Ask the Cat Behaviorist Cats Feline Behavior

Ask the Cat Behaviorist: Cats Bringing Toys into Bedroom, Cat Wants to Play at 4 AM, New Cats Not Warming Up to Humans, and More



Dr. Marci Koski is a licensed Feline Conduct and Coaching Skilled who acquired specialised and superior certificates in Feline Coaching and Conduct from the Animal Conduct Institute. Whereas Marci has been enthusiastic about all animals and their welfare, cats have all the time had a particular place in her coronary heart. In reality, Marci can’t keep in mind a time when she’s been with out no less than one cat in her life. She presently depends on her five-member help employees  to take care of the feline duties of her family.

Marci’s personal firm, Feline Conduct Options, focuses on retaining cats in houses, and from being deserted to streets or shelters as the results of treatable conduct points. Marci believes that the variety of cats who’re deserted and/or euthanized in shelters may be tremendously decreased if guardians higher perceive what drives their cats to sure behaviors, and discover ways to work with their cats to encourage applicable behaviors as an alternative of undesirable ones.

Cats deliver toys into bed room

Three of our 4 cats convey their toys into our bed room each night time and through the day. We decide all of them up and grasp them from the cat superhighway. The toys grasp within the brackets and the youngest two will work to get them down and carry them into our room. Lots of occasions they meow. We grasp all of them again up. However we’re questioning if we should always do one thing else? If they’re bringing us presents are we giving them combined alerts hanging all of them again up? We all the time say thanks and get excited once they convey them. We simply weren’t positive what else we will do to say thanks? – – Jennette

Hello Jennette – it sounds such as you’re doing a superb job by giving your kitties a enjoyable, ritualized enrichment exercise! It’s unlikely that you simply’re giving them combined alerts by placing the presents again up; extra possible, they benefit from the recreation since they maintain doing it time and again every single day. That’s the results of constructive reinforcement – when cats do one thing with an fulfilling consequence, the conduct is more likely to be repeated. The enjoyment in your cats comes from the enjoyable of getting the toy down, bringing it to a socially vital a part of their territory, and receiving reward from you. Who wouldn’t love that recreation?

A few inquiries to maintain the exercise enjoyable – do you rotate the toys which might be hung from the superhighway? Do you modify the places of the place the toys are hung? Do you interact the cats with play after they convey you toys? Cats actually do thrive on routine, which is what I discover so particular about this day by day exercise. Nevertheless, cats additionally actually like novelty, which can maintain them from becoming bored with the identical toys and “prey” places. So do attempt to change issues up each few days.

As a result of your cats’ conduct is just like what cats might do once they hunt, catch, and kill prey, you may think about giving them a deal with or a small meal once they deliver you their “kill”. This is usually a very nice conclusion to a play session (until they aren’t absolutely exercised, then attempt utilizing an interactive wand toy to actually get them to stalk and catch their prey!). Because you’re doing this within the night, your cats usually tend to fall into the hunt-groom-eat-sleep routine and have a great night time’s sleep. Sustain the good work – your cats are lucky to have the ability to play such a enjoyable recreation with their guardians!

Usually candy cat bites

5-year-old kitty’s love bites! OUCH! I’ve a 5-year-old kitty who’s tremendous candy. She likes to nuzzle and provides head rubs. However after a pair minutes of that, she is going to comply with it with a fast chew. She does this to me, my household, and my older cat as properly. In terms of the older cat (13), the 5 yr previous won’t simply give somewhat nip, she truly goes full-on “Vampire” after which it begins a battle between them.

I’ve tried interrupting/strolling away from her cuddle periods, once they get just a little too lengthy, in hopes that she would study to cease earlier than attending to the biting half. I’ve additionally tried letting out just a little “yelp” hoping she would get the purpose, however nothing appears to fairly deter her from the biting.

She’s not an aggressive cat in any respect (like no random assaults, nothing like that), though she does typically act a bit like a hyperactive baby. We simply have points with the bizarre little “affectionate” bites. – Mittens’ Mother

