Cats have a reputation of being crafty and inscrutable at the same time, and this may be the precise reason why they were worshiped in some ancient cultures. Interestingly enough, these cute-looking felines make fantastic domestic pets if their owners manage to figure out ways of dealing with them. Here’s a bit about behavior problems in cats and how to handle them.
Having a pet is as much of a responsibility as it is a joy. Pets are like small kids, love them and they will love you back. However, just as too much love can spoil a child, the same applies to pets as well. Therefore, it is extremely vital for pet owners to know the likes, dislikes and, most importantly, the temperament of their pets. And all this cannot be known overnight. Owners need to spend enough time with their pet in order to become familiar with its behavior. Only then will he understand if there are any behavioral issues, clinical or temperamental. Moreover, if the pet is a cat, one needs to be extremely attentive, due to their seemingly mysterious behavior and character.
Feline Behavioral Issues
The cat therapist, Carole Wilbourn has rightly quoted, “A cat’s behavior is a direct reflection of his feelings”. This is precisely the reason why cats also have certain behavioral issues, much like every other being, living on this planet. While some issues can be attributed to a cat’s natural behavioral traits, some others might have developed into the feline due to a number of external factors including ignorance by its owners. Here’s a brief insight into some of the behavioral problems which may occur in pet cats.
Cats are great attention seekers. They do not like it much when their owners, or other people they know, seem not to pay any heed to them. Because they cannot talk in the way we humans do, the only means they resort to in such situations is loud meowing and crying which are a sort of tantrums they throw in order to capture attention. However, the owners have to be conscious enough to understand when their cat is throwing a tantrum and when it is seriously in trouble so that they can consult a vet whenever necessary. Different attention-seeking behavior include loud howling throughout the night, begging for treats and food, scratching, pawing and biting. A vet will be able to accurately detect if there are any physical/psychological issues in your cat which may be at the root of its attention-seeking irritable behavior.
A cat is essentially a carnivorous mammal, surviving on hunted food, and so aggression is a basic instinct. All cats are aggressive in differing degrees and the fact is that this aggression cannot be completely removed from their nature. However, owners can train their cat so as to subdue and reduce this characteristic trait. Various displays of aggressive behavior may include, aggression towards the owner and other people, aggression towards other animals; especially cats and dogs, scratching and biting others while playing, hunting birds, mice and other rodents outside their domestic space, hissing and growling. Training cats while they are kittens proves to be helpful in controlling their aggression. In case a cat is displaying aggressive behavior, owners must ensure that they do not surprise their cats. Now, surprise may include something like, suddenly taking away their food while they’re eating. Cats don’t like surprises. A surprised cat can become very angry and may attack anyone.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Just like humans, cats can also suffer from several forms of OCD and studies indicate that female cats are more prone to it. Depending on the severity of OCD, a cat’s behavior can undergo several kinds of changes. Cat behavior under such situations include, excessive or over-grooming, wool sucking and chewing wildly. In such situations it is very important for the owner to consult a vet as soon as possible if any of the above symptoms are observed. Sometimes, physical problems such as feline hyperesthesia may be responsible for the abnormal behavior of cats, leading to OCD.
It is necessary that owners realize the importance of litter-training their cats. It is a known fact that older animals, much like humans, are comparatively slower learners and so litter box training should start at an early age. It doesn’t take long for a kitten to understand what a litter-box is for, since they have a natural instinct to naturally bury their waste matter. It is not difficult to train your cat if you devote the appropriate time and patience.
Fears and Anxieties
Very much like other animals, especially domestic pets, cats can also suffer from many sorts of fears and anxieties. Fear in cats can lead to persistent phobias related to certain people, objects or situations. The most common types of phobias are associated with sounds/noises. For instance, many pet cats are scared of fireworks, lightning and thunderstorms. On the other hand, cats also tend to get over-anxious and excited on seeing or meeting certain people or objects. Commonly observed behavioral patterns when cats are scared or anxious, include, hiding, trembling, freezing in one place or reduction in their normal physical activity. They might also turn a bit aggressive. In such cases, it is important that owners remain extremely patient with their pets. A bit of affection and love can do the trick. In case of severe phobias, a vet must be consulted immediately.
To ensure that cats remain free of behavioral issues or problems, owners can take some precautions.
- Disciplining cats in a non-violent manner and training them as to what’s right and wrong can be a good way of ensuring good behavior.
- Owners can pat the cat when it does something good and may be treat them for every right behavior. This may encourage the cat to behave in a good way.
- On the contrary, for every wrong act, the owner may deny it a treat or make a gesture by hand or head so that it understands that it has done something unacceptable. Cats are fairly intelligent and they tend to pick up things really fast.
- Cat owners should desist from physical punishment as far as possible, as this can make the cat more irritable and at times aggressive.
- Cats can be the most possessive creatures on the planet. Therefore, if a cat owner has other pets as well, he should try to ensure that he does not pamper them in front of the cat. This might make the cat to be unsure of its place in the house and trigger an undesirable behavior.
- Cat owners should also ensure that their cat does not repeat mistakes and unwanted behavior. For instance, cats are born foodies and many a time steal food habitually. This behavior can be prevented if the owner stores food in air-tight containers or keeps it far away from the reach of their feline.
Common Patterns of Cat Behavior and What They Mean
Some cat antics may actually tell the owners what they really wish to do. It is real fun to interact with them once we begin to understand what they want to say or indicate.
- Dumping their food along with their toys means that they just want to keep the toys in a safe place.
- If cats are petted and they knead their paws, it means that they are reciprocating the love shown.
- If the cat dumps food and acts as if it’s burying food, it is likely that the cat does not like the food being served. Like we humans, cats can also get bored with eating the same food everyday. Their action of burying the food indicates that it’s time for a different menu.
- Cats also attack ankles as a hunting practice. To decrease this, cat owners should give more toys to the cat, so that they have something else to play with all the time.
- Cats are more active during the night, they even hunt during the night. Therefore, it is suggested that cat owners get another feline companion to ensure their cat’s and own night’s sleep.
Cats need some time with their owners almost everyday. Therefore, the cat owner should devote some quality time to his cat on a daily basis. Otherwise, the cat may become irritable, bored and can even grow aggressive. Behavioral issues can be overcome by pampering them from time to time and imparting the right amount of training at the right time. However, if behavioral issues are due to physical factors such as illnesses, consulting a vet, as soon as possible, is the best thing to do.