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Behavioral Issues

Cat Behavioral Advice from Your Henderson Valley Cat Veterinarian

All cats have unique personalities and unfortunately for some, this includes difficult behavior. Destructive scratching, aggression towards other animals or humans, and inappropriate elimination are all frustrating issues for cat owners to manage. Oftentimes these behavioral problems are the result of the household in which the cat was raised. From an early age, cats may develop issues stemming from traumatic encounters with other animals, children, and even loud music. Perhaps you adopted your cat from a shelter and were not provided a full medical history, but have observed your cat being aggressive towards other people, pets or inappropriately eliminating. While solutions may take some time, most behavioral issues are repairable.

Aggression Towards Other Animals and Humans

Sometimes it may be that the cat needs more human play interaction. Do not scold your kitty; divert his attention and play with him.  Aggression from cats towards other animals and humans is an instinctive reaction for a cat who finds a situation stressful. This is typically linked to dominance issues. In cases such as these, you are advised to make adjustments concerning the basic interactions with your cats. For example, the cat may be asking for less interaction and more personal space. Cats will generally show their need for affection by rubbing on people for affection or nip at people to play more. If your cat is not in a playful or affectionate mood, respecting your furry friend’s space will go a long way towards improving feline relations in your home.

If your cat is hostile towards other animals in the home, consider whether your cat’s energy level and personality is clashing with the other pets. Just like two roommates struggling to get along, this may be the same for your cat and the other pets. For some cats, resolving this problem may be as simple as providing a safe haven for your new family member such as a cat tree, space by a window or even a separate “cat-only” room. Keep in mind that these safe zones are areas where another cat cannot dominate or attack a more sensitive cat. Severe aggression may need more intervention and require you to call your veterinarian.

Inappropriate Elimination

Inappropriate urination may be the sign of a behavioral problem or an issue with the litter box placement or even the litter itself. A scented liner can upset sensitive cat noses. One solution to this problem may be to relocate the litter box to a location where the cat feels safe and non threatened. Our advice is one box per cat, uncovered, and using unscented clumping litter that is scooped twice daily. If your new addition is unhappy with its litter box, he or she will search for a new a new location to conduct its business, resulting in the inappropriate elimination. Our cat veterinarians have extensive experience working with pet owners to determine the specific trigger for inappropriate elimination.

Destructive Scratching

Cat nails are different than human nails. The new nail continually grows from within the nail bed. As new nails form, the outer shell of the older nail needs to be pulled off. The cat simply scratches to remove the old shell case. Destructive scratching can also be a symptom of boredom, stress or irritation. This behavior may also be tied to your cat’s tendency to be territorial. While you cannot stop a cat from scratching, the best option is to re-direct this behavior. Make sure your cat has access to appropriate scratching options, whether that’s a scratching post or a cat tree. Keep an eye on your cat’s feet. They do not need to have their nails trimmed unless you want to, and many cats hate nail trims. Some cats get arthritis in their feet and will neglect the shells because it hurts. Especially in older cats, although some young cats have arthritic feet too. The old nails will grow into the pads, making each step even more painful.