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Photograph: Time Out/Shutterstock

Am I in a power struggle with my cat?

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Welcome to our new series, where each week we get experts to find solutions to your lockdown problems. Send yours to kate.lloyd@timeout.com and we’ll try and get you an answer. In this instalment? Cats. Of course.

Tina from Brockley says:

Lockdown with my cat is turning into a melodrama. When I’m working he invades my Zoom calls and paws at my keyboard. He nips at my ankles when I’m doing yoga in the living room. It drives me mad, but whenever I want to cuddle up with him he ignores me. I feel like we’re in a weird power struggle. How can we build a better relationship?

Anita Kelsey, cat behaviourist and author of ‘Claws: Confessions of a Professional Cat Groomer’ says:

‘A “power struggle” is human terminology. When we use this phrase we are anthropomorphising. Cats are contrary and we can label this as a power struggle. A cat is mainly a solitary animal that makes decisions based on its own wants and needs. Evolution-wise, they are not programmed to please us. This can mean they ignore attention when we want to lavish them with it, but will choose to be very annoying and demand strokes when we are doing that all-important video call.

‘Now we’re in lockdown, your cat is probably not used to getting so much attention from you. Your cat will tell you if it’s enjoying that extra time together or not. Let your cat take the lead. You can tell if a cat wants attention when they move closer to us and start to meow, knead our laps, headbutt us, circle around our legs or purr close by. All of these actions signify a happy cat that wants to be close to us. If your cat is asleep then leave them be. Some cats are more distant and want us to respect their space, sitting with them without any physical interaction, just showing full attention and looking into their eyes is also a great way to bond.

‘Now is the perfect time to play more with our cats and to give extra cuddles without rushing the process. Remember to be present in the moment when playing with your cat and make sure it has enough stimulation indoors. Battery-operated toys can help tap into our cats’ attention-seeking behaviours without interfering with our work. Catnip will keep a cat playing on their own and Cat TV is brilliant. Getting a cat is a big commitment and they need a lot from us. Life with a cat is sharing our homes and time with them.’

Which lockdown cliché are you? Find out here

Find out how to keep your cat safe at the moment

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