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Old 11-14-2008, 11:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cat swatting

I rescued Tessa(we were going to call her Mika but my oldest son has speech problems and couldn't say it) on Wednesday. She was living in an abandoned house with no food or water. She is only about 7-8 months old and is pregnant with her second litter. She is settling in great. She is very friendly and sweet, always wanting to be pet. She has started to swat at our hands or feet if we stop petting her or walk by her without petting her. Is this normal?
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Old 11-14-2008, 12:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat swatting

That's so great you've adopted Tessa. It sounds like she really needed you.

I'm no expert on cat behavior, but the times I get the "swat" as I walk by or make a move to get up, I take it to mean, "Hey, don't go." I think they're trying to get our attention so we don't leave. If you look at it that way, it's very cute.
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Old 11-16-2008, 03:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat swatting

It could mean "don't go", but I'd think of other options first:

Tessa is still new and adapting. Whether she acts fine or not, cats take a while to fully adapt-- especially those who come from trauma. Of course, kittens are more resilient, so she may adapt quickly, but it hasn't been a week. Give her some time and space, be gentle, calm, and quiet. Rescue cats should be integrated slowly. If you have a large house don't give her free reign for the first week or two. Not that she has to be confined, but let her get used to one thing at a time-- not four family members, five rooms, cat food, litterbox litter brand, etc-- it's overwhelming.

She may enjoy the petting, but perceive you pulling away as a risk-- are you going to leave forever? are you going to hurt her now? did she make a mistake letting her guard down? As for walking by, she may just be trying to show her alpha female with you-- she had to grow up fast, and some cats can have a big "alpha" streak-- "I'm the head here, don't even try..."

I've found that the best thing to do with the swatting after petting is to not retract your hand. Leave it there. (Maybe not have your son pet her until she's better settled.) Generally cats won't cause any damage-- most cats won't scratch and draw blood or bite hard. By not flinching or showing fear or retracting your hand, you are showing her you are trustworthy and docile and calm-- so she can be, too. Some cats will bite-- see you aren't reacting negatively, and then give you a lick of love. If she licks you, give her a tiny pet, and then you're done. She's said she's had enough, but you guys made up, so end it at a good place.

The best thing to do with swatting behavior is NOT encourage it, don't feed into it-- don't show her you will obey her swats, and don't show her she has any reason to do it-- you come in peace, so she can chill out.

Keep us posted!
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