Oscar is a puzzle – a charming, warm furry puzzle. Long ago I decided that part of this comes from being loved as a kitten but also at some time being treated less than well by a person. He becomes unsure and scared with some movements – approach from the front or even petting from above. You can see it in his eyes – or I can see it in his eyes now that I know him. It’s an imperceptible shift from happy bonding to ‘why did you touch me like that?’ and suddenly he is threatened.
It’s been weeks since I’ve seen any half-considered bite attempt. I think there were 4 total in the time he’s been with me. All of them (other than the first when he was coming-out-from surgery and anesthetic) were half-hearted and confused – like he didn’t know how to communicate with a person. I can see the confusion – he knows he trusts me but something makes him feel strange and uncomfortable. And each time I scolded him for it, he cowered back and hissed… a protective rather than angry stance. This was a learning process for him… and he’s done so well. He doesn’t like to be approached head-on – maybe a sad story there, but time will teach him differently.
The new thing is the pyjama swipe. It’s not every day, but it happens to both J and myself – maybe a total of 10 times so far. You are standing with him and interacting and suddenly there is a claw swipe at the back of the pant leg. I’ve got 2 minor scratches from it – and he gets scolded each time. He cowers down and away and looks so guilty that you want to give him a treat. (Of course I can’t – that would just be a cruel, inconsistent training error).
What on earth is this? J thinks it’s the movement of the pyjamas. I think it’s a confused way to try to get attention, since it always happens to me when he’s literally underfoot and I’m working on giving him his food, fresh water and puttering at the sink. It seems to happen when he’s clingy and wants attention. To be consistent, he gets scolded and then we leave the room. He’s learned that a slightly raised voice and ‘NO’ means that he’s in trouble, and he’s realized that it doesn’t mean he will be hit or harmed. So his fear is diminished.
I know how to train around it, but I still don’t know what it is. Any ideas?