Ask the Cat Behaviorist Cats Feline Behavior

Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Dr. Marci Koski: Cat Acts Like a Guard Dog, Cat Bites When Overstimulated, and More



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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 captivated with all animals and their welfare, cats have all the time had a particular place in her coronary heart. Actually, Marci can’t keep in mind a time when she’s been with out at the least one cat in her life. She at present 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 preserving 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 could be enormously lowered 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.

Do you’ve a query for Marci?
Depart it in a remark, and she or he’ll reply it subsequent month!

Cat acts like guard canine

My oldest tomcat will flip 12 years quickly. At about 1 yr of life he suffered a psychological trauma (due to jealousy somebody needed to kill him). Since then he acts like a guard pit bull: as quickly as anybody (lady or man) enters my house, he assaults – he growls, hisses a bit, then assaults. If the brand new individual is prepared and strong-willed sufficient and makes Four-5-6 visits, he accepts the individual and doesn’t assault that a lot. But when the individual stays in a single day (as a good friend did) he’ll step over the individual then lick their face and that’s it, no extra attacking. He’s a doll with different cats. He’s the alpha male so he’ll slap a brand new cat then lick the newcomer and that’s it… He may hiss, however I feel that is regular. Would there be any answer to enhance this conduct, additionally holding in thoughts that he’s not younger anymore? – – Valeria

Hello Valeria – thanks for writing about your kitty. Human-directed aggression is usually a complicated challenge, however based mostly in your description, apparently your cat could also be attacking strangers who come to your own home out of worry. In any case, this new individual has come into his territory, bringing in unfamiliar scents and sounds…in case your cat is scared of individuals due to his previous trauma, that would actually invoke panic and trigger your cat to lash out in a kind of “defensive aggressive” method. Assume “struggle or flight”; most cats select flight, but when your cat looks like there’s nowhere to go (despite the fact that there might bodily be locations to cover or which to flee), struggle may be his solely perceived choice.

There are two issues to think about. First, you need to maintain your guests protected from assaults; second, you need to assist your cat be extra snug when unfamiliar individuals arrive. Relating to the primary concern – the security of your friends – wouldn’t it be potential to place your kitty in a bed room (which might have meals, water, litterbox, scratching submit, bedding, and a favourite toy or two in it in order that he truly enjoys being there) earlier than your friends arrive? This isn’t a long-term answer, however I’ll get to that in a second. It might assist to deliver out a favourite toy (or meals puzzle with a scrumptious favourite deal with) and put it in his room when guests arrive (or earlier than); actually, these favourite gadgets ONLY come out when guests arrive. One of the simplest ways to keep away from confrontation is to remove the chance for it to occur, no less than at first. I might even have some kind of barrier close to the door (like a flattened cardboard field or the highest of a plastic storage field) in order that if somebody comes over unexpectedly, it may be used as a stationary block to stop an assault just by putting it in entrance of your customer.

The subsequent factor to think about is reshaping his affiliation with guests in order that they aren’t related to worry, however good issues as an alternative. You’re already beginning to do that once you put him in his room and provides him a favourite toy or deal with to take pleasure in solely when friends arrive (or shortly earlier than). It is going to take time to reshape his affiliation as a result of he’s spent 12 years dwelling with worry of strangers, so change won’t occur in a single day! However what you’ll do is use counter-conditioning (pairing one thing good with one thing that he considers dangerous, or fear-invoking) and desensitization (steadily growing his publicity to a set off) to extend his tolerance to guests and even take pleasure in their presence.

We begin to do that by defining an publicity gradient. At first, your kitty could also be confined to the bed room with a favourite toy/deal with. The subsequent step is perhaps to place a gate on the bed room door in order that he can hear (and probably see) the customer however nonetheless be inside his bed room with good issues. The subsequent step may be to let him out of the bed room however solely out into the hallway the place he can utterly view the customer via a barrier (whereas the visitor ignores him by not wanting instantly at him and speaking with you, and on the similar time casually tossing him a favourite deal with from a distance). The subsequent step is perhaps to have the customer come nearer to the barrier whereas tossing the treats, then work together with him via the barrier (treats), then take away the barrier, deal with deal with deal with, and so on. See the place that is going? You might also have to desensitize him to the sounds of knocking on the door or the doorbell ringing utilizing treats, petting, reward, or anything your kitty enjoys.

This course of will take time – maybe weeks and even months. When you have a few pals who’re prepared to return over periodically and work with you in order that visits occur extra often, that may be useful! Good luck; I hope this helps.

