An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is Play Fighting Bad?

Dear Greyce, You say in your blog entry, The Pungent Scents of Comfort. Urine Marking #4 (Jan. 26/10) that our purrsons should learn the signs of cat aggression and intervene before we start to fight. But what about play fighting?

Every night my companion, Muffy, and I love to chase through the house as if the wind was after us. Sometimes I lie in wait around the corner and then pounce on her. And then it's her turn to chase me. We have great fun. But now I'm concerned that you think this should be out of bounds. Say it isn't so! Ginger

Dear Ginger, Believe me, I'm not that much of a bag as to deflate a cat party when I see one! I have no problems with play fighting as you call it. In fact, it can be fun. As long as you participate equally (that is, take turns stalking and chasing) and no one is vocalizing (which suggests distress) then I say, "go for it". But if the fur is flying, if someone is getting hurt (scratched, bitten or worse), or if someone stays in hiding out of fear because he's really the victim, then that's not fun, that's serious. And you need a human to intervene - or you may very well start spraying, plucking your fur out, etc.

Now I understand that some of your folks may have problems telling play fighting and serious fighting apart. And while I provided some sketches in that blog entry you mentioned, it may not be enough. So any of your humans who need help in this matter are wise to refer to books full of coloured photos of real cats caught in the act, so to speak.

My two favourite books are: Bruce Fogle's Know Your Cat: An Owner's Guide to Cat Behavior. (Doubleday/Kindersley, 1991) and Roger Tabor's Cat Behavior. A Complete Guide to Understanding How Your Cat Works. (Reader's Digest, 1997). They are both written by people who are pretty smart when it comes to cats (even though they are not cats). There are lots of colour photos of cats doing various things. And even if these are older publications, chances are your public library (or used bookstore) has them.

So point your folks in this direction and you can't go wrong!

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