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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our behaviour expert discusses cats' strange sleeping places, how to socialise kittens and more.

In the most recent Facebook Q&A, Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow answered questions about feline sleeping places, kitten socialisation, feeding habits and more. Read some of her answers here:

Do you have any tips on getting my cat to sleep in his bed?

He used to sleep there but now won't. We shut three cats in at night all in the kitchen, dining and living room. There should be enough room for them all. One is currently sleeping on the top of the kitchen cabinets, another on one of the sofas but my boy doesn't seem to want to sleep anywhere cosy. At the moment he's perched on a cushion on a dining chair. It looks like he's going to fall off at any moment... and yet there is a comfy bed next to the chair! Any hints?

Cats do have a habit of choosing places to sleep that we wouldn't think were that comfortable! One thing many people don't realise is that cats like to rotate their sleeping place. This goes back to African wildcat behaviour where they also rotate their sleeping place, we think, as a way of reducing external parasites. In general, cats like to sleep up high and somewhere warm. It sounds like he's happy to sleep on the dining room chair, so I wouldn't worry too much. If he changes his sleeping habits, eg sleeping more or less than usual, consult your vet for more advice. See our education resources to learn more about cats and their behaviour.

White and tabby cat sleeping on top of printer

Cats do sleep in strange places! Photo by Daviddje via flickr / Creative Commons

We have had our cat for a month and she was very nervous when she came to us.

She is feeling at home now and is happy to accept a fuss from me and will sit on my lap and loves attention. However, when my partner tries to give her a fuss, she runs away. If my partner slowly and gently tries to 'join in' when I am making a fuss of her she will still run away. Any thoughts?

Often it can come down to what socialisation to people she received during the kitten socialisation period of two-seven weeks of age. I would suggest that initially your partner ignores her and simply sits quietly on the floor nearby reading a book (to therefore avoid eye contact with the cat) while you are fussing her. This will help your cat to see your partner as non-threatening from her perspective. Also try getting your partner to feed your cat so she forms positive associations with them. If you have any problems then we'd recommend a referral to a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC). Best of luck.

Our rescue cat that we've had for five months keeps jumping on the worktop and pinching bread (and cake if there is any!)

At first we noticed he was hiding it and going back to it to eat but now he may have just a nibble and leave it. He was a stray from Cats Protection so we don't know any history. He is quite a big cat, he’s neutered and about 18 months old. He gets fed a pouch of meat in the morning, a small amount of biscuits mid-afternoon then another pouch of meat at about 10pm. Any ideas why he does this?

Sorry to hear you've got a food thief! While it could be his stray background, I would recommend getting him health checked by a vet to rule out medical reasons for the behaviour. It would be worth chatting to your vet about your cat's diet. For example, a satiety diet where the cat feels full and has a larger amount for the same calories as a light diet could be considered. Also think about introducing feeding enrichment so he gets to use his fabulous brain in a more productive way! Check out our feeding enrichment puzzles – good luck!

dark tortoiseshell cat on kitchen counter covered in flour

A satiety diet helps manage hunger between meals. Photo by drew_anywhere via flickr / Creative Commons

 

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.

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: Vet Vanessa Howie will answer veterinary questions on 18 November; Neutering Manager Jane Clements will host the Q&A on 3 December; and behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow returns on 17 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

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