catSo you’re walking across your bedroom, and then out of the blue your cat pounces your feet! What happened?

The absence of prey objects

It all goes back to your cat’s basic instincts. Even the most domesticated cats still have the urge to stalk and strike at anything that quickly moves across their field of vision. Your feet moving under the covers, walking across the floor in slippers, or even passing by your kitty’s hiding place barefoot can trigger a hunting response.

What to do when kitty pounces your feet

A playing cat is always silent. If your cat his hissing or growling when she wraps around your ankles, you’ll have to identify the source of aggression before you can correct it. However, if your kitty bops you and runs away, or bites you without the intention to injure you, your cat is likely playing.

You can interrupt the behavior by gently moving your feet toward your cat. While pulling your feet away is prey-like behavior, which makes the situation worse, moving toward your cat is a signal that your feet are not in fact a prey-object. Then, once the cat has disengaged, stop whatever you were doing. Your cat will grow bored of pouncing you if you never respond.

How to prevent it from happening again

According to cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennet, “If your cat isn’t getting adequate stimulation and playtime opportunities through interactive play therapy or adequate environmental enrichment then she’s going to take it upon herself to find a substitute.” In other words, if your cat is pouncing your ankles, deep down inside, it’s probably because he wants more attention from you.

The solution is simple: aim to spend half an hour a day playing with your cat. Don’t use your hands and feet as toys. Poles with string or a little toy mouse or feather on the end are the best at recreating prey-like movements, and keeping kitty’s strikes far away from your flesh. A happy cat is a well-behaved cat.

Are you worried that your kitty won’t get enough attention while you’re out of town? Our pet sitters spend a minimum of 30 minutes with your cat, most of which is play time. Longer visits and twice daily visits are available, so call now!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis on flickr