Cat lover discovers rescue cat is not aggressive but scared

I think this video is instructional. I also like the woman who has a YouTube channel (MeloCat). She loves cats and I guess you might say that she has too many cats in a small apartment but we’re not gonna go down that route. She’s a good woman and she wants to help this cat who we first see in a shelter, scared to death. The background is noisy and the whole place is terrifying to a cat like this. This is a timid cat and when you put a timid cat into that kind of environment they retreat and hide and become paralysed. She named the cat DingDing.

Don't try this at home
Don’t try this at home. DingDing looking scared and aggressive in the shelter before being taken to her new home. Screenshot.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

This woman also believed that DingDing had a hard time with her previous owner. In fact, she believes that her previous owner hit DingDing. She deduced that because the cat reacts negatively to a hand being placed near her in a certain way. I’ve got to say I disagree with the way this woman initially approaches the cat by putting her hand in front of the cat’s nose. She knows that it is a bad idea (see image above) but she did it deliberately (?) to get scratched for the video or to demonstrate that the cat was aggressive.

I am being tough in her. When you make videos for YouTube with the intention of making advertising money you have to add some excitement and you can do that in various ways. In a video about an aggressive shelter cat one way to reinforce that image is to get scratched. Perhaps I am being unkind and cynical but that is the way I see it. If I am wrong, she should know better than to place the fingers of her hand in front of a scared cat. Bad idea. The back of the hand is safer and it hurts less if it is slapped with claws out.

But the story of this cat adoption and this cat’s personality is very typical of so many domestic cats who are deemed to be aggressive. In fact, you might be able to apply this story to every single aggressive cat. They are aggressive because they are frightened and their aggression is defensive.

There are unsure of their surroundings. If they can’t hide somewhere all they can do is strike out to protect themselves from what they perceive will be incoming hostility. This lady discovers that quite quickly because she loves cats and is very gentle towards them. She allows this cat to hide and settle in. She is patient and you need patience with cats who are timid and fearful. Patience draws them out.

You cannot brand these cats aggressive. Brand them as frightened and that fear dissipates when the environment is no longer frightening. The cat opens up and becomes friendly; a snuggle bug in her words.

However, DingDing will remain timid probably most of her life and therefore she will need a particularly sensitive approach to her caregiving. Another issue with this video is that DingDing is placed in a small flat with other cats. This might result in her being bullied. It depends upon the nature of the other cats. With good luck it might not happen. Sometimes in a multi-cat home one cat is more dominant and that dominant cat might instinctively bully a submissive, timid cat. That’s why she will need to provide hiding spaces for DingDing and make sure each cat has their own feeing bowl and litter tray. Difficult in a small apartment.

The moral of the story is not to brand a domestic cat aggressive by nature. Presume that the default situation is that they are fearful. If they are fearful something bad has happened or their personality is timid. Treat them with patience and draw them out with kindness, gentleness and calmness and the reward for both will be there.

For the scientifically-minded: Personality Structure in the Domestic_Cat


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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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