Ask the Cat Behaviorist Cats Feline Behavior

Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Dr. Marci Koski: Cat Won’t Come Out of Hiding, Cat Frightened of His Human, Cat Avoids Carpet, 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 captivated with all animals and their welfare, cats have all the time had a particular place in her coronary heart. In truth, Marci can’t keep in mind a time when she’s been with out at the very 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 maintaining 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 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.

Cat appears instantly afraid of his human

My Fluffy tuxedo out of the blue appears afraid of me. Not on a regular basis, however many occasions that you simply wouldn’t anticipate. He additionally appears scared of different noises such because the neighbors beginning their motorbike outdoors, in fact, and Fluffy is inside. Fascinating that the planes flying over on remaining strategy to the close by airport don’t frighten him. Once I frighten him, he crouches down and strikes away together with his tail low. When noises frighten him he takes off and runs upstairs often (and this creates a stampede because the others take off after him).

The one vital occasion that I can consider was the loss Stardust, his life-long good friend of 13 years. Stardust was with us since Fluffy was a kitten. I even have a number of others in my family, however there haven’t been some other modifications.

Fluffy will nonetheless lay on my lap, and he nonetheless comes as much as me, however there are occasions like once I’m inviting him into the bed room that he cringes and runs away.

I don’t like that he’s frightened and want to change no matter behaviors I’m doing to trigger it or change issues in order that he isn’t being frightened on a regular basis. Hoping you’ll be able to have a solution. – Nelda

Hello Nelda – I’m sorry that Fluffy appears to be extra afraid of you recently – it’s all the time regarding once we see our kitties appearing in a different way. I do have a number of questions for you to consider. First, did his conduct change all of a sudden, with the fearful response to each you and sure noises occurring on the similar time? Or did the fearfulness in the direction of you and noises begin at totally different occasions? Did the fearfulness begin shortly after you misplaced Stardust? Was Fluffy all the time considerably skittish or fearful and it’s simply gotten worse, or was he ever daring and outgoing? If his conduct modified abruptly and he appears totally different from how he was, it by no means hurts to get him checked over by a veterinarian to make sure that there’s not a medical cause for his change in conduct. Cats are good at hiding ache, however that may take a toll ultimately and trigger modifications in conduct, so it’s greatest to be on the protected aspect.

Subsequent, have you ever observed any patterns or circumstances that appear to happen when he acts fearful in the direction of you – e.g., one thing you’re doing (a specific exercise, or making a sure noise), particular time of day, location within the residence, and so forth.? If potential, hold a journal and observe every time this conduct occurs, and what occurred simply earlier than (together with when, the place, and so on.). It will show you how to determine potential triggers of his fearful conduct.

Should you can determine a set off, you possibly can select to both keep away from the set off altogether, or work on decreasing Fluffy’s worry of the set off with counter-conditioning and desensitization. Usually talking, counter-conditioning includes making a constructive affiliation with one thing that the cat doesn’t notably like (mostly achieved utilizing treats that the cat loves) and desensitization includes regularly growing the publicity of the set off to the cat. So, you begin with small ranges of no matter Fluffy is afraid of, and provides treats to Fluffy to assist him study to tolerate the set off. You don’t have to make use of treats; if Fluffy isn’t food-motivated, you can too attempt brushing, petting, sweet-talk, or perhaps a toy – no matter Fluffy enjoys can be utilized in counter-conditioning.

You should use counter-conditioning and desensitization to assist scale back Fluffy’s worry of the motorbike sounds coming from subsequent door. Obtain a couple of sound results that sound just like the neighbor’s motorbike from any variety of mp3 web sites. You may attempt beginning out by enjoying the sounds at a low quantity (i.e., out of your telephone) and giving Fluffy a deal with (or no matter he enjoys – petting, and so on.) when the sound performs and he doesn’t run away. Steadily improve the sound of the noise (by way of leisure system or stereo audio system) in subsequent periods, being conscious of his worry degree – you need him to have the ability to eat his deal with; if he leaves the deal with and runs away, the sound has gotten too loud too shortly. All the time attempt to finish periods on an excellent word; if Fluffy is snug sufficient to eat a deal with, that’s good, however attempt to not get to the purpose the place he will get so agitated that he doesn’t eat the deal with. You need to create a constructive affiliation, so ending on a very good word is necessary!

