Affection and batting/clawing

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Abbeydale
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Affection and batting/clawing

Post by Abbeydale » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:50 pm

Hi everyone,

New here, first post, please be gentle :)

I have a recently-adopted 1 year old female. She was a stray who was found with her kittens outdoors, and was at a shelter weaning them for a few months before coming to live with me. When I met her at the shelter she was aloof and wary, but now she's away from other cats she's become very playful and bold. She's trusting me more and more and so far and she seems happy, but I have a question about something she does and whether I'm handling it right.

Quite often she mews, head-bumps and scent-marks me, I respond by stroking her as she walks around me which she seems to enjoy a lot, she purrs, and then sooner or later she rolls on her back, raises her paws and looks up at me expectantly. If I then reach towards her she starts batting and lightly clawing my hand.

At this point I usually withdraw my hand quickly (usually saying 'ow!') and back away from her quietly. She lies there looking puzzled and I feel like I'm snubbing her. :lol:

I'd like to understand why she progresses from stroking to clawing like this. We do play a lot and there's usually a clear boundary between things she will claw/pounce on and things she shouldn't (i.e. my hands, feet etc.) She does sometimes lightly bite my trouser legs when excited about getting food, but it's very gentle and not a big deal. But this link between stroking and clawing is puzzling me.

I wonder if this is something from kitten sibling play, or something that was established with a human friend in her past. Or maybe she just sees stroking as a way of getting me to play with her. It seems to be something that excites rather than relaxes her anyway, which is different from other cats I've known.

Am I doing the right thing by not reacting to the hand-clawing behaviour?

Also, am I right in interpreting the batting as play? I've read that some cats will bite or claw during stroking because they've had enough and the owner has missed subtle cues like ears and tail movements. I don't want to annoy my cat accidentally. But it seems more like she's taking the lead and waiting for me to do something.

Thanks in advance for any advice or ideas

OHWS
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Re: Affection and batting/clawing

Post by OHWS » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:13 pm

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Last edited by OHWS on Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:48 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Crewella
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Re: Affection and batting/clawing

Post by Crewella » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:03 pm

Welcome, and congrats on your new friend - it's lovely that you adopted a rescue cat.

This is one of the many differences between dogs and cats, and is often misunderstood. When a dog lies in front of you and 'offers' you his underside it usually is pretty safe to take it as an invitation to rub his tummy, however if a cat does the same action it rarely is an invitation to touch their tender bits - some cats will be mortally offended if you do, as many people have found out to their cost! With cats, it usually is a sign of friendly intent, almost submission, and an invitation to engage - just not necessarily as intimately as people suppose.

Three of my gang (all ex-strays) will flop in front of me, looking for some attention, but each has a very different expectation. Basil expects a gentle back rub and ear scritch but will be up and out of the room in a second if I go anywhere near his tum or his back end, Daz actually DOES want a tummy rub and a general scritching (though it's taken a couple of years for him to trust me enough) and Paddy just wants to play and bat at my hands, like your girl, and in the same way needs a bit of calming down or redirection sometimes.

Your girl doesn't sound like a cat who's been offended. As OHWS says, it sounds as though your girl is definitely inviting you to engage and play with her, but just needs a little guidance on rough play and boundaries - as advised hissing and withdrawing when she hurts you but allowing her some rougher play with an inanimate object should help her to understand what is acceptable.

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Abbeydale
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Re: Affection and batting/clawing

Post by Abbeydale » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:21 pm

Thanks both, that's a great idea about the quiet hissing. I'll give it a go next time and the pencil too. She's definitely well-meaning (if cats can be described that way), we're just negotiating our boundaries and getting to know each other. I want to make sure we don't miscommunicate, cause she's really come out of her shell since arriving and I want her to keep trusting me and feeling safe. :)

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Re: Affection and batting/clawing

Post by OHWS » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:36 pm

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Last edited by OHWS on Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:48 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Abbeydale
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Re: Affection and batting/clawing

Post by Abbeydale » Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:01 am

Absolutely - thanks for the cat vocab lesson :)

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