Fractious cats are cats that feel threatened by you and may try to attack you. We encounter a lot of this type because we get feral cats brought in by animal control often. Feral cats are born in the wild and do not trust humans the way domestic cats do.
Now we have to take care of these cats, we can’t just let them starve or be in a gross cage forever and it can be a scary task. Most will just try to stay as far from you as possible while you take items out and replace them. Some however go on the offensive and will try to claw you. I have a few ways to avoid injury while dealing with these animals.
One is we have big thick leather gloves that they can’t puncture; therefor keeping the skin safe and sound. Using the gloves can be hard though because they are so bulky it can be a challenge to pick and put down items. However I’ll always get a kick out of the look on the cats face when they try to bite or scratch me and I don’t back away.
Two is if the cage is big enough you can put a carrier or box in facing the opposite direction of the door. Most of the time the cat will go in and stay in there while you try to clean the cage. This is only effective though if the cat does not leave the container to come after you.
Three is if you know the cat likes treats you can try to distract them by throwing some treats somewhere they can’t get you from. With this though, you got to be a little speedy cause they can mow those treats down fast and then attack.
A final way is if you have some type of board that you can hold in front of the cat while you clean. This immobilizes them a little and helps to serve as a block from their attacks. I use this on really difficult cats who get messy very easily.
There is no perfect method to dealing with a fractious cat, but you have to be very careful no matter what. When a cat is in attack mode they could lounge for your face/head and that is not fun. A coworker of mine once was attack from above and she had to get many stitches on her head. They most likely will never be your friend so you just got to make sure they have everything they need to live and not get hurt in the process. Feral cats are usually release back into the wild after they’ve been fixed and we doc their ear so animal control knows.