Meowllo and welcome to another Service Cat Monday. We ‘purreciate ya’ll bearin’ with us last week. We’ve got a great post fur ya’ today. Let me get the business stuff outta the way, and we’ll get to it. The followin’ post will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat Monday posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Trainin’ Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy thru her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. Ifin you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, purrlease let us know in the comments section or send us an email. When asking behavioral questions, purrlease be as specific as pawssible. And, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the end of this post. Always remember, Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards.
Our question today comes from awnty Juliea and her new kitty Patzy, described as a calico/tortie mix. Now, they don’t have a blog of their own so we don’t know a lot about Patzy; just what awnty Juliea has said in comments on our posts. Patzy was adopted after awnty Juliea lost her beloved kitty Izzy. Her question refers to Patzy as a “new wild kitty” who is about 1 year old. She was adopted from their local animal shelter, so we doubt Patzy is truly wild/feral, but rather YOUNG and Kittenish. Having lived with a mature kitty, mommy says you’d be amazed at how much one forgets about kittenhood. Now, the question is, “Patzy is a loving kitty who enjoys being with me, but, she plays really rough, which I (Juliea) attribute to her calico/tortie side. I would like for her to recognize love pats as well as play pats.” She also asks about adding a “Buddy Cat” for Patzy. We’ll address the “Buddy Cat” in another post. Today we want to focus on appropriate petting. We’d also like to remind people that a cat’s color pattern or breed DOES NOT mean they are naturally Aggressive. So, Patzy’s behavior has nothing to do with her being a calico/tortie mix.
The Petting question is a great one. More than once mommy has seen people playing with their cats improperly and then wondering why kitty bites/scratches their hands or feet. We’ve heard numerous stories about those kitties that attack their owners feet while they sleep. Our immediate response is: HANDS ARE NOT TOYS!!! FEET ARE NOT TOYS!!! The only thing hands and feet should be associated with is LOVE and Exams!!! What may be cute from a 6 week old fluff ball, isn’t so adorable from an adult 10 pound cat. It’s never too late to Train/Re-Train a behavior, but it’s always best to start with the appropriate expected behavior.
Mmmmmm Me luvs a good chin scritch.
Never, Not Ever, No Way, No How should one ever use their hands as toys!!! A kitty who has learned that hands are toys, are the same kitties that bite VETs, company, children and certainly their owners. This is totally inappropriate behavior. Before bringing a new kitty or any pet for that matter home, you should already have in mind what behaviors you’re willing to allow and which behaviors won’t be tolerated. Keep in mind that some behaviors are are innate and can’t be changed. A cat needs to scratch; even a declawed cat will use a scratching post. (Please, Do NOT declaw your cat. There are other options available.) This is a behavior you can’t change. However, you can make sure kitty scratches appropriate areas with a minimal amount of Training.
So, you’ve adopted a kitty that already sees hands as toys, how do you stop that behavior and Train kitty to a more appropriate behavior? Redirection is key. When the first sign of aggression appears, immediately remove your hand, say “NO” in a firm but gentle voice, and offer kitty an appropriate toy to bite or chew on. If kitty is laying beside you or in your lap, throw the toy away from you so that kitty must chase it, and totally ignore kitty until the aggression has subsided. Do Not reward kitty’s inappropriate behavior with treats or soothing words. Even when kitty goes for the toy instead of your hand, keep silent. There’ll be plenty of time for love and rewards later.
Let’s talk a bit about how to PET your cat. Some kitties really like what mommy calls the “Long Pet”. The “Long Pet” has the hand moving down a kitties back from the head to the tail and can include tail scritches. But, the reality is, that most cats get overstimulated and often start nipping at the hand. Remember, the head and face of kitty is welcoming and calm, the tail and hind end of kitty is used to express aggression and ownership. Click here to read about the importance of kitty’s scent glands and what each means. Almost all cats love a good chin scratching, behind the ears and around the face. Petting kitty’s head, chin, neck and upper back around the shoulder blades rarely cause over stimulation. Do Not Rub against the natural direction of kitty’s fur. Do Not “ruffle” kitty’s fur, instead commit to the pet and gently stroke kitty’s head down to the shoulder blades. At the first sign that kitty is going to bite, Remove your hand, Redirect kitty’s attention and Ignore kitty. Before you know it, kitty will enjoy receiving pets as much as you enjoy giving them.
As for the late night, early morning foot attacks, ignore kitty. Do Not encourage kitty’s attacks by moving your feet and toes. You might want to keep a few of kitty’s favorite toys on the night table to employ Redirection. Like the toilet paper rolls, this isn’t something you will have to do for the life time of kitty, only until kitty learns. Each cat learns at a different pace. You must remember to be Consistent. Training Never Stops or takes a vacation. However, once kitty has learned that hands and feet are not toys, there will be little need for continued Redirection. While teaching kitty that hands equal love, it’s a good idea to occasionally run your hands all over kitty’s body the way a VET would during an exam. This will help make kitty calmer during an already stressful situation. And as always, remember, Training is all about Repetition and Rewards. And, Hands and Feet Are NOT toys.
Well, we hope this has helped. Ifin ya’ have any questions about this post or any other topic, please leave it in the comments section of this post or send us an email to email@example.com. Ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links below.
Till the next time…………………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle
34 thoughts on “Service Cats: Hands Are Not Toys”