Seeking answers about your furry friend? There’s a good chance we’ve seen that question before. If not, you can ask our experts.
I have a cat 7 months old and when I was doing yoga she attacked me and attacked the guy on tv too, what’s she trying to tell me?"
From the wording of your question, I’m guessing that this was unusual behaviour for your cat, who presumably doesn’t normally attack people or television screens. However she was likely quite fascinated to watch you (and the guy on TV) doing the intentional, slow movements of yoga. She is very strongly programmed to be a hunter, and even though she knows you aren’t really prey (not being a mouse or a bird) it’s likely that after a few minutes of observation, she couldn’t resist the urge to attack. This kind of playful aggression is normal behaviour for young cats: it is fun for her and helps her practice her hunting skills. But if she is attacking you on a regular basis, she’s trying to tell you that she is bored and needs to have some interactive toys to practice her hunting skills on.
Our cat Echo is just over 11 years old. We were very first time cat owners and adopted him a year ago from the SPCA. Echo was neutered in Nov 2005 and we were told he spent his life as a farm indoor/outdoor cat. For the last year he has been strictly an indoor cat. We haven’t had any issues with spraying at all.
However, I’m finding that since we have had him, every now and then, Echo pees on his cat tower. It is not spray – there is no scent. But it’s a very yellow (concentrated) colour. His wood pellet litter is clean, there haven’t been any household nor food changes, and he seems fine health-wise (no vomiting, normal stools, etc.) He’s up to date with his shots, and vet visits. We’ve asked our vet and they really didn’t have much of an idea since everything seems normal.
I’ve Googled and can’t find any info as to when he does pee outside the litter box, it’s ONLY on the base of his cat tower. Any ideas? Advice? I’m at a loss and I would really love to know what little Senior Echo is trying to tell me."
Inappropriate urination is a huge frustration to both owners and veterinarians. Why can’t cats just send us a written memo instead of marking things with noxious, yellow liquid?! Assuming it is cat pee (healthy cat pee is well concentrated, bright yellow, and smells strong enough to bring tears to the eyes), then our investigation should always start with a urine analysis. A lack of obvious blood to the urine makes stress-induced bladder inflammation (cystitis) highly unlikely as this urine is often bloody in appearance. The presence of microscopic blood in the sample could mean that Echo has crystals or stones present causing him pain. Assuming that Echo’s urine has been given the all clear, this leads us to focus on the behavioural reasons for inappropriate urination.
A cat peeing outside the box can be due to issues with the litter box as it is in the home (location), litter, and litter box type. This type of inappropriate urination is called house soiling. The single choice of the scratching post (and lack of pooping outside the litter box) makes house soiling possible but a lot less likely.
Assuming all is well in litter box land, then we are generally faced with an anxiety basis or territorial component to the inappropriate urination. Assuming you are like a lot of cat owners and have located the scratching post in front of the window so Echo can watch the birds go by, one source of stress to investigate may be a visitor cat coming to the window while he is sitting there. The inappropriate urination may be Echo’s way of reaffirming that it is his post. If this visitor is proving sporadic, then it could explain why the pee is only now and then. It sounds like Echo was neutered when young but we are missing 10 years of medical history. Adopting mature cats is a challenge for many shelters so Echo finding your home is amazing and deserving of special acknowledgement. It also comes with a few unique challenges in working through these cases as we may not know all the answers about past behaviour.
As with any cat “thinking outside the litter box”, please go back to your regular veterinarian and work to decipher what Echo is telling you. Going with a sketch (or photos) of the scratching post relative to the rest of the room is vital, along with details about where the litter box is in your home, etc. can be very helpful in providing additional insight as to why the tower is being targeted.
Why does my cat lick and chew on my hair when I’m trying to sleep. She also sniffs around my ears."
A cat that compulsively chews on hair or licks our faces at bedtime may be greatly attracted to our nighttime routine. If part of the nighttime routine involves the use of scented products, then it is possible that your cat is attracted to one of the smells. They are licking and chewing your hair much in the same way that a cat might lick or chew at a catnip infused toy.
If you kitty is still chewing on your hair after eliminating any smelltastic beauty products from the bedtime routine, then this behaviour may reflect some underlying anxieties or compulsive behaviour in your cat. Modifying compulsive behaviour is possible and one that your veterinarian will be able to support you on.
When I mop the floor with a bit of bleach why does my cat like to roll around in it."
Bleach is an excellent disinfectant generally classified as those containing chlorine and those that do not. Chlorinated bleaching solution can prove to be an addictive smell to certain cats, causing them to react much in the same way as if we were to wash our floors with catnip extract. So if your tenacious tabby likes to roll around on fresh-from-the-pool bathing suits or other products that have that chlorinated smell, then they are doing so because they are attracted to the smell. If we wish to avoid them rolling all over a freshly mopped floor, we may need to consider changing cleaning products.
Why does my cat bite my granddaughter when she just touches him? Usually he is so gentle with her."
Sudden onset changes in behaviour, especially biting behaviour, is very distressing. In a cat’s mind, the reason for the bite might be very obvious, but less so to us as we are not trained to innately “speak cat”.
Assuming your cat and granddaughter have always had a good relationship, sudden onset biting can be due to several reasons. The top two that come to mind are (a) a reaction to pain or (b) a reaction to fear.
Depending on the age of the kitty, if he were to have a bad back or sore hips from age-appropriate arthritis, and then be touched the wrong way, then this could be very painful. If he is then associating that painful pat with your granddaughter, then the easiest way for him to ensure that the pain stops is to bite the hand touching him the wrong way. Along the same thought process, if your kitty had a perceived negative experience with your granddaughter (maybe she was cuddling too loud or too rough) then the bite is his way of saying “I don’t want you to touch me”.
Knowing that he has his own cat reasons for the behaviour, limiting contact with your granddaughter and focusing on positive reinforcement (think treats) to improve their relationship can help get things back on track. As we need to keep everyone safe, and there may be concerns for underlying pain as a possible trigger in your cat, a good check up and discussion with your veterinarian are vital to establish a more specific plan.
Why does my cat flip upside down against me and stick her butt in my face whenever she sits in my lap?"
When we greet someone, our first instinct is to shake hands (or even giving them a peck on the cheek!). Cats, being a scent-oriented species, prefer to introduce themselves to their friends by showing them the other cheek (so to speak!) and inviting them to smell their bums. We should be flattered when a cat presents their tush for a smell or two as it is their way of saying, hi! I like you.
Our abdomens contain a lot of vital organs. Our backbones are able to offer some protection but our bellies are vulnerable, resulting in organ damage if attacked. As a prey species (to critters larger than them), cats have learned that showing your belly to a foe is the fastest way to get eaten. A cat exposing their vulnerable tummy in greeting should be regarded as an acknowledgement that you are a great friend and one whom is being trusted.
Why do cats quiver their tails? Mine do it when they are looking for their supper, for pets, etc."
Oh to be greeted by a cat shaking their tails! Cats, like people, will often express themselves differently. Some cats are very chatty when they want cuddles or snacks whereas others may remain quiet and pretend not to care. Some cats like to shake their tails as a happy greeting. To clarify, there is never any urine released when the tail is shaking. This greeting behaviour is very normal and often becomes part of the daily ritual. Too bad we do not have tails to shake back!
My girlfriend and I recently adopted a tripod cat. How do we know the difference between new pain or ghost limb syndrome pain in terms of her vocalization. She is quite a chatty cat."
Although a challenge for studies, there are concerns that cats can develop ghost or phantom limb pain as can people. Good surgical technique along with aggressive pre- and post-op pain control can help minimize this risk. On recovery from amputation surgery, we would hope to see a now three-legged patient thrive better than their four-legged version. As a three legged cat will still be graceful, but may have abnormal wear and tear on joints, new pain (such as earlier arthritis) may develop. To further compound our challenges, identification of pain in cats still confounds the best of us.
In identifying pain in cats, current wisdom focuses on changes in posture (pain free cats sleep in relaxed, rounded croissant-like shapes), comfortable facial expressions (upright ears and “happy” whiskers), and normal cattitude (i.e., nice cats are nice and sassy cats are sassy). In relation to vocalization, if your kitty is always a talker, then I would expect the conversations to remain chipper ones. As with many aspects of cat health, it is a change in the vocalization that is the concern and not if a cat is being vocal in the first place.
To help ensure cat comfort, the current philosophy is to treat pain if we think it might be present and then observe behavioural change. Have we made things better? If you are concerned about pain in your newly adopted kitty, then this is a conversation that needs to be had with your veterinarian. Bringing video of your Chatty Cathy might help provide clues about what she is saying. Based on this discussion, your veterinarian may suggest a pain control trial or be able to provide insight into what a painful meow might sound like.
