Is your pet an attack cat? Does he or she serve as a guard kitty, able and willing to keep bad guys at bay?
Debbie Russell, one of my IAABC behavior consultant colleagues, recently read my debut thriller LOST AND FOUND and posted a lovely and very positive review that said in part, “I also loved Macy’s role at the end of the book.” (Thank you, Debbie! read the rest of the review here.) For those who haven’t (yet 🙂 read the book, Macy is the trained hero cat who literally “nails” one of the bad guys.
Debbie also emailed me. She said, “You’re probably aware of this, but cats, when they bite, can absolutely savage the target before nerves even have a chance to respond to, “hey, I’m being bitten!” I once had a cat land three deep bites before my CNS could even begin to yank my arm back. I cringed on Macy’s attack.”
She also gave me permission to share these two true fascinating tales of cats defending their owners/territory:
We had dinner with a couple, and the husband told us of the following event. He was a teenager, sleeping and awoke due to some noise coming from the living room. He picked up a bat and went forward towards it. His Dad, whose bedroom was on the other side of the living room, heard it also and came from that side. What did they see? Their giant Maine Coon had a man on the ground, behind the couch, totally torn up.
He was screaming “Get it off of me! Get it off of me!”
They tried. It wasn’t easy. Apparently said MC hadn’t learned “aus”. (“Aus” is the German release command used with dogs.) When they approached, he’d just growl. I imagined him thinking, “MY PREY! I can eat off of this for a month. Go find your own.”
Eventually they got him off the guy, police arrived, etc. However, this cat had even managed to tear through the intruder’s leather jacket. Impressive, huh?
And a second story . . .
I can’t remember where I heard this, but remember it as true. A woman awoke to see blood splattered in her stairwell leading to the upstairs bedroom. She called the police. Based on the blood splatter, they determined that the Siamese must have launched him/herself at the intruder’s head from the stop of the stairwell. Yikes. Can you imagine?
Yes, I can imagine! My cousin once told the story of their cat that liked to lounge on the top of the refrigerator, next to the back door. A burglar entered the house, and…you guessed it…kitty launched an attack from on high, and drove the intruder from the house. As I recall, they knew because of the blood stains and door left open. Does this sound familiar? Where did you think I got the idea for that Macy scene? 🙂
I’ve also had consults with cat owners to help them diffuse territorial aggression and “guarding” areas of the home, especially when visitors enter. One client’s cat wouldn’t let the pet sitter to enter by the back door (the cat “owned” that area) but was fine if the pet sitter arrived from the front door. Cat-to-cat aggression is much more common (and discussed with tips to solve it in my ComPETability-Cats book). But cat-to-people aggression can be horribly dangerous and terrifying.
If you’re looking for information about dog attacks, go here.
Then there are cats who sleep through strangers coming and going, while others probably would show burglars where you hide the silver. Where do your cats fall in the scheme of things? Do you have stories of cats running to your rescue–if not physically, perhaps sounding a warning? Please share!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!
My cats could never be accused of being protective of our home. Their response when people came over was to disappear. In fact, I think my children were two and four before the cats re-appeared after we brought home our firstborn.
However, I had a very protective dog named Bear. People had to meet her two or three times before she would accept them into her pack, and then they could do no wrong. Then one day, a long-time pack member showed up in his all white painting clothes with a white hat. She went nuts!
Thanks for your post. 🙂
Hi Piper, I think a majority of cats prefer to hide out when strangers arrive. And you’re right, dogs often just don’t recognize people if they dress in “weird” stuff like hats. Yet another reason to be careful at Halloween about what the dogs thinks of costumes. *s*
While Nemesis, our amazing black Siamese-traveling salesman sired mixed breed .. ( his Siamese mom was an indoor outdoor kitty… so who knows who his daddy was. . . ) was extremely protective of me, he also was what I definitely would call an “attack” cat. He would stalk guests, and his favorite place to attack was in the bathroom. If some unsuspecting person happened to be using the “facilities” and Nemesis had planted himself behind the toilet.. when the guest reached out for toilet paper he would spring on the “dangerous” hand that he did not recognize and sink his teeth into the intruding body part. But if anyone approached me that he did not like, the ears went back, the tail started swishing powerfully, with his eyes glowing like embers. But if he felt comfortable with a guest he would just quietly curl up in their lap and purr his heart out. As time went on his taste in “strangers” was right on the money- so he was the purrfect people detector. He live to be 17 years old, and was one of the most remarkable cats that has ever stolen my heart.
Jo, I love the name “Nemesis” too. That’s hilarious about the toilet attacks! A friend of mine knew a cat named “Jaws” who lurked in the bathroom, waited until guests were in the shower, and then flushed the toilet–to change the water temp. A whole other kind of ambush, LOL!
When my neighbor’s house caught fire my male yellow tabby let us know before we even knew the house was on fire. He was going room to room meowing in a voice I had never heard and haven’t since. He carried on that meowing for about 3 hrs. until all emergency personnel left the fire. He knew something was wrong and he sensed it.
Patricia, that is awesome! I’d consider that a hero cat, paws down. What a neat story, thanks for sharing!
