By Magdalena Romanow
Many people have heard of “Grumpy Cat,” or watched YouTube and read the diary of the sad cat.
Cats are often portrayed as slightly less than friendly creatures who live life on their own terms. Felines are seen by many as independent, aloof, some even suggest they have no personality.
Obviously, those people have never owned a cat.
The truth is that cats have more personality than you can imagine, and some of them can be quite unpredictable. Cats are very sensitive to their environment and it influences their personality in later years. We have many cats who were abandoned due to behavioural issues. Unfortunately, for the most part, the behavioural issues are the result of initial feline/human interaction that was negative.
Cats that have been abused become weary of humans. They don’t forgive and forget like their canine counterparts, who will often accept negative attention over no attention at all. An abused cat will lash out in defense, and this reaction will likely carry over to a new home. This is not to say that they cannot be rehabilitated, but it takes a lot of time and patience.
Cats that have been abandoned by their owners on the streets can quickly revert to a feral state. For example, a female cat left on the streets will eventually come around in a new home. But if she has kittens and they are not socialized within the first few weeks, they remain in a feral or semi-feral state. These cats can be very shy and aggressive if approached inappropriately.
Then we have the over stimulated cat. These cats are friendly and loving, but will swat if your attention becomes too much for them to handle. They don’t mean to be aggressive, but the over stimulation pushes them over their limit.
Similarly, there are cats who will allow two or three pets and then attack you. We actually have cats who are known for the exact number of pets they will allow before their paw strikes your hand.
Finally, we have the diva cats (usually female) who don’t accept anything less than exactly what they want. They too can show aggression to humans and other animals.
Few of them were born this way.
This negative and aggressive behavior is the result of improper interaction with humans in the formative months after birth. A bad home experience, a bad human experience, a bad experience with other animals stays with a cat.
Some come around fully, some don’t. A kitten raised properly in a loving home will be an affectionate companion, who will never raise its paw to you.
These grumpy cats deserve loving homes just like any other feline. They are broken because of humans, and only humans can put the pieces back together. It won’t be something that happens overnight, and most of all you have to give them space. It is very important to remember that many cats with behavioural issues will not change if you are smothering them, or physically trying to show them affection. Let them be. Let them learn to trust you. Let them feel safe. Learn their boundaries.
In some cases you will have to accept their faults, since they may never fully recover.
Whatever trauma caused the behavior is simply too severe to overcome. They will lash out because that is what they had to do to survive before.
Cats are very complex creatures with complex personalities.
You can appreciate them fully if you learn to understand them.
Magdalena Romanow is a volunteer with Katie’s Place.