Cat bites when overstimulated

My new kitty is a nipper. Typically they’re over-stimulation bites, however often not. And when they’re, she doesn’t give the widespread “tail-swish” cue. She simply stops purring and out of the blue nips. Extra generally, she “assaults” to get my consideration. She is going to stroll up, eyeball my leg for a number of seconds, then pounce, then leap again. Repeat ’til I rise up to see what she needs. However typically as an alternative of pouncing, she’ll simply face-rub my leg. Typically she’ll get into mattress with me, however as an alternative of cuddling or settling in, she’ll stare at my palms and arms for a couple of seconds, then pounce, then bounce again. In that mode, she will get progressively extra forceful till I shove her away firmly. She sits a couple of ft away for a number of minutes, then returns with a greater angle. She has by no means come near breaking the pores and skin, however she is going to seize, maintain, and tug. That smarts. I’ve by no means inspired her to view my arms or arms as toys. I’ve had different cats that I *did* increase that approach, and none turned bitey. – – Norrin Radd

Hello Norrin – how previous is your new kitty? It seems like she needs to plaaaaaayyyy! She’s making an attempt to get your consideration in methods that may get you to interact together with her; pouncing at a leg or arm then leaping again is type of like “tag – you’re it!”. That is usually not an assault from anger – you’d see her physique language change (ears again, tail swishing, and so forth.) and listen to her hissing and growling earlier than these assaults. If she’s doing this silently and bouncing again ready so that you can reciprocate, it’s principally probably what we name play aggression.

Are you enjoying together with her in the course of the day? I extremely advocate getting her on a play and feeding schedule the place you’re partaking her in a “searching” play session with appropriate prey (a wand toy with numerous prey-like lures on it) earlier than her meals in order that she will get into that pure “hunt-eat-groom-sleep” cycle. Use an extended wand toy (like Da Fowl, or the fishing rod wand from Dezi and Roo) to provide her a prey merchandise – something that resembles a chook, rodent, bug, or reptile (together with snakes!) will work nice. Take her by way of the prey sequence – staring, stalking and chasing, pouncing and grabbing, and performing a kill chew – and after a 15-minute play session, give her a meal or a snack (to get the hunt-eat-groom-sleep cycle going). For youthful kitties, I like to recommend no less than 2-Three play periods per day, a minimum of 15 minutes every. Cats can develop into bored, so switching lures might help! And don’t overlook – they may commute within the prey sequence, together with going again to staring. So when you assume your cat is completed after simply a few minutes, assume once more! Give her a 30-second break, or change the lure, or spray it with catnip spray, and so forth.

The essential factor is to have enjoyable together with your new kitty, and ensure she will get the chance to be the purrocious predator she naturally is. The extra you’ll be able to give her applicable prey gadgets to hunt, the much less she is going to attempt to interact you as a possible prey merchandise!

Serving to an obese cat hold her hindquarters clear

I’ve a cat who will probably be eight yrs previous she somewhat woman spayed however she placed on some weight so when she makes use of the toilet she doesn’t clear herself that good so she wipes herself on towels that I depart on the mattress for her. As soon as a day or so I wash her behind and use some powder stuff that the vet gave me. My query have you learnt in the event that they make powder so i can placed on her behind after I wash her butt? – – Darlene

Hello Darlene – To begin with, persist with the powder product that your vet gave you; many merchandise made for people are usually not applicable for animals (and may probably be poisonous). Additionally, please speak together with your veterinarian about how one can assist your kitty woman drop some pounds. Cats who’re too obese to groom themselves correctly are sometimes uncomfortable, or there could possibly be another medical purpose she just isn’t grooming herself. Your vet might speak with you a few weight loss plan, however play can also be necessary. Please see my response to Norrin above about play – you might attempt having solely a brief play session together with your woman as soon as per day to start out (relying on her preliminary exercise degree), then improve the play time as she turns into extra accustomed to them. Lastly, in case your kitty has lengthy fur, chances are you’ll want to periodically have a groomer give her a sanitary trim in order that the fur on her hindquarters stays cleaner after she poops. I want you and your kitty all one of the best!

Cat pees subsequent to the litterbox

My cat is 7 years previous and sometimes pees on the ground subsequent to the field, even when the field is first cleaned. How do I cease it? – – Dora Reed

Hello Dora – there are lots of the reason why your kitty could also be urinating subsequent to her litterbox, and cleanliness is just one facet. However do proceed cleansing her field out 1-2 occasions per day; that may assist.

