I have had many strays. This particular cat was hiding in our shed and wood pile as a kitten all last winter. Now it is coming right up to the house meowing and hissing for food. In the last three weeks it has become more demanding and agitated. The other day it smacked my hand with it’s paw and drew blood.
I am feeling uncomfortable about this cat and think there is something wrong with it. As I said, I’ve had strays before but never felt afraid of them. What might be going on? I do not trust this cat to be safe, even though it only shows itself for food.
Hi Karen.. Thanks for helping stray cats. I’ll try and kick the discussion off. I believe that the causes of cat aggression will be the same whether the cat is a domestic cat, stray cat or feral cat (and generally speaking even for the wildcats). They are all inherently the same animal.
The circumstances under which feral cats live results in aggression being demonstrated more often.
I am not sure that the cat you refer to is any different except that there may be a compounding factor: pain or discomfort. And (s)he may be more fearful than others. The fact that he came to your back door indicates that hunger overcame fear and is the beginnings of socialization, I think.
What happens is that the cat comes up for food and in an overly defensive manner (proactively) hisses and if a hand gets too close, slaps it. This is instinctive.
My impression is that in time it will improve and perhaps your understandable emotions (slight anxiety about being hurt) may feed the anxiety in the cat.
I would feed this frightened little cat and give plenty of space and progress slowly. If the chance arises it may be appropriate to trap, neuter, health check, return him or her. But I don’t know if you are into that sort of thing. It is a level of involvement up from simply helping a feral cat.
Feral cats will be aggressive due to:
lack of socialisation – defensive behavior expressed in aggression
and (in this case) pain/discomfort (possibly).
Hope this helps a bit. They are simply my immediate thoughts – thinking aloud.
I too would welcome some comments that may well improve on mine.