Cat Training and Behavior

Information provided in these articles is intended to provide some guidance for you and your pet. Not all animals behave (or respond) in the same manner. Should you have questions or concerns about anything you see here, please consult your veterinarian. While we work with vets on a regular basis, we are not veterinarians. We feel the articles here provide useful but general guidelines and suggestions for working with your pet. Please note, some articles may be disturbing to young children. Please preview articles to make sure they are appropriate for your child.

 For some indoor cats, the world beyond the window offers countless temptations. Every time the door opens, a variety of fascinating smells, sights and sounds entice your cat to explore. Your cat sees a wonderful world outside, not understanding the many dangers out there. 

If several of your cats suddenly start fighting when they previously lived together without altercations, the first step is to take them both to your veterinarian for medical evaluation. Medical problems can cause a cat to be in pain, grouchy or confused, which increases the likelihood for aggressive behavior. If a medical evaluation reveals no abnormalities, the following recommendations may help your cats to resolve their differences. These recommendations will also be helpful for cats who have been introduced to each other recently and are not getting along.

Why Are Some Cats Fearful?
Fearful behavior in cats can be caused by various factors. Insufficient exposure to humans and/or a variety of stimuli during kittenhood as well as traumatizing events in their lives can teach them to react fearfully towards people or new situations. Cats can also be genetically predisposed to being fearful. 

A daily frolic for your feline friend reaps healthy rewards.  Fetch, chase and catch all sound like games you would play with a puppy. But your kitten needs an exercise routine too. These games can help you begin a lifetime of healthy fun for you and your fuzzy feline. 

Watching kittens play and grow can be a very satisfying experience. They seem to be little live wires one minute, sleeping angels the next. It’s important to spend a lot of time with your new kitten to build his or her social skills. This time with your kitten includes feeding time (three to four times a day until the age of 12 weeks), play time, and petting time. 

When you're bringing a new cat into a household with a dog in it, or bringing a dog home when you already have a cat, the way you start off is all important. Cats need time to adjust to changes, and dogs can pose a danger to cats without even meaning to. If you take the time to introduce your new pet to your household gradually, you can avoid setting up problems between cats and dogs that can take a long time to resolve. 

Dogs and cats are territorial animals. This means that they "stake out a claim" to a particular space, area or object. They let other people and animals know about their claim by marking it with a variety of methods and at many levels of intensity. For example, a dog may bark to drive away what he perceives as intruders to his territory. A cat may mark a valued object by rubbing it with her face.

Indoor cats especially need regular play for their health and happiness. Behavior problems can also be helped with the benefit of regular exercise. We all know that regular exercise and a healthy diet will keep us fit. But many of us don’t realize that the same goes for our cats. When I told my family and friends that I was working on a story about the importance of exercising cats, I was met with some pretty strange looks. “Exercise your cat? Is that possible?” my mother asked. Maybe I’m using the wrong terminology.

Does your cat beat the alarm clock to wake you up oh-so-early in the morning, begging for breakