How Do Cats Pounce?

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Pouncing is a natural feline behavior.

    Pouncing is a natural feline behavior.

    Cat behavior often seems foreign to humans, from the insanely high jumping and the mock hunting to the often surprisingly rough playtime tactics. Cats will be cats, of course. In terms of a classic feline move, keep your eye out for the pounce -- although you certainly won't miss it.

    What is the Pounce, Exactly?

    When a cat pounces on an unassuming party, she typically aims to do so clandestinely, otherwise it wouldn't be very effective. The pounce is essentially a surprise attack or ambush. Whether a tiny mouse or a fellow feline, the pounce always starts with a fast approach from the back. A pouncing cat's claws are usually out in full force, because the intention behind the action is to clutch or grab onto the victim -- a major "gotcha" of sorts!

    Rough Play

    Apart from just knowing how cats pounce, it also can be very helpful to know exactly why they do it. The answer is simple. The behavior begins during the early weeks of a kitten's life during playtime with littermates. The playing style of a kitten is usually pretty rough and chock full of everything from pouncing and biting to scratching and kicking. All of these things help to fulfill a cat's innate need to chase and stalk. Although the whole thing sounds rather scary, it actually really isn't. This early roughhousing helps kittens quickly learn the art of fighting with restraint. When a kitten is just a little too aggressive with her partner, she can easily gauge by the other party's reaction whether or not she took it too far.

    Pouncing Preferences

    When a cat pounces on someone or something, it generally is something that is in motion. Ideally, a cat wants to pounce on a tiny "prey" animal like a bird. However, cats can just as easily get psyched up about pouncing on random objects like toys. Give your cat an electronic toy mouse that zips around speedily and she'll be the happiest pet on the block all week -- slyly stalking, chasing and pouncing after the thing to her heart's content!

    Predator at Heart

    Felines are predators at heart, even when a satisfying meal isn't at stake. The yummiest handful of tuna treats isn't going to stop your cutie from wanting to pounce on things if that's what she wants to do. Allow your cat to quell her inner urges by providing her with a few interactive and stimulating toys that move. Your fluffball will be occupied for a long time -- and she will certainly appreciate you for it, too.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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