My cat is 13 years old now and just started getting into cuddling with me especially under the covers. Is there a reason for this or is he simply being lovable?"
Changes in cattitude and behaviour can be very normal parts of aging. Once free roaming spirits may prefer to be home bodies; cats that tended to be aloof may realize the joys of cuddles. We can accept that these changes occur and may do so without any obvious medical reasons. That said, extra cuddles under the blankets may be an indication that your cat is seeking heat. Heat can be very comforting to joints. As we now know that 90% of cats over the age of 12 have arthritic changes, which can be identified on x-rays, then a more cuddly senior kitty may be viewing us as a means of getting some extra joint relief. If your cat is not currently on any joint care, then it is worth having a good chat with your veterinarian about what can be done to help cats age gracefully!
Although he is a loveable cat it’s great that you have noticed that this is a change in behaviour for him. A senior cat may seek out warmer places to sleep because of age-related changes like arthritis, but some medical conditions can cause them to lose weight and muscle mass which makes them more susceptible to the cold. It would be a good idea to see your veterinarian for a physical exam and senior wellness screen; this is also a good time for a nutritional assessment if he has not had one recently.
I wanted to ask if cats can sense things are wrong?"
We know that cats have senses that are different than ours with their sense of smell and sound are more advanced than our own. Can this explain their quirky behaviours at times? Are they smelling changes in our biology that are “wrong”?
When we are sad or under more stress, it is often amazing how the cat “just seems to know”. They seem to know when extra cuddles are needed or how therapeutic their purr is. Although there may not be a rational or scientific explanation for a cat’s ability to give our lives so much comfort and joy (especially when life may be going wrong), we can put it simply down to the amazing bond that we have with our cat family members. And that is a very right thing!
Cats are very sensitive animals! They are more attuned to changes in people and their surroundings than humans are, and can certainly pick up on more subtle signs that something is wrong than we humans can.
My cat has suddenly started peeing by the door (not the door she ever uses to go in & out) or else on the bathmat. Any suggestions for fixing this? She’s 7 years old and never did it until now (the past 6 or 7 months)."
When a cat changes their litter box behaviour, they’re usually trying to tell us something! There are several reasons why a cat might do this, and the first step is to take her to her veterinarian to ensure there is no medical issue playing a role. Cats can get cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), bladder stones and sometimes infections that can cause pain when urinating; this can cause a cat to avoid her litter box if she associates it with that discomfort. As well, older cats can develop conditions that cause them to urinate more frequently. If her litter box is soiled more often, she may avoid it because it’s no longer as clean as she would like. Your veterinarian will analyze her urine and possibly check her bloodwork and a radiograph (x-ray) to rule out these conditions.
If there are no medical issues present, then the next step is to look at environmental reasons that she may avoid her box. Cats prefer larger litter boxes (about 1.5X their size) that are open so they can survey their surroundings while they are in it. Unscented, clumping litter tends to be preferred over coarser clay. If there has been a change at home that may cause stress, such as a move, renovations, or people leaving or joining the household, your veterinarian is a good source for solutions to help her feel more at ease.
My cat can’t stand getting his nails trimmed. How do I fix this behaviour?"
My cat Willie on occasionally gets into a neurotic tizzy and starts licking the counter tops and floors. He seems agitated when he does this… Any ideas as to WHY this behaviour occurs? It’s rare, but it does occur."
Thank you for this great question. Licking odd objects or surfaces can be a sign of gastrointestinal disease and discomfort, and sometimes anxiety or other behavioural concerns. It would be best to have Willie seen by his veterinarian who can help rule out a medical condition that can be addressed.
Our cat was abandoned and found us when she was about 1 yr. old. She’s 10 now. She’s completely bonded to my husband and me but is terrified of all other people and hides when anyone but us is around. Is there anything we can do to help her be more social?"
Depending on a cat’s level of socialization as a kitten, it may be difficult for your cat to feel comfortable with many individuals. When cats have a tendency to hide I do suggest that you ask your veterinarian to perform a complete physical examination, blood work and urine testing. At 10 years old she may have some medical issues, and it is possible these issues arose a long time ago. If your cat is declawed, I would also consider longterm pain from this procedures as a potential cause of chronic pain. Pain can lead cats to hide away from any people they do not know as these people are unpredictable and threatening.
My Cat is a very nice orange tabby of 6 years, I adopted him when he was 3 months, he follows me everywhere, and he pushes my ankle with his head, what is he trying to tell me."
Your cat clearly enjoys your company and wants to be with you whenever possible. When your cat pushes your ankle with his head, it is very likely he is marking you with his special scent. He may also simply be enjoying the physical contact. Chances are he doesn’t have any mysterious message to give you. He most likely wants to say that you mean a lot to him and he enjoys your company.
We have 5 great cats. The youngest Nibz loves to steal our socks out of our drawers. She’ll drag them around in her mouth and cry at the same time. Why? Is she looking for some comfort?"
For some cats, playing with or ‘hunting’ items of their human’s clothing is very attractive. They find pleasure and comfort in these items and continue to seek them out. In some cases, when their humans are away, cats will seek out the human’s clothing items so that they feel closer to the human while the human is away.
Our cat is 5 yrs old, lately he started excessively cleaning his feet…always licking…I clean his litter box every morning. We brush him lots but not his legs, he doesn’t like his belly brushed, or patted for that matter, I can sometimes but only me. Just curious…love him to bits, thank you."
It’s great to hear that you clean his litter box every day! I’m sure that he greatly appreciates it. Some grooming is normal but excessive licking can be related to many things such as allergies, pain, anxiety, a wound or infection, litter clumped between his toes, fleas or other parasites and some less common diseases. It would be best to have him seen by his veterinarian to ensure that there is no evidence of disease that can be treated. In case of contact allergies and to respect his keen sense of smell, you could try using unscented litter and avoid using scented fabric softener or soap when washing his blankets or his bed.
We adopted a rescue she is about 5 months old now. She is very playful but is quite rough with me biting and scratching without any provocation she just jumps on me as if she wants to cuddle and before you have the chance to let her she bites and claws me. At first I would talk gently to her to calm her down but that didn’t work now I hold her by the scruff and say no but that doesn’t seem to work much better. What can I do to stop this behaviour?"
By 5 months of age, most kittens have made the transition from gentle social play to more aggressive play – this is true whether they are playing with other cats, or with the humans they live with. Although this is normal behaviour, it sounds like it’s getting a little out of hand and I’d advise you to try the following:
How can I tell if my cat loves me?"
While we don’t really know if cats love us in the way that humans love each other, I think we do understand that cats are very affectionate and attached to their humans. If your cat likes to be around you, wherever you are, even if it is just in the room and not necessarily in physical contact, your cat is attached to you and has pleasant emotions in your presence.
Why does my cat meow and run away from her litter box once she has used it?"
Thank you for your curiosity. This behaviour could be related to discomfort while urinating (from crystals, stones, or other problems) or while defecating (colitis, constipation, or other problems). The first step would be to bring her to her veterinarian who can help determine if she has a medical condition that needs to be addressed. Your veterinarian can gather more information, perform a physical examination and suggest the next best steps to help your cat.
My other 17 year old female cat recently lost her sister as she was put to sleep…I think she is lonely and meows all the time…and she is very loud! She’s waking me up a few times a night and I can’t stand it! What can I do to make things better for her?"
Cats do grieve and experience loss when a close companion has gone. Your cat is probably lonely and wondering where her companion went. I suggest you ensure that she get regular meals, writing down her activities and appetite. She should have regular socializing times with you every day, that are consistent and regimented. As a 17 year old cat, your cat may be experiencing coincidental health issues. It is best not to assume that the meowing is behavioural. Your veterinarian should perform a full physical examination, blood work, urine testing and a blood pressure series.
My cat, a maine coon, is always meowing everytime my husband is around. Yet when he is not, or asleep, she is quiet around me. As soon as she understands he is awake and hears him coming down she starts meowing."
I wonder if your husband is responding to her meowing by giving her something that she wants, such as attention, food or treats, petting, letting her go outside, or perhaps even “talking back” to her. If the meowing is a problem, the best way to stop it is for your husband to utterly ignore her when she meows at him, and to interact in a positive way (with attention, petting, treats, etc.) only when she is quiet. It may take a few weeks, but eventually she will get the message that meowing doesn’t get her what she wants. On the positive side, though, the meowing behaviour indicates that she is strongly bonded to him and enjoys interacting with him (hopefully he feels the same about her!). Interaction is good, but it doesn’t have to be “on demand”.
My cat likes to grab my hand & give it kisses. What is she trying to say?"
That depends on exactly how she is kissing you… If she is grabbing your hand to lick or nuzzle it, that sounds like maternal or “friend” behaviour, and she’s trying to say “I like you a lot”. If she is grabbing your hand to bite it (even gently), she may be trying to say, “I like you, but please stop petting me”.