I don’t know about attack cats, but my oldest cat, Sage, definitely took up guard duty. He was originally a scaredy-cat, he would hide most of the time. Why not? I had a big Belgian sheepdog on guard duty. This Belgian would greet me when I came home from work every day, and let me know the house was secure. Pagan and Sage were best friends, and Sage would come out to snuggle once I was in and safe (I didn’t live in the best neighborhood). Pagan died suddenly, and next work day, Sage was there on the arm of the couch to greet me. Something he’d never done, once. Guess he decided he needed to take up the job of letting me know everything was okay when I got home. I don’t know if he’d be brave enough to take on an intruder, luckily I never had to find out, and now he leaves watch dogging to my second Belgian and my Lab.
Great post, Amy! Awesome to hear cats will protect their homes, too. Takes the wind out of the sails of those who say cats are distant and unemotional regarding their people.
Hi Serena, thanks for the lovely note about Sage and Pagan–I often hear how the surviving pet’s behavior changes after one of the family members is gone. I’m sure Sage not only missed Pagan, but also reacted to the emotions from you that resulted from the loss.
Glad to hear he’s now letting the doggies do intruder patrol! *s* And cats are just as emotionally connected to their people–as we are to them.
As I mentioned in my book, my two cats would be under the bed with any real or perceived danger 🙂 They still growl and hide (picture low to the ground running to the bedroom) from the ice maker sound, that’s has been here since we adopted them.
Well Kimberly, that ice maker is fiendish…could reach out and ZOT! take all the warmth outta the room! LOL!
I doubt any of my felines would ever save the day. Most of them run and hide when anything is even slightly different. All except Question (Cutey-Q for short). He has to be right in the middle of everything. When the plumbers come to work in my crawlspace Q sits right on the edge looking down. Yesterday when the furnace guy came to check things out Q was right there at his side. He just isn’t afraid of anything. They do warn me though. Anytime I hear the thunder of cat paws rumbling up the stairs all at once I know something’s up!
(I would insert a pic of Mewdy Blue in his wizard outfit but don’t think I can here)
Andrea, That’s the way Seren acts …with us, wanting to see what’s going on. The galloping of kitty paws wold certainly alert me to something up, too!
Mewdy Blue wears a wizard outfit? If you have a link to online (or want to email me) I’ll include it!
I love, love, love that photograph of the kitty in the Mardi Gras mask. He looks like a slightly heavier version of our dear long gone darling who was our current dear’s probable GGG uncle.
I know, isn’t that just a stunning photo?
Our current dear would definitely alert me, has the super-long claws to attack should he so choose. My general attitude is if he isn’t bothered I’m not bothered. He has shown me when the neighbors were going fishing (4 a.m.), when neighbors were packing/unpacking in the middle of the night (3 a.m.), when a SWAT team was in the back yard eyeballing another neighbor (2 a.m.).
We had a dear one (probably GGGuncle of this one) who had been abused and he would periodically sort of have a fit and bite me. I know what you mean about the CNS not having time to respond. Once I was dripping blood from my hand and he essentially came to with a “you do overreact” kind of expression. He tended to hide if he saw danger, but he certainly could have launched the mother of all attacks if he felt like it. And he did NOT like hats.
I was in an internet group with a woman whose life was saved by her cat.
It’s interesting the comment you make about your cat disliking hats, Brenda. I find that dogs often act frightened or aggressive toward folks who wear hats and don’t recognize them until/unless they say something and the voice sounds familiar. Haven’t noticed it quite so much with cats.
That’s ANOTHER reason to prepare in advance if you plan to wear costumes, or have folks visit who wear masks/hats.
You had a SWAT team in the back yard? Oooh, bet there’s a lot more to that story!
We believe that Lucky had likely been abused by someone in a hat. He definitely took a different attitude toward us when we had one on and considered a bite, but didn’t.
The funniest thing about the SWAT team — AFTER Lucky had TRIED to tell me there was indeed someone in the back yard (I told him there wasn’t & went back to bed) — was when my husband said, “Either those are the police or we are in trouble.” I have great night vision and looked out and could finally see them at that angle and told him, “Those are the police.”
Oh, by the way, Lucky didn’t like masks either!
And short snipped version on SWAT team — the person they wanted had mental issues and they got him safely the next morning and he was never seen in the neighborhood again.
Cats are so amazing, and very protective. We adopted sibling cats last year, a male and a female who’d been in foster care all their lives. Emma stands up to almost anything for Clive, even when she’s scared herself! She guards the stairway while he hides under the bed when we have visitors.
Aww, love this example. Yes, cats can be very protective of those they care about (even other cats). Thanks for sharing Lecia!
That is so sweet, Lecia!
I don’t think Simba has it in her to make a rescue. LOL She runs away at anything strange most of the time now.
Anubis… well… even if he doesn’t have his front claws, if he thinks something is going to get his Daddy he’d probably raise hell. He already now stalks my dad through the house whenever he’s here helping us fix stuff – Anubis was perfectly fine untill I called him “Dad”… because the is only one Daddy, and the One True Daddy is the only Daddy allowed in the universe. LOL
LOL Karyl! “The One True Daddy”….smart cat!
You should see his face, too. LOL One of these days I need to find a good spot to hide a camera when Dad comes over. Fuzzball just gets this calculating look on his face like he’s trying to see if he can take on somebody that size, and whether he’ll get in trouble for it with his momma standing right there next to the “fake Daddy”