Archive | Cat Behavior

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Dealing With Cat Anxiety


Some stressful situations that can cause cat anxiety for your cat are: being alone in the house, or when visitors to the home, another new pet or family member, moving to a new home, visits to the veterinarian, adjusting to a new environment, and multiple cat households. Unfortunately, when cats suffer from stress and anxiety, they generally communicate it in a very clear way that can really turn humans upside down. One of the real signs that usually tell us is that they are not using the cat litter box.

Cats with separation anxiety don’t howl and bay like dogs and theydon’tchew on doors and windowsills in frantic attempts to escape. Their misery is far less obvious and it sometimes takes a sleuth of an owner to appreciate what is going on. Separation anxiety in cats is a less common phenomenon and typically gives rise to behaviors that are not as destructive as those of a dog suffering from separation anxiety. It is so uncommon in cats that it was not till recently that the disorder was considered to be absent in the feline species.

Separation anxiety is a very distressing condition for pets and their owners. Although it is difficult to treat, the long term benefits of having a happier and healthier pet are well worth the time spent training your pet. Separation anxiety: canine and feline and human beings alike, are all prone to and suffer from active bouts of stress due to environmental, emotional, and physical factors. Such stressful times can not only be harmful to your pet, but also to you as a pet owner.

Cats normally are fastidious groomers and as much as 30 - 50% of their time awake is spent performing some type of grooming behavior. One uncommon sign of cat anxiety may be excessive grooming, to the point of creating a bald spot on one or two areas of the body. Cats may show their distress in other, less obvious ways such as becoming too anxious to eat when left alone; or vomiting only when the owner is not there.

Cats find consistent routines and predictable environments very comforting, so try to keep your cat’s activities on a schedule. Playtimes, mealtimes, and bedtimes should occur at approximately the same time every day. Cats with anxiety related elimination problems also may spray, but do so for other than hormonal reasons. Instead, something in their environment causes them to become anxious. Cats commonly start to manifest their stress or anxiety by what is politely called inappropriate toiletary behavior.

Cats are very sensitive to their owner’s emotions, so if you’re nervous during thunderstorms, your cat probably will be, too. Learning to calm yourself will help both of you. Cats who display this type of behavior generally follow their owners around everywhere, rather than explore the outside world. They may even continue the suckling behavior and chew and suck on their owner’s cloths and even hand.

Cats can be very social animals and they can experience anxiety when they are separated from their owners. Cats like to know when their big cat mom and/or dad are coming and going, so they can adjust their schedules accordingly. If you or your partner takes a new job that drastically changes your household routine and lifestyle, your cat may get seperation anxiety

Aggressive behavior can be sign of stress anxiety. Owners who claim that cat play fighting did not present a problem until the cat was six or seven years old are ignoring one vital fact. Up until that age (middle age in cats) he will have taken his fights elsewhere. When the behavior is exhibited in the owner’s presence, attention can be withdrawn by turning or walking away, or some form of remote indirect punishment not associated with the owner could be used.

Owners should never physically punish their cat; even a harmless tap on the nose may be viewed as a challenge and the cat may become even more aggressive. The most effective reaction to status-induced aggression is to ignore the cat completely.

Ask your veterinarian about giving a tranquilizer to the cat to reduce cat anxiety and possibly help reduce destructive behavior. A comprehensive dietary supplement designed for animals exhibiting nervousness, hyperactivity, anxiety or responding to environmentally induced stress is also available from your veterinarian.

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Male Cats’ Sexuality


Tomcats spray urine as a means of chemical communication and to mark their territory. This activity, which may be under taken by both entire and castrated males, should be differentiated from normal micturition and abnormal urination associated with Urinary Tract Infections. When spraying, a cat holds its rump high with the tail erect and the tip of the tail quivers. Treading movements are also often seen as the spray, usually about 1 ml, is sent back onto a vertical surface in short jets. Spraying indoors may be triggered by the presence of rival cats, social upheaval (including home decoration) or the loss of human or animal companions.

