Feline Behaviour

Feline Behaviour

If you have never had a cat at home before, or even if you have and your newly adopted cat is acting in a manner you are not used to, the following should shed some light on things!

There are some things that your cat will do that are instinctive, and before taking on a cat you should be sure that you are happy to live with these behaviourial habits.  Preventing your cat from carrying out any of the natural activities below will stress and frustrate him and could lead to behavioural problems.

Hunting: some cats are prolific hunters while some catch nothing at all.  Prey might be eaten or brought to you dead or alive as a 'present'.

Scratching: cats scratch to keep their claws in good condition and to mark territory.

Eating grass:
some cats like to chew grass to aid digestion and help them regurgitate hairballs that have accumulated in their stomachs through grooming.

Toileting: a cat may prefer to go inside in a litter tray whether they have access to the garden or not, whereas some prefer to go out in the garden.  It's a good idea to keep a tray indoors regardless in case the cat gets caught short!

Spraying: cats sometimes spray short bursts of urine on vertical objects outside to mark their territory and to communicate with other cats.  If your cat starts to spray inside your home then it is almost certain that all is not right in his world.

The Indoor Life

Most cats enjoy going outside for part of the day, and confining them inside all day can mean they become bored and frustrated.There are a few exceptions where cats have to stay indoors and these include:

- cats with disabilities
-cats carrying an infectious disease
-very sensitive or nervous cats

Cats should be provided with a stimulating and safe indoor environment whether they go outside or not.  In addition, be aware that what goes on the cat goes in the cat through grooming, so keep him away from areas where bleach, detergents etc are being used.

Play:  play is like hunting to a cat, and indoor cats will need regular play sessions!  There are lots of type of toys you can buy, but a cardboard box with holes in it and a ball of tin foil will suffice!  You can also create interest at mealtimes by hiding biscuits about the house for your cat to 'hunt'.

Scratching: a scratching post will provide exercise, claw maintainance and a focal point for your cat to mark its territory...it will also protect your furniture!

Eating grass: there is a type of grass called Cocksfoot that cats like to eat and can be grown indoors.  If no grass is provided, your cat might try to eat your houseplants, and some of these, like lillies, are toxic to cats.  For a full list of dangerous plants, please call our helpline:  03000 121212.

Toileting: a rule of thumb is 'one litter tray per cat, plus one'.  Cats do not like using dirty or soiled trays, and they might prefer to urinate and defecate in different trays, and some prefer grit litter while others like woodchip.  Trays should be positioned away from feeding areas, and should be in a private location in your home.

The Great Outdoors

Cats are free-roaming creatures and have a natural tendency to wander and are great climbers, so fences and walls, unless very high or specially designed, will not contain your cat!  Leaflets about special fencing to conatin your cat are available from the Centre.  If you are a bird-lover, position any feeding stations well out of the reach of your cat.

Ain't Misbehaving

Cats who are nervous, aggressive or behave in what we consider an inappropriate way, behave that way for a reason, and it is usually a sign that from a feline point of view, something is wrong.  Punishing your cat for what they consider a logical reaction to a problem will only exacerbate the situation.  If your cat starts to do something that is out of character, please contact your vet first to rule out health problems.

Nervous cats

These cats will often hide to avoid what they feel is dangerous.  There are a few reasons for this:

- genetics: some cats are naturally more shy than others
-poor socialisation: lack of regular handling, especially during the first eight weeks of life
- bad experiences: frightening experiences or abuse

Nervous cats need to learn that humans and noises are not always dangerous.  This will take time and patience from their owners (see When Nervous Cats Go Home on our website).

Aggressive cats

Cats are rarely aggressive to humans, but have their limits like everyone else!

-defensive/fear aggression: your cat is more likely to run from a perceived threat, but will defend himself if deemed necessary.

-play and petting aggression: just like children, play and excitement will leave your cat in a boisterous mood, and many cats have a limit when it comes to petting.

-territorial aggression: usually occurs when two cats meet on disputed ground.

-pain-induced aggression: a cat suffering from pain will have drastically reduced tolerence levels.

Cats will be more imclined to aggression if they are:

-kept indoors without stimulation or an outlet for their hunting instinct.

-are young

-are not neutered.

We hope that this information is helpful for both you and your cat!