Hello Mittens’ Mother – Thanks on your query; we undoubtedly don’t need this conduct to get in the best way of the completely happy relationship you could have together with your kitty! In my expertise, any type of “love chew” that hurts (or could be described as “full-on vampire”) is usually not a love chew. Does this solely occur throughout petting and snuggling periods? It seems like she could also be getting over-stimulated with all the nuzzling and petting. What I like to recommend is holding a really shut eye on her physique language. Cats often give off indicators (typically delicate) that they’re able to cease receiving pets. This will embrace ears turning again, a shift in physique place away from you, the tip of the tail beginning to twitch, pupils dilating, and the cessation of purring. Should you discover any of this stuff occurring, cease petting. It’s okay to take a seat there and if she needs to proceed sitting on or subsequent to you, that’s advantageous – simply don’t interact. And, be happy to reward calm conduct! If you’ll be able to have a petting session that doesn’t finish in a nip, you may give your kitty a small deal with or reward, or perhaps a play session if she needs one (which may additionally assist burn off a few of that additional power which will have constructed up through the petting session which will in any other case finish in a nip). Your greatest guess, in case your cat does chew, is to rise up and stroll away (such as you’ve been doing) each single time. She is going to study that that motion leads to no consideration from you! Punishment (in any type, together with yelling or scolding) doesn’t work with cats, and may improve worry and aggression in the direction of people.

You additionally talked about that typically your kitty acts like a hyperactive baby. Are you giving her every day play periods with an interactive wand toy? Ingrid has a fantastic article on her web site referred to as “The Significance of Playtime for Cats”. I extremely advocate giving your youthful cat at the very least one 15-minute play session day by day with a wand toy like Da Chook. This will help scale back pent-up power and should even lower her want to go after your older cat. Remember to regulate each of your cats’ physique language when they’re grooming one another to be able to interrupt a grooming session earlier than it erupts right into a battle. Any signal of worry out of your older cat or aggression from the youthful cat (together with growling or hissing) is a transparent indicator that they need to be distracted and separated from one another. I hope this helps!

Cat needs to play at four AM

How can we make our 1-year-old cat cease wanting us to play with him at four am? – Maria

Hello Maria – Wonderful query! This appears to be a standard challenge that comes up notably with youthful kitties. A one-year-old cat continues to be going to be pretty lively and has a big power reserve that have to be tapped earlier than he’ll sleep by way of the night time with out wanting consideration from you.

First, and most significantly, you need to not give in to his demand for play in the midst of the night time. I do know that is troublesome. I’m unsure what he does (e.g., leap in your mattress, assault your ft, or bang towards your door if he’s outdoors of your bed room), however should you ignore him for 30 minutes after which give in and play with him (or give him a toy, and so forth.), you’ve simply taught him that he might be obnoxious for 30 minutes and he’ll get what he needs. Cats know easy methods to practice us people rather well to do what they need! So, if he begins to develop into lively at night time, chances are you’ll have to put him in one other room within the residence (achieve this very neutrally, as any consideration could possibly be interpreted as a reward) the place you’ll be able to’t hear him. Make sure that the room has meals, water, bedding, a litterbox, and self-play toys. With this motion, you’re letting him know that his conduct leads to no consideration from you.

On the similar time, you’ll have to shift your cat’s inner clock a bit. Cats truly aren’t nocturnal; they’re crepuscular, which means that they’re most lively throughout daybreak and nightfall. It’s because their prey are most lively at these occasions – it’s mild sufficient out to forage but in addition be considerably much less seen to predators. Cats have picked up on this and know when their prey are out and out there for searching! So, I like to recommend that you simply give your cat at the least two play periods (work-outs, actually) every day, within the morning and night, simply previous to a meal. That is particularly necessary within the night. Get a very good wand toy (like Da Chook) and get your cat operating and leaping for 15-20 minutes (or till he will get drained). Then, what do cats do after they hunt? They eat, therefore the meal. After consuming, they may groom, then sleep. The nearer you do the play session to your bedtime, the longer your kitty will sleep into the night time.

It could actually take a while on your cat’s clock to reset, and if it is advisable give greater than two play periods per day to alleviate your cat of extra power, that’s okay. Be persistent and your work will repay!

6-year-old Bengal gained’t settle for new cat

I’ve 4 cats, the oldest is a 6-year-old Bengal feminine. My daughter moved again residence together with her two cats which we hold separated from mine as a result of her oldest cat, a 9-year-old feminine, doesn’t get alongside nicely with my cats. Her youthful cat, a 1-year-old Bengal feminine, was interacting pretty nicely with my cats once we would allow them to out on supervised visits. Then all of a sudden my oldest woman would instantly assault my daughter’s younger feminine. I’m unsure what induced this variation however she is going to sit outdoors her bed room door simply hoping to get an opportunity to get her. My woman has all the time been actually candy and accepting of different cats. Do you assume they’re simply incompatible or is there hope of getting them used to one another? — Kim

Hello Kim – I do know that having cats within the household who are usually not getting alongside could be irritating, unhappy, and hectic for everybody. Whereas issues might have been going properly for a while, one thing occurred that brought about your older Bengal and your daughter’s youthful Bengal to not get alongside. This might have been some kind of altercation over a useful resource, or somebody made a transfer the opposite was uncomfortable with, or one thing else solely (leading to redirected aggression).

How did you initially introduce the cats, and the way way back was that? You could need to work on a reintroduction between these two women, or at the very least step again a bit of their interactions so that you’ve time to construct up constructive associations between the cats. In case your daughter’s cats haven’t been within the residence lengthy, you might need to work on build up constructive associations with the cats’ scents, doing scent-swapping with treats (or regardless of the cats take pleasure in, like petting and sweet-talk). Making a “group scent” that features all cats within the residence can also be a good suggestion. You need to use a soft-bristled brush to softly stroke the cheeks and brow of every cat every day (giving every cat a deal with earlier than and after) so that each one cats begin to odor comparable. You’ll additionally need to let the youthful woman out of the bed room day-after-day (within the absence of the older Bengal) in order that she will grow to be very acquainted in the remainder of the house and discover snug perches and escape routes. Moreover, lively play periods for Bengals is VERY necessary. This might help scale back general stress and relieve extra power. Please see my responses to each Mittens’ Mother and Maria (above) for extra details about playtime.

One other factor you could need to do is set up child gates throughout the bed room door the place the youthful Bengal is separated. As a result of Bengals are sensible and lively, you may need to purchase two child gates and stack them on prime of one another in order that neither can climb or bounce over them. Initially, cowl the underside gate with a towel, however then progressively transfer the towel again so that there’s extra visibility. That is historically achieved throughout feeding occasions (once more, to create constructive associations and a distraction), however should you do that throughout different occasions of the day, the cats will be capable of get used to seeing one another and study extra about how the opposite strikes, and so on. You’ll be able to reward constructive or impartial interactions by means of the gate, too, to strengthen the notion that “hey, good issues occur when this different cat is round.”

I encourage you to learn Jackson Galaxy’s visitor submit on Ingrid’s website, an article referred to as “Cat to Cat Introductions”. You’ll have the ability to formulate a great reintroduction plan in your kitties. Typically it takes weeks (and even months) to acclimate cats to one another, however please do be persistent. They’ve proven that they will get alongside collectively beforehand, and that’s a very good signal. Good luck!

Unable to get cat into service to take her to the vet

Good day! About 6 years in the past I adopted Pebbles, who I had been fostering. It took me a very very long time, and I can’t recall precisely how lengthy, for her to belief me. She would hiss and swat at me each time I attempted to return close to however little by little she got here round to the purpose the place I might trim her nails, however solely in a single room. If I attempted to strategy her to select her up when she was in another room in the home aside from the toilet, she would run away. I can pet her however she all the time is aware of when I’m making an attempt to select her up and sadly due to this I’ve missed a variety of vet appointments as a result of I can’t even trick her now to get her someplace the place she will simply be gotten to to place her in a service. I’ve four different cats, and one yr in the past had 5. When she handed, Pebbles truly turned extra outgoing. I’ve three different foster cats who’re in separate rooms and don’t work together with my cats however that’s one thing that has been a continuing since I adopted Pebbles as she was as soon as in her personal room. A number of days in the past she began hiding beneath issues, the mattress, the chair in the lounge. I feel she had some type of struggle with one other cat. I’ve by no means witnessed a battle, there’s some occasional stalking and ambushing however by no means something remotely critical. If she is reachable in her hiding spot she is going to let me pet her but when I attempt to pull her out she runs away. She is consuming and utilizing the field, as when she realizes nobody is round she is going to slink out just for as a lot time as that takes, then cover once more, often in a special spot. As she might be 9 across the finish of February, I do know she must see the vet, however questioning what you considered this conduct. She used to return operating when she heard the deal with bag or knew it was brushing time, however not now. Any recommendation can be drastically appreciated! Thanks. – Kristine

Hello Kristine – I’m so glad that you’re making an attempt to get Pebbles to the vet; any change in conduct ought to be cause sufficient alone for a vet-visit, and elevated want to cover could also be an indicator of ache or not feeling nicely. I’m pleased that you simply initially made such good progress with Pebbles to construct her belief in you. Proper now, I’m simply questioning what has modified for her to start out hiding and never interacting as a lot with you. You’ll need to rule out a medical challenge (as you stated), and your ideas a few struggle with one other certainly one of your four cats is legitimate, however there may additionally be some challenges with the foster kitties as nicely (e.g., if Pebbles can odor them on you, which will scale back her territorial safety).