My cat Tigger loves my husband, but every now & then she bites him really hard & breaks the skin enough to make it bleed. We don’t understand why she bites him."
This is not a good situation – cat bites can be painful and cause serious medical issues. Sudden bites and scratches are often seen in cats that are being petted or groomed. Although they may initially appear to enjoy the activity, when they bite it is because they’ve had enough! Many cats will give subtle warning signs before they bite, such as twitching or thumping the tip of their tail, rippling their skin, or tensing slightly. If you see these, it’s time to gently walk away. Other helpful tips for your husband: pet the kitty’s head and shoulders but avoid the rest of the body, pet gently to avoid stimulating the cat, and don’t initiate the interactions (let the cat tell you when it’s in the mood to be petted).
Our lovely female 2 yr old cat would always meow and follow my partner around before (playfully?) attacking her leg. But with me she acts differently – she would follow me around but doesn’t meow at me as much nor does she attack my leg as often. She would often go to me for cuddles and strokes and to my partner to play with her toys. My partner is also the one who gives her catnip once a week and treats every night. I was the one who adopted her from a basement where she was kept for months, and she met my partner later. Could you please share what you think is happening/what she is saying with her behaviour?"
It sounds to me like your cat views your partner as someone to play and actively interact with, and views you as someone who gives comfort and reassurance. When she thinks of your partner, she thinks of catnip, treats, and playing with toys, and also pretending that your partner is “prey” that she can chase and attack. When she thinks of you, she thinks of quiet petting and companionship. If you want to expand your role, try scheduling a daily 10 minute play session with a catnip toy – or you can continue with the status quo (I suspect she is very fond of you both, but in different ways!).
Why does my cat always want to come into the washroom with me? When I come out, she is either facing straight at the doorway or standing guard, waiting for me beside the door."
While we consider cats to be fairly solitary as far as the cat world is considered, cats do like to be around their humans. It is very likely that your cat just wants to know where you are, and to be close to you whenever possible.
What should I watch for if I think my cat is in pain?"
Why does my 20 year old cat meow until I call him and or go get him? He does this especially at night. He’s staring at me. He’s in the same room but I have to go get him"
There are a few reasons why a senior cat may start vocalizing, especially at night. Some medical reasons would be a decline in vision or hearing, discomfort from arthritis or another medical condition. Cats can also experience the mental decline associated with age that may contribute to confusion. The first step is to have him checked out by your veterinarian to ensure there are no medical concerns that could be treated. In the meantime, you could try adding some nightlights to help him navigate your home at night.
Do cats see spirits? We have a cat who keeps looking towards the steps going upstairs. We do have strange things happening in our house. Not fearful but I wonder if he can see something we can’t."
What a spooktacular question! With the answer largely based on whether or not you believe in ghosts. From a purely scientific perspective, it is fair to state that cats have very different developed senses than our own. We appreciate that their sense of smell and hearing is far superior to ours (but we have a better sense of taste!). We also know that cats have the ability to see in the dark, thanks to a very specific structure in the eye (the hyper-reflective tapeda lucidum). A talent that people lack. So when we feel our cat is sensing something that we are not, it could be a faint smell or sound they are noting, such as mouse scurrying behind the walls. From a spiritual perspective, we choose to accept that there are things in our world that may be beyond human senses but are purrfectly detectable to a cat. After all, it is the cat that rules in lore as the witch’s familiar.
Lately my cat has developed a habit of standing on my night-table and letting out one loud, whiny meow about 45 minutes after I’ve gone to bed. She’s always been the kind of cat who loves cuddles but often needs to be “invited” to cuddle but this jarring wake-up every night is a bit much. Nothing has changed in her behaviour otherwise and nothing has changed in our lives. I’m not sure what she’s trying to tell us!"
Assuming that you are not electing to go to bed 45 minutes earlier and that your kitty is thinking you should remain a night owl, there are several reasons for why your cat is disrupting your REM cycles.
Changes in vocalization is a recognized “subtle sign of sickness” in cats. Possible medical reasons for abnormal vocalization include pain (joint, dental pain), changes/loss of vision (especially night vision as cats get older), unregulated hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, and brain changes. Most of these disease processes are more likely to show up in an older cat so, if it has been awhile, a trip to the vet is not a bad idea to ensure that your feline friend is not hiding a disease.
Having ruled out the medical, we focus on a behavioural cause. Cats are very routine driven so your hunny may be stressed by a change in the bedtime routine, such as missing the invitation for bedtime cuddles. As it is our caregiver nature to ensure all is well, if we have woken up to check on kitty when she has been vocal, we have inadvertently reinforced this behaviour by giving her a “reward” (attention) for getting us out of bed. Again, assuming no medical concerns are present, ear plugs and focusing on a new bedtime routine that includes cuddles (and quite possibly treats) before the lights go out should help get everyone the beauty rest they need.
Why does my male, neutered cat pee on my clothes, on the carpet under his kitty litter and on the throw rug? Had him at the vet to check for medical issues, but there are none. Quite annoying…"
Peeing outside the litter box is frustrating and, sadly, a behaviour that often does not present with a straightforward answer or solution. For an inappropriate urinator, it is important to rule out medical reasons for the behaviour including urinary crystals, stones, inflammation (cystitis) and infection. Although there are numerous medical causes for inappropriate urination, they are all painful to the cat when they urinate. Thus, in cat logic, pain associated with the litter box combined with a sense of urgency will drive cats outside of the litter box. In young, healthy male cats, urinary tract infection is very, very uncommon so sadly a simple round of antibiotics will often not cure this condition.
Having eliminated the medical (via urine analysis, imaging/x-rays to look for stones), this leaves us with behavioural reasons for litter box avoidance. We can divide behavioural issues into box aversion and anxiety behavior. Cats may elect not to use the litter box due to an aversion issue such as wrong litter (substrate) type, wrong box type, and wrong location. A cat choosing to consistently pee on soft surfaces (clothing, carpet, rugs) may be telling us that his current cat litter is not soft enough for his paws. Behavioural studies supported that cats seem to prefer a large (1.5x their size), uncovered litter box with unscented clumping litter located in a private place. Assuming that the litter box is as fancy as the Ritz restroom and not a fairground port-a-potty, this leaves anxiety (stress) as the driving factor for the inappropriate urination. It is important to remember that a cat is not peeing inappropriately out of spite or because “they are mad at us” but because of how their brain has processed life events (new baby, new home, annoying neighbour, change in work routine) they are telling us that they are stressed and they need help.
With any inappropriate eliminator, we know we need to get them back in the box as quickly as possible. If a veterinary visit has ruled out the medical, and what has been tried is not working, then go back to your veterinarian for help.
My Bengal has an obsession with licking plastic bags. He cannot resist them and if I let him, will spend hours licking them. Every plastic bag we decide to keep has to be under lock and key or he will drive me to distraction going after them. He only obsessively licks them. He also has an obsession with yarn. I’m a knitter and have to constantly keep half an eye on him or he’ll steal the balls or the knitting and run off and make a mess of them. I have never had a cat that I couldn’t train to leave yarn alone, but for this one. Doesn’t matter if the yarn is wool, acrylic, alpaca, silk…all kinds. It and the plastic bags are like kitty crack to him. It’s been like this since I got him eight years ago as a kitten. I’ve even spoken to my vet about these behaviors. Speed Racer is very healthy and has a lovely personality and temperament and is a wonderful companion. We’re at a loss."
To a cat, attraction to certain objects or foods is generally based on smell, texture, and taste (with smell being a far more superior sense than taste). A cat that is attracted to plastic bags is likely doing so because he has found them to be attractive (perhaps plastics secrete a smell that is addictive to certain cats) and now this behaviour has become habitual. We could equate this behaviour in the same way that some cats are highly attracted to chlorine and will thus lick owners’ bathing suits.
Play behaviour is very normal for cats and is essential to their health and wellbeing. Cats will have a preference for feathers or fur prey and, thus, will seek out toys that mimic this preference. The challenge in our homes is that this desire to play and hunt will always be present in a cat but they are the ones making the decision of what type of toy to play with (for my kitten it has been baby socks). Yarn can be a very desirable toy as it can be batted and fly through the air like a rodent. It moves, catches, and darts about on the floor. When your sassy Bengal steals it, it also causes a response and interaction from his scolding owner. This interaction “reward” may be his way of engaging us in play behaviour. Assuming that a Bengal named Speed Racer lives up to his name, finding yarn substitutes, engaging in regular play sessions, and keeping the yarn locked up tight will be important to find playtime peace at home.
