Thursday, 2 April 2015

Managing your Cats Behaviour

We are often asked questions about cat behaviour…. From spraying indoors, scratching furniture, acting timidly or indeed aggressively.  These misbehaviours are often times a sign that something is wrong, from the acts perspective at least!

Firstly, punishing a cat will make matters worse so please don't do that!

Here is some information on common causes of  behaviour changes;

Health Issues - The first thing to do if your cats starts to exhibit behaviour which is out of character, you should take him or her along to the vets for a check-up.  Medical conditions are common causes of behavioural issues, even if the link is not apparent to you.  For instance, pain.  Cats are very subtle when it comes to showing pain and some of the signs can be hiding more, sleeping a lot, becoming aggressive, over-grooming and much more.  A vet will be able to spot a reason for the pain and help you to treat the cat appropriately.

Stress is another cause of unusual behaviour and many things can cause stress to our furry friends.  Some of these are obvious like moving house, a new baby or maybe neighbourhood bully cat, others are more subtle.  Feliway can be a good way to try and calm your cat but a vet can offer more advice.

Shyness/Nervousness could be due to poor socialisation in early life or a bad experience and sometimes a it is just a genetic inherited tendency.  Nervous cats can show signs of aggression if they feel intimidated (flight or fight behaviour).  Patience and care are what’s needed to help your cat feel more confident.  You can read more in our free care booklet 

Aggression – In truth, cats are rarely aggressive towards humans but, like any animal, they do have their limits.  Common causes of aggression include. 
  • Defensive/fear aggression – If a cat can’t escape when there is a perceived threat, it will defend itself if it can’t escape
  • Play & petting aggression – Cats like short and frequent interaction which is normal feline social etiquette, sometimes we interact with them less often and with more intensity which can be a bit much for some cats
  • Territorial aggression – Usually occurs when 2 cats meet on disputed ground
  •  Pain-induces aggression – A cat in pain will generally have reduced tolerance levels.
Spraying is a natural feline behaviour used to scent mark territory but if your cats starts to spray in the home it could be a sign that not all is well. There could be many reasons for this behaviour but the most common are that the cat is ill, stressed or feeling threatened.  Commonly, people punish their cat for spraying and this simply makes the situation worse.  After a vets visit to check there is nothing wrong with your cat, try to pinpoint what is causing the stress… new neighbourhood cat? New baby in the house?  If you can’t link the spraying to anything in particular, you may need to engage the help of a behaviourist.

Scratching  is another natural feline behaviour and cats will do this to stretch their muscles as well as spread their scent.  Try placing a scratching post in the area where the cat scratches and cover the favourite scratching place with a thick plastic, this is very unattractive to cats.  Cats do not do this to be naughty and shouting at them can lead to an increased frequency as the cats becomes more anxious.

In turth, cats are very complicated, sensitive little creatures and they can be hard to read and understand but you can find more useful information in our Cat Behaviour Booklet

Melly is not short on behaviour problems but as you can see from his face, he just does not care!

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