Why do cats scratch their owners? What turns a normally placid kitty into a sudden pouncer and scratcher. It gives everyone a fright and upsets children.
While cats exhibit this behavior for various reasons, in most cases they are just being too playful however they can also be showing signs of aggression or fear.
If this behavior is happening to a child it can cause problems leading to the child actively avoiding the cat, feeling hurt and generally not understanding why the cat would do such a thing. Children don't always understand that the cat has not taken a dislike to them.
It’s important to find ways to stop this behavior when first noticed. A cat scratch can lead to other concerns such as a bacterial infection.
Cats are natural predators and some will swipe at feet or ankles as you pass by, perhaps a little too closely for their liking. You are a moving target and if you continue to move away, the cat’s natural instinct will be to pursue and attack.
A solution for this is to move towards the cat. This may confuse the cat as normal prey behavior is to move away as quickly as possible.
Some cats may take a swipe when being patted, particularly on the stomach and chest area. Our cat was very sensitive to touch in these areas and it was in everyone's best interest to not pat or unnecessarily touch the chest area.
You will soon know if this is the case for your cat.
If your cat is already fearful of certain situations they may claw, for example when the cat sees a foreign cat outside the window in its perceived territory, or when being disturbed by kids or the dogs.
Other situations that cannot be avoided may also be stressful for the cat, for example, giving the cat a flea shampoo or giving the cat medicine.
These situations may require two people, one to hold the cat firmly allowing the other person to complete the treatment quickly and without fear of being clawed.
Young visitors to your home may want to pick up the cat to give the cat a cuddle, a noble intention but one that can be a recipe for disaster. This may result in the child pursuing the cat which in turn frightens the cat. The cat will in all likelihood lash out and perhaps scratch out of fear.
If this is going to be an issue either remove the cat for the period of the visit or show the child how to pat the cat without pursuing and frightening the cat.
Most cats like playing a lot especially kittens. Kittens need to be constantly entertained in order to use their excess energy.
That need for entertainment continues in adult life.
Aim to occupy the cat’s mind with enough playtime by providing cat toys for stimulation and to eliminate boredom. There are some amazing interactive cat toys that keep the cat entertained. It is fun to watch kitty totally absorbed with a toy.
Rotate the toys frequently so that the cat doesn’t lose interest. Resist the temptation to bring out the laser pointer every day.
Does your cat have a scratching post or other cat furniture when he can climb and run and jump and play?
Cats do like to position themselves in high places (to observe the environment and any perceived threats). A scratching post may also help to save your furniture from being attacked.
Making time to actively play with your cat each day is another way to provide exercise for the cat, curtail boredom and is fun for everyone.
Kids love using wand toys when playing with a cat. You can make your own wand toy or buy them inexpensively.
Wand toys are also safe for children to use as no small hands will be within scratching reach.
Gently scruff the cat’s neck each time it scratches. This is an effective way of disciplining the animal without hurting it, scruffing actually mimics what a mother cat often does to her kittens.
Simply grab the skin of the animal on its lower neck slightly above the shoulders, and then pin it gently to the floor while saying 'No’ in a strong tone.
Perform this for about 3 to 4 seconds before releasing the cat, it will definitely remember this lesson and think twice before scratching you again.
If you are not sure about how to scruff the cat, ask your vet to demonstrate the correct method.
There are certain tell-tale signs to watch out for which show that your cat is about to show aggressive behavior and clawing.
These include; narrowed eyes, growling, skin rippling, shifting of body posture, tail lashing and body posture.
Normal playful behavior may also mean that your cat may crouch but often they will pounce sideways or generally indicate that they are in a playful mood.
In the event that you are scratched, there are certain steps you can take to manage the situation so that it doesn’t lead to infection.
First, wash the wound with some soap and warm water. If the wound continues bleeding apply light pressure using a piece of dry gauze pad.
Next, apply some antiseptic cream directly onto the wound.
Cover with a dry, sterile dressing or a Band-Aid.
Keep an eye on the wound and if there are any signs of infection see your doctor.