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Cat Tales: Rough and tough

July 05, 2014


I FEEL in my feline element today. I have had delicious seafood platter for breakfast, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and I feel good. I am jumping up and down; running here and there.

Of course I am getting into people’s way. That’s how I get my thrills. No play time is complete without my human yelling or squealing in excitement after me as she sees my tail disappearing behind a door. She loves to see me all jazzed up. I stalk, chase, pounce, swat, kick, scratch and bite softly, all in good fun.

All kittens and young cats need to play. Play is normal behaviour that provides us with opportunities to develop our physical coordination and also gives us a chance to polish our social skills with other cats. When we are on our own, we play with stuff like toys, little things that roll around like bottle caps, string balls, feathers or crunched up paper. Paper bags and boxes are also a lot of fun because you can sit and hide or play football.

But with other cats, people or other animals, our play is different. It can be anything from gentle hide and seek to some crazy rugby roll out. You might see some rough, active play between cats but it is all a part of the ‘pretending’ that cats like to do.

Sometimes, unfortunately, pro­blems arise when we play with people. We don’t intend to but we can cause scratches and bites which can be painful and can easily become infected.

This kind of rough play is often wrongly misinterpreted as aggression. We only get aggressive and show aggression when we are frightened. During aggressive encounters, we may also growl, hiss and spit.

To find out what kind of toys your cat likes to play with most, you should provide it will all kinds. We enjoy batting at small toys, like balls and fake mice. We also like to stalk, chase and pounce on things that move like prey, such as toys with feathers attached to flexible rods that you can dangle and move about. Every now and then, give your cat new objects to investigate, such as paper bags or cardboard boxes. It is so much fun to hide in them and pretend no one knows where I am.

• You should also spend at least ten minutes playing with your cat. During playtime, don’t encourage him to bat at your hands or your feet. Instead, direct the play away from you by using a long dangly toy or throwing your cat’s favourite toys. Organise play sessions around the times when your cat seems most active and playful. If your cat likes to grab your feet or jump at your ankles as you go walk, carry toys with you and toss them ahead of you to distract him. Try to get him to focus on chasing the toys instead of attacking you.

• An outdoor enclosure for your cat, complete with branches, boxes, shelves and perches for him to navigate is a wonderful idea. It will keep your cat busy for long as he has opportunities to hunt insects and chase leaves and discover new sounds.

• The instant he starts to bite or scratch you, end the game by leaving the room. Don’t attempt to pick up your cat and put him in another room for the time-out as this could bring more bites.

• Remember, he is just a little cat and needs love and bit of training. Now I am going to jump on my human who is enjoying a little snooze; and wake her up and demand some snacks. Bye for now.