Respect the cat: Read your feline’s body language before petting - BC SPCA
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Respect the cat: Read your feline’s body language before petting

August 1, 2016

Pet guardians with furry feline companions know that their cats can sometimes, give mixed signals when they’re interacting with their humans. It’s important to take note of their body language and respect what they’re trying to tell you, notes Chirag Patel, an animal behaviour and training consultant who works with the BC SPCA, in one of the society’s popular Tip Tuesday videos.

“People will say, ‘My cat doesn’t like being pet – or when I pet her, sometimes she allows it for a moment, then she bites me or scratches me,’” Patel says. “Sometimes, cats don’t like being pet because cats don’t pet each other naturally, but what you can do is teach them to be petted.”

By using treats or portions of the cat’s regular dinner kibble to associate being pet or touched with pleasant things, cat guardians can teach their feline to enjoy such interaction, Patel says.

“You have to think about how the cat feels – if she’s engaging with you and seems to want to be near you, try petting her, and rewarding her with a treat if she allows if,” he says. “If they’re not engaging with you or avoiding you, or if their tail starts twitching or their fur starts going up when you’re petting them, it’s important to respect what they’re telling you with their body language, and leave them alone.”

Another way to avoid potential bites or scratches is to think about when you’re engaging with your cat – for example, if you’re trying to play or put your hand near her face right after you’ve been playing with a toy, she might still be aroused and in ‘play time’ mode, and want to bite or attack your hand, Patel says.

Tip Tuesday videos are featured every Tuesday on Facebook, and can be found on the BC SPCA YouTube channel as well.

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