I have created an infographic based on Jackson Galaxy’s very personal concepts and language when describing domestic cat behavior. He hits the nail on the head. You just have to translate his unique language 😃👌. This is about a perennial domestic cat problem: anxiety or fearfulness. A lot of cats are okay with decent levels of confidence and you can see it in their general behavior. Arguably too many cats come up a little short on confidence because of their inherent timidity and because they are living in the human environment; a land of non-feline behavior and giants.
He coins the word ‘caving’. It is easy to translate. Under the bed is the classic feline cave. Jackson calls these the ‘unders’ as opposed to the ‘overs’ of the fridge climbers or tree dwellers. Well, usually there are no trees inside the home so they climb something else. Think catio and artificial trees for an ideal bolt hole for an indoor cat.
Anxious cats very much like something over their head to feel safe. I think that it is important to distinguish between a temporary state of feline anxiety because of particular events and a general state of fearfulness which needs to be dealt with.
‘Fridging’ is also a way for cats to feel safer and alleviate some anxiety. But we have to be careful in distinguishing a desire to climb which is entirely normal and not necessarily linked to anxiety and a need to find a sanctuary high up. Often these desires merge to become one. It is a question of degree and it is about reading cat behaviour and body language to decide what is going on.
Jackson’s terminology ‘cocoon’ is an interesting one. He has used it to describe a place created by the cat’s human caregiver where they can feel safe but also ‘be part of household activity, because cocoons are eventually placed in socially significant areas’.
“Cocoons allow your cat to feel safe without disappearing”.
What Jackson wants is to gradually tease out of the scared cat some confidence through a realisation that their world is not so scary. He achieves this by creating a safe space where the cat can both feel secure while being integrated into human society and observe it rather than running from it.
In conclusion it is down to cat caregivers to read their cat’s state of mind through body language and caving and fridging (if this takes place) and take steps to build their confidence. Cocooning is one way and another is plenty of interesting and gentle human interactions which mainly means playtime.
Please share your personal experiences in a comment as they are most welcome. They are also valuable in terms of educating others.
Below are some more articles on anxiety or fearfulness.
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