Does she presently have a “protected room” that you could hang around together with her in, or that she will go to really feel protected and cozy? It feels like she was pretty safe within the toilet, however that’s not an ideal place to construct a sense of territorial possession – there’s restricted perching and hiding alternatives, fewer gadgets to soak up scent, and certain much less potential for enrichment. If she has a most popular room, attempt to put out intentional hiding spots – cubbies, bins, luggage, and perching places – something that may present her with a protected spot to cover and that may take in her scent. Be certain that there are many scratchers there, in addition to her litterbox. Hand around in that room as a lot as potential together with her, and simply learn or do different quiet actions – let her come out and get to know you once more. Just remember to and your garments don’t carry the scent of your foster cats. This will help construct again that belief she as soon as had, particularly for those who come bearing treats or yummy meals, a favourite toy, or only a type phrase.

Within the meantime, you’ll additionally need her to get to know and love her cat service. You need to use the service as a type of intentional hiding spots – put treats in there, some bedding that smells like her, and attempt to reward her for any curiosity or exploration in the direction of the service (treats, reward, and so on.). This could take a while. Ingrid just lately wrote an article referred to as “How you can Make the Cat Service Engaging to Your Cat”, which provides wonderful recommendation for decreasing worry of cat carriers. I do know you could get Pebbles to a vet ahead of later so chances are you’ll must be opportunistic about getting her right into a service in the meanwhile. However will probably be greatest to have some solutions, and the recommendation of a veterinarian that will help you tackle any bodily illnesses. If that is a matter, I hope that Pebbles begins feeling higher quickly, and that her conduct will get again to her regular shortly! I’m sending you greatest needs proper……meow.

Two new cats aren’t warming as much as people

My 18 y/o loving, lap kitty handed away and we opened our residence to 2 new rescue cats who’re our solely fur-kids. They got here from shelters to a Catfé then to us in order that they already knew one another. Whereas they’re advantageous with one another they don’t seem to be but warmed as much as us, though one has been sitting briefly on my husband’s lap. I’m so starved for kitty affection and miss my previous woman terribly. Am I pushing aside the cats one way or the other with my intense eager for them to like me? I decide them up as soon as a day and maintain them for about 10 seconds. I play with them, feed them 1 of two meals every day, give them treats and in any other case await them to return to me. One lies between my legs once I’m asleep. That’s it. Are there methods to assist the method alongside? It’s solely been a month & a half however I miss cat cuddles a lot idk what to do! – Mary

Hello Mary – Thanks a lot on your message. My condolences to you and your husband for the lack of your kitty – that’s so onerous. With the lack of a beloved member of the family comes grief (for each people and animals), and the necessity to fill an area that was left empty in our hearts. I’m so comfortable that you simply have been capable of open your house (and coronary heart) to 2 new kitties who I’m positive are very fortunate to have discovered their approach to you and your husband!

That these cats are sitting in your husband’s lap and sleeping between your legs is a promising signal. Typically it could take weeks for cats to settle into a brand new setting – these kitties have been by means of at the very least three strikes (to the shelter, to the Catfe, then to your home), which may be VERY hectic. Given all the current upheaval of their lives, I’m not stunned that they haven’t fairly warmed as much as you and your husband but – this can take time. And that’s okay – it sounds such as you’re very affected person, which is a cat-friendly angle to have ?

You understand how cats will enter a room full of individuals after which go to the one that is both allergic to cats or who isn’t notably keen on cats? That’s as a result of these individuals seem much less threatening. These individuals usually don’t take a look at the cat or in any other case interact with them – this makes cats really feel extra snug and fewer intimidated – they’ve the selection whether or not to work together with that individual or not. Direct eye contact might be threatening, and placing them in undesirable positions can create damaging associations. I might advocate that you don’t decide up the cats until they need that – any wrestle or try and get away must be revered. They’re nonetheless within the trust-building interval, so allow them to simply watch you and your husband, and (such as you stated) watch for them to return to you. Reward any constructive interactions with a deal with, reward, or something you discover they like, and also you’ll discover that they are going to be extra more likely to repeat that sort of interplay and improve their degree of belief in you.

Lastly, and that is probably the most troublesome factor, you’ll have to handle your expectations for these two new kitties. They could by no means be lap-cats, or notably snuggly, or like being picked up. Solely considered one of my 4 kitties will let me decide him up for any size of time, and just one is a lap-cat. And that’s okay! I do know you miss your different cat, however she was a particular kitty who will all the time have a particular place in your coronary heart. I encourage you to let these new cats present you their distinctive qualities in order that they will every discover new locations in your coronary heart, alongside your different cat, not changing her. And who is aware of? With sufficient time, you could discover that you simply opened your house to the 2 most snuggly lap cats you’ve ever met. I’ve received my fingers crossed for you!

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