Cat behaviour problems

Behaviour banner

Cats that are nervous, aggressive or act in what we consider an inappropriate way, such as spraying indoors, behave that way for a reason and often this type of behaviour is a sign that something is very wrong in their world.

It is also fair to say that some perceived behavioural problems are simply the result of your cat exhibiting their natural behaviours.

To help prevent unwanted behaviour and to understand why your cat might be behaving the way they are, it is important to understand what a cat needs and learn how to best to provide for our cats. This maximises their welfare, ensuring happy cats and happy owners.

The following resources discuss a variety of common behaviour problems, explaining what an owner can do to resolve the situation or ideally, prevent it in the first place.

 Ain't Misbehaving videos

Episode 1 -
Toilet mishaps - Watch the video
Episode 2 - Spraying - Watch the video
Episode 3 - Scratching - Watch the video
Episode 4 - Tummy tickles - Watch the video




The Cat magazine articles

Behaviour - A trip to the vets - PDF - Download
Behaviour -
Cat behaving badly - PDF - Download
Behaviour -
Feline Alzheimers - PDF - Download
Behaviour -
House renovations - PDF - Download
Behaviour -
Keeping your cat close to home - PDF - Download
Behaviour -
Redirected aggression - PDF - Download
Behaviour -
Spraying - PDF - 513KB - Download
Behaviour -
When cats attack - PDF - Download
Behaviour -
The perfect client - PDF - Download 
Behaviour - Inappropriate play behaviour - PDF - Download


Meow! blog articles

Behaviour focus: spraying
Spraying

In this behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why cats spray.


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Kitten hiding under a duvetBehaviour focus: night time waking

In this behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow discusses why a cat may wake and disturb you through the night.


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Behaviour focus: hidingAnxious cat hding up high


In this behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why a cat may hide more frequently.


Click here to go to the Meow! blog article


Behaviour focus: inappropriate playCat playing


In this behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why a cat may show misdirected predatory play behaviour.


Click here to go to the Meow! blog article


Behaviour focus: when cats attackStroking a tabby cat


In this behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why cats can suddenly attack.


Click here to go to the Meow! blog article


We are often asked...

My cat is acting out of character, is something wrong?

Unfortunately, there could well be something wrong. Changes in behaviour can often be an external indication of physical or psychological issues. Changes in the way your cat eats and drinks, activity levels, social interaction or the development of aggression or hiding away could all be signs something is amiss.

Consult your vet to check there are no physical problems. They should be able to refer you to a qualified behaviourist if the change appears to be linked to a psychological issue.

Why is my cat spraying?

Although we find urine spraying unacceptable, spraying is actually a normal scent marking behaviour in cats. Cats use scent signals a great deal to orientate themselves and communicate with others. Facial and flank rubbing and scratching are other behaviours that also leave scent marks. Urine spraying is used more in unneutered male and female cats, especially toms, as it is used to indicate sexual activity. However, spraying will also occur in neutered cats. Spray marks tend to be used in those areas of a cat's territory where a cat feels insecure or threatened, such as where other cats are around. Most often this occurs outside, but can also occur indoors if a cat is stressed inside.

My cat is extremely frightened of a new cat in the neighbourhood. Is there anything I can do?

You are not alone this is a very common problem. Cats are naturally very territorial and where there are lots of cats in a small area, there can often be conflict. Conflict between cats in a neighbourhood can result in behaviours that are obviously related to conflict, such as wounds from fighting, or urine spraying in areas where territories overlap. However, some cats respond to the close proximity of other cats by becoming very nervous or frightened. This may result in them being unwilling to venture outside. Being stuck inside can have other effects on their behaviour, such as toileting indoors, being more clingy, or showing more aggression. Cats that are frightened in this way may also develop abnormal behaviours such as overgrooming or over-eating.

It is very difficult to discourage another cat from coming into your garden: cats' territories do not necessarily conform to our garden or house boundaries and a cat will want to patrol round areas that he perceives as his own territory. If you know the owner of the other cat, it may be possible to arrange a 'time-share' system whereby your cats are allowed out at different times of day and hence do not meet each other.
Sometimes cats are wary of going out through a cat flap because it is very open and exposed on the outside and they feel vulnerable to attack. Providing your cat with some 'cover' such as some plant pots, just outside the door may be enough to help him to get outside safely.

If your cat is very fearful, and the other cat is coming into the house, it may be best to temporarily close off your cat-flap to prevent him coming in. This will make your cat feel much more secure within the house. In this case, you will need to make sure that your cat has lots to do inside - enriching the environment with toys, climbing frames, hiding places and puzzle feeders will make staying inside more fun.