Castration of entire males usually diminishes or stops spraying and makes the urine less pungent smelling. It is, however, not universally effective; rates of effectiveness have been reported to be around 78%. The administration of progestagens is sometimes effective in both entire and neutered cats. Medication can be given intermittently or continuously. The mode of action is thought to be through negative feedback on the hypothalamus and through calming effects in the cerebral cortex. The use of sedative or psychoactive drugs may also be of help in the short term, while environmental and behavior modification are introduced.

Cat owners should be discouraged from punishing the tomcat in any way after spraying, since this can exacerbate the situation. On the other hand, if the cat can be caught in the act, direct punishment (a jet of water from a water pistol) or a suitable object that, when thrown, physically disrupts the behavior, can be very effective. Cats caught spraying can also be deterred by an unexpected noise, such as that produced by an alarm or throwing a bunch of keys for example.

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Cat Aggressive Behavior: Find Out Why Your Cat Is Biting Or Scratching You


Does your cat frequently bite or scratch people or other pets? This means it may be showing signs of aggression. Cat aggression can be dangerous and should not be tolerated. This does not mean you should punish your cat. On the contrary, you should diagnose the underlying cause of your cat’s aggression and get it properly treated. Below is a list of 9 common causes of aggressive behavior in your cat:

  1. Pain Aggression - if your home environment remains the same, but your cat suddenly becomes aggressive, it may be because of some sudden sickness. For example, arthritis, dental problems or some other painful condition could cause your cat to become aggressive.
  2. Play Aggression - your cat likes to play rough, biting and scratching you. Or it likes to stalk you or ambush you. In many cases, this is because your cat was taken away from its mother too soon, so it did not learn to moderate its aggression when playing. Another reason could be that you rough-house with your cat too much, hence conditioning it to be aggressive when playing.
  3. Fear Aggression - kitty hisses, bares her teeth, and crouches low with its tail and legs tucked under its body. Its ears are flat against its head, its pupils are dilated, and its fur stands on end. These are signs that your cat is afraid of something, and is preparing to protect itself.
  4. Predatory Aggression - your cat attacks your pet bird, or some other small animal like a mouse. This aggressiveness is actually your cat’s natural heritage: to hunt prey. Unfortunately, since these are modern times, and we are discussing your pet cat rather than some farm cat, this predatory behavior is probably not desirable.
  5. Redirected Aggression - something seems to be provoking your cat, but when you approach it, it attacks you instead. Cats are no more logical than human beings. This is like your father becoming pissed off by something at work, then coming home and taking out his anger on you.
  6. Petting Aggression - just like kids, a little bit of attention is great, but too much will set them off. You could be happily petting or playing with kitty just moments ago, but it suddenly became aggressive.
  7. Status Aggression - your cat is trying to show you who’s boss. The symptoms are usually tail swishing, flattened ears, dilated pupils, growling, and hissing.
  8. Territorial Aggression - you bring home a new cat or some other pet, and kitty chases or attacks it. Unneutered tomcats can be especially aggressive in defending their territory.
  9. Maternal Aggression - your cat just gave birth, and will not allow you to get near her kittens.

This is not a comprehensive list, but should cover most cases of aggression. Not all causes of cat aggression can be treated. Some, like redirected aggression or maternal aggression, require that you recognize it and adapt yourself to it. Others, like pain aggression, will disappear once you remove the cause of pain.

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Aggressive Cat Behavior: My Cat Is Attacking Other Animals! What Can I Do?


Does your cat attack your other pets? Does it attack the new cat you brought home? Or does it fight with your pet dog? Animal behaviorists have different names for each of these behaviors. When kitty attacks your pet mouse, or the bird in the garden, it’s called predatory aggression. It is just following its natural instinct to hunt for prey. Unfortunately, it is difficult to stop this kind of behavior. The best you can do is put a collar with a bell on your cat. This will keep it from sneaking up on its prey. You should also keep your other smaller pets (like your pet hamster) away from your cat.

