Picture this: you’re enjoying yourself, staying in, catching up on your favorite Netflix series, when your Bengal cat starts strolling towards you, purring and rubbing, clearly asking for some human attention. So you pick them up, place them on your lap and start absentmindedly stroking them while you train your eyes back onto the screen. A few seconds later—out of the blue—your kitty scratches your arm and hisses at you then jumps off and scurries off like they can’t wait to get away.
You start scratching your head in confusion. What just happened? What did I do wrong?
No matter how bipolar we cats seem to you humans, we’re not. There’s always an underlying reason for our actions—one of which we’re going to discuss right now: Petting-Induced Aggression.
The name is pretty self-explanatory, but let’s get into all the nitty gritty.
Like humans, cats have different personalities and preferences. Some cats love to sprawl out for belly rubs for long periods of time, while others, not so much. Other cats will only tolerate a limited amount of human interaction—allowing only certain parts of their bodies to be touched and that’s a limited-time offer too.
Generally, cats are most comfortable being stroked on the head, chin and neck. This is mostly because we greet other cats by rubbing them on these areas. Other parts—like our belly, lower back and the tip of our tail—are usually off-limits. It’s different for every cat though, so you’ll need to be observant.
Good news is, cats are experts at leaving hints. Believe it or not, we don’t just lash out on you without giving off warning signs first. You just have to know what to look out for.
- TAIL GOING BACK AND FORTH QUICKLY
When a cat’s tail starts swishing back and forth rapidly, it usually signifies aggression. Your kitty is probably not too happy about what you’re doing and is getting ready to attack. It’s best to stop what you’re doing and probably never do it again.
- EARS PULLED BACK AGAINST THE HEAD
Cats who have their ears going sideways like a plane getting ready for takeoff are usually scared, anxious, defensive, or angry—all of which point to having a not-so-happy camper.
- BACK FUR STANDING UP
Threatened or angry cats will oftentimes puff out their back fur. The hair along their back and all throughout their tail will spike up. This is one of their defense mechanisms and they’re most likely getting ready to physically attack. This is definitely one sign to look out for.
Petting-induced aggression affects plenty of cats and can be very confusing for their humans. So it’s very important to learn why cats do what they do rather than punish them for behaving in ways you don’t understand. Punishment is never to way to go with cats and will make the aggression even worse.
Communication is key to every relationship and the same goes with your Bengal cat. Once you know how to interpret their body language, all will be well.