Is the honeymoon period over? Has your once lovable ball of fur turned into a feisty claw machine? Our pet behaviourist Claire Hargrave addresses some common problems that owners of young cats encounter.
Why does my cat ignore me but go straight to my partner, when he doesn’t even like cats?
Some people find that the more they dislike cats, the more a cat will spend time with them! Quite simply, this is because cats want space. If they sense that someone doesn’t want to handle them, they’re happy in that person’s company.
So, conversely, the more you try and handle your young cat, the less likely they are to want to spend time with you. The answer is to give them some space and they may well come sidling up.
Why does my cat dash upstairs every time a visitor comes?
Some cats may always struggle with strangers – especially if they haven’t been socialised at a very young age. Accept that cats aren’t naturally social beings and allow your pet a safe place to go if they feel threatened by a new person in the house. The best advice is to give your cat lots of hiding places downstairs and to leave him or her alone to choose when to be sociable.
Helping your cat to feel safe and relaxed is also important for their overall health. Anxiety can cause a number of stress-related health issues such as feline lower urinary tract disease (including cystitis).
My cat won’t go outside. What shall I do?
It could be that your pet can see another cat from the windowsill. You need to ensure that your cat has easy access to all his or her own food and water – and doesn’t have to share with an outside animal.
In the home, use a cat pheromone diffuser such as Feliway, which mimics the pheromones that your cat naturally releases when feeling at ease. You could also make your garden secure with cat-proof fencing, so your pet doesn’t feel threatened. Also try providing your cat with lots of hiding places (such as boxes) at various levels in the garden.
My cat isn’t getting along with my other pets.
If you have more than one cat, it’s essential that each one can access his or her own resources (food, water and litter tray) without having to pass another cat to get them. Just because your cats eat together, doesn’t mean they are enjoying it. Cats are not innately social creatures so they haven’t developed a natural hierarchy to enable them to share resources.
If your cat is hanging back before eating, or standing at an angle so others can’t see or access his or her food, then consider feeding them separately in a place where they feel secure.
My cat has started to bring home prey. Should I stop her?
This is normal cat behaviour and ties in with their predatory instincts.
Your cat has an innate desire to make 10-12 live kills per day, independent of hunger. If your cat isn’t hungry but makes a kill, the natural thing for her to do is take it to a safe place – her house. This behaviour may well increase with your cat’s confidence as she matures.
If it really upsets you (or you are worried about local wildlife), try keeping your cat in at dawn and dusk when she is most likely to hunt.