Tuesday 15 June 2021

My parents' cat hates me. Any advice?

A visitor to the website stated that their parents' cat, Luna, has been raised in the family since she was a kitten and is now eight years old. Luna loves the person's mother, is ambivalent about the father but positively hates the person asking the question i.e. the child of the parents who we've not named.

Barney was labelled inherently aggressive when he was not.
This is not the cat in question. Barney was labelled inherently aggressive when he was not. Photo in public domain with words added.

The cat hisses and scratches at this person who thinks Luna hates her. But I think this is a bad attitude because domestic cats don't hate certain people for no reason. There would have to be a genuine and identifiable reason. Rather than 'hate' it is far more likely to be 'fear'. Luna is fearful of this person and become defensively aggressive. 

I think there are two possible reasons. The first one is that Luna is perhaps not that well socialised because judging by the description of Luna she is not entirely friendly because she doesn't care about "my dad" but she's not that bad with "my mum" and she hisses and scratches the child who appears to be an adult child by the way. So, Luna is not great within the family anyway. 

Secondly, cats can get very used to one or two people and it is possible that the person asking the question is not always at home and therefore the cat is not too familiar with that person and treats them somewhat as a stranger and is therefore fractious with them and slightly defensive which results in scratching and hissing.

To expand on that idea: sometimes cats do form an attachment to a person and they have difficulty interacting with or bonding with anybody else. That may be a factor in this instance. The person mentioned that Luna was raised since she was a kitten in the same home. Luna may be attached to the person who was most involved in that process. That particular person might not be around anymore leaving Luna in effect in an alien home which would be stressful leading to defensive aggression and the odd swipe in his as described.

The point though is that all domestic cats who are defensively aggressive can be eased into a state which is much calmer through allowing the cat to become familiarised with you. I'm suggesting that you can socialise yourself to this cat very gradually and the best way to achieve that is to play with the cat gently and for quite a long time and to do this regularly and routinely. Gradually you will find Luna becoming less nervous and less defensive. Play is the best way to socialise a cat to a person if they are at the other end of the cat tease.

I think this is a lot to do with socialisation as much as it is to do with chemistry between a particular cat i.e. Luna and a particular person, the father. I would work on socialisation through patient play until the cat becomes entirely familiar with the person asking the question and for advice. That individual needs to be socialised to Luna in the fullest extent and I feel that would resolve the matter. This is of course presuming that all the boxes have been ticked regarding mental and physical health.

Finally, the home environment may not be to the cat's liking. It should be calm and reassuring. Perhaps something is a barrier to creating that state of affairs.

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