Sunday, July 9, 2017

When good cats turn bad

I mentioned in a recent post my cat friend Fred. Fred has been an angel to look after in my fill-in-for-a-friend cat sitting business. He has a reputation for turning aggressive at the click of a finger, but I haven't seen it.

Until today.

Poor Fred. His owner is away for another 9 days, and he's feeling lonely and starved of his owner's affection.  I walk inside and he immediately head butts my legs. I talk to him, stroke him, pick him up and cuddle him.

Marion the cat sitter told me not to trust him. I haven't ignored her; I've simply come to my own conclusions and watched him carefully. I thought I had his measure. Thought I had the balance of affection just right.

Today I sat on the sofa as soon as I got there (my third day doing this as I've become more confident with this tricky boy) and Fred happily jumped on my knees, purring ecstatically. He purred so hard saliva dripped from his mouth onto my jeans, and I held him and stroked him and talked to him, and importantly, gave him the 'cat kiss'; that slow blink that tells him I'm not a threat. I thought we understood each other perfectly as he slow-blinked back at me and we stayed happily together for five minutes, until he turned and bit my hand.

Not hard, you understand. It was a gentle bite, the sort cats give you when they can't decide whether they want to sit on your knee or not.

So I took my hands off him and still kept talking to him in a quiet voice, soothing and calming, mentioning his name every five seconds and putting in "good boy" all the time, too.

Fred got off my legs and I could finally get around to fixing his food for the day.  He followed me into the kitchen, head-butting and happy.

I decided to do a visual check of the flat for furballs and vomits - you know what cats can be like. Fred followed me, chatting happily and meowing me details of his life. Clearly he slept in the main bedroom with his owner, as the duvet was cat-rucked and he jumped onto it demonstratively.

I checked the room and turned to walk out. And Fred pounced.

Gawd, my left leg has copped it from cats this week!

He grabbed it with both front legs and tried to sink his teeth in. Bless demin. Good old jeans. I felt his claws and teeth but he didn't break any skin.

I turned and shook my finger at him and snapped, "No!" and he immediately backed off. I suspect I was heading into "his" territory, his sleeping room, and made a note not to do that again.

He was still a bit swishy-tail while I cleaned his litter tray, but was back to smooching against me before grabbing my leg again in the living room. This time no claws or teeth, just a firm grip from his strong little legs, and I had the "No!" going at him before his legs were all the way around mine.

His owner has since told me he gets over-stimulated with too much affection; he does it with her too!

So it's a hard call. I want to give Fred the affection he needs while his owner is away, but not to the point that he attacks me.  He looks for me now every day and cries when he hears my step, as I go to his elegant flat at much the same time each day.  He engages with me, makes lots of eye contact, and is desperate for a cuddle and snuggle.

There are pills marked 'for emergency only' if Fred has a real conniption and goes truly violent with me, but I have left them on the bench for today. I'll see how he is tomorrow.

In a way he reminds me of a Siamese who shared my life for 13 years; another boy who loved a cuddle but would use his teeth.  Maybe so much ecstasy is too much?

Does your cat turn aggro after a cuddle?

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