Fear aggression is yet another instinctive behavior. How do you recognize when kitty is frightened? It hisses, bares its teeth, and crouches low with its tail and legs tucked under its body. It flattens its ears against the head, the pupils dilate, and the fur stands on end. To the person triggering this reaction, it almost seems as if your cat has doubled in size. Just the same as a puffer fish doubling its size to frighten its enemies away. Push kitty any further and it may attack.

So, what can you do? For a start, you should not try to pet or console your cat when it displays this frightened yet aggressive behavior. Petting your cat in this situation not only could get you hurt, it reinforces in kitty that this behavior is okay. You do not want this to happen. Even though it seems uncaring, it is better to ignore kitty in this mood.

Where possible, you want to gradually desensitize kitty towards this trigger. Treat it like a phobia in a human being. Expose kitty to the fear trigger a safe distance away for short periods of time, and reward it with treats when it does not show aggressive behavior. Once it gets used to the trigger at a certain distance, gradually decrease the distance. Eventually, like a human being, your cat will stop being afraid.

The other kind of aggression which causes kitty to attack other animals is called territorial aggression. This mean that kitty will chase or fight with the new cat which you bring home. It is trying to protect its territory. If this happens, you will need to take their introduction to each other slowly.

First, you need to confine both of them to their own quarters. Let them hear and smell each other, but do not allow any physical contact.

Once they get used to each other like this, switch their quarters. Let kitty investigate the newcomer’s smell, and let the newcomer investigate kitty’s smell and its new home.

After this, place them in the same room, but at opposite ends of the room. Let them eat, in order to condition them to associate food with each other’s presence.

Slowly bring then closer to each other.

Finally, free them from their carriers and feed them, while making sure they cannot attack each other.

If they eat their food and remain calm at this stage, then you are successful. Be warned that this could take weeks and even months.

In the end, there is no single way of keeping your cat from attacking another animal. You need to be patient and use a complete process.

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The Hidden Benefits of Playing With Your Cat


Playing with your cat probably is not something you think about very often. We all enjoy playing with kittens. But once those little bundles of energy grow up, cat owners tend to stop playing with them. Maybe that’s because they think cats are independent and prefer being left alone. And to a certain extent that is true about a cat.

But playing with your cat is actually an important part of responsible cat care. Besides being fun, playing with your cat is an excellent way to give your pampered pet some exercise. And the cat will not even realize it!

Playing with your cat helps keep your cat from becoming bored, too. That is really important because a bored cat is more likely to develop behavioral problems. Chewing or scratching furniture, aggressiveness, and a tendency to shy away from others are just a few of the problems bored cats develop. A well-established cat care routine can keep this from happening.

Believe it or not, playing with your cat benefits you, too. It is a great way to relieve stress. Throwing a small ball or fuzzy mouse around or dangling some string to see how high your cat will jump is all it takes to start relaxing. Give it a try tonight and you’ll see.

Don’t be surprised if one result of playing with your cat is a closer bond between the two of you. Cats might be independent, but they need love and attention.

How much time should you spend playing with your cat? A few minutes a day, a couple times each day is sufficient. Even if you are busy, it should not be hard to work that amount of time into your daily cat care routine. And don’t worry. When your cat is ready to stop, it will let you know by simply walking away.

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How to Stop Your Cat’s Urination Problems


Having your cat urinating all over your home can be extremely troublesome. Especially when it happens after you thought you had successfully litter trained your cat. Rather than getting angry, it may be more appropriate for you to be worried. You should strongly consider taking kitty for a check-up at the vet. There are a number of diseases which can cause your cat to suddenly start urinating uncontrollably. One of these diseases is a urinary tract infection which could be potentially fatal if left untreated. As a matter of fact, any sudden change in kitty’s behavior merits a visit to the vet, just in case.

While kitty peeing outside the litter box is an obvious clue, you should also be on alert about your cat’s urination habits. If you notice kitty making more trips to the litter box than normal, or releasing a greater than usual volume of urine, or its urine having a different smell, etc, all these are warning signs of illness. If you truly love your cat, then you need to be vigilant about its health.

