Ask the Cat Behaviorist Cats Feline Behavior

Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Dr. Marci Koski: Cats Who Don’t Get Along, Marking Behavior, 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 enthusiastic about 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 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 might 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.

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

Pleasant feminine cat being ignored or hissed at by different cats

I’ve a feminine cat that could be very mellow and pleasant in the direction of individuals in addition to different cats. The issue is that the opposite two cats both ignore her (male) or the senior feminine will swat and/or hiss at her. It seems the senior feminine is jealous as a result of when she involves mattress with me, she is going to then begin swatting or hissing if the opposite feminine is on the mattress. She may even have this conduct if the youthful feminine is by me at different occasions. This conduct disturbs me and I can’t work out why the youthful cat is handled on this method. – Rozanne Malaise

Hello Rozanne,

Thanks for writing in about your kitties. It’s troublesome when cats don’t all the time get alongside, isn’t it? Luckily, there are some issues that you are able to do to clean over relationships. I’m not nervous concerning the relationship that your youthful feminine has with the male cat, since seemingly impartial interactions (the place one cat ignores the opposite) point out a reasonably good relationship (a minimum of in my ebook) – nobody is threatened or intimidated, and every cat is safe of their area with one another. Yay for peaceable coexistence! However, your senior feminine is exhibiting indicators of insecurity – YOU are perceived because the useful resource that’s being competed over, and your senior woman just isn’t about to offer that as much as some younger upstart. I’m curious – do the 2 females have peaceable interactions in your house in any respect, or do they keep away from one another besides when they’re each round you?

I’d love so that you can work on serving to your senior feminine really feel a bit safer, and in addition enhance the affiliation she has with the youthful feminine. First, ensure that there are many key assets across the house, unfold out as a lot as attainable in order that useful resource competitors isn’t an element. Make it possible for the 2 women are ate up reverse sides of the room (and even totally different rooms), and that they every have entry to separate litter packing containers in their very own socially vital areas of the house. Napping spots, toys, perches, entry to water, and so forth. are all assets that ought to be plentiful!

Subsequent, let’s work on forming constructive associations between the 2 women. Is your senior feminine in any respect food-motivated? In that case, nice! If not, attempt to discover a meals merchandise that she is going to eat – attempt plain cooked hen breast, goat cheese (it’s a bit extra digestible than cow’s milk merchandise), the juice from a tuna can, a little bit of shrimp, and so on. Then, I encourage you to work together with your cats in order that they’re in the identical space as you. In case you have one thing that may hold your youthful cat occupied (or if she’s napping), sit close to her and name your senior cat over. When she comes over, reward her with a high-value deal with. You could have to start out fairly a distance out of your youthful kitty, or have her behind a gate. However that’s okay! We’re principally utilizing counter-conditioning (pairing one thing “good” with one thing perceived as “not so good”) to reform the affiliation your senior cat has to the youthful woman. Work on bringing the 2 kitties nearer to one another and reward the senior (or each!) for good, calm conduct. Ultimately, I’d such as you to have the ability to sit on the sofa with every cat on both aspect of you, periodically getting treats for being good to one another.

Good luck – I hope this helps!

Feminine cat is peeing round the home

I’ve 4 cats and the youngest is a two yr previous spayed feminine. The issue is that she is consistently marking numerous locations round the home. How can I right this conduct. I’m uninterested in cleansing. She is by far probably the most lively of the 4 cats, continually exploring and operating round. Even with all that power, she doesn’t like enjoying with feather teasers and toys, so sporting her out is unimaginable. – Rolfe Smith

Hello Rolfe,

okay, let me simply begin by saying that cat urine is the WORST. So, I utterly perceive your frustration – it’s exhausting to take away from materials, and it smells horrible! That being stated, there are some things that you are able to do. First, just remember to’ve taken your kitty to a veterinarian and that she’s been examined in order that medical causes for her conduct may be dominated out. Bladder infections, cystitis, urinary crystals, and so forth. can all trigger cats to avoid the litter field.

Subsequent, just remember to’re doing every little thing you’ll be able to to get the urine out of surfaces the place she has urinated. Use an enzyme-based cleaner. Don’t use bleach or vinegar, as typically these will dry and depart a scent that cats will need to cowl with their very own. Moreover, in case you have beforehand used soaps or detergents on material or carpet, make sure that they’re completely rinsed as a result of even residual detergents will kill the useful enzymes in your cleaner and make it much less efficient.

