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Dear Molly, "Resource Guarding"

Your podcast on fostering aggressive, shy and shut down cats was great. Thank you for that! I guess my big no-no is that my "meanie" lives in the room I sleep in lol Mitzy is finally coming to me and head bumping my hand when I offer it to her. She will even come by name. So long as I don't move, or she thinks I don't move, she won't bite.

But her newest thing lately has been possession aggression. When I try to pick up her toys or food/water bowls she gets angry and tries to go for my hands. It's not every time, just some of the time. Any ideas on this? I usually stay quiet, avert eyes, stay still and wait for her to move to the other side of the room before I get up and leave. I make no fuss. Does that sound ok, or should I do anything else?

Dear Resource Guarding,

I have seen some resource guarding in cats in a shelter setting – but only a few! And it is usually a behavior that stems from cats being stressed; it’s a kind of redirected aggression. I think you’ll find she softens with that over time as she feels more confident in abundant resources and stable in her environment.

Maybe get a second set of bowls and switch/replace them with full bowls, rather than take them away, so she sees they're always there. And I just wouldn’t touch the toys. You should have a wand toy that you hold on to and put up when the play session is over – but don’t engage her in prey play if she tends to react aggressively to the stimulation.

Having her live in your bedroom is fine – that gives her even more exposure. You might try the negative reinforcement technique on her in there right before you go to bed but it sounds like she’s making great progress.

You’ve identified her triggers, so try to respect them and not push her buttons; the more she learns to trust you, the less aggression you’ll see. It sounds like you’re doing a good job assuming a non-threatening posture when she reacts. Keep up the good work!

I’m so glad you found the Cat Talk Radio podcast helpful! For those of you reading, who would like to listen to it, you can find it here:


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