I have noticed that my normally super chill cat can get very aggressive when new people come into our home and try to pet him. He has random freak outs and will try to chase after people, he has also shown aggression with his voice and has bitten people before. He isn’t a very affectionate cat in the sense that he doesn’t like to cuddle or be picked up, but he likes being around people and my husband and I can usually pet/scratch him for a short period of time. I’m just wondering why his behaviour changes around new people? I thought maybe he could be a little socially awkward or he’s uncomfortable? And what would be the best way for him to introduce/make him feel more comfortable around new people?"
Managing a cat with aggressive behaviours is challenging. In determining what type of strategy will work best, the first step is determining what type of aggressive behaviour is going on. Medical concerns, especially those that cause pain (such as joint ache or dental disease) must be addressed as pain lessens our tolerance to stressful situations. Assuming a clean bill of health, a current rabies vaccine is important for public health and safety.
When focusing on the behavioural side of aggression towards strangers, a sit-down with your veterinarian is essential to determine what type of aggression we are dealing with. Not all cats are “social butterflies” and do get stressed when there is company. Just as some people handle stress by shutting down and others gear up for a fight, cats will have innately different responses to stressful situations. Assuming a less social base personality, the hisses and growls are warnings that, if “personal space” is invaded by an unfamiliar hand with unwanted cuddles, there will be a aggressive (physical attack) response. If this type of attack has proven “successful”, and the cat is left alone, then the attack response gets reinforced as being a good strategy for the next time company comes calling.
Again, a good sit-down with a veterinarian is essential to look at the fine details and determine possible risk factors (such as age or gender of the visitors) that need to be taken into consideration in a behavioural care plan. Your vet is an excellent resource to talk about reducing anxiety in your cat when company comes over (such as using treats or a time out room) and developing strategies to keep everyone safe.
Why does my cat eat plastic? I use it to cover my bed, in an effort to keep it clean. She vomits frequently, help, she is 14 and has been doing this for years."
Much like people who always chew gum, or chew on toothpicks, some cats like to chew on plastic. We are unsure of exactly why. It could result from boredom and it is recommended to have playtime with your cat several times a day (fetching, food puzzles, iPad games). To be honest, that can be as much fun for you as it is your feline friend. The odd cat can actually have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which is treated with environmental stimulation, minimizing stress in the environment and medication, but this is rare. The concern is if they ingest the plastic that it could cause a bowel obstruction, which is a serious consequence. The vomiting may be related to gastrointestinal irritation from the plastic, but it may be completely unrelated. At 14 she should be receiving regular veterinary care and early disease screening, as vomiting is not “normal” for a healthy cat. So take her to your veterinarian and start scheduling 5-10 minutes, several times a day to play with your cat.
My cat gives me a silent meow, what does that mean?"
Cats come in different shapes, sizes, personalities, and sounds. Just as some people speak with a naturally loud and booking voice whereas others are quiet as church mice, cats will vocalize and purr to varying degrees of loudness. A silent meow may be absolutely normal for a kitty (and perhaps a blessing if attention is being sought at 2 am!). That said, as with many areas of cat health, sudden changes in vocalization are cause for worry and warrant a veterinary visit. If a cat goes from being a Chatty Cathy to a silent screen star, then a good examination (focused on the throat) is essential as there could be inflammation or disease changes that are affecting the vocal cords.
Why does my cat hiss and attack my boyfriend sometimes but lets him pet her other times?"
Cats like us are affected by how their day has gone and is going and have days when they are more tolerant of things than others. Allowing us to pet them for some cats is truly enjoyed and for other cats, just tolerated. Also cats have a certain number of pats that they will tolerate. For example, an individual cat may like to be patted three times and on the fourth time they hiss and bite. Like us, cats may like one person more than another and are more tolerant of one person than another. Cats are very sensitive to smells and sounds and it could be that your boyfriend has been near another cat or animal or wearing a different cologne and smells different or is louder on the days that she is less tolerant of him. Let her decide if she wants to be patted. She will come to him on days she does and rub up against him to mark him as hers. On days she doesn’t, he just needs to allow her space and forgo the pat.
Why does my cat sleep on my head?"
Cats like to sleep on things, ledges, tops of cabinets and so your head does provide a bit of a perch in the bed. As well cats like to sleep near warm things and your head radiates heat. The shape of a human head is great for the kitty cat to curl up on and against in that beautiful reverse c-shape position that they are known to sleep in when they are comfortable and content. Cats are also particular with who they decide to share their world with, especially when they sleep, so feel honoured that your cat has chosen “YOU”. If this behaviour is disrupting your sleep, you could try a special pillow that is pre-heated in the microwave and holds the heat and put it next to your head to see if you can coax your feline roommate next to you, rather than on top of you. Cats are persistent however – they like what they like and your cat loves you.
I have two rescued cats, both, from different places, and both, female. Unfortunately, they are both extremely jealous of each other, although they do play well together, each one has urinated on the other’s spot, which also happens on my bed! It’s been three years now, and, occasionally, something has upset their day, and I catch one or the other, in the middle of the act!"
Cats are very territorial and they are not inherently social. They don’t tend to get jealous per say of each other, but they need to make sure that they have their space and that their environmental needs are met. Each cat needs to feel that they can be the “Queen of their Castle”. In order to meet their environmental needs, make sure that you have at least three litter boxes (one per cat plus one) and have them located in different areas of the house. It could well be that if all the litter boxes are in one location, one of the cats blocks the other cat from entering the area of the litter box. Like us, cats like to use a clean, flushed toilet, so make sure you scoop the three litter boxes twice a day and fully clean them at least once a week. They need their own food and water bowls as cats are solitary hunters and they like their water bowl away from their food bowls and both away from their litter boxes. Like us, they don’t want to eat dinner in the bathroom. Make sure there are several scratching resources so that they can mark their territory with their paw pads and nails. Cats are predators and so they need short playtimes several times a day to minimize stress and individual playtime is the best. As well, cats are prey, so make sure they have several safe places to sleep at various different heights. Cats also will urinate inappropriately if they have a medical condition such as a bladder stone, so I would recommend that each cat is seen by a veterinarian and their urine is analysed.
I have this beautiful black cat named Raven. She is five years old and she came to us with another cat, her sister whose name is Nala. My concern is that she likes to suckle and chew on fabrics, particularly my shirts and cardigans and even thin blankets. Her sister does not have this habit at all, and Raven is a particularly skittish cat. Is there any help that you can recommend to my husband and myself in the way of treats or toys or even medical attention to resolve or reduce this behavior? My concern for Raven would be her forming an obstruction at some point down the line as we have never found any evidence of fabric in her stools but we have caught her chewing the fabric. Any advice would be greatly appreciated."
Cats will sometimes chew or suck on fabric as a result of anxiety or stress. In some cases, cats that are itchy from allergies will chew fabric if they cannot reach the part of their body that is itchy. Meeting Raven’s environmental needs, including access to perches and interactive toys like food balls, may help keep her occupied and away from the fabric. Sometimes anxious cats also need medical treatment. A discussion with your veterinarian would help determine the best approach.
Why does my cat randomly go bonkers & run around the house like a nutcase?"
We see cats do this for a variety of reasons. First, you want to make sure that they do not have an external parasite such as a flea. Providing them with a veterinary prescribed topical flea treatment is recommended even if you don’t see any fleas or flea dirt as cats are incredibly fastidious and it only takes one flea to drive them to this state. If their skin ripples over their back during this time they may have Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome which has potentially a number of causes and should be handled by a veterinarian. Cats are predators and in the wild they use a lot of energy hunting small meals, 9-15 times a day. Our indoor cats are storing this energy and if they don’t get playtime several times a day for 5-10 minutes, they tend to spontaneously release their energy; a bit like little kids that all of a sudden need to run. So add in playtime, which will minimize your cat’s stress and allow her to use her energy up as she would in the wild. Interestingly, cats tend to have a fondness for feather or fur so find out what toys your cat likes. iPad games and chasing laser light are great fun for your cat too, but make sure your cat wins the game and gets a toy in the end. Feeding puzzles and balls are a great way to put the hunt back into mealtime.
Our cat began to urinate on our bed lately. We always allowed the cat into the bedroom because it was a special place in the house that our dog did not have access to. We have to keep the door shut now and our cat Jerry has lost his sleep on the bed privileges. I don’t know what provoked the bed-peeing in the first place. Insight appreciated."
Inappropriate urination can be stressful for everyone in the home! While cats will sometimes urinate due to environmental factors, it is important to rule out medical conditions first by taking Jerry to see his veterinarian. Cats can also be affected by cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and urinary crystals and stones—these conditions can be very uncomfortable and cats will sometimes avoid urinating in their litter box if they associate it with pain. If there is a behavioural component, talk to your vet about how adjustments to his environment can help keep Jerry happy and busy.
My cat (Dinkers) likes to scratch under the bed at precisely 3am until 5am every night. Is this normal or does it mean she wants to be turned in to a rug?"
Yes, this is normal behaviour – cats love to scratch because it helps keep their claws healthy, and also marks their territory (in this case, the underside of your bed) as “theirs”. Dinkers may be choosing this time of night because she is bored and wants to get your attention! It may help to offer Dinkers some alternative locations to scratch, and experiment with different surfaces to see what Dinkers enjoys: rope, cardboard, carpet, or even a piece of wood with bark. If you can cover the underside of the bed with a non-scratchable material such as a vinyl carpet runner that will help discourage her from choosing this location.
I have a 2 year old female cat (spayed) and two adult males 10 and 12 years old. The female digs excessively in the litter box often for several minutes before and after using the box. There is litter everywhere after she has done her business. I have used the same litter since we adopted her over a year ago. I did try scoopable litter to see if that was the issue and it’s not. I have multiple litter boxes that I clean regularly. I’ve never had a cat do this. Any suggestions how to correct this behaviour?"
Cats instinctively cover their urine and feces with litter – they may do this to hide the material, or to eliminate the odour. Some cats, like your female, are very fastidious about eliminating every trace! It may help to use a litter that controls odour, or a litter box spray, or to try to find an alternative litter material that has an odour and texture that your cat prefers (hopefully, your other cats will have the same preferences!). It may also be helpful to use a larger litter box, which makes it easier for the cat to bury the waste without excessive excavation.
Why do cats howl in the middle of the night?"
This is a distressing behaviour for both the cat and the people in the household! There are many possible reasons, but often this is a cry for help. Many cats that cry at night have a medical issue such as high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism, and successful treatment of the condition often resolves the behaviour. Other reasons for howling at night may include pain from dental disease or osteoarthritis, or cognitive disorders in very aged cats. A trip to the veterinarian is definitely in order!
My cat Cleo paws at the water bowl and the floor in front of it when she wants to have a drink. This leads to her knocking over the water dish. What does this mean?"
Some cats enjoy playing with water which may include spilling their water dish. Cleo may be one of these cats. In order to ensure Cleo still gets enough water to drink without having an empty spilled bowl, you may wish to investigate a water fountain for Cleo. It is also important that some portion (preferably over 50%) of Cleo’s diet come from canned food, which allows her to consume a large portion of her required water intake in her food.
When I’m cuddling with my boy he tries to chew on my fingers all the time, why??"
Some cats like the salty tastes of our skin and this may be why your boy tries to chew on your fingers. I have known individuals who were smokers whose fingers had nicotine which also seemed to be attractive to their cats. In these cases, one should be careful because nicotine is a drug and can impact your cat’s nervous system. Your cat may also be exhibiting kitten behaviours of nursing. Most cats will massage with their paws and sometimes suck on blankets or other items, but fingers may be an object of interest for these cats as well.
If I am reading or watching TV, I’II see my cat out of the corner of my eye creeping up on me and then pounces on me and then takes off around the house. Are these fits?"
No, these are not fits, these are your cat’s way of inviting you to a play session. They are likely bored and don’t understand why you are reading a book or watching a screen when you could be throwing a ping pong ball for them to chase, or dangling a toy bird on a string for them to leap at. If you can schedule regular play sessions (10 minutes, twice a day) and enrich your cat’s environment with interactive toys such as puzzle feeders, your cat may leave you in peace when you sit down to watch TV!
I have a cat that will meow incessantly until I go to see what’s wrong. She always does this near a door. When I go to find her, she will take a run, climb up the door jam and slap me in the head. I am always worried that there is something wrong, so she sucks me in every time. Is there a way that I can get her to stop doing this, or am I destined to live with a jerk for another 15 years (she is 4 right now, and has done this to me since kittenhood)?"
It would seem that your cat has trained you and likes to have a little bit of fun. As an alternative, I suggest that you work on some training with your cat. If you search items such as ‘clicker training for cats’ and ‘agility for cats’ you can learn a lot about training your cat to do fun tricks. This will give your cat some guided learning time and a valuable amount of your attention. If you aren’t up to this level of training, I do suggest you ensure your cat has 1-2 scheduled, consistent play sessions with you on a daily basis, so that she is getting your attention and having some fun.
Where to start? Boris is an indoor rescue cat that we got about 5 years ago who was about 2 at the time. He is extremely affectionate and loves to cuddle BUT at the same time seems to dominate the family (mid size dog scared of him). Problem – Boris attacks me when I walk by, uses his nails, takes swings at me and will chase me down. Also, every once and a while he will leave a poo in the middle of the living room (doesn’t appear to urinate). He has been checked by the vet … we love him, so we just accept his crazy off moments. How can I fix this behaviour?"
Like many behaviour problems in cats, this is a case of a normal, instinctive behaviour (catching prey) that is misdirected. As an indoor cat, Boris may be bored and is looking for an outlet for his predatory drive – and is choosing the dog and the people in the household as his “prey”. It may help to redirect his predatory instincts towards toys, particularly ones that move. You could try carrying a laser pointer in your hand and directing it on the floor ahead of you, or throwing a ping pong ball ahead of you for him to chase. Try carrying a towel or blanket to drop on him when he attacks your legs – this is no fun for him and will hopefully convince him to seek other targets!
My 7 year old male cat sprays the walls in the house even though he was neutered when he was a kitten. He does go outside on a regular basis and lives with another cat and 2 dogs, always has. He started spraying LAST fall. He becomes frustrated and paces and howls when he wants outside. When he doesn’t get outside immediately he will turn, look at me and spray the wall, couch, whatever he can. I find urine on a regular basis on the walls… Clearly he’s very upsetting. I tried to leave my kitchen window open so he can come and go as he pleases, however he has started to bring his “presents” (i.e. mice/birds/rabbits) that he’s caught into the house. Any tips??"
It is definitely a good idea that you allow your cat regular access to the outdoors. You may have to decide which is worse to live with-the spraying or the ‘presents’. I‘d personally choose the presents. Cats spray primarily to mark their territory. Having been neutered early should have limited this type of behaviour, but there is clearly something making him feel territorial in his environment. I would review how well he interacts with the other cat and dogs. If there are any issues there, you need to consult with your veterinarian about how to resolves these. Ensure that both cats have plenty of resources available to them in the form of food, litter boxes (you need 3), water bowls, toys and sleeping places. I suggest you work on a scheduled playtime with each cat, ensuring they get some of your attention regularly every day even if it is only for 10 minutes, and provide environmental enrichment tools such as food puzzles.
Why does my cat like to eat kleenex?"
Some cats have unusual appetites for unusual items. This is known as pica. Since this may indicate a health related problem, it is always best to review this with your cat’s veterinarian. Since you are aware that your cat likes to eat these items, it is critical to ensure that they are not accessible to your cat. Ingesting these items can be dangerous and could lead to an obstruction of your cat’s intestines.
My cat eats only hard food from the vet. We don’t feed her treats. She is a rescue cat who weighs 16 lbs and I’m wondering how can she lose weight? She is 4-5 yrs old and in the last 2 days she has thrown up her food twice. Please help, thank you!"
It’s wonderful to hear that you intend to pursue weight loss for your cat! Obesity is a true medical condition and should be managed by a veterinary team. Your cat has been fed too many calories in her previous life, leading to weight gain. Additionally, she may be predisposed to obesity due to her genetics, an exceptionally low metabolism, or having been overweight as a kitten. In order to pursue safe and effective weight loss, she should be prescribed a veterinary weight loss diet and monitored closely by the veterinary team during her weight loss program. You will also need to measure her food using a gram scale to see success, as measuring cups are incredibly inaccurate. Before any cat is put on a weight loss program, it’s important to ensure there are no other underlying medical conditions that need to be addressed. Given the recent history of vomiting, your cat should visit the veterinarian for a physical examination and further investigation into the vomiting before going on a weight loss program.
My cat Molly is a lovely 9 year old calico who unfortunately is lumpy. She had one lump on her upper back that had grown quite large (at least an inch wide by an inch high). I do take her for regular veterinarian visits and had the large lump on her upper back and a small lump on her spine (both benign) removed in July. Since her surgery I’ve noticed several smaller lumps that have formed on different parts of her body (mostly her back and hind area). Why does she have new lumps forming? Should I be concerned?"
When the original lumps were removed from Molly’s skin, your veterinarian would have sent them away for histopathology to identify the cause of the masses. The fact that many new masses are growing on Molly may indicate that there is a tumour that has spread throughout the skin, or possibly that Molly has several different types of masses. If you did not have histopathology done with the original masses, then it has become critical that you do get this information. You should return to your veterinarian with Molly and investigate whether the original lumps were sent away and pursue removal of the new ones.
My cat won’t stop eating. How do I know if I’m feeding her enough?"
Perceived “hunger” in your cat could be that she is, in fact, feeling hungry or it could be a learned behaviour, reinforced when begging is rewarded with more food. Your veterinarian can determine precisely how much food you should be feeding your cat on a daily basis. It’s very important to stick to these feeding amounts in order to avoid weight gain. Tricks for reducing begging behaviour include: using an automatic feeder to offer your cat small,
frequent meals throughout the day – but be sure to use one with 4-6 individual compartments to provide precisely measured meals, not a constant “waterfall” of kibble; feeding your cat from a food-dispensing toy so the food is distributed more slowly, which can also increase her activity level; and feeding a diet that promotes satiation, or the feeling of fullness.
How often do my cats need deworming?"
You are absolutely right, they do need deworming more than once a year. In fact, they should be dewormed against internal parasites once a month. Where you live determines what else your cats should be treated against. For instance, wherever dogs get heartworm, cats should receive monthly heartworm prevention too. Don’t forget to treat against external parasites (fleas, ticks) on a continuous basis.
Many veterinarians will dispense monthly dewormer (and flea/tick treatment) when they see you for your cats’ yearly (twice yearly) check-up for you to give to your cats at home.
Is wet food or dry food better for cats?"
Overfeeding, not wet food, leads to obesity. First, figure out how many calories your cat is allowed to eat in a day, including any calories from treats, people foods, and wet food. Your vet can help you! Next, measure dry food using a gram scale. Finally, don’t feed more calories than your cat needs to maintain a healthy weight.
Whether it’s wet or dry, the most important consideration is that each pet receives the nutrition that meets their needs. The format of the formula can offer additional benefits such as palatability, dental benefits, urinary benefits, or appetite satisfaction, so each pet’s needs should be considered individually. Your vet can perform a nutritional assessment to determine your cat’s needs!
Why does my cat dig around his food bowl?"
It depends… If this is a new behaviour; see your veterinarian to make sure there hasn’t been a change in your cat’s health. If you are starting a new food, he may be reacting to the change; make sure you are doing a slow transition (http://www.royalcanin.ca/about-us/faqs). If he’s always done this, he may be displaying an instinctive behaviour; offer his food in puzzle and interactive feeders to provide an outlet for play and predatory behaviour.
Why does my cat drag my clothes out of my room and into the kitchen?"
The answer for this amusing (or is it annoying for you?) behaviour depends on where she likes to spend her time when you aren’t at home. If she hangs out in the kitchen with her stash, then she is keeping you close by. If she drags your clothing into the kitchen away from where she sleeps, well….she wants the bedroom to herself. Regardless, she is identifying you as a really precious resource (affection, food, attention, all around personal servant).
Why does my cat climb/crawl into spaces he’s too big to fit in?"
Cats love being confined (when it is their choice). It makes them feel safe. He can apply just the right amount of body contact without having to ask for it, and he can get this “hug” for as long as he wants, whenever he wants. Hmmmm, sounds kind of perfect. (Where’s a cozy box?)
Why is my cat deathly afraid of plastic bags?"
Phobias take many forms in both people and cats; with these fears often routed in traumatic events. We develop these fears as a survival mechanism. It is likely that your cat was startled, and thus developed a fear response to a past plastic-bag incident such as getting a bag caught around his neck as a kitten. This incident taught him that plastic bags are scary and thus should be avoided. Every time your kitty hears and sees that scary plastic bag shaking at him, it reaffirms they are scary objects best avoided.
Does the loss of whiskers affect a cat’s balance or perception of distance?"
We have come to appreciate the importance of whiskers in helping a cat function better in their environment by acting as super-sensitive extensions of their skin and bodies (sort of like people using their hands outstretched in a dark room to better navigate and thus avoid bumping into walls). That said, some breeds of cat, such as the hairless Sphynx, have next-to-no whiskers, but these breeds of cat still have the typical feline grace and balance. As important as they are, it is the nerves in the inner ear that coordinate balance and eyesight that allows for depth perception, not the whiskers.
Why does my senior cat yowl like a crying baby when he’s out of sight?"
Just like people, we do see hearing loss in cats as a normal part of aging. The challenge becomes diagnosing it, as we have no good hearing tests for cats! Observing certain changes in behaviour, such as louder meows and startling easily when deeply sleeping, we can make the tentative diagnosis that a cat is having hearing loss. That said, there can be other reasons for increased vocalization in an aging cat that warrants medical care. Including pain (tooth pain and arthritis/joint pain are most common); vision changes and a subsequent disorientation (especially when dark); as symptoms of other systemic diseases including hyperthyroidism and high blood pressure; and due to age-related brain changes. If your aging tabby is talking too much, it is time to have a conversation with your vet!
What does it mean when my cat winks at me?"
It should be considered a great honour when your cat slow blinks or winks at us. Much like a warm smile from a friend, a slow wink or blink is a reassuring greeting and acknowledgment that you are friend not foe. Reciprocate these warm feelings and share cat love by slow winking back!
Why does my cat lick plastic bags?"
That’s a great question, which is another way of saying that we don’t really know. It may be that they like the feel of the plastic on their tongues or that the plastic is emitting a pheromone-like chemical. Pheromones are molecules that cats leave like messages for each other, such as from their paw pads when they scratch a surface or spray urine on a bush. Another theory is that (in some cats?) it is a “texture-specific eating disorder”, similar to wool sucking, just a different preference. Regardless, as long as the cat isn’t ingesting the plastic, it isn’t dangerous. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat when they’re indulging this habit – if a cat swallows plastic, it can cause painful and life-threatening intestinal blockage.
I would like to know why my cat is fearful and frightened? We’ve had him for two years, and while he’s better than he was, he’s still afraid of us! We know he doesn’t like to be held, perhaps he’s afraid that we’re going to try to hold him?"
It is wonderful that he is becoming gradually more trusting towards you! Like people, every cat has a different personality. And if he hasn’t been with you for his whole life, he may have brought the baggage of some previous negative experience(s) with him. While cats are curious, they are naturally cautious. This is because they are a prey species. Yes, they predate on mice and small birds, but even large birds (and everything else!) can and might kill a cat, so they are hard-wired to “better be safe than sorry”. Reward him when he is relaxed, keep a consistent routine with him, and keep on doing what you are doing. Over time he may become a trusting puss.
Why does my unneutered male cat pee on my counter and stovetop?"
That is an unpleasant place to have pee’d on! When cats urinate outside of the litter box it is to tell you something. He could need to mark the area as his territory because he feels threatened in that area (somehow) and it is an important landmark. (Can he see strange cats from that spot?) It could be that he is trying too tell you that he has bladder problem or is feeling stress-related cystitis: your veterinarian can check for cystitis. Or it could be that he doesn’t like the state or location of his litterbox: it should be scooped one-two times a day; if you have multiple cats, you need at least as many boxes as cats, and in different rooms; if it is a covered box, remove the hood – it smells under there! And, you knew it was coming, neutering him will reduce the smell (over a few weeks) and probably the behaviour, especially if he is peeing because he is seeing female cats or cats he doesn’t know. Good luck!
Hello! I’m trying to understand why my 4 year old cat comes to bite me (only) in the morning when she is hungry? Is she thinking that she’ll get what she wants this way? It’s not a great way to wake up at 4:30 am and the bowl is still full I tried to ignore the behaviour, but she comes back at random, non stop and …and she pretends to bite there loll, it does not bleed , but it has its effect I cannot wait to hear from you on this subject and thank you in advance"
Ouch! That’s upsetting! There are lots of questions I have, but I’ll just mention a few things. Cats are “crepuscular”, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk, when their prey are vulnerable but becoming active. So the timing isn’t surprising. Because this is “time to hunt”, she needs/wants to hunt/play. I suggest getting her puzzle feeders, something that she needs to operate rather than a “free lunch”. There are some great ones available including a set of mouse shaped containers to place throughout your home that she’d have to bat around to get the kibble. Check out: foodpuzzlesforcats.com. I don’t think this is about food, but rather about activity. By reacting, you are (unfortunately) reinforcing the behaviour. So, in addition to providing her with food puzzles before bed (with very small amounts of food in them!), shut the door and wear ear plugs to protect yourself from the meowing and door scratching. I hope this helps!
Hi, I have 3 cats, ages 16, 9 and 7. the eldest two are girls and the 7 year old a boy.
My question is, why does my youngest cat attack his sisters? Not just a playful fight, he. digs his fangs and claws in until there is blood and my girls are screaming! Is there a reason he’s acting like this? it’s like he has a barn cat mentality. I even have to make sure to feed him in a different room away from his sisters.
Note, I got him at 10 weeks old and my cousin had him before that.
