Cat Behaviour Problems
Is your pet still having one or two problems settling in? It’s not unusual for a cat to take a while to become comfortable in a new home, but there are ways to smooth the transition and reduce any anxiety. Stress can cause health problems so it is important to resolve any issues. Pet behaviourist Claire Hargrave addresses some common problems.
It’s worth remembering that a quarter of the feline population leaves their home every year*. As soon as a cat has too much stress in his or her life, they go. So, as a rehomed or new-to-you cat has no innate expectation that your home will provide what they need, it’s important to minimise the stress of settling in.
To increase their sense of security, give your cat a small, confined area of the home where they have everything they need to survive and enjoy life:
- Scratching posts
- Engaging toys
- Pheromone diffuser (which mimics the natural pheromone that a cat releases when feeling at ease)
Once the cat is a little more settled, it’s safe to start opening the door again.
Make sure your cat has a safe place to go inside, away from household noise and distractions, such as children running past.
Cats don’t like to change their toilet environment, so it may be that they don’t like the litter that you’re using. It may be best to try an unscented litter.
Or perhaps your cat is being threatened by an outside foe? Make sure the garden is inaccessible to other cats. Consider using translucent sticky-back plastic on the windowsills to stop other cats peering inside and intimidating your pet.
Cats can also suffer from stress-related cystitis, so if your cat is weeing frequently or seems uncomfortable when weeing, find out if there is a medical issue by taking your pet to the vet.
Cats hunt at dawn and dusk, when rodents are most active. During winter months this isn't so much of a problem but in the spring and summer it becomes more inconvenient with the early dawns.
The obvious answer to the immediate problem is to fit a catflap (preferably personalised so that half the local cat population doesn't invade the house!).
Perhaps your cat has never learned that hands aren’t valid prey. Spend time re-teaching them that it’s more fun to play with inanimate objects.
They may not have enough stimulation through play. Invest in a cat-scratching post if you don’t have one already.
Remember that your cat always likes to be in control, so if you grab him or her for a cuddle they are likely to engage in distancing tactics, such as scratching. Give your pet some space and let them be affectionate on their own terms.
* Source: Bradshaw J, Casey R and Brown S (2012): The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat