COMMON

CAT BEHAVIOUR

PROBLEMS

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Our Cat Behaviourist at Animal Behaviour Australia helps pet owners with a wide variety of Cat Behaviour Problems. These include the following problem cat behaviours: 

LITTER BOX & CAT TOILETING ISSUES:

Cats can stop using their litter tray all together or they can only use them for urination or defecation but not for both. Cat toileting issues can also present themselves in a number of different ways, like defecating behind the sofa etc. There can be a wide range of reasons why your cat may decide to stop using their litter tray. These reasons can include some common culprits such as; conflict between multiple cats in a household, the placement or location of the litter tray, the type of litter tray or type of cat litter used, negative associations with a litter tray, stress in the household, medical conditions and cleanliness of the litter tray. However, there are many other motivations that can also cause this to happen too.

 

Once your cat starts to avoid using their litter tray or cat toileting issues occur this behaviour can become a chronic problem if not dealt with swiftly. Firstly, all cats like to have a clean litter tray, so change the cat litter at least once a day. Then wash and rinse the litter tray out with baking soda once a week. If the problem persists, and you have had your cat checked by your vet to ensure that your cat is medically healthy, then get a consultation with a Cat Behaviourist so that the underlying problem can be correctly identified and be addressed quickly.

CAT SPRAYING & URINATION MARKING ISSUES:

This is when a cat urinates standing up, with a raised quivering tail usually marking up against a vertical surface. This is not a litter box problem but more of an indirect communication problem or a stress / anxiety issue. Urine marking is more common in male un-neutered cats. Neutering can help to reduce or eliminate spraying behaviours in cats. This problem can also arise from multiple cats in the household, stress in the household, change in the household or conflict between household and neighbourhood cats. 

 

If you are experiencing a problem with cat spraying then firstly consider neutering or spaying your cat in consultation with your local vet. Due to the wide range of complex reasons as to why your cat is urine marking you will need to enlist the help of a Cat Behaviourist to evaluate and rectify the underlying reasons. A Cat Behaviourist will be able to work out why they are spraying and how to stop this behaviour from reoccurring. 

AGGRESSION BETWEEN CATS IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD:

This is called inter-cat aggression and occurs when two cats in the household start behaving aggressively towards each other and fight. This can be due to predatory behaviour, play, redirected aggression, resource guarding to control sleeping areas, toys and food, negative association, or to protect their perceived territory. It also can be due to a lack of socialisation with other cats when they were young. There are many reasons why your cats have started to not get along. There will however be a motivating factor that a Cat Behaviourist will be able to identify.   

 

Firstly, don’t let the cats just fight it out. They will not resolve their problems through fighting and the aggression will usually just get worse and more habit formed. Interrupt the aggression and then separate the cats so that they cannot fight. You will need to get the help of a Cat Behaviourist for guidance. A Cat Behaviour Specialist or Cat Psychologist will be able to evaluate the problem and help you manage or resolve the conflict between your cats. The earlier you seek help from a professional Animal Behaviourist the better the chances that the treatment will be successful. 

CAT BITING & AGGRESSION TOWARDS OWNERS & OTHER PETS IN THE HOUSEHOLD

When a cat is biting or showing aggression towards people or its owner it can be in relation to play, fear, predatory instincts, not liking physical contact and petting, redirected aggression, or a lack of handling at an early age. The first step is to prevent any further injuries to people or other pets in the household and separate the offending cat. Then you will need to enlist the help of a Cat Behaviourist to be able to assess the root cause of the aggression and learn what behaviour modification techniques need to be implemented before slowly re-introducing the cat back into the family. Just the same as inter-cat aggression, the earlier you seek help from a professional Animal Behaviourist the better the chances that the treatment will be successful.

DESTRUCTIVE SCRATCHING IN CATS:

Cats love to scratch their claws. They do so whilst stretching, playing, sharpening their claws and they can also scratch to mark their territory. Cat scratching can cause a lot of damage to furniture, carpets and curtains. Do not try and stop your cat from scratching, but instead try and teach them where they are allowed to scratch. Provide them with several suitable scratching posts and encourage them to use their posts by placing them in areas which they like to scratch (even if this is less attractive to you). You can also hang toys from the posts to encourage them to use them. If you find them scratching an inappropriate object you can discourage them with a water spray bottle or by making a loud startling noise. Also remember that you need to clip your cat’s nails frequently so they don’t have to perform their own pedicure as often! 

EXCESSIVE VOCALISING OR YOWLING IN CATS:

All cats will meow and yowl to some extent as this is their way of communicating with their owners. They can be vocal for many reasons, including but not limited to; saying hello, a greeting, for attention, asking for food when they are hungry, asking to be let outside, as well as when something is wrong. It should also be noted that some cat breeds are more prone to excessive vocalisation than others. If the excessive vocalising has come on all of a sudden then you should consider getting your cat checked out by your Vet to make sure that it is not due to a medical issue or condition. If you want to stop your cat being excessively vocal then you will need to determine the cause. Try and determine the patterns and / or events surrounding them being vocal or consult with a Cat Behaviourist for assistance.

