A little while ago, I wrote about how Kola’s enjoyment of having his back and neck rubbed produced actions akin to swimming. I am beginning to think that my foster-cat is quite the athlete, because he also enjoys boxing.
Like most cats, the Floof King gets rambunctious now and then. His favourite means of showing this is to rush into the parlour, up the arm of the couch there and on to the platform of the cat-tree by the window, where he will throw himself down, roll about and challenge me to a fight. He did the same one day while on the tall cat-tree in the sitting room.
When I put my hand up to him, he swats it. I will attempt to seize his swiftly-moving paws, which he will punish with more whaps. If I grab him somewhere, he bleats like a goat encountering a troll on a bridge and tries to hit me. The pupils of his eyes grow enormous and he’s filled with energy and defiance.
Some people have suggested that cats should not be encouraged to do this, because it leads to biting, scratching and other anti-social behaviour. It may very well with certain animals, but I think it depends on the human’s approach to it more than on anything else. I will play with Kola for several minutes, exchanging blows and giving him quite the work-out. But when we are finished, I tell him, “all done,” and he accepts that. I let him calm down and a minute later, he’s purring because I’m stroking his fluffy fur.
Similarly, Tucker will try to bite me when I innocently crush his melon-head. If he becomes too enthusiastic, I chastise him gently, and he calms down, a little guilty, as if he has done something wrong. I make sure he knows he hasn’t. Kola has none of the roly poly’s guilt, but he knows we’re just playing. I feel that responding negatively to his invitations would be what would inspire anti-social behaviour - or, rather, no social behaviour. Even if he wants to keep boxing, his actions will peter out if I stop participating. And if I don’t want him to box, I will say, “all done”, instead of “no”, demonstrating the difference between inappropriate timing and not being allowed to play at all.
I think any pet can pose a danger if it’s not instructed to know what is in fun and what is not. Kola knows, and when he’s shown me how skilled he is at pugilism, he relaxes and expects to be fussed over and petted. That’s better than a gold medal at the Olympics.