Age: 8 years old
Aggressive behaviour towards male owner
MoMo used to be friendly, but as a result of his primary caretaker moving away, he kept his distance from people, including his other owners Mr. and Ms. L, and would hiss and swat whenever approached or restrained. MoMo got on well with the other two cats, BoBo and Ball Tze, but would avoid his owners, and hid behind the curtains in the master bedroom, only coming out to the living room when both owners were not home or asleep.
Emotion drives behaviour – To modify MoMo’s behaviour, first, we must make him feel safe by allowing him to make decisions on his own terms, and to create a positive interaction each time. Both owners can invite MoMo to interact by calling his name and wait for him to come over when he is ready. As MoMo displays more aggression towards Mr. L, I suggest he offers MoMo some yummy wet food during their interactions, without attempting to grab or touch him, to desensitise MoMo.
Pheromone Therapy –Installing a Feliway Diffuser can help create a calm environment for cats as the synthetic feline pheromone helps to make them feel safe and secure. This will help MoMo feel more comfortable and more at ease around his owners.
Stimulation – Finally, cats are hunters. Indoor cats find it difficult to cope if they can’t hunt. Playing with feathers or a fishing rod toy is the equivalent to hunting time to our cats. By creating enriching activities for the cats to enjoy, followed by a prey reward (treat) helps to create another positive interaction between MoMo and owners from a distance, whilst developing the pet-owner bond.
Most cat owners do not give treats to their cats after play time, which can make their cats highly frustrated, potentially causing behaviour problems.
After one week, Ms. L reported that MoMo became friendlier and would approach her for strokes. Although his mood still fluctuates, he has developed a good relationship with both owners, in particular Ms. L, and even comes out to sleep on Mr. and Ms. L’s bed during the day!
Lily Leung, Senior Behavioural Support Technician
- Clinical Animal Behavior Course from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at The University of Edinburgh, Scotland
- The Academy for Dog Trainers
- Feline Behavior and Psychology from the Center of Excellence
- iCatCare Advanced Feline Behaviour
- Fear Free Certified® Professional
- Advanced Canine Aggression with Dr. Amber Batson