The wild cat within the domestic cat which holds them back

About two minutes ago I was combing my cat around his neck, under his chin, and down the sides of his cheeks. Inadvertently the flea comb may contact with his nose. I could immediately see the change in expression on his face and his general demeanour. The change was very slight but to me it was noticeable. He had just come in from the outside where he reverts to his wild cat nature. When I continued, he nipped my hand. I knew that it was coming. He was retaliating as if I had deliberately slapped him for no apparent reason.

Grooming my cat by flea combing around his neck region which is where fleas congregate because a cat cannot groom their themselves
Grooming my cat by flea combing around his neck region which is where fleas congregate because a cat cannot groom their themselves. Photo: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It was entirely instinctive and despite the fact that we have a very close bond and are very good friends, he decided that I deserved to be attacked in retaliation. It didn’t bother me because it was expected but this is the wild cat within the domestic cat.

The wild cat within is not a sentimental creature. This is the full-blown predator just below the surface of the sweet domestic cat that keeps us company and entertains us.

It is very easy to provoke a domestic cat when petting them or in any way handling them to respond as a wild cat might respond. It’s why there are thousands of articles about over-petting your domestic cat companion to the point where they are provoked into attacking.

Domestic cats are quite delicate psychologically in this respect. You scratch the surface of their psyche and there’s this roaring predator looking up at you with sharp canine teeth and sharper claws.

For me, it is something which holds back the relationship. This is a known fact because whenever we see criticisms of the domestic cat, we see them couched in terms of “aloofness” and “independence”; characteristics of the wild cat ancestor of the domestic cat.

There is a fear among a sizeable section of society of the domestic cat. It’s why declawing exists in America, to that splendid country’s detriment and shame. Ultimately declawing is based on fear of the predator within the domestic cat.

The domestic cat is less pliable than the domestic dog. The dog is more capable of causing harm than the domestic cat because of their size and strength. But they are more pliable, looking up to their leader – their owner – to do their bidding. There are probably fewer accidental attacks by domestic dogs than by domestic cats. Although when a dog attacks they can kill.

By ‘accidental attacks’ I mean like the one I describe above, when the interaction with your cat goes wrong even with the best of intentions. Your cat misunderstands and seems to come to a conclusion that your intentions are not the best, are unfriendly and has a pop at you.

It’s interesting because my cat knows that we have a great interspecies relationship. We are bonded. He follows me around like I am his mother. And yet without compunction he bit (albeit gently) my hand when my comb accidentally made contact with his nose.

The domestic cat’s character is not dampened by social etiquette and niceties. If a cat feels angry, he is angry. If a human feels angry, they will normally ask themselves whether it is socially acceptable to be angry at that particular moment and if not, they will quash the desire to express their anger. Not so for the domestic cat. Their reactions are instinctive and they are instinctively based upon the wild cat within.

P.S. I was giving him his usual early morning flea comb; a loving process of mutual benefit. My cat is particularly wild underneath his veneer of domestication as he was raised from a feral kitten at 7 weeks old. His first weeks were as a feral cat. He is a great predator.

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