Categories: cat aggression

Why does this cat deliberately provoke the family dog?

Cat provokes dog. Screenshot. Words added.

This is a trending YouTube video. It shows a domestic cat and dog together in the home. It is entitled ‘A cat thinks long before hitting a dog’. The ‘hitting’ takes the form of a swipe to the back of the dog’s neck. It is nothing serious but it is deliberately provocative.

It is certain that these two have done some play-fighting before. So the cat knows what to expect. In fact, I’d expect that he/she has done this before on many occasions and the video maker set up the video to record the action. You can hear his voice in the background knowing what is to come.

Feline boredom?

The interesting aspect of the video for someone like me is how to explain this cat behaviour. As mentioned, there is no doubt that it is deliberately provocative. The cat wants to provoke a reaction in the dog. In anticipation of the response the cat moves away very quickly. The dog is used to it and he has reacted in the same way before.

So why does this cat want to provoke a reaction? The logical reason is boredom. It is not about aggression or disliking the dog. I am sure that they get along okay.

My instinctive assessment is that the cat wants something to happen as she is bored. Perhaps it is an instinctive desire by the cat to play which would alleviate boredom but she also realises that her dog companion does not play that well with her and therefore runs away immediately after the provocative swipe. Although it is a failure as an act to initiate some play she still does it instinctively.

I would equate it with domestic cats knocking items off a shelf or table top. They want to see something happen in a quiet home and they are probably full-time indoor cats. Domestic cats have a lot of potential energy stored up waiting to be used. There has to be an outlet. Inside the home there is often little opportunity to use up energy. Sometimes cats do the ‘crazies’. This is also due to boredom. Cats suddenly chase around the home in a burst of energy and just as suddenly stop.

These actions that I have described are often referred to as weird but nothing that a domestic cat does is weird. All forms of behaviour can be explained by reference to feline behaviour.

I have speculated about this feline behaviour. I might be wrong and if so I’d like to hear from you.


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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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