Have you ever wondered why your cat behaves a certain way and if there is a reason for the behavior? Is it even normal behavior? How do you know when a behavior should be seen by your veterinarian? Here is a discussion of a few cat behaviors that may have you asking your cat “what are you doing over there?”
Scratching is a normal behavior that is used for cats to stretch their forelimbs, help remove the layer of worn nail and visibly mark their territory especially if there are concerns with other cats in the environment- both indoor and out. If your cat’s scratching behavior has become more noticeable in a short amount of time this may be a sign of stress or anxiety, attention seeking or a feeling of unsafe in their current environment. Attempt to address any problems with household cats or neighborhood cats that may be the cause of stress. When your cat scratches in the preferred area (a scratching post for example) reward the positive behavior immediately so your cat knows what is acceptable.
Not Using the Litter Box
Inappropriate elimination by cats in the home is one of the number one reasons owners will bring their cat to the veterinarian. This could be a sign of a problem, but first making sure there are no issues in the environment can be a good first step. Cats are naturally clean animals that prefer clean areas to eliminate. If there are multiple cats in the household this means having multiple boxes. Cleaning the litter box daily and making sure cats have privacy from people and the other pets in the house are important measures to take. Cats can avoid using their litter box for a multitude of reasons- including behavioral and medical. Try to recognize if your cat is urinating or marking- this can help your veterinarian determine the cause of the inappropriate behavior. Inappropriate urination will be on a flat surface- often a rug or carpet and usually a full urination, leaving a puddle. Marking or spraying is done on a vertical surface to leave a cat’s scent for other cats to recognize territory as marked. This often occurs on a wall, door, or cupboard and is a small amount- not a full urination. This behavior is most common in unneutered males and unspayed females as well. Neutering drastically reduces these behaviors. Marking is often caused by anxiety or a change in the household dynamic- addition of another cat, new neighborhood cat coming on the property. If you cannot identify and address a cause for the behavior you should consult your veterinarian. These behaviors- both inappropriate urination and marking- when left untreated can lead to medical conditions that can sometimes require major medical or surgical procedures to correct. The sooner the problem is identified, the better for the well being of your cat.
Certain breeds, like the Siamese, are more likely to vocalize than other breeds. Some cats may be deaf (most commonly white cats with blue eyes) and they will vocalize more since they can’t hear. A cat may have receive attention previously from his mother or other people for vocalizing. Cats “talk” to humans far more than they do to each other. We don’t seem to notice when they are communicating the way they do with their peers. We have made them more vocal because it is what we respond to. Being more aware of their other methods of communication can help. Cats only talk when we aren’t seeing what they are trying to convey.
Medical problems that result in pain or other physical abnormalities, like high blood pressure, may cause a cat to vocalize more. If your cat if vocalizing excessively or cannot settle down or sleep and is vocalizing when picked up or touched please have a physical exam performed by your veterinarian.
Cats are amazing creatures with a distinct set of behaviors. What is the strangest thing you have seen your cat do and wondered “is that normal?”