Should you can’t work out precisely what’s inflicting Fluffy’s fearfulness of you, you possibly can nonetheless work with him to scale back his worry. First, you’ll need to determine one thing that you should use as a reward for any “courageous” conduct that Fluffy reveals. If he likes treats, you may shake the deal with bag whenever you invite him to the bed room and reward him with a deal with or two. If his want for treats outweighs his worry, you’ve discovered a great way to make use of constructive reinforcement to reward courageous conduct! Use constructive reinforcement when he sits with you, comes when referred to as, approaches you, and different occasions he takes the initiative to work together with you.

Lastly, if Fluffy appears to lack confidence typically, attempt stepping up the variety of play periods he will get. I like to recommend two play periods day by day utilizing an interactive wand toy (Da Chook is my favourite). Giving a cat the chance to behave just like the fearsome predator he’s will improve his confidence and assist him not really feel so prone to being thought-about prey (bikes sound just like the roar of a much bigger, predatory cat that would eat a smaller cat, don’t you assume?).

I hope this helps – it can take time and endurance to ease worry, however in the event you work persistently to find out what’s inflicting Fluffy’s worry after which use counter-conditioning and desensitization to enhance Fluffy’s tolerance of the set off, you’ll be in fine condition.

Cat afraid of companion

Howdy and thanks for the superb recommendation I’ve learn up to now. My 11-year-old tortie feminine, Bella, was adopted from a shelter together with her brother two years in the past. Each cats settled rather well, affectionate with me and my companion. She had critical well being issues final yr, suspected liver illness, numerous checks, however received higher spontaneously and now wholesome and vigorous once more. A couple of weeks in the past when she was operating spherical the home throughout a play session she rushed spherical a nook and ran into my associate. She bumped into the backyard and he went after her to appease and reassure her. She ran away to cover. No bodily injury was completed however since that point she can’t be in the identical area as him, runs off instantly she sees him. She has taken to dwelling in a single room, my bed room/research, popping out solely to make use of her litter tray which is in one other room upstairs. She is consuming properly, performs with me and is her traditional affectionate self, however has such a restricted life. She used to benefit from the backyard and the entire home. Any concepts for learn how to get her to return out of her chosen protected area and see my companion as a pleasant individual once more please. Thanks – – Jenny Garber

Hello Jenny – oh, poor Bella! It sounds just like the scare she acquired out of your companion was actually upsetting to her. And sadly, it doubtless wasn’t simply the preliminary shock she obtained when she got here across the nook, however your companion going after Bella to appease and reassure her was in all probability interpreted utterly in another way by her! When cats are upset or frightened, it’s greatest to go away them alone – it may be much more scary for the factor that scared them to additional strategy. It’s what a predator would do, and keep in mind that smaller cats advanced as prey within the wild!

I’m glad that Bella is consuming nicely, utilizing the litterbox, enjoying, and is being affectionate with you. However I agree that it’s not good for her to be restricted to at least one room, even when it’s self-imposed. I’d advocate making an attempt to get her snug in a single room of your property at a time. She’s completely happy within the bed room/research, so decide one other room that’s straightforward for her to get to and focus your efforts there. Let’s suppose that’s the lounge. Do you will have any vertical areas arrange for her? Cats really feel safer once they have tall perching places from which to view their territory, so a cat tree and well-placed cat cabinets (or anywhere a cat can bounce to) can supply your kitty some refuge places. Additionally contemplate including a couple of “intentional” hiding spots, comparable to a cat cave or cubby, or a tunnel toy – being “invisible” may also assist cats really feel extra assured in new locations. Are you able to coax Bella out of her room and into the lounge (or hallway to start out) with a wand toy throughout a play session? Or perhaps lure her into the brand new area with some treats? Use constructive reinforcement to encourage her bravery – even when it’s solely coming two ft into the hallway, that’s trigger for a reward!

