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Sure, cats can be apex predators, but they’re small. Your little cat should be equipped to defend itself if it encounters a larger predator in the wild. Knowing the techniques your cat will use to defend themselves can be a good way to get to know them better. Not to mention, it’s an important way to help you watch for signs of stress in your cat so you can help. So how do cats defend themselves?
Cats use their claws and jumping ability to defend themselves. They also use a combination of evasion, stealth, and bite to defend themselves. In tight spaces, a cat will use its claws to try to hurt or scare away a predator so it can get away.
It may not seem like much, but the cats’ combination of skills make them quite impressive defenders when engaged. Here’s what you can expect from a cat trying to defend itself.
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6 Ways Cats Defend Themselves
Generally, cats do not use their teeth for self-defence, except as a weapon of last resort. Instead, they will rely on other natural skills to run away, evade a predator, or scare the predator away from themselves.
Cats use their speed
One of your cat’s main defenses is its speed. Many predators cannot keep up with a running domestic cat as fast as it can, especially if it has a convenient escape route.
Even though a predator may follow your house cat, they may decide that running isn’t worth it. After all, predators need to make sure they get more calories from each kill than they use to catch their prey.
Cats defend themselves with their claws
If your cat gets too close to a potential predator, its claws are its next line of defense. A cat will try to kick the predator’s face, scratch its eyes, or cause damage that will help it move away from the predator.
Agility is a primary escape technique for cats
Sometimes speed isn’t the answer, but agility is. Cats climb trees, dive into dens, or navigate around obstacles to get away from a predator. This is partly why cats often don’t like being out in the open. the closer the obstacles, the safer they can potentially be.
Use natural hiding places
Your cat will also sometimes defend itself by hiding. They can fit in many surprising places. In your home, this shows up in your cat hiding under couches, behind your refrigerator, and in other small spaces. This can be under trash cans in the wild in dens and burrows, under porches and in crawl spaces.
Cats stay alert and pay attention to their surroundings
One of your cat’s biggest defenses is simply paying attention to the world around them. A relaxed cat will close its eyes, not react to sound as much, and doesn’t seem to care too much about its surroundings. A cat that feels more defensive will constantly look around, listen for sounds, and may even look up at the sky occasionally to make sure it’s safe.
become more important
If your cat is closer to a threat than it wants, it will try to make itself bigger, so it will be less attractive to the predator. This is why cats fluff up their fur when startled, excited, or feeling threatened. By sticking their fur on the tip, they appear larger than they are. Some breeds may also gain a defensive advantage from the puffy fur, as it is harder to reach their skin through the thick fur.
What is a cat’s defense
Of course, the above list is not a complete list of your cat’s defenses. Even some of their vocalizations, from purrs to growls and howls, can be used defensively in a pinch. Like most predators, a threatened cat has many ways to defend itself in a fight, and even more ways to try to stop it from fighting in the first place.
Your cat’s claws are his main offensive weapon and he will use them in defense if necessary. But most of the time, your cat will try to avoid a fight or get away from a fight instead of trying to fight their way out.
The only exception is if the animal they are fighting is their prey. Sometimes a rabbit fights back or marmots. Your cat might decide the meal is worth it and move on.
But against a larger predator like a lynx, cougar or even an eagle or owl? Your cat will probably try to escape.
Do cats defend their territory?
Cats will defend their territory selectively. In other words, your cat will not try to defend its territory against a possible threat like a coyote, but it will defend itself against other cats. Feral cats can also defend their territory against humans, dogs, raccoons and other small animals.
Cats will mark their territory and vocalize if they see animals nearby. Cat fights can occur when a cat is defending its territory, but cats will usually try other techniques to deal with early invaders.
Why is my cat so defensive?
Cats get defensive when they’ve been through a series of negative events. There are many other reasons why your cat may be defensive, especially when you first bring them home. As a general rule, give your cat about a week before you expect to see normal behavior after adopting it.
If your cat is still defensive after this time, you may be dealing with a cat that has a history of abuse or has been attacked recently. Unfortunately, cats can fight in animal shelters, and it’s not uncommon for them to be more defensive for a while.
Your cat may also have been captured from the wild, in which case it will take longer to get used to being a pet.
It can be hard to tell why your cat is too defensive. If this becomes a problem, consult your cat’s veterinarian to see what options you have to help her manage her anxiety and feel more comfortable at home.
Can cats protect themselves from dogs
Cats can protect themselves from dogs to some extent. A cat can usually defend itself against a dog the same size or slightly larger than the cat. Against large docs, however, cats will usually try to run away.
Unfortunately, a cat that can’t get away from a large dog probably won’t be able to stop a determined attack. Dogs can and do kill cats, so it’s important to manage introductions between the two animals so they don’t feel threatened or aggressive.
How do cats protect themselves from predators
Cats primarily protect themselves from predators by being hard to catch, hard to find, and trying to look and appear bigger than them. Domesticated cats don’t have many predators that will preferentially hunt them, they’re just too hard to catch and can fight well, but your cat still prefers to avoid a fight in the first place.
How do feral cats protect themselves
Feral cats can be a bit more aggressive than cats kept as pets, but they still rely on the same basic defensive tactics as your cat.
Of course, if you’re talking about bigger cats like lynxes, cougars, and even tigers, you’re dealing with animals that have much better teeth and claws for fighting. Big cats can afford to be aggressive in ways that your small house cat simply cannot.
Things to consider
Ideally, your cat should never feel the need to defend herself in your home. However, if your cat is naturally a little more anxious or defensive, she might display defensive behaviors more often, even in a perfectly safe home.
It’s important for cats that show signs of a bit more anxiety to make sure they never feel stuck or trapped in your home. Moving slowly around them and talking to your cat in a soft voice can also help keep your cat calm and feeling safe.
Some cats may never be quite comfortable living indoors with people. These cats are more likely to need special accommodations to live in your home and are best suited to owners who don’t mind a more independent, less affectionate cat.
If your cat is acting particularly defensive in a new place, try giving him space to feel safe. Cat beds, cat trees, and even cardboard boxes big enough for them to snuggle in can all help your cat feel more comfortable at home.