Cat behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow chats about cats having separation anxiety, why cats lick their lips and how to successfully introduce cats to each other.
In our latest live Facebook FAQ event, Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow took control of our national Facebook page to answer feline behavioural questions from cat owners.
Here are just some of the topics discussed:
Does my cat have separation anxiety?
My cat goes nuts every time I get home, he calls from the other side of the door and when he finally gets to sit on me, he gets very in my face and demands things by rubbing round my glasses and face. He was picked up as an 18-week-old kitten and I wonder if he either has separation anxiety, or he has genuinely picked me as his own personal slave, sorry, human...?
It’s nice that your cat gives you such a greeting when you come home. To find out if it could be separation anxiety, I would suggest setting up several cameras around the home to see what your cat does when you go out. If he is very restless or looking out of the windows for you for ages, or crying then it's possible.
If you're concerned, contact your vet for a health check for your cat and then ask for a referral to a qualified behaviourist (www.apbc.org.uk). You could also try introducing your cat to feeding enrichment so that he spends his time 'hunting' for his food. Start off with something simple, like an egg box. All the best.
Do cats lick their lips when they're feeling anxious?
I have noticed one of my cats licks her lips when there is another cat in the room that she doesn't like. Dogs lick their lips when anxious – is this the same for cats? Has anyone done a study on this? Many thanks in advance.
Great question! Yes, it is a sign of anxiety in cats like it is in dogs. Well observed! It's a subtle behaviour that most people miss.
For more information, check out the ISFM Guide to Feline Stress and Health edited by Sarah Ellis and Andy Sparkes.
Why is my cat acting differently since we got a kitten?
I've recently introduced a kitten to my cat and although there's no fighting and there doesn't seem to be any upset (both are sleeping, eating, grooming etc normally), I feel like my existing cat has gone off me. She doesn't want to spend time with me like she used to. It's only been less than a week and she's been brilliant in accepting the kitten (at first when they were separate she growled etc)... do you think she will return to normal? I'm scared I've ruined our friendship forever giving this little cat a home.
Sorry to hear that your cat has changed her behaviour lately. This is quite common with the introduction of another cat or kitten.
I'd advise that you carefully monitor both the kitten's behaviour and the cat's behaviour for subtle signs that they are not getting along. Fighting is generally a last resort so it's unlikely that you'd see fighting but we assume that everything is alright.
Check out an article I wrote for The Cat magazine about understanding the language of cats and our video ‘Are your cats friends or foes?’.
Make sure you continue to spend quality time with your cat alone, away from the kitten, (and vice versa for the kitten) and make sure both have enough resources like food, water and litter trays spaced out over the house.
Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.
You’ll find more information about cat care and behaviour at https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/cat-behaviour
Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: chat with vet Sarah Elliott on 12 October; and Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 10 November. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!