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Common cat behavioural issues and what to do about them

All animals can have quirks. But what do you do when your it’s looking less like quirks and more like cat behavioural issues in your house? Like anyone, when you’re dealing with behaviour related issues, cats need guidance, support and potentially extra help. You as a cat owner may also need guidance on how to read your cat’s behaviour appropriately to avoid issues.

At Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we have a love for cats and kittens. We run a rehoming program, our vet nurses love hearing your stories and picking out the right diet, toys and enrichment tools from our stock. Our Wahroonga vet clinic has some serious cat-loving vets on staff. Plus, we make it our business to know what makes for a happy, healthy feline. That includes their emotional state too.

Here are some common cat behavioural issues and what you can do about them

Is it cat behavioural issues or life changes?  

cat looking up - cat behavioural issues

Photo by Gratisography

Kitten to cat, cat to senior cat and beyond, your cat’s personality and behaviour can and will change over time. Cats are influenced by a myriad of things. It’s important to recognise what the triggers for behaviour changes may be. Or addressing cat behavioural issues as they arise.

A new cat or kitten, rescue or otherwise, may need time to learn and process their situation. All cats and kittens will take time to adjust to a new environment. That includes a new family. Luckily, our vet nurses can help you ease your kitten or cat into a new situation. It will take patience and time.

Changes to a cat’s life can also see changes in behaviour. Cats are environmentally sensitive, so they may exhibit strange behaviours when a child arrives, new pets enter the household, someone leaves or if you move to a new house. Again, time and understanding are key. Be patient with introductions to new creatures, stimulus, humans and the environment. Consistency is key.

Other areas where it may seem like a distinct change in cat behaviour can also be found in feline pregnancy, grieving and loss, age progression and it can also be a sign of cat stress or illness. It’s important to consult with one of our Wahroonga vets if your cat’s change in behaviour is tied to a significant event as much as it is if you have no clue. We may be able to spot something you may not see.

For example, some unwanted cat behaviours are actually signs of something else:

  • A cat that is aggressive or lacking in affection may be ill or in pain
  • A formerly house-trained cat using places outside the litter box could have a urinary tract infection, feel unsafe in their toileting territory or marking because of the introduction of a new pet or family member to the house
  • As your cat’s vision ages, they may have difficulty making out people and shapes. This could cause them to be fearful or run into things. The same symptoms may also point to stress or neurological issues. You won’t know until you gain clarification
  • Over-grooming can be a sign of anxiety, fear or hypothyroidism. It might also point to skin issues, fleas or boredom. Again, it’s important to understand the physical and emotional health of your cat to find the solution
  • A lack of enrichment can change a cat’s behaviour as well. If your cat is under-stimulated, it may be bored. That boredom can become stress. That stress could start to influence your cat’s psychological makeup and/or physical health. It may be as simple as introducing exercise, play time and educational enrichment toys to your cat’s regular routine

If in doubt, call our vet nurses, have a chat and see where to go from there. We’re happy to help.

Interaction with animals

Cats feel it keenly when there are other animals around. Even if your cat or kitten has spent time with other cats, dogs and other pets, various stages of life can trigger new associations. Thinking like your cat can help.

For example, if you have introduced a new puppy or kitten to the mix, an older cat may be more aggressive. It can be hard with a boisterous youngster in your space and face all day. Introducing safe spaces where your older cat can get some fur kid-free time can be a game changer.

Spraying and marking may be a sign of trying not to feel displaced if a new cat or kitten is introduced. Urinating in strange places can also indicate that the litter tray needs an upgrade due to increased traffic and use.

Think like your cat. The impact of new creatures or humans can be laden with fear, anxiety and pressure.

What do if you see cat behavioural issues?

Understand what may be causing your cat’s behaviour to change and see what you can do to support them through it.

  • Avoid punishment and negative responses. Punishment will do nothing to alleviate the issues. If it medical, it needs treatment. If it’s a sign of ageing, your cat needs support. If it’s emotional, adding anger and fear on top of an already stressed feline is likely to make things worse
  • Research matters. Try keeping a log of the cat behaviour issues you see to share with our vets as well as for your own knowledge. If you can see a pattern, it can help inform a cure
  • Ask for help from qualified veterinary professional. Action beats guessing every time. Get help from our vets and vet nurses. A check-up or asking for advice can be a game changer
  • Follow the advice given. We can help with solutions to unwanted cat behaviours and the tools to support this. It will also mean changing the situation at home to ensure the solution is implemented properly
  • Focus on your bond. How much your cat trusts you can influence your cat’s recovery, so being as loving and understanding as possible does much to improve the situation

 Want more help to address cat behavioural issues and/or make your feline as healthy as possible? Call your local veterinary team at Wahroonga on (02) 9489 4805.




About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.