First, please do have your cat examined by a veterinarian to rule out any medical the reason why your cat could also be avoiding the litterbox. If she has a bladder an infection, crystals in her urine, or different urinary concern, she could also be beginning to affiliate urinating within the litterbox with ache (therefore urinating outdoors of the field). When you’re ready for the veterinarian to provide the all-clear (fingers crossed that your kitty is totally wholesome), the subsequent factor you’ll need to do is take an excellent take a look at your litterbox setup. Listed here are some widespread issues I like to recommend for kitties to vary their litterboxes from “cat-box porta-potty of gloom” to “can’t cross up utilizing this excellent rest room”:

• Do you’ve gotten sufficient litterboxes within the house? Even should you solely have one cat, it is best to have at the very least 2 bins; some kitties don’t wish to pee and poop in the identical field. The variety of bins you’ve got must be the variety of cats you’ve got plus one.
• Take away hoods from litterboxes – they lure disagreeable scents and block your cat’s capacity to see her environment, which can make her really feel unsafe (see final level under).
• Use unscented clumping litter – cats have an unimaginable sense of odor, and people scented litters could make them really feel like they’re trapped in an elevator with somebody who’s sporting method an excessive amount of cologne.
• Is your litterbox large enough? Most business litterboxes are too small. The field must be at the very least 1.5 occasions the size of your cat’s physique. Use shallow storage containers (works for many cats) or a big high-sided utility tub with a U-shaped door reduce out of the aspect when you’ve got a “high-peeing” cat or one who scatters litter far and wide.
• Location, location, location! Put your cat’s field someplace in his socially-significant space – NOT in a distant closet or rest room or basement (some place your cat wouldn’t in any other case go). Sure, because of this you may need a litterbox in your front room. Attempt to keep away from placing the field the place there are potential ambush factors (your cat is a predator, but in addition prey – they should really feel protected when within the field) and provides your cat a view of her environment (keep away from putting the field close to blind corners they will’t see round, beneath cabinets, and so forth.). Additionally, place bins in several rooms – two bins proper subsequent to one another is perceived as one field.

This could get you began – in case you proceed to have issues, chances are you’ll have to work with knowledgeable cat conduct advisor to assist determine and mitigate stressors within the residence or different the reason why your kitty is avoiding the litterbox. Good luck!

Cat is obsessive about wand toy string

My eight yr previous male kitty is obsessive about any wand toy, however it’s not the toy itself that he needs, it’s the string or wire that it’s hooked up to that he needs. He grabs it in his mouth and chews. He gained’t let go till he breaks it (takes perhaps 60 seconds to chew by way of a braided twine). I’ve to bodily take away the twine/wire from his mouth as a result of he gained’t let go of it. I’m involved that he’ll injury his mouth with the wires, particularly if he have been to interrupt one. I by no means depart the toys round; they’re stored in a closet on a excessive shelf. He repeatedly goes to closet door and cries till I take out wand toy and play with him. He’s so quick that it’s a problem to not let him “catch” it after which begin chewing on the string/wire. He’s not very concerned with some other sort of toys. Any ideas? – – JoAnne

Hello JoAnne – that’s puzzling! We undoubtedly need to ensure that he’s protected, and that he doesn’t get injured by chewing on wire or swallowing cords, so it’s good that you simply maintain them out of his attain when they don’t seem to be in use. And, we nonetheless need him to have enjoyable enjoying! You stated that he’s not very keen on another sort of toy – if there’s one other sort of toy that he enjoys, might you make it extra engaging by spraying it with catnip spray or honeysuckle spray? Alternatively, are you able to make the “lure” a part of the wand toy be extra the main target of the toy by doing the identical factor – marinating the lure in catnip or spritzing it with catnip/honeysuckle?

Additionally, what sort of wand toys are you utilizing? If they’re the type with a fleece or extremely seen twine, perhaps attempt one thing else. Thinner strings (such because the one on Da Chook) and even invisible line (like Dezi and Roo’s wand) might take the emphasis from the twine and refocus his consideration on the lure. Additional, the longer the wand and string, the quicker it is going to transfer (it has a wider vary of movement, too), and the more durable will probably be to truly catch the string half. I really like wand toys as a result of they’re the one sort of toy that may fulfill every step within the prey sequence (see my response to Norrin, above), so I don’t need to discourage their use. Attempt utilizing lures which have string-like qualities in order that he focuses on the lure as an alternative of the wand’s string. There are “wiggly worm” lures that seem like fuzzy snakes that you would be able to clip on to a regular wand toy (once more, corresponding to Da Hen), and Dezi and Roo make a number of lures which have stringy tendrils on them which might be made with heavy paper or fibers. Verify these out and see in case your cat would really like any of these.

And, if he REALLY loves string toys, there’s no hurt in letting him play with them so long as you’re supervising! The Cat Charmer (which is an extended strip of rainbow fleece that comes off of a shorter plastic wand) could possibly be actually enjoyable for him, even when he does chew it. So long as he’s not ingesting the fleece and having fun with himself, it’s okay to indulge him.

Readers, do you’ve further concepts JoAnne may attempt? This seems like a time for artistic options! ?

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