Oh dear! We so want them to get along and live in harmony but…. He might not have learned proper socialization as a kitten. And he may be happier without having the girls around. Think about whether you can keep the two groups of cats separated through doors and also by incorporating vertical space (shelves, cat tree, etc) so they can get away from him. If you separate them physically using doors, you can timeshare so they get access to all parts of your home but at different times. Without knowing the layout of your home and the history (health and otherwise) of each kitty, it is difficult to properly advise. But he is definitely saying he doesn’t want them around. Your veterinarian may recommend medical therapy along with making environmental changes. Be sure to not get bitten yourself when you are rescuing the girls! (And, sometimes, the girls may be passively but deliberately annoying him…) Kids!
Hello, I am in need of some advice from you in regards to my cat Moka. He’s been doing his business in the bath even if his litter box is clean and I can’t understand why. Could you enlighten me, I really want to correct this behaviour!"
That is unpleasant for you! I’m glad you ruled out that his problem is not that his litter box isn’t clean enough! I suspect that he is telling you that his litter box isn’t large enough for him to feel comfortable in. I suggest getting a clear, colourless, large storage box (for sweaters or gift wrap storage) or, if you can’t find a low long box, then you could buy a larger storage box and cut an opening into one end. Boxes need to be about 1.5-2X the length of a cat. Remove the lid so he doesn’t feel trapped. It could also have to do with where the litter box is located; can he get into and out of it easily and be sure that no one might “ambush” him? Most cats prefer sandy litter rather than novel textures, and they don’t like deodorized litters. Picky, picky! If this doesn’t work, you can try putting the open, clean litter box into the bathtub. Not great, but it beats having the tub used….
Hi there. We have a 3 year old cat and a one year old cat. They have been attempting to get along for the past year but the oldest cat seems to have “fits of jealousy” that keeps them from having a good relationship. How do I fix this this? Thanks for your help."
Resources are very important to cats. That means not just food, water, litter, perches, beds, toys and scratching surfaces, but also attention from their people. It may never be full time peace and harmony, but take every effort at coexistence as a positive step. It may help if you give them a time-sharing arrangement: one cat gets one part of your home for part of the day and then you switch over. That way, they can each relax and have some “me time”. They will figure out a way of coexisting over time. Purr!!!!
Why does my cat love to cuddle when I’m on the toilet? When I go to the bathroom or even if I just sit on the toilet my cat will instantly jump up on my lap, nuzzle into me, curl up and fall asleep purring – anytime of day, even when he’s in an energetic mood. He almost never cuddles otherwise. What’s his deal?"
I’m not sure whether to say that’s sweet, or that’s awkward. But you aren’t alone in experiencing this feline behaviour! Cats like short periods of close interaction with us. They like to have our undivided attention. And, when we are on the toilet, we are pretty much not doing anything else so they can be sure of having us all to themselves. Enjoy his wanting your attention! 🙂
Our one-year-old cat has a tendency to meow and become very agitated suddenly, at least once a day. We thought it was just before going to the litter box, but this is not always the case. Is it possible that his urges to go to the toilet are confusing him?"
Hmmm, this is a tricky question without seeing what he is doing. It could have to do with discomfort, but if his urine and feces, appetite and energy are otherwise normal, it may not be a physical issue. It may be that he is trying to tell you that he wants something. Make sure he has lots of things he can do (bat around a toy, play hunt, observe from safe perches). Have you mentioned this to your veterinarian? They will be able to ask you the right questions and examine him to help make sure all is well AND put your mind at ease.
Mortimer has been sleeping on the clothes I’ve been trying to put away all day, I’m a new resident to the household, no idea what he’s trying to tell me but has not left my side all day"
It sounds like he really approves of you and wants your attention. Very cool if you are new to him! Sounds like a win to me! (Also, freshly clean and folded clothes, even if no longer warm, are irresistible…!)
My 11-year-old cat who is emotionally dependent (previous abandonment) wakes up at night meowing and runs to see me as though she is in a state of distress…Is it possible that she has nightmares due to the trauma linked to her abandonment?"
Has she always done this? If so, she may very well have disturbing thoughts or dreams; whether they are related to her previous abandonment or not would be hard to tell. Given the “crepuscular” nature of cats (they are active at dawn and dusk), they also can be more needy at those times, when their internal clock tells them it is time to get hunting. If this is a more recent development, at 11 years of age, while only middle aged, there could also be a decline in hearing or vision, making her feel lost when she can’t find you. Hypertension, hyperthyroidism and unidentified pain can also cause nighttime meowing. Finally, when those have all been ruled out (discounted), we start thinking about cognitive dysfunction. Have you spoken to her doctor about this?
We have 3 female cats aged between 10 and 14 years old. We RECENTLY rescued a baby male cat. Now all three cats are urinating all over the floor and doing their business on our beds! What can we do to solve this problem? Thank you!"
Oh dear! How distressing! This sounds like they are vying for territory. (Your bed is territory, as well.) Depending on what the interactions between the three long-term roommate girls is, they could be trying to claim some from each other to care for the kitten OR they may be together rejecting the kitten by telling him that all of the house (and resources) are already theirs. How newcomers (even kittens) are introduced is really important for long-term harmony. It’s not too late to fix things. Try starting over like your kitten has just arrived – keep the kitten and your older cats in their own spaces. Allow them to explore each other’s smells (let them trade spaces for short periods of time), and then try feeding them on opposite sides of a closed door, so they associate the positive experience of food with those smells. Then, you can gradually introduce everyone in a series of planned, calm encounters.
My cat is obsessed with treats. She will sit beside the cupboard where they are stored, just waiting for it to be opened so she can get a treat or two. Now that we’re home more often, her demands for treats are more frequent. How many treats should she be getting in one day?"
In much the same way that small handfuls of a favourite snack can add up to a lot of extra calories for us, too many treats can add unneeded calories to your kitty’s daily diet. Moderation is key – treats should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake. If you’re finding that your cat is very treat focused, try making her work a bit harder for her nibbles. You can use feeding puzzles or snuffle mats to allow her to hunt for the treat or have a short play session with her favourite toy first. Your cat may actually be more excited by the attention she gets when you bring out the treat bag than the treats themselves.
My cat refuses to let me cut her claws. She was a baby but now she is a year old. She has a lot of toys to help her, but her claws don’t do much good."
Trimming cats’ nails can be daunting – but most cats WILL grow accustomed to it if you are patient, and persistent and most importantly, reward them! If your kitty likes treats, use them! I like to get my cat sitting on my lap with their back towards me, as if they were sitting up like I am. Then I gradually extend one nail at a time from each paw and trim it using my toenail clippers turned sideways. After each nail, give him/her a treat or a lick of something they love… but don’t change your cat’s position on your lap. First get her/him used to having the front nails trimmed and once those aren’t a big deal anymore, you can add the back nails. It is key to relax while doing this. He/she may play scary and tough, and squirm, but by being patient and persistent, you CAN do this. Good luck!
I know a cat showing their belly is a sign of trust, but why does mine show me her belly when she is being CUDDLY, and then attack me if I try to rub her belly?"
Ah… the kitty lure! You are absolutely right: she is showing you that she trusts you, but… a cat’s belly is vulnerable, so they are programmed to protect it. Stroke her sides near her belly and tell her you appreciate the trust. Darn, eh?
Why does my cat act like a kitten even though he is seven years old now?"
How delightful! Cats should remain playful throughout their life. If this is a recent change, however, ask your veterinarian to check him/her. While 7 years of age is younger than usual, one of the signs of hyperthyroidism is increased energy and activity. And if all is well, hurray!
Why does my cat bite me when I play with her and pet her? She is 8 years old, and I’ve had her for 7 months."
Cats sometimes get confused. Because they are designed to hunt 24/7, they can get their “wires crossed” and switch into hunt and kill mode. It is really important to not have her attack your hands, so it’s better to play with her using a wand with a feather or something you toss. When you pet her, try to notice what happens (body language) just before she switches into attack mode so that you can learn to stop petting her before you get hurt. Even if YOU don’t mind it, it can be a problem if she bites/scratches someone else.
I’m wondering if anyone can help me. My cat FREQUENTLY poops right outside of his litter box. He does go in it too. We had this litter box when we had our other cat that was mean to him. Not sure if that would have anything to do with it or not."
That’s unpleasant! It might be bad memories, but it could also be something about the box or litter that he doesn’t like. It is good that he is pooping just outside or beside the box. That tells me that he is either trying to tell you something, or that he has difficulty getting in or out of the box.