Once ill health has been ruled out, you need to look into environmental factors. The most obvious one is moving house. There are one or two cat owners who somehow failed to realize that their cats became confused and could not find the litter box in their new homes. Or simply did not like the new location of the litter box. In any case, if you move house, be prepared to litter train your cat all over again.

Any number of factors could cause stress to your cat and cause it to urinate away from its litter box, even something as subtle as a change in your working schedule. On the one hand, this is rather inconvenient to you. On the other hand, a part of me would be happy, because this shows that kitty misses me and cares about me. It’s nice to know that you are more than just the person who fills kitty’s food dish, isn’t it? Anyway, if you cannot remove the cause of kitty’s stress, you will just have to toilet train your cat again. Besides this, you may want to learn cat massage. Just like for humans, massage can soothe away some of your cats’s stress. If all else fails, you may need to get a something from your vet to help soothe kitty. However, I strongly advise against aromatherapy or the use of massage oils unless your vet can recommend a safe brand. Cats are often sensitive to such oils and scents. There have been cases of poisoning reported.

Something that few people think about is the litter. Just because you still buy the same brand does not mean the manufacturer is still making the litter exactly the same. There could be major or even just minor changes to the final end product, and it could be noticeable to your cat. Remember that its sense of touch and smell is much better than yours.

The problem could even be the litter box. Are your cat still using the same litter box as when it was a kitten? Or has your cat grown old… You may need to try a different-sized litter box.

Did I mention that smell is important? Did you change the cleaner you used to wash the litter box? Are you cleaning the area around the litter box with a different cleaner? Perhaps kitty hates the smell of the new cleaning product and that is why it is urinating elsewhere. Or did you use a different cleaning product for your house. The new cleaner could be confusing kitty.

Your cat is a sensitive creature of habit. First, you need to eliminate health problems as the cause of your cat’s urination problem. After that, it takes time and patience and loving care to investigate the cause of the problem. A case study published by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (JAVMA, Vol 224, No. 10, May 15, 2004) reported that they took several years to resolve the problem. Partly it was because the cat in question had health problems. The vet needed to try different medications which would both clear up the medical conditions as well as not cause the cat to urinate uncontrollably. At the same time, there was no stability in the home environment. The owner got a divorce, and found a new boyfriend. And apparently some stray cats moved into the neighborhood.

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Introducing a Second Cat to a Household


As cats are inherently territorial, introducing a second cat to the household can be an awe-inspiring task. Here are are some tips and tricks to make life a little easier. A cats home really is his castle. One of the first things your cat will do when introduced to a new environment is mark his territory. She does this by leaving smells at the point of each object. When a new cat comes along the smell of another cat will send the message “Back off! You’re trespassing!”

The approach of another cat onto her territory will immediately cause heckles to rise, however sweet and harmless the cat newcomer maybe. So how can you introduce a cat to the household when there is already a dominant cat?

The accepted method is to do it by degrees. This is the method we used when we were introducing three month old Ellie, our blue Burmese girl to Louie, our red Somali boy. Lou was 7 months old and had been in the house for one month.

Both cats need to get used to the sight, smells and presence of the other. A safe way to do this is to create a small territory for the newcomer. This could be a spare room perhaps that you can stop the resident cat going into. Spray it with household smells and allow the newcomer to mark his territory. This gives him a place to retreat to if things get a little rough - a safe harbour.

The next step is to put the newcomer back into the cat box and take him down to another room where the resident cat is. Place the cat box down and leave the two cats in the room together. They will not be a threat to each other because they clearly can not get to each other. But it will allow them to get used to the sight, smells and presence of each other in a safe environment.

