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Aggressive Cat or Just a Brat?!


There they go again! BooBoo is chasing Miss Gigi around the house. Gigi is yelling at him and hissing as she runs, with BooBoo close behind. When he finally catches up with her — and he always does — BooBoo stands over Gigi, who by now has flipped over onto her back with her four paws in the air, claws extended, warning him not to make another move. And he doesn’t. He’s accomplished what he set out to do and has moved on to his next adventure



Later that same day, I’m on the phone with a new client, when in saunters BooBoo. After he unsuccessfully tries to hang up the phone and pull the receiver from my ear, BooBoo quietly walks over to the corner of my office and stands there, waiting until I glance over. Then, slowly, his tail goes up, he looks me directly in the eye and ... yes. He sprays



Later that night when we’re in bed, BooBoo decides he wants to lie on top of my head. I attempt to move him off and over to my side. BooBoo has exceptionally strong paws, and he uses them like hands to grab and firmly hold whatever he wants. BooBoo grabs my hand between his paws, forcefully pulls my fingers to his mouth and bites.

probably amazed that such things occur in my household. But being a cat behaviorist doesn’t mean I never have a problem with my own cats. These things don’t happen with BooBoo anymore — at least, not with regularity. But I had to take the time to understand just what was going on here


At first glance, it makes sense to conclude that BooBoo is just an aggressive cat. He is, in fact, not aggressive at all. If he were, he and Gigi would have fought tooth and nail. What BooBoo really is is a brat cat!

So what’s the difference between an aggressive cat and a cat who’s just a brat? With a little observation, this is how I make that determination: Is the cat friendly to people? Is the cat friendly with other cats and/or dogs in the household? Has the cat attacked a person, another cat, dog or other household pet? When he’s chasing another cat or nipping a person’s fingers, does he hiss and growl and lash out with anger? In BooBoo’s case, the answers to these questions were: yes, yes, no and no. BooBoo is always eager to meet



human visitors and loves to be the center of attention for head rubs and playtime. As for the other cats in our household, BooBoo loves them. When we took in “The Quads” at 7 weeks of age a few years back, BooBoo (remember, he’s a boy!) “nursed” them, cuddled them and gave them all baths, just like he was their momma



he was their momma. BooBoo generally pals around with all the cats, but he’s also our alpha cat, so every now and then he feels the need to remind them. I believe this is what makes him chase mildmannered little Gigi; he knows she’ll run, so not only is it a sport for him, but it lets the others see who’s the boss! He has never bitten, scratched, hissed or growled at another cat or human. Therefore, I conclude that he’s



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