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Feline Behaviour

Sometimes our beloved feline friends can display problem behaviours. Below are some common problem behaviours and insights into why our cats display them.

Urine Spraying

Urine spraying is a form of territorial marking behaviour performed by adult cats. There is still some debate as to why it is carried out but commonly it is thought to act as a long distance communication method that helps coordinate cats movements in particular territories.Spraying cat

It is normal for a cat to spray outdoors however if your cat begins to spray in the home it can mean that the cat is feeling stressed or anxious. Your cat may not sometimes appear stressed when actually in fact they are. This is because in the wild animals who appear weaker than normal are more likely to be attacked. As a results animals are very good at hiding how they are really feeling.

Reasons for your cat feeling stressed could be:

  • Conflict with other cats in the household
  • Dense population of cats outside the home
  • Invasion of your home by a strange cat (eg, coming in through an open window or a cat flap)
  • Decorating or extending your home (ie, disrupting your cat’s territory)
  • New additions to the family (eg, new baby, lodger, dog)
  • Owner absence or change of work schedule
  • Inappropriate punishment
  • Excessive or intrusive contact from humans

When you notice that your cat has started spraying, it is recommended that you take them to see your vet as it can sometimes be an indication of other underlying medical conditions.

 

Pica

Pica is the term used to describe the consumption of non-edible materials.  It is most frequently seen in Oriental type breeds such as the Siamese, Burmese and Tokinese breeds, however some other breeds can develop the disease.

Cat biting into a pink ribbonThe material that is commonly chosen by Pica sufferers is wool, hense the other name for the disease “Wool Eating”. Although wool is the most common material of choice, others such as wood, rubber, leather, paper, cellophane and plastic are also popular.

Pica can sometimes first appear in kittens and some may grow out of the condition. Some however are not able to grow out of Pica, and it can be hard to manage.

If you suspect that your cat has Pica, it is recommended that you speak to a feline behaviourist on ways to manage the condition.

 

Aggression towards humans

Our four legged feline friends are domesticated versions of wild cats. This means it is very normal for aggression to be displayed whilst our cats play, hunt and interact with others. However if your cat is behaving aggressively towards you and other humans, this can be an indicator for other problems.

 

What are the warning signs of aggression in cats?

  • Dilated pupils, direct staringupset cat
  • Thrashing/twitching tail
  • Hissing, growling or spitting
  • The ears flatten against the side of the head or rotate backwards
  • The body posture often becomes crouched or tense

If your cat has started to show signs of aggression in adult hood this can be for a number of reasons including; stress, anxiety, illness or pain.

If your cat has started to become more aggressive a quick trip to the vets to rule out any illness or pain would be the best first port of call.

 

Written by Ellen Moore – RVN

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