate anxiety and can forge bonds between owner and cat. 

Never touch the cat. Instead, use things like laser lights, feathers on sticks, or dangle catnip toys to keep yourself at a distance, while still participating in play. Try for several minutes to entice the cat to engage. If she is resistant, put the toys away and try again later. It is in a cat’s nature to chase and play, so eventually she will take the bait.