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Warning or fear?

Laura W

Savannah Super Cat
#1
Occasionally, Echo will take 1/2" chicken pieces from my fingers, but he growls the entire time, ears 1/2 way back, while laying on his tummy or setting in front of me. Is this a warning, or is he just dealing with his fear? He'll stay with me as long as I am feeding him.
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
#2
It sounds like you are describing food aggression, which is common in kittens, and in my experience especially with real/raw meat. Kittens usually grow out of it as they mature, but some cats remain more food obsessed than others.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#3
If you just put a bowl of the chicken down on the floor next to you, does he fall onto the chicken with the same growling? It may be food aggression or it just may be some residual fear and he's still not completely sure of you and his situation...
 

Laura W

Savannah Super Cat
#4
Patti, Echo is 3yrs old. This is the first time I've been able to get him to eat meat, and even at the, it has to be cooked. Other than cheese, it's the only thing I have found as a treat to prompt him towards me so he sees I won't hurt him. Does seem like food aggression.

Bridgette, I'll have to try setting it next to me and see what happens. Then maybe try a light touch after a few times? this was the closest he has even come up to me while in his room. He will come to the gate if we are on opposite sides.
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#5
As a kitten Maliik used to growl something fierce as he was eating out of my hand. He and Juba are food aggressive but I can take it out of their mouths even with the growling, pupils dilated & ears back and they don't try to bite but they do try to snatch it back.
 

Laura W

Savannah Super Cat
#6
As a kitten Maliik used to growl something fierce as he was eating out of my hand. He and Juba are food aggressive but I can take it out of their mouths even with the growling, pupils dilated & ears back and they don't try to bite but they do try to snatch it back.
I guess I'm not sure how far to push it. Last time he bit me when he acted this way, it took over a month for the chunk of flesh he took out of my finger to heal. I think he felt too confined that time though as he was inside of a box on the cat tree and had no way to retreat if felt the need. This time we were on the bed in his room and he could easily retreat if he wanted to. He came off the window ledge to take the food from my fingers and was very gentle about it, but the growling never stopped. How would you proceed at this point? I feel that even his taking it from my fingers is an improvement and shows more trust. He's just so unpredictable and I'm sure he senses my fear he's going to bite.
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#7
I would just keep feeding him as you are until you are no longer fearful. Sooner or later, you will intuit when it's ok to push the envelope a bit. I can tell you from personal experience that the one time Maliik mauled my hand, I was scared spitless of him and it started a cycle where he got tense because I was tense. However, little victories occurred along the way over a long period of time (2 yrs) and I was finally able to just go with the flow. I just got tired of being scared of him and decided a show down was needed and I was prepared to get hurt but I needed to show that I was leader of the pride.

I started by just putting my hand on him and forced myself to leave it there when he growled and gave me major stink eye. Every now and then he'd hit me with his mouth but he never bit me again. I think the key is to find a way to maintain inner calm and confidence when you are with him.
 

Wyldthingz

Savannah Super Cat
#8
I wouldn't worry to much about it. They often will do that when they have something wonderful to protect. It tends to be a Savannah thing that some do. My F1, Daisy, will hiss and growl with pure excitement at the concept of getting fed even with no cats around her?