The next step is to place the box in different places in the room and then the house. After this stage swap where the two cats are. In other words place the resident cat into the box and let the newcomer roam free in the room. The more this is done and interchanged over a long time as possible, the more they will get used to each other without feeling the other is a threat. The last step is to open the box in a room where you can supervise what is happening and allow the newcomer to retreat to his own room if necessary. Often by this time , the cats will have accepted each other and tolerance may even turn to friendship! A good sign is when the cats are eating together. As all cat lovers know there will always be “spats”, but they can usually work things out themselves without any harm.

There is always a possibility that the resident cat is far too dominant and territorial to allow the newcomer in. This indeed may lead to quite aggressive behaviour. In which case the owner should seek professional help or consider not introducing a second cat at all.

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Secrets To Cat Biting - Have Fun With Kitty Without Pain


Playtime with your cat can quickly become unpleasant if kitty starts biting you. Although biting and scratching is a normal part of cat behavior, a properly socialized cat knows how to control its strength. It does not usually bite or scratch to the point of drawing blood. There are several reasons why your cat can lack this self-control, and knowing why is the first step to controlling the problem.

When young kittens are taken away from their mothers too early, they fail to learn to control the strength of their biting and scratching. A kitten which spends enough time with its mother and litter mates quickly learns that biting its playmates too hard causes playtime to end. Kittens without this social skill, on the other hand, grow up into cats which bite and scratch too hard. Many owners tend to make this condition worse. When playing with their kitten or cat, they inadvertently do things which further encourage this behavior. These actions encourage and cement this behavior of biting and scratching in their cats.

This, then, is one key to controlling this playtime aggression. When kitty bites or scratches too hard, you should stop playing with it. Just ignore it - do not pay attention and do not punish your cat. Eventually, it will learn that biting and scratching too hard will lead to the end of playtime. Exactly the same as a young kitten with its mother and litter mates.

Cat biteNow, sometimes it seems that both you and kitty are spending some quality time together. Both of you are having fun playing, when your cat suddenly becomes violent and bites and scratches you. There does not seem to be any reason for this sudden aggression. Some animal behaviorists believe that this happens because you have over-stimulated kitty and it is now channeling that into aggressive behavior. Regardless of the actual cause, there is agreement that there are two steps you need to take to handle this problem:

  • Be aware of your cat’s behavior during playtime. Before it starts to bite and scratch you, there will be a change of behavior - ears flattening, fur standing up, body hunching, etc. This is your window.
  • Stop petting or playing with kitty when you notice the change in behavior. Just stop - ignore your cat and go about your own business. This will usually defuse your cat’s aggression.
  • Note that this is a bit different from a kitten taken away from its mother while too young. An under-socialized kitten always bites and scratches too hard during playtime.

Cats are hunters. This is their natural instinct, and you will often see these characteristics when you play with kitty. You will see them hunched down to their belly, stalking their toy or a mouse or cockroach before pouncing on it. This can be a problem when they decide to ambush you when you are doing your chores, or just as you are going to bed. Your cat biting when under the control of its hunting instinct can be particularly painful. One way of controlling this problem is to have at least two or three regularly scheduled playtimes with kitty. You want to bleed off its excess energy regularly.

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10 Do’s and Don’ts of Litter Training Kittens


littertrainOne of the biggest problems cat owners face, is how to litter train their kitten. Fortunately, cats are clean and fastidious creatures and they can be trained to use the litter box very quickly. In fact, if you own mama cat, she will handle potty training for you. Otherwise, you will have to play that role. Assuming you do everything correctly, you should be able to train your kitten to use the litter box within two weeks. Just follow the list of do’s and don’ts below:

