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How to stop cats from attacking your feet

 by lucy on 18 Aug 2017 |
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When we shuffle around in flip flops or shoes with bouncing laces, our feet look can look an awful lot like prey to cats. The same goes when our toes are under a blanket, wrapped in socks or even when we go barefoot. While you can’t stop your cats’ predator instincts, you can redirect them, providing Kitty with acceptable ways to expel energy without assaulting your toes.
 
Sneak attacks on feet come when cats aren’t quite clear about where their toys end and humans begin. This all comes down to socialization, which helps explain why kittens are especially pernicious when it comes to pouncing on feet. Often, young felines have not learned to rope in their energy or differentiate between “play thing” and “person.” While rough play is important to kittens developing physical coordination and problem-solving skills, humans can misinterpret their stalking, chasing, pouncing, swatting and biting for aggression.
 
Knowing what’s okay to play-attack and what isn’t comes down to Kitty’s socialization, making it important to draw clear boundaries for your pet from a young age. If your pet pounces on your feet under the covers, offer him a toy instead. If he attacks you on the stairs, try to carry a few toys to drop and redirect his attention. When he plays with the toys instead of your toes, offer your cat praise. While punishing a feline doesn’t work, time-outs do: Any time your pet plays too rough, end the game by leaving the room. Don’t pick him up, as this can encourage more playful biting or scratching.
 
In addition to setting boundaries, helping your cat act out his predator instincts in positive ways can tire him out and reduce his desire to stalk your feet. Playing with your cat using a fishing pole or other toy not only helps him expel excess energy, but builds a bond between you and your pet. Offer your cat a variety of toys and frequently give him new objects to explore, such as paper bags or cardboard boxes. You can even build an outdoor enclosure for your cat or consider buying a second cat for a playmate to help keep your pet stimulated both mentally and physically. Just remember to never let your pet bat at your feet, hands or other body parts during playtime, as this sends mixed messages.
 
Of course, there are occasions in which a cat’s rough play is actually aggression. It can be hard to differentiate between the two, but watching your cat’s body language can help you decipher whether he’s being social or picking a fight. Cats playing tend to be quiet and engage in behaviors such as a sideways hop. During aggressive encounters, however, cats tend to growl and hiss. Nervous, anxious or fearful cats are more prone to aggression and a trained animal behaviorist can help address these problems.

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