Feeling clueless as to your cat’s behaviour? Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow took to our national Facebook page recently in order to answer live questions from cat owners.
Note: If your cat starts to display any behaviours that are unusual or they develop a change in personality or demeanour, the first person to speak to must always be your vet. Many changes in behaviour are due to illness or pain and so you should arrange an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Other seemingly ‘odd’ behaviours that do not have roots in a medical condition can be explained by understanding the natural behaviour that makes a cat a cat. For these types of behaviour issues we would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist from the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC).
Here are just some of the questions in our Q&A:
How can I calm down a nine-month-old kitten?
He’s rather dominant towards my older cats, aged eight and 10.
Kittens are generally very active and have lots of energy for play. I'd suggest giving your kitten multiple interactive play sessions throughout the day. I particularly love fishing rod toys as most kittens and cats really enjoy them – always store them out of your kitten's reach after play!
Your older cats would probably benefit from a retreat room away from your kitten that has all their resources in it (eg food, water, litter trays, beds, toys, etc). While many people think that their cat is dominant, the latest scientific research shows us that actually cats do not form hierarchies. They are naturally independent, territorial animals and more confident individuals can easily come across as if they were 'dominant' but that's not what the cat feels.
Check out these articles from The Cat magazine for more information:
- Nicky Trevorrow ponders the question – top cat, boss cat, alpha cat? (part one)
- Part two of Nicky Trevorrow’s top cat, boss cat, alpha cat?
My cat is a very anxious little thing. She is always over-grooming. Is there anything I can do to stop her?
I have tried the Feliway plug-in but she is still over-grooming on her front legs and inside of her hind legs.
Sorry to hear that your cat is over-grooming. There are lots of different underlying causes, many of which are medical. I would suggest that you take your cat to the vet to rule out medical reasons first. Take a video of your cat over-grooming to show the vet, so they can see if your cat is plucking the fur or biting the fur etc. If your vet rules out medical reasons, then we would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist, such as the APBC www.apbc.org.uk
To learn more about your cat’s behaviour, check out our free online e-learning course: Understanding cats' needs.
What's the best way to integrate seven cats into one household?
Wow, seven cats! It's going to be tricky managing that.
It depends very much on their personalities, whether they were socialised to other cats when they were young kittens (and it was hopefully a positive experience), the space in the house including vertical space like shelves, the amount of resources and a very slow, gradual introduction programme. Please bear in mind that even if you did everything perfectly, some cats simply can't cope with being around other cats and may prefer to live by themselves.
In this video, I explain how to introduce cats:
A qualified behaviourist can help guide you through the process and help identify the social groups within the original households.
One of my cats seems to love the smell of bleach. Whenever I have finished cleaning worktops she rolls all over them. Is there a reason behind this?
Several owners have noticed this. It's hard to say for sure, but we think that there's something in the chemical that appeals to them and they almost seem to act similar to the way they do around catnip.
However, bleach is toxic to cats and therefore they should be prevented from rolling in it. Always ensure that surfaces are thoroughly rinsed after use to remove all traces of bleach.
Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For more behaviour advice, please visit https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/cat-behaviour where you’ll also find The Behaviour Guide which discusses a variety of topics on cat behaviour.
Consult your vet if you have a specific concern about your cat.
Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: vet Dr Sarah Elliott will be taking questions on 24 August; you can get support with pet-related grief on 5 September; or speak to Behaviour Manager Nicky again on 21 September. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2pm. See you there!