Then, is your cat urinating (emptying her bladder), or spraying (to mark)? Often (however not all the time), you possibly can inform the distinction by the place the urine is and the way it exhibits up. Urination for emptying the bladder often happens on horizontal surfaces and exhibits up as a big pool. Spraying us often on a vertical floor – you’ll see a line of urine on the wall, dripping right down to the ground, with a small puddle. Additionally, spraying incessantly happens close to doorways and home windows, the place overseas smells can enter the house or she will see cats outdoors.

To treatment this, it NEVER hurts to have an ideal litter field setup – take a look at these tips that Ingrid  posted on The Acutely aware Cat. In case your cat is urinating close to the packing containers, that’s typically an indication to me that there’s one thing she doesn’t like concerning the litter field! And, even when your kitty is spraying, having an amazing litter field close by may also help.

In case your cat is spraying, you possibly can attempt a couple of issues. If it’s outside cats who’re setting her off, attempt placing opaque window movie on home windows or doorways the place she will see the outside kitties. Then, attempt offering her with other ways to “mark” the areas she’s been spraying with urine. You possibly can spray Feliway in these areas, or use cheek rubbings (use a mushy sock to rub her cheeks to gather her pleasant facial pheromones and her private scent) to deposit her scent on locations which were sprayed. Attempt placing a scratcher close by (cats depart scent marks from their paws once they scratch) or place bedding that has her scent on it within the space. Or, you’ll be able to attempt to change the perceived use of these areas – for instance, cats don’t wish to eat or sleep the place there’s urine. Attempt placing a meals bowl or meals puzzle in one of many dirty areas, or bedding. Or have a play session there, too!

If this drawback is stress-related, ensuring that your kitty has good relationships with different cats/animals within the residence is vital. I do know you stated she doesn’t like feather toys, however do attempt an extended wand toy – my favorites are Da Fowl, and the Wiggly Wand by Dezi and Roo as a result of they’re each lengthy and you may put totally different lures on the ends. Belief me – your cat WILL go after these, since she’s two years previous and energetic! Play is a large stress-reliever, and I cannot overstate its significance for sustaining a low-stress and assured cat. I hope that this helps!

Integrating a brand new cat right into a household of 16

I’ve had cats all my life, and for the previous 22 years my husband and I’ve had as much as 35 indoor/outside rescue cats (all fastened). So I’m relatively skilled with cats. But now, I’m on the finish of my wits. Three of our four present tomcats don’t get together with 2 tomcats we adopted final November and can struggle till blood is flowing, each time they’ve an opportunity. (We have now to rotate the two teams of tomcats between our home, the visitor room, the storage, the solar room, and the outside, a number of occasions a day. That’s fairly a process!) I wrote you a letter asking for assist, a number of weeks in the past, however this letter by no means confirmed on this web site. It should have landed within the abysses of cyber area.

But now, we’ve got a good worse drawback: One among our tenants discovered her cat, Gates, lacking final December. She was overjoyed to discover a image of him on Fb, posted by an area Cat Rescue Group. She picked him up, and all the things was fantastic and dandy, besides that Gates, who had all the time been pleasant to the very vigorous large pet, now abruptly was “imply” to him. After which, 2 days in the past, the actual Gates got here again (after having been lacking since early December, when our tenant first moved into our property). The cat she had picked up on the Cat Rescue had been a look-alike of her cat.

Despite the fact that, the 2 Gates (after first hissing) appeared to get together with one another, our tenant can’t hold each cats for quite a few causes. So she requested us to undertake Gates II.
We had met Gates II earlier than and had discovered him an exceptionally pleasant and affectionate cat, and I had spent fairly a while petting him whereas my husband had been busy repairing the furnace of the duplex-apartment.

My husband and I are in our late 70s. We have been now right down to 16 cats. And we not undertake extra cats (besides when one walks in or will get dropped off). However with this cat we made an exception as a result of we had discovered him such an cute cat (and in addition as a result of we needed to be useful to our tenant). So I picked up Gates II, final night time. And now there’s catastrophe!!!

As we had executed earlier than, once we adopted a brand new cat, we put the opened pet service with Gates II into an enormous canine cage in our front room, in order that he might see our different cats, whereas being in a protected place. Some cats came to visit to greet the newcomer, however Gates II remained within the pet service, inside the canine cage.

