Our caring and kind-hearted kitty-cats don’t often get the credit they deserve.
Stereotypically renowned for being aloof and unsociable, it’s a myth that our four-legged fur-balls have been unable to dispel.
Dogs generally get all the recognition, described as “man’s best friend”, and lauded for their unwavering loyalty and devotion.
But their friendly feline counterparts can be just as loving, affectionate and protective towards their human counterparts.
We’ve all seen viral videos of cats springing to the rescue of their pet parents or standing guard as they go about their daily duties.
It’s often a side to cats that goes unnoticed and underappreciated, it’s a relationship that is largely seen as unrequited and one-sided.
This just isn’t the case, however. Our cats are adored, and the feeling is mutual!
You’ll notice that they pay incredibly close attention to where you are and what you’re doing. They won’t let you out of their sight.
Their predatory instincts are ingrained in their DNA, they’re territorial by nature, and they’ll do all they can to defend themselves, their property and those around them. It’s just what they do!
What are the signs of a cat being overprotective?
Clinginess: If your clingy cat starts to stick to you like glue, and is refusing to leave your side, then they might be feeling a bit protective. A feline’s senses are extremely powerful. They can gauge a lot, including emotion, using sight, scent and sound, so they will likely shadow their human companion if they feel something is amiss. It’s for their own protection as well!
Agitation: If your kitty is having a hissy-fit, and they’re voicing their feelings with a ‘growl’ rather than a ‘purr’ or a gentle ‘meow’, then they are likely to be feeling threatened or intimidated by someone or something. You’ll quickly gain an understanding of what/who the offensive object/person is as the cat’s disgruntled noises get louder and more intense.
Fur Ball: Beware of the cat that is puffed up like they’ve just been struck by lightning! Your felines will tend to puff up their tails, or even the fur on their entire bodies, if they are feeling scared, unsettled or anxious. This behavior, known as piloerection, a reflexive response controlled by the nervous system, is a protective mechanism to help them appear more intimidating.
Flat ears: Cats have a need to ‘serve and protect’ their human companions. When your protective pets are policing a situation, when the sirens are sounding and they’re on alert, their ears are pinned flat against their head. On other occasions, when the threat hasn’t quite been determined, their ears might be more mobile, as they attempt to figure out where the danger is coming from.
Hump back: A humped back cat isn’t one to be messed with. Our pets will create an arch when preparing for a little bit of argy-bargy, as it is hoped their more menacing pose will prevent any confrontation with a potential enemy/threat. This behavior can also be accompanied with a slightly bizarre ‘sideways’ walk and any of the other aforementioned traits.
Tail talk: A kitty-cat’s tail is quite possibly the most expressive part of their body. When their rear propeller is swishing frantically and erratically, the likelihood is that they’ve taken offense to someone or something and they’re ready to engage ‘protective’ mode. They might even take up a position that is closer to the ground and swat their tail to portray their dismay.
Dilated pupils: Similar to piloerection, pupil dilation is another involuntary bodily response that our cats experience in times of tribulation. If all you see is black when you look into your feisty feline’s eyes, then it’s a sure fire sign that a strong emotional sensation has been triggered or they have become embroiled in a stimulating situation. It’s quite intense and intimidating!
Should you worry if your cat is being overprotective? How can you make your cat less protective?
It is extremely reassuring to know that your four-legged companion has got your back.
For a pet that can so often be perceived as distant and selfish, it’s nice to see that they care.
Every pet parent would like to see their tail-wagging housemate jump to their rescue whenever necessary.
But there can come a time when our caring and courageous cats can overstep the mark when in the line of duty.
And it’s imperative for us to recognise when our felines’ protective force-field is perhaps a little bit too much.
It’s only natural for your best mate to jump to your defense when faced with a live threat.
They’ll react to sinister smells, sounds and/or sights, and respond to strange or unsettling situations in and around the household.
It could be the threat of an intruder, an unfamiliar animal that has made a beeline for a vulnerable family member, or any other kind of scary/uncomfortable scenario.
They’re well within their right to behave like the ‘hero of the hour’ in extreme cases, after all it is in their DNA to be territorial.
However, what happens when your feisty felines become aggressive or overly protective in moments that aren’t particularly troublesome or threatening?
They might not be able to read the room when a new baby, a new pet, a new flatmate, or other friends/relatives are introduced to the household.
If your cat’s aggression/protection proves to be unrelenting and continues to be directed inappropriately, then it’s time to seek professional help.
A pet behaviorist or a vet might be able to help your cat vent their anger and displeasure properly and in the right moments.
Be on the lookout for red flags
A cat’s overprotective mannerisms shouldn’t be celebrated or encouraged.
Acting defensively and territorially is ingrained in their genetics, it’s deep-rooted, and a product of their ancestry.
When that behavior, however, becomes problematic, overbearing and inappropriate, that’s when things are a bit more complicated.
If your ‘hissing’ housemate continually takes things too far, seek immediate help so their temperament can be addressed before it gets out of hand.
Keep tabs on your kitty-cat’s mood, spot the red flags, and respond immediately, or somebody/something could be seriously harmed.