Beginners Guide To Cat Behaviour (Part 1)

Beginners Guide To Cat Behaviour (Part 1)

BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CAT BEHAVIOR

If it's your first time of owning and caring for a cat or kitten, you'll probably have so many questions about how to deal with and understand this new addition to your life. As you may already know (or will soon discover) cats are fun, playful, independent, loving, curious, smart and often very entertaining. Still, their behavior could range from all these to being totally deranged.

Cat behavior includes body language, elimination habits, aggression, play, communication, hunting, grooming, urine marking and face rubbing in domestic cats and all these very among individuals, colonies and breeds. As a protective cat parent, you have to be able to tell apart natural cat behaviors and those that signal cause for serious concern or even medical attention. This article sets out to provide information on most cat behaviors and how to deal with them if they turn into problems.


MEOWING: Cats meow in adult form to talk to other animals, such as dogs, and more importantly humans. Meowing to humans has been researched as that they do it to manipulate humans into what they want and need, this means that meowing is just a healthy and normal way for your cat to chat with you. What you have to watch out for is sudden increases in vocalization which could mean that there is a problem and a visit to the Vet is necessary.


AGGRESSION: Aggression is the second most common feline behavior problem seen by animal behaviorists. Although cats aggression is taken less seriously than that of Dogs, aggressive cats can be very dangerous. They have five potential weapons (their teeth and all four clawed paws), they can bite and inflict severe lacerations, which are painful and can easily become infected. They can also cause cat scratch fever in humans. Any sign of feline aggression should be taken seriously as they indicate an underlying problem stressing your cat and you'll need to understand the cause and his motivation for it, before you can help him.


REDIRECTED AGGRESSION: Redirected aggression is a very common type of feline aggression and it occurs when a cat is aggressively aroused and agitated by an animal or person he can't get at (commonly through a window). This makes him lash out at someone ( person, dog or cat) who is nearby or approaches him. Cat Parents sometimes describe this type of aggression as unprovoked or 'out of the blue' because there can be considerable delay between the initial arousal and the redirected aggression, as long as hours and it is advisable to not break up a cat fight or approach an agitated cat. Other triggers for redirected aggression include watching or stalking birds, squirrels or other prey animals, being frightened or harassed by a dog or smelling another cat's odor on a family member, a visitor or a clothing. With any sign of feline aggression it is always best to seek help of a qualified behavioral therapist or a vet.


AGGRESSION CAUSED BY PETTING:Cats react differently to being petted, held, carried or hugged. While some enjoy all of the above, others have preference and might only tolerate these activities with their owners. Petting induced aggression occurs when a Cat suddenly feels irritated by being petted, nips or lightly bites the person petting him and then jumps up and run off. It is thought that physical contact like stroking can quickly become unpleasant if it's repeated over and over and when you see warning signs like a sharp turn of the head towards your hand, twitching or flipping his tail, flattened ears, restlessness or dilated pupils, it means that your cat is signalling you to stop petting and the best response is simply to stop.


ROUGH PLAY: Rough play is common and natural among kittens and young cats less than two years of age. It is believed that through play with each other, young cats learn to inhibit their bites and sheathe their claws when swatting. Despite the playful intentions of a cat, when such play is directed towards people or becomes too boisterous, it can cause injury to people or damage household items and this is definitely a cause for concern.


CAT FIGHTS: There are so many reasons why cats might not get along. The most common is as a result of a lack of pleasant experiences with other cats early in life (especially if your cat grew up as the only cat) another cause of strife may be a feline personality crash. Cats are a territorial species and two unrelated males or females who weren't raised together to share the same home may have a hard time sharing space. To reduce the occurrence of cat fights or aggression caused by competitiveness in your household, ensure you provide each of your cats with their own food bowl, bed and perch. Also, you could end their in-house fights by making a loud, distinct noise such as hand clapping and separate your cats but don't approach an overly agitated cat. Try to create an environment of trust between your cats and if they just can't seem to get along, you can get in touch with a Vet or Animal behaviorist.


NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES: Cats are naturally nocturnal and more active during nighttime hours than during the day (which they mostly spend sleeping) so you shouldn't be surprised if your cat goes wild with activities at midnight and is keeping you up. There are ways to manage this situation which includes you refusing to reward the behavior with your attention, however impossible that seems. Instead, you could provide enough exercise and stimulation earlier in the evening, provide daytime activities in your absence or manage the cat's environment at night
 
< Cat Care 101 Beginners Guide to Cat Behavior (Part 2) >