A day in the life of a cat caregiver: transferred aggression-maggots-guard cat!

This is one day in the life of my relationship with my cat companion. It might be fairly typical as all these things happen to every cat caregiver from time to time. Or perhaps they don’t and if not, I would like to hear from people.

My cat Gabriel
My cat Gabriel. Photo: MikeB.
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Transferred aggression

I guess you know what transferred or redirected aggression is. Just a reminder: it’s when your cat sees something which fires up their attack mojo. And they can’t attack what they are meant to attack which is something out there and so they attack their owner or another resident companion animal instead. It is not a great feline behavioral trait I must say.

In my case, last night, my cat was on my lap while I was in bed working on the website and the bifold doors were open to let in some cool air. And suddenly there was a noise on the garden fence. My cat pricked up his ears and jumped off my lap and raced out into the garden. It was a fox on top of the fence. He had been there before. I feed the foxes. I got up to have a look myself and then I heard a quiet thump as the fox had gone to the end of the fence and jumped down.

And so, we both went back to bed with my cat on my lap as before. I stroked him after he settled down. Suddenly and without any warning he bit my hand, very hard. It bloody well hurt and it annoyed me. There’s nothing quite as bad as your cat apparently maliciously biting you for no reason after you’ve been particularly gentle towards him. It’s a complete breach of trust and temporarily dents the relationship but there is an explanation because my cat is a loving boy. He is acting instinctively.

He wanted to attack that fox. Yes, my cat has more mojo than a fox and has a tendency to dominate them even though he is smaller than them. I think that this is his feral cat background. Anyway, after I had nursed my annoyance back to an equilibrium and the pain had subsided in my hand, I understood that this was a case redirected or transferred aggression.

He has done this before once about four years ago. I think it was the same reason then; a fox. If and when you are bitten by your cat in an act of transferred aggression the instinct is to strike back but we have to resist because from the cat’s perspective it is instinctive and they won’t understand if you strike back.

I wonder whether he feels bad about it at the end? I wonder if he realises that what he has done is wrong and that it dents the relationship between human and cat? I don’t know because we are talking about feline emotions and what happens inside a cat’s brain. It is something that we don’t know enough about at the moment.

Maggots

Maggots are horrible. Like almost every other cat owner, I feed my cat wet cat food out of sachets. I try and remove all the cat food from the sachet but inevitably some is left because that is the nature of this packaging which I don’t really like. And then you throw away the sachet into a bin liner in a bin. In hot weather, sometimes, maggots can develop on thrown away cat food sachets because a fly has deposited eggs on it. You don’t see this happening but after about four or five days maggots start to climb out of your rubbish bin onto the kitchen floor. It is absolutely disgusting and they procreate incredibly rapidly so you have to act quickly.

I double or triple wrap the bin liner and if needs be wash out the rubbish bin from top to bottom. If you don’t double or triple wrap and seal the rubbish the maggots will crawl out of it in their thousands after a further five days and it’ll be pure chaos.

Guard cat

Cats have incredibly good hearing especially at the higher frequencies. They can hear sounds at the higher end of frequencies that we can’t. Very often, I’m sitting with my cat and he will hear something and chase out of the house into the back yard to check it out. He is acting as a guard dog as far as I’m concerned. If it’s night time I turn on the patio lights to check things out and then go back to what I was doing before. The incident that I mention with the fox is a good example. That could have been a burglar climbing the fence and my cat was alert to it.

There’s an interesting story today about a Mississippi man who said that his calico cat, Bandit, helped to prevent a robbery at his home. Fred Everitt who lives in the Tupelo suburb of Belden said that two men tried to break into his home last week between 2:30 AM and 3 AM. He didn’t know that the burgers were outside but his cat, Bandit did. She first started to meow in the kitchen and then raced into the bedroom, jumped onto his bed and began pulling the bed clothes off him and clawing at his arms. She had never done this before so he knew that something was wrong. This forced him to get up to investigate and he saw two young men outside his back door.

One of them had a handgun and the other a crowbar. Everitt grabbed his handgun but the burgers cleared off into the night. He thanks his cat for alerting him and is thankful that it did not turn into a confrontational situation. Cats can be guard cats almost as good as guard dogs because they see and hear things at night that we can’t readily pick up.

Below are some more pages on redirected cat aggression.

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