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How to manage your cat’s behavior

There is always a reason behind your cat’s behavior. Often certain behaviors can be seen as ‘naughty’ but in fact their behavior is an indicator that they might be stressed, upset or unwell. Here we take a look at the best ways to manage your cat’s behavior to ensure they stay happy and healthy.

Natural vs out of character behavior

Allowing your cat to exhibit their natural behavior keeps them mentally and physically healthy. Therefore, you should be prepared to fit into their lifestyle, instead of the other way around. You should allow them to scratch and exhibit hunting behaviors, and only step in when out of character behavior occurs, such as spraying in the house. There will always be a reason for out of character behavior and finding the cause of it can help you find a solution.

Hiding pain

Cats are very good at hiding pain. It’s often through a change in behavior that we can discover if a cat is in pain. Eating less, sleeping more, hiding lots, playing less or being aggressive could all be indicators that a cat is in pain. If your cat starts to behave out of character, take them to get checked out by a vet.

Managing stress

Stress can affect cats if there are changes to their environment, such as the sudden appearance of new furniture or building work being carried out in the home, or the unexpected presence of others in their territory, such as a new pet, baby or neighboring animal on the scene. The signs of stress in cats are similar to the signs of pain. You can help to reduce stress by making introductions to new animals or people slowly or by keeping changes to your home to a minimum. To help reduce stress in your cat, you could use a Feliway Classic pheromone diffuser to keep them calm and prevent stress-related scratching or spraying.

Timid cats

If you have a timid cat, you can make them happy and comfortable in your home by finding ways to reduce their anxiety. A cat might be timid due to genetic reasons, poor socialization through a lack of contact with humans during their first eight weeks of life or because they have had bad experiences in the past.

To make your timid cat feel safe in your home, make sure they have access to plenty of hiding places that they can retreat to whenever they want. If they decide to hide, do not try to tempt them out; wait until they are ready to come out. Prevent any neighborhood cats from entering your home by installing a SureFlap Microchip Cat Door and use a Feliway pheromone diffuser to make them feel at ease.

To encourage them to feel comfortable in your presence, reward them with a treat if they approach you. This will encourage them to create a positive association with human interaction. Take things slowly with your timid cat and keep your house quiet. Stick to a routine so that there are no surprises and be patient with your cat.

Managing aggression

Cats rarely show aggressive type behaviors towards people for no reason, there is usually an underlying cause. Aggression comes in different forms including fearful aggression, which occurs when a cat is unable to flee a threatening situation, playful or petting aggression, which occurs when a person interacts with them for too long, territorial aggression, which happens when an invading cat enters another cat’s territory, and aggression caused by pain, which makes cats less tolerant of certain situations.

Cats are also more likely to be aggressive if they are misunderstood by their owners or they do not have access to enough physical or mental stimulation. To help manage your cat’s aggression, take time to make your home cat-friendly and take your cat to the vet in case they are in pain. If your cat’s aggressive behavior is not pain-related, you may need to seek assistance from an animal behaviorist.

Spraying in the house

Spraying is different to urinating. If a cat sprays, they will do so from a standing position against a vertical object to mark their territory. Cats usually spray outside at the edges of their territory to deter other cats. If they’re spraying indoors, then something must be upsetting them in their core territory. A new pet or baby on the premises, noisy building works or illness could cause a cat to spray. Take your cat to the vet to rule out illnesses before addressing what else might be causing the issue.

If an intruder cat is entering your home, install a SureFlap Microchip Cat Door to keep them out. If you have a new pet cat, be sure to provide plenty of litter trays, food bowls and water bowls around your home to reduce conflict. Cats don’t like to share food. To prevent conflict in this area, give each of your cats a SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder or a SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect so that each cat has exclusive access to their food.

Toileting in the house

If your cat has started to toilet in the house and you have multiple cats, this could be down to you not providing enough litter trays - it’s advisable to have one litter tray per cat, plus one extra. Toileting outside of the litter tray can also be caused by not keeping the litter tray clean enough (litter trays should be scooped at least once a day), using litter they are not used to or not giving your cat enough privacy when toileting. Litter should be approx. 3cm deep in the tray and the tray should be big enough for the cat to turn around in. Make sure litter trays are in quiet areas of the house and ensure there are plants or trees in the garden that offer secluded toileting areas. Loose soil or sand in the garden can encourage your cat to toilet outside.

Managing scratching behavior

Cats naturally scratch to mark their territory and keep their claws in good condition, so this behavior should never be discouraged. Inside the home, be sure to provide plenty of scratching posts. Cats often scratch when they wake up, so you could put a scratching post by their bed. If your cat decides to scratch your furniture, placing a plastic sheet over the item should discourage them and putting a scratching post near the piece of furniture might encourage them to scratch that instead. If you have multiple cats, be sure to provide enough scratching posts in different locations around your home. If your cat appears to be scratching to mark their territory indoors, install a SureFlap Microchip Cat Door to keep intruders out. If intruders aren’t an issue, you may need to seek the advice of an animal behaviorist.

Cats ProtectionThis article has been written in collaboration with Cats Protection. You can find more cat care advice at www.cats.org.uk/advice.

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