CATS WAKING UP THE HOUSEHOLD IN THE EARLY MORNING:

This can be annoying if you are working fulltime and you are getting woken up in the early hours of the morning by your cat. If they are doing this because they are hungry and want to be fed then with a bit of time and patience you can train your cat out of this behaviour. By setting your alarm clock a few minutes earlier than the time they normally wake you up. When the alarm sounds get up and give your cat a small amount of food. Repeat this process daily but every couple of days set your alarm a few minutes later until you get to the time when you would actually like to naturally get up in the morning. Your cat will then gradually learn that the sound of the alarm clock is when they get fed instead of them waking you up. 

DEMANDING BEHAVIOUR OR CATS BEING OVERLY NEEDY:

Is your cat overly demanding or needy for food, attention, play or something else? A Cat Behaviourist can help you to work out a way to re-direct this behaviour in a way that pleases both you and your cat. There is no need to be woken up at 5am in the morning! Or to act as a servant to your cat.

TERRITORIAL DISPUTES IN CATS:

Has your cat started to get bullied by a neighbourhood cat or suddenly appears scared of other cats in the neighbourhood? This can severely decrease the mood state of your cat and they can become anxious, depressed and aggressive as a result. Your Cat Behaviourist can work out a plan to make your cat feel better and help remove angst or tension which they feel in relation to the neighbourhood cats. Your cat does not need to live in fear but you need to get help by a Cat Behaviourist to be able to help them effectively. 

CAT ANXIETY, FEARS & PHOBIAS:

Cats can suffer from anxiety, fears and phobias just the same as people can. This can be from a lack of socialisation when they were a kitten, a frightening experience has occurred or from changes in their environment. Cats can fear new people, other cats, dogs and pets, noises, new situations, new places or unfamiliar items or environments. This can result in their behaviour changing to cautious, timid, fearful, aggressive, cat biting, scratching, growling, hissing, running away, hiding etc. It is necessary to identify what is causing the anxiety and / or fear. Avoidance of the cause where possible will help to prevent fear and anxiety. This is however not normally possible. What is required is specific help for your individual cat and situation form a Cat Behaviourist who can put a treatment plan in place for your unique cat which will address their fear and anxiety issues. 

LACK OF MENTAL STIMULATION IN INDOOR CATS:

Lack of mental stimulation in indoor cats is a common problem for a lot of cat owners. This can cause a whole variety of behavioural problems which you didn’t even realise stemmed from a lack of mental stimulation in the first place. Do not fear, as your Cat Behaviourist will work out a plan for your individual cat and situation to keep your cat adequately entertained. This may seem like an easy task but believe us it isn’t! If you do not know what motivates your cat and what will increase their mood state then whatever you put in place may not work. Finding out what makes your cat tick and what we can out in place for them that addresses that is what a Cat Behaviourist is trained to do. Every plan is different as every cat is different.

 

Our Cat Behaviourist says ‘It saddens me to know that most indoor cats are dealing with an unnecessary amount of boredom. If their owners knew how to address this then their cat would lead a far happier and contented life’.

COMPULSIVE CAT BEHAVIOURS:

Cats can suffer from compulsive behaviours. These can be normal cat behaviours that can occur excessively or out of the normal context. For example, these behaviours can be excessive grooming or chewing of fabrics, strings and other objects or a cat biting themselves excessively. Compulsive behaviours could be the result of an anxiety disorder, a chronic decrease in mood state or anxiety caused by living in a stressful household. Compulsive behaviour represents a serious underlying problem that needs to be addressed. If you believe that your cat has an unwanted compulsive behaviour then seek help from an Animal Behaviourist to determine the likely cause of this behaviour. They will be able to put a behaviour modification plan for your cat which can give your cat immediate relief. This is essential for the mental health of your cat.  

ARE YOU EXPERIENCING ANY OF THESE COMMON PROBLEM CAT BEHAVIOURS?

If you are experiencing any of the above issues with your cat (or something else altogether!) then the best advice that we can give is to get a consultation with Cat Behaviourist as soon as the problem arises. The sooner you get help the easier it will be for you to solve the problem. In saying that, if you have a long-standing problem behaviour with your cat then a Cat Behaviourist will still be able to help you. 

A Cat Behaviourist works as a detective to work out what the key motivating factors are which are driving your cat to behave in the way that it does. Once the motivations are realised, then a Cat Behaviourist can formulate a plan for your cat to remove the key motivations, replacing them with appropriate alternatives if needed.  

 

Most people who contact us with a problem behaviour with their cat start off by saying ‘I have tried everything but I can’t stop my cat….’. It seems ironic that the last thing that they try is to get help from a Cat behaviourist. That is the first thing that they could have tried. If they had, then the problem would have been resolved quick smart, saving them the time and frustration of letting the problem become habit formed or more engrained. Now, they have more work to do to resolve the issue once they have been given the correct advice from a Cat Behaviourist.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

At Animal Behaviour Australia we are committed to rectifying the cause of your pet’s behaviour problem so that you have a problem-free pet. Dealing with symptoms alone does not rectify the underlying cause or address motivating factors resulting in your pet’s behaviour. We advise that you seek help to address BOTH the cause and symptoms, by booking a Behaviour Consultation for your pet with our Animal Behaviourist. A targeted treatment plan will be provided for your particular pet and situation. Each pet and situation is different, so each plan is different. A Behaviour Consultation does not cost as much as you may expect. Get help for your pet now. BOOK NOW!!

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