Categories: play

What is behind the behavior of this male cat?

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This is rather mysterious cat behavior. The kittens have been dumped onto a hard surface; I suspect for the purpose of making the video. They are probably looking for their mother and a warm surface. The kittens are not roughhousing in my opinion.

The father seems to think that they are playing and has joined in. He prods them as if in a play fight and then starts to ‘shadow box’. I have seen cats do this before. There is a classic case of a cat looking at boxers on television and the cat copies them. Cats ‘shadow boxing’ fascinates people and videos of it always do well.

My feeling (and I am most definitely open to correction) is that the father cat has been ‘stimulated’ into a mock play-fight by the sight of his offspring romping around together when, in fact, they are not exactly doing that. When he prods them with his paw he is engaging in play with them in a very delicate way. He is not trying to stop the kittens as has been suggested by some people. He then does the classic ‘shadow boxing’ behavior which is cat play-fighting without another cat being on the receiving end!

What do you think?

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I agree. Looks like Daddy became excited by the sight of his kittens squirming around like that. You're right, Michael, he's not trying to stop or separate them. He's very gentle with them. The closest thing to this behavior that I've seen was done several times by my Turkish Angora Angel. She was lonely and would play with her reflection in the mirror. Once I brought in her companion Ruby Angel stopped doing that behavior. They had each other to shadow box.

  • I think you nailed it Michael, as usual. I've had a multiple cat household for twenty years and I don't recall ever seeing any of them shadow boxing... not like this anyway. It may indeed be because mine have always had playmates, that they never resorted to shadow boxing to play-fight.

    • Thanks Albert. It is nice to have your support ;) Sometimes I stick my neck out a bit and wait to be shot down. This feline behavior is unusual and you won't find explanations for it in any book. We have to work it out ourselves.

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