  • Don’t put kitty’s litter box next to its bed or food. You want a clear separation in kitty’s mind: bed for sleeping, food bowl for eating, and litter box for doing its business. Besides, would you want to eat and sleep in your toilet? The same goes for your kitten.
  • Use a spray to attract kitty to its litter box. There are some commercial sprays which can attract cats to a certain spot to defecate and urinate. You can use this spray, for greater convenience.
  • Use a “pet behave spray” to prevent kitty from defecating or urinating in corners and other undesirable places. This spray basically produces smells which are unpleasant to your kitten. For example, if your kitten frequently urinates or defecates in the corner behind your settee, then you should spray that area regularly. Kitty will then avoid that area.
  • Don’t use litter which clumps together (for kittens). A common recommendation for litter training cats is to use a litter which easily clumps together. While this is very convenient for adult cats, this cannot be recommended for kittens. Litters like these are usually treated to a chemical which to kittens may be sensitive. It is safer to use a different kind of litter. Check with your vet for advice on a suitable type of litter.
  • When kitty hunches up or crouches, this is a common sign that it is about to do its business. Quickly put your kitten in its litter box and scratch its front paws in it. Eventually, this will help to associate the idea that kitty should do its business here.
  • Put kitty in litter tray when it wakes up, and after eating. Many cats and kittens tend to pee and shit around these times. If you put your kitten in its litter box during these times, you will have fewer messes to clean up.
  • Whenever kitty defecates/urinates elsewhere, clean up the poop and place it and kitty in the litter box. Don’t rub your kitten’s nose in the poop. Just sprinkle some litter over the poop or pee and clean it up. Then put this mess together with kitty in the litter box. The intention is simply to associate the action of shitting and peeing with the litter box. Kitty will probably not understand at first, so you need to be patient and do it over and over again.
  • Feed kitty on a regular schedule. Part of litter training your kitten is to create fixed habits which are convenient to you. Regular feeding will help lead to regular shitting and peeing. This definitely makes your life easier.
  • Clean the litter box regularly. Scoop away the poo after your kitten defecates. Replace the litter every week. If the litter is dirty and messy, your kitten will refuse to use the litter box. This is very bad for you.
  • Don’t move the litter box around. This is part of forming good habits in your kitten. Keep the litter box in the same place. This makes it easier to associate the litter box with the act of elimination. Don’t confuse your kitten by changing the location of the litter box everyday.

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Is your Cat’s Meowing driving you Mad?


Is your cat constantly meowing? A cat meowing can sure get irritating, especially since it usually gets louder when they don’t get what they want.

However, a cat doesn’t just meow to hear themselves. They are trying to get a message across. What is your cat trying to tell you? Well, here are a few things that could be going through their head.

Why Do Cats Meow?

There are a number of reasons why cats meow. Usually it is either when they are hungry or when they want to be let in or out of the home. However, other common reasons include:

1. Attention

2. They are in distress

meowDepending upon what is wrong with your cat, the meow will be slightly different. If they would like to go out for example, then the pitch of the meow will be lower usually than it would if your cat would like to be fed. The pitch of the meow will also depend entirely upon how badly the cat wants something. The more impatient they become, the louder the meow will be. By listening to your cat you will soon learn to distinguish between the different types of meow. That will then help you to determine what your cat actually wants.

How to Stop Constant Meowing

It doesn’t matter why your cat is meowing; all meowing is done to gain your attention. So don’t ignore your cat if you want to sort the problem out. Look at what you think they may need. Is it feeding time? If so then try to feed them before they remind you. It is always better to have a set routine as that way your cat will know what feeding time is and you will have the food ready and waiting for them; reducing their need to meow for food!

If you know that your cat isn’t hungry, try playing with them. Perhaps they are simply feeling a little lonely and they would like your attention? By stroking them little and often you will be giving them the attention that they need.

Another excellent way to stop constant meowing is installing a cat flap. Most of the time your cat is likely to want to come in, or go out of your home. They often want to go out and then come back in almost straight away. So to save yourself from having to get up every two minutes, installing a cat flap would really help. That way your cat could come and go as it pleases and the meowing would stop.

Overall, there are a large number of reasons why your cat might be trying to get your attention. If all else fails then it would be a good idea to take your cat to the vets. It could be that your pet has an hidden illness that is causing them pain. Your vet will be able to look them over and give you advice on what could be the problem. If you follow these tips then you should easily be able to solve your cats meowing problem.

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Posted in Cat Behavior, Featured ArticlesComments (0)

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