After Bella has gained some confidence in her new space, then you definitely’ll need to use counter-conditioning and desensitization to “reintroduce” her to your companion (see my response to Nelda, above). At first, you may need Bella sit with you on the lounge sofa, and have your associate simply make some noise from the opposite room, then give Bella a deal with (or no matter will function a reward). Then, he can peek across the nook…reward. Subsequent step, he comes into the lounge, only a step…reward. Then he comes nearer…reward. Then he tosses Bella some treats from a distance, then he comes nearer with extra treats…you see the course that is going, sure? That is an publicity gradient, and it’ll take a number of periods to work by means of, relying on how delicate Bella is. You could have to go very slowly, however that’s okay! All the time attempt to finish on an excellent word, with Bella having fun with no matter reward you’re utilizing.

Lastly, attempt including some ways in which Bella can scent-mark different elements of the house. This consists of scratching surfaces and bedding, so be sure that there are many these gadgets in no matter room you’re making an attempt to assist Bella acclimate to. Feliway spray can also assist these areas of the house really feel extra acquainted too. Better of luck to you and your companion – Bella is fortunate to have such caring individuals in her life!

Cat avoids carpet

I’ve a tortie named Chloe whose story I shared right here about 2-Three years in the past. Just lately, Chloe has developed a conduct I can’t make sense of and hope perhaps you possibly can.

Just lately Chloe was launched to part of cat life she’d by no means recognized earlier than having lived all her life in Colorado at 6200′. Now that we’re in KY, she turned a favourite residence for fleas, and she or he didn’t prefer it. The fleas are just about gone, however remaining is a really unusual conduct I don’t perceive. Chloe completely hates to be on the carpet. She was by no means like this earlier than. She walks round on the kitchen linoleum advantageous, however she despises the carpet. She is going to run throughout it as shortly as potential and fast leap onto the closest furnishings she will get to. I started noticing this, so at some point I picked her up from the mattress and positioned her again on the ground. Instantly she was again on the mattress.

I’ve by no means seen a cat do that earlier than and though she’s not hurting something together with her conduct, I nonetheless assume it’s bizarre and marvel what has brought on it. If in case you have some options to supply me, I might love to listen to them. Thanks. – Karen Gage

Hello Karen – Thanks for writing in about Chloe! When precisely did you discover her beginning to keep away from the carpet? Was it simply after you moved to Kentucky, or was it after the flea episode? Additionally, what sort of carpet is it? Does she hate ALL varieties of carpet, or is it only one type? Will she additionally keep away from space rugs? Does this occur all through your property, or solely in sure rooms?

There are a selection of potential issues that Chloe might not like concerning the carpet. My first thought is that maybe she received a claw snagged on the carpet sooner or later and that when she was lastly capable of take away it there was some ache related to the carpet. If you weren’t round to witness this incident (and assist her out), her conduct may need appeared to return out of nowhere because you have been unaware of what occurred. Alternatively, there may be one thing else concerning the carpet that she doesn’t like, maybe the odor. Is the carpet new, or have been there different animals that would have left a odor after they moved away? Or, did you employ a flea remedy on the carpet that left a lingering odor? Alternatively, if the carpet (or carpet remedy) has a yucky residue that’s getting on Chloe’s ft that additionally smells just like the carpet, Chloe could also be making an attempt to keep away from the carpet in order that she doesn’t style it when she cleans her paws.

Lastly, might it’s attainable that it’s not the carpet that she dislikes, it’s maybe being weak in sure places in your house? I don’t know when you’ve got different cats or pets within the residence, however contemplate that being on the ground in the midst of a room might make her really feel weak. For instance, if she was as soon as ambushed by one other cat who got here out from underneath the mattress (both in play or to assault) Chloe might not need to make herself vulnerable to potential predators by being on the ground. So, on this case, it won’t have something to do with the carpet, however about her spatial vulnerability and potential ambush places.

So long as her dislike of your carpet isn’t negatively impacting her life (or yours), I wouldn’t fear about it an excessive amount of. I might simply be sure that the carpet is clear and freed from odors and residue, and that her nails are trimmed in order that they will’t get caught within the carpet fibers. If you wish to attempt to encourage her to enterprise on to the carpet extra regularly, attempt luring her with treats on the carpet (or higher but, in a meals puzzle on the carpet), or through the use of an interactive wand toy throughout play periods. Coax her onto the carpet together with her favourite prey lure and reward her with a play session and a deal with!

Cat hides 100%  of the time

Pricey Marci, I’ve an inside feral cat who’s loving to me and another cats; nevertheless, she hides, 100% of the time. First, it was behind the fridge, and wouldn’t come out to make use of the litter field. I blocked that off. Now, she is beneath a bed room dresser, however will come out to make use of the litter field as long as it’s close to her for fast entry. Query: how can I regularly ease Sindia (“Cindy”) out of hiding? I additionally bought a big crate that I put within the household room space and that was okay, besides she received out, and located a brand new place to cover, which is beneath the dresser. I can maintain her, she’s affectionate and loves different cats. However skittish. She additionally has a really dangerous itchy pores and skin drawback for which I’m treating her now by testing particular meals eating regimen. Any ideas/options are appreciated. – Yvonne

Hello Yvonne – Thanks for writing about Sindia. It feels like she might use some confidence-building to have a extra enriched life past spending her days underneath the dresser! I’m completely satisfied that she is affectionate with you and enjoys different cats. Will she come out from beneath the dresser for you? I might work on determining what attracts her out from beneath her hiding areas. If she is sluggish to strategy, spend a while in her room merely studying aloud. This can assist her study extra about you, and provides her loads of time to watch you NOT making an attempt to work together together with her. It’s also possible to deliver treats with you, or meals, and set it down on the ground subsequent to you if you learn. Assist her study to affiliate you with good issues, together with meals.

Subsequent, does she play? It seems like Sindia is at present in “prey mode” – fearful, hiding, assembly primary survival wants. We need to attempt to train Sindia to be in “predator mode” – assured, relaxed, and proudly owning her area. The most effective methods to show Sindia to be a predator and to construct confidence is thru play! Interactive wand toys could be lots of enjoyable, however they are often scary at first. You may begin with only a lengthy string – drag it in entrance of her hiding spots to see in the event you can elicit a paw to return out and make a seize for the string (all the time put it away when not utilizing it although, simply to be protected). You may as well attempt utilizing an extended peacock feather, and even spritz catnip spray on it! As soon as she will get used to interacting with these varieties of toys, use a wand toy with feathers, a mouse, or wiggly worm lure on it. See when you can coax her out from underneath the dresser, and play in her room together with her. Reward any progress with sweet-talk, petting (if she’ll allow you to), reward, and treats!

Subsequent, give Sindia alternatives to really feel protected in her setting by offering vertical area (cat timber and cabinets for perching) and intentional hiding areas. You may attempt draping a blanket or a towel over the massive kennel you might have in order that it’s a pleasant cave for her to hang around in. The extra locations Sindia has from which to securely observe her surroundings, the extra assured she will probably be. You should use toys, catnip, and treats to coax her to utilizing these new locations, but in addition all the time keep in mind to provide her decisions. It’s good that you simply’ve blocked off sure locations, like behind the fridge, however all the time be sure that she has a selection of the place she will go to really feel protected. So, you’ll by no means need to lock her within the kennel with out the power to get out on her personal. For those who block off the dresser, be sure to put a field, bag (with out handles), or a cat cave or tunnel in the identical space that she will retreat to. When a cat doesn’t have any management over her decisions, that may trigger stress and melancholy; a cat who could make decisions has extra management over her setting, and grows her confidence. So attempt to interact her in popping out to you with rewards, play, and new protected areas (excessive and low) to discover. Constructive reinforcement for her bravery will assist her take new steps!

And sure, determining what’s happening together with her dry, itchy pores and skin is necessary as properly. I do know that if I have been itchy on a regular basis I might in all probability need to disguise, be nonetheless, and never need to work together a lot with anybody! As soon as she’s feeling higher, which will go a great distance in the direction of eager to enterprise out. In case you have a veterinary allergist in your space, they may be value testing. Better of luck to you and Sindia!

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

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