A while earlier than we went to mattress, we moved the pet service with Gates II to our visitor room (which, since final November, had been the primary refuge for the, then, newly adopted 2 tomcats, Ginger, and Hyperlink). Since Ginger is a really mellow cat, we left him within the visitor room (on a tower of bins), whereas my husband and I sat down on the futon making an attempt to coax Gate II out of the pet service with a choice of cat meals. Gates II lastly emerged, ate a few of the meals, however the exchanged glances between Gates II and Ginger have been something however pleasant. So we eliminated Ginger from the room.

This morning (whereas I used to be nonetheless asleep), my husband entered the visitor room, and Hyperlink (the opposite cat who had thought-about the visitor room his foremost refuge since final November) dashed in proper behind my husband. Earlier than my husband might make any transfer, Gates II attacked Hyperlink fiercely, and after my husband had managed to get Hyperlink out of the room, Gates II attacked my husband’s legs and left accidents, despite the fact that my husband was sporting denims and lengthy johns beneath.

Once I obtained up, a number of hours later, my husband and I entered the room once more (with out another cat round), and we talked to Gates II and petted him. He appeared to want to “apologize” to my husband for the assault he had landed on him a number of hours earlier,. He appreciated being petted, and he brushed towards each of us.

I ultimately picked up Gates II and put him over my shoulder (cautious to not get him near my face). He appeared relaxed. Then I walked 2 steps with him and put him down softly on the little desk by the window. (This window is on the 2nd flooring, and there’s nothing to see from it however automobiles–no cats in sight.) The second I had put him down, he rotated and put his lengthy claws into my left hand, deeper than I had ever been clawed by any cat. (I, proper after, utilized antibiotic ointment, however the place certainly one of his claws hit a vein, my hand is swollen now and may need an infection.)

I might considerably perceive that seeing Hyperlink (an enormous cat) come into the room, this morning, Gates II was so upset that he attacked my husband’s legs, however shouldn’t he have simmered down after a number of hours being within the good, brilliant room by himself, with no different cat in sight? Is there any probability that he’ll modify and get together with the opposite cats of Completely happy Cats Ranch? (And keep in mind, we have already got hassle between 2 teams of tomcats.) We stay 10 miles from city. And our cherished vet, who lives 20 miles from us, has retired 15 months in the past, and is now solely not often out there. The remaining 2 vet workplaces on the town are troublesome to get appointments with. Thus, if a cat will get injured, we do have fairly an issue.

Can Gates II even be adopted out by the native shelter or the native Cat Rescue Group? Even when there have been no different animals round, I might not belief him with youngsters. (Most individuals in our space have youngsters and/or grandchildren. We don’t.)
I’m afraid that if we return Gates II to our tenant (who should return him to the native Cat Rescue Group or to the native shelter), he’ll find yourself euthanized (or he’ll get adopted out and harm someone).

Is there any probability to get this cat re-socialized and save his life? And do you’ve gotten any strategies how we will cease the outright conflict between our different 2 tomcat teams? (Add to this a newly dropped off tom, who can also be at struggle with our present “gang of three”.) As I stated, we’ve had as much as 35 cats ever since 1987 (once we received settled at our 18-acre nation property, bordering federal lands), and we’ve got by no means ever had such issues with cat wars (and even much less with cats attacking us). HELP!!! – Lilo Huhle-Poelz

Hello Lilo –

WOW. It looks like you have got quite a bit happening, far more than I’ll have the ability to handle in a response for this column. However first, let’s simply put issues into perspective for Gates II. Think about this: he was in a shelter (and who is aware of what his life was like earlier than that) for a while, presumably with all types of various cats, canine, individuals, smells, noises, and so on. that have been overseas to him. Then, he received adopted by your tenant, who introduced him to a brand new place that was additionally utterly overseas, this time with a big pet. Then, after a short time, he was delivered to your home the place he was surrounded by a number of new kitties and other people in a totally unfamiliar setting. That’s a HUGE quantity of change for a cat, and I’m truly stunned that he emerged from his service so shortly to simply accept meals – many cats would have waited lots longer and solely eaten when left utterly alone. That claims one thing about his character and confidence – good issues!

Sure, it’s straightforward to know why he attacked your husband after Hyperlink entered the room – that’s extra a case of redirected aggression the place Gates II was in all probability reacting out of worry and defensiveness (even when he did go after Hyperlink). Gates II didn’t have any kind of established territory within the house, which may trigger insecurity and defensiveness to be heightened, particularly when confronted with an intruder (whom Gates II I’m positive acknowledged because the “proprietor” of the room by means of scent). It’s slightly bit extra obscure why he clawed you if you put him down, however please do contemplate that he was in all probability already “on guard” for the explanations I listed above – he’s not sure about who/what might be coming by way of the door at any second, he doesn’t have any territory to assist him really feel safer (and is aware of he’s in another person’s territory, based mostly on different cats’ scent markings), and he’s being dealt with fairly intently with individuals he doesn’t have a robust bond with (but, anyway). Cats are hypersensitive to their environment, so the place we’re capable of block out issues like background noise, shadows, smells, and so on., cats are taking note of ALL of this stuff. Mix that with a cat who’s in a brand new and unfamiliar surroundings (that smells abundantly of different cats) and…nicely…you skilled the outcome. It might have been only a little bit of discomfort in the best way he was being held, or a shadow flashing throughout the ceiling, that made him really feel scared, leading to him all of the sudden lashing out at you.

That being stated, based mostly on the restricted info I’ve, I’m optimistic that his actions have been circumstantial. Had he been safer or extra accustomed to his environment and also you, he might by no means have lashed out, so let’s give Gates II the good thing about the doubt for now. The extra Gates II is ready to get acquainted together with his environment and “declare” them as his personal (i.e., by leaving his scent by way of physique and cheek rubbings, scratching, having his litter field in his space, and so on.) the extra assured he’s going to be. On the subject of him interacting with different cats, some cats have to be launched very slowly, and he is perhaps one among them. I extremely advocate giving him time to regulate and slowly exposing him to the opposite cats with scent, then visible interactions. With every scent/visible interplay, pair with one thing constructive (like a favourite deal with) or a distraction (like a favourite toy or recreation) in order that he can construct constructive associations with the opposite cats. You do have a number of kitties to wrangle so it’s going to be a bit tougher, however for a primary course of, take a look at Jackson Galaxy’s visitor submit at The Acutely aware Cat about cat to cat introductions. This will likely additionally aid you with what’s happening together with your gangs of toms that aren’t getting alongside so nicely!

The longer you reside with Gates II, the extra you’ll study him, his character, and whether or not he’s a mellow fellow or a bit extra high-strung. Some cats simply won’t get together with different cats, which could be the reason for aggression. Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that they will’t be adopted into a unique state of affairs the place they may be utterly joyful. I’m positive that you simply’ll think about Gates II’s happiness in your house – he might ultimately slot in, but when he’s not making any progress with getting together with others, he’ll in all probability be happier in a unique residence. I want it was simpler to foretell how cats will modify to a brand new setting, however it’s almost unattainable. Houses with lots of potential stressors have an effect on every cat in another way, which can make it kind of troublesome for cats to regulate to different feline (or canine, or human) members of the family. Luckily, it seems like Gates II often has a candy disposition, so I’ve excessive hopes for him!

Lastly, it might be useful to rent knowledgeable cat conduct marketing consultant to return to your own home to evaluate the state of affairs and assist you to find out how to greatest work out the best way to assist with Gates II and your different tomcats. Should you don’t have anybody in your space, there are various consultants who can work with shoppers lengthy distance by way of video (which may truly work fairly properly in lots of conditions). Knowledgeable shall be in a position to try the cats’ surroundings and assets and enable you to determine how one can clean out the relationships between your cats, or at the least assist everybody safely coexist with minimal stress. It’s so clear that you simply love all your kitties and need them to have good lives – better of luck to you, your toms, and Gates II!

A notice from Ingrid: Dr. Marci didn’t need to promote her personal providers on this column – she gives distant conduct consultations, and I extremely advocate reaching out to her!

*The Acutely aware Cat is a participant within the Amazon Providers LLC Associates Program, an affiliate promoting program designed to offer a way for us to earn charges by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated websites. Because of this should you determine to buy via any of our hyperlinks, we get a small fee. The Acutely aware Cat is a member of Etsy’s associates program. We solely unfold the phrase about merchandise and providers we’ve both used or would use ourselves.

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