How high are the edges? Where is the litter box located? Is it in a well-ventilated area that is easy (and not scary) to access? Most cats prefer an open box so they can anticipate any “threat” and run away. The litter should have a natural consistency like sand or soil and be very, very clean at all times. Just like us, cats don’t want to use an unflushed toilet, especially because their sense of smell is so much better than ours. Cats like litter to be about 2-3″/5-8 cm deep so they can dig a dip to soak up urine and in which to bury feces. SO many more questions I’d love to be able to ask …what does his poop look like (normal or diarrhea or hard pellets)? Might he have arthritis?
We’re moving soon with our indoor/outdoor cat, to a house with other cats. I know it’s best to keep them in separate spaces during the introduction period, but I worry that he will miss going outside. Any tips to make this transition go smoothly?"
You are absolutely right to plan ahead of time! When he is in the new house, he will be in someone else’s territory so he will be quite happy to have just one room to make his own. No other cats allowed in that room! Ideally, the transition/introduction should take place gradually over no less than 2 weeks (better a month) and swapping cat scents. As to whether he will miss going outside, I think he will be focused on being safe and fitting in for the first while. Once he is comfortable and relaxed, he may well want to go outside again. If you can do that (after a few months), great, but if you can take those first months to build some type of catio structure that he can use to safely access the outside and not try to run back to his old place, even better. Keep him playing and give him lots to watch/do while inside to reduce the outdoor itch.
Hi, our cat is about 12. She used to be very agile, but we are starting to notice she struggles to jump to the sofa, bed, etc. What could be causing this?"
That’s tough to watch! The good news is that it is something you can help her with. Here are the likely causes: If it is arthritis, X-rays will help with diagnosis; your vet will recommend medications and possibly a change in diet. If it is from diabetes, then insulin and a change in diet will help. And if she is overweight, excess weight on fragile joints can exacerbate arthritis that, with weight loss, may no longer be painful. What does your veterinarian say?
Why does my cat want to play all the time? It’s particularly weird because the majority of the time we’ve had her she wasn’t a super playful cat. She’s around 6 now, and over the last 3-6 months, she wants to play, literally all the time. Sometimes when I’m trying to do my school work from home she’ll meow every 5 minutes, all day long, for me to play with her. How can I make sure I’m playing with her as much as she needs but not playing all day?"
Chances are this is a GOOD thing rather than due to illness. It could be that you are home more due to the pandemic and she is delighted for the company. Cats like to play and interact for short periods of time many times a day. It’s in their nature. The more you respond to her desire to interact, the closer you will become. You can pair the play with a certain time or with every time you leave your desk so she comes to expect it as a reward at set times during the day. Now, if she is also hungrier and losing weight, I’d get her checked for hyperthyroidism.
Why doesn’t my cat bury her poop?"
I hope the poop is still inside the litter box! While the occasional cat doesn’t bury their poop, this usually is done to send you a message. Often it means a cat doesn’t like something about their bathroom: the box could be too small, too enclosed, or the litter isn’t fine enough or deep enough. Cats like to use a clean litter box that is about 1.5-2X as long as they are, without a hood. They like litter that feels like soil or sand on their feet. And it should be about 4-5 cm deep. Have you watched her use the box for urinating and defecating? It really helps to see if they seem uncomfortable. Maybe it hurts to squat (posture) or when the poop comes out. Is the feces normal (moist logs)? When cats are declawed, it can also hurt them to dig…so that is another reason to not bury feces.
My cat likes to get in cardboard boxes and rip them to shreds. She doesn’t eat the cardboard but leaves little pieces of the box all around it. What’s up with that?"
It’s good she doesn’t eat it. You have an artist! She is doing deconstructive sculpting! Or, perhaps, she likes the mouth feel of grabbing, pulling, tearing. If you don’t already have one, get her a floppy soft stuffed cat (as in, for a child), the same size as she is. She might like to beat it up and chew on it. If she is an indoor cat, she needs the imaginary interaction and play.
Why does my cat attack my 9 year old son? When she is in heat, she will attack him from behind, biting him hard on the neck, even when he’s not paying attention to her. She also sometimes scratches him. He avoids petting her at this point. Why does she do this and how can I get her to stop?"
How old is your cat? If she is a kitten, get her spayed. If she is over a year of age and still attacking your son, also definitely get her spayed. If this is related to estrus (being in heat), then she is asking for attention from the wrong species and by spaying her, the hormone driven behaviour will resolve over a few months. In the interim, if you or your son can tell when she is going to be aggressive, redirect her behaviour through targeting. This is a training technique in which she will be rewarded for an alternative behaviour by going to a target (a place she likes). There are lots of sites where you can learn about targeting. Your veterinarian should be able to direct you to a veterinary behaviourist.
One of my cats is super territorial, she often swats or hisses at my other cat when passing by. How do I get her to stop doing that?"
This may be territorial or it may simply be that she doesn’t like your other cat. 🙁 Not all housemates get along. I had to learn that yelling at the “swatter” doesn’t help. If you can anticipate when it is going to happen, you can redirect her attention with a treat or a toy. Ideally, if there is a particular place in your home that this occurs, try to create an alternate route from point A to point B, such as a ledge or shelf on the wall. Cats have a pretty small purrsonal space, although it is larger than our personal space: it is about 1-3 metres! Only friends are allowed within that space. Just like kids, sometimes the “innocent one” is passively egging on the “swatter”. And sometimes, as long as no one is getting too upset over it, you can just let it be.
Why does my cat knead, purr and suck on a blanket like she’s nursing? She’s done this since I got her as a 9-week old kitten. I suspect it’s because she may have come from a kitten mill and been taken away from her mom too early. A post on this would be great."
You are absolutely right. It could be that she was weaned too young or that this is simply a way of expressing contentment or a way to self-soothe. Kittens will start purring as young as two days of age; they often purr while kneading (that massage that stimulates milk flow). A purring cat may be content, but this behaviour can also be for other reasons. Purring releases endorphins, so, a cat in pain (e.g., in labour or ill) may purr to self-medicate. Kneading, sucking and purring, as your kitty is doing, likely is taking her back to a happy place.
We’ve had our cat for three months, and he still doesn’t like to sit with us. If we try to kiss him, he runs away. I think he doesn’t like us. What do you think?"
I’m not so sure that he doesn’t like you. I suspect he is still dating, rather than being married to you. 😉 Cats like to choose the time, place and length of interactions with their people. And most don’t like to be held. My suggestion? Be patient and let him come to you.
We have 2 cat sisters from the same litter. We’ve had them for 8 years. The small one had to have surgery this summer and since we brought her back, the other one hisses at her so she hides in the other bedroom and doesn’t want to come out. They used to be friends, sleep together and wash each other, but now seem afraid of each other. What can we do? Help!!! Thank you."
Oh dear. This unfortunately isn’t uncommon. When the kitty came back after surgery, she looked and smelled “wrong”. The cat who stayed home was likely frightened by the vet-smells, and perhaps her sister’s shaved appearance; the one who had surgery probably wasn’t acting normal as she recuperated and recovered from anaesthesia. At this point in time, the best way to establish harmony is to make sure they can get away from each other, give them more time to figure it out, and plug in some diffusers with the mammary pheromone (Feliway Friends is a great one) to remind them of early joint life experiences.
My cat keeps throwing up every 2 or 3 days? Already took him to the vet and they said there is nothing wrong with him and throwing up in cats is normal. Is it actually normal?"
Oh dear! Vomiting is never normal, whether in cats or in anyone else. It could be a sign of many types of illness, but it can also be a “sickness behaviour”, meaning that it is due to anxiety or stress. When did this first start? Had something changed in your kitty’s life? (People being home more due to the pandemic is a huge change for cats.) Cats are masterful at hiding not just illness but also stress! The timing of vomiting can provide clues (for example, is it right after eating or unrelated to eating), as can the contents of the vomit. Has he lost any weight? How does he feel and act otherwise? I would ask your veterinarian again…
Why is my cat losing weight? He eats and drinks well."
I’m glad he is eating and drinking well! It could be something as benign as intestinal parasites sharing the groceries. When did you last deworm him? Or, did you change his diet and the new food isn’t as calorically dense as the old food? On the other hand, if he is an older cat, I’d be thinking about hyperthyroidism, or, if he is unwell in any other way, diabetes, liver disease…the list is fairly long. This definitely calls for a visit to your veterinarian!
I have a feral cat that seems to like to chew her hair off. I have taken her to the vet twice and he has given her a steroid shot that seems to help temporarily but then she is back at it. Any suggestions?"
Itchy, scratchy! I am sure your veterinarian has you using flea products on a regular basis. This is important even if you can’t see evidence of fleas; cats are such good groomers that they remove the clues! That said, it could also be an allergy – to food, something your cat is lying on, or something they are breathing in. Food allergies are more common. Your veterinarian may want to perform a skin biopsy or a dietary trial. Ask your veterinarian for further diagnostic tests. Good luck!
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