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Freaked Out Feline: What to Do

Jul 07, 2014

A change in your cat’s behavior can be a sign that an underlying medical condition is present. If your cat becomes aggressive to another cat, bites your children or deposits poop outside of his litter box, then you have reason to be concerned. A trip to the veterinarian may be in order, but there are a few things you can do first before making that appointment.

Simply Entertaining

Your cat may be acting out simply because he is bored. His usual toys may have been put away, his perch pushed into the corner and away from his customary vantage point. Your cat is trying to tell you that he has nothing to do.

Bring out his favorite play objects and throw them down for him to chase. Consider purchasing a toy fishing pole with feathers at the end for him to bat around. Your cat should have a scratching pad, a perch and quiet places to hide when the fun is done.

The Litter Box

Anytime your cat changes his bathroom habits you should be concerned. This is especially so if your cat begins to urinate or poop outside of the litter box — on the floor, the carpeting or a blanket. A medical condition may be present including diabetes, kidney disease or arthritis.

Before making an appointment with the veterinarian consider his environment. As in litter box environment. The problem may be as simple as cleaning out the litter box more frequently. Or changing the type of litter used. The litter box’s location is also important — if you moved it from one location to another, the new place may not be secluded enough or it may be located next to a noisy refrigerator or washing machine.

Review the Diet

What your cat eats and how much can affect his behavior. Consult your veterinarian to determine how much he should eat, when, and what type of food.

These days, cat owners have many more choices for the types of foods cats can eat. A dry diet may no longer be right for your aging cat. And, if your feline is prone to hairballs, special dietary changes may be necessary. Follow your veterinarian’s guidelines and know that a prescription diet may be offered to handle bladder or uretha issues.

Aggressive Issues

Your once friendly cat has changed his behavior and the other possible problems have been ruled out. Yes, there is such a thing as a cat behaviorist, an individual both skilled and certified at detecting changes in cat behavior and providing solutions to pet owners.

And it is the tail that often offers clues as to what your cat is thinking or feeling.

A tail that hangs straight out demonstrates that your cat is neither fearful nor being aggressive. One that is held straight up expresses both friendliness and contentment. The problems begin to show up when the tail is held up and full — that he means he is angry. Beware of a partially cocked tail as that is sign of aggression as is a tail that swishes back and forth, especially while sitting.

Aggression between cats is not that uncommon and becomes more apparent where two males are present and one or the other has not been neutered. And a newcomer cat may be most unwelcome to the first cat. Expect that your veterinarian will want to see your aggressive cat to rule out a possible medical problem.

You can also separate the cats for several days to a few weeks, providing dedicated food, water, sleeping, and play areas for each cat. Switch rooms after a few days to allow each cat to get used to the other’s scent. Gradually reintroduce the cats using harnesses, leases and crates if necessary.

Modifying Behavior

In the toughest cases, your veterinarian may recommend neutering the male cats. She may also recommend pheromones, what mimics a cat’s odors and can relieve tensions. Even rubbing a bit of tuna juice on a cat’s body can change behavior as they’ll be busy grooming themselves and perhaps more interested in grooming each other instead of fighting.

A freaked out feline is no fun. If you have exhausted every method recommended by your veterinarian or cat behaviorist then finding a new home for the aggressor may be your final option.j

Notes:

ASPCA: Aggression Between Cats in Your Household — http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-behavior/aggression-between-cats-your-household

Mother Nature Network: Common Cat Behavior Issues and Tips on Correcting Them — http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/questions/common-cat-behavior-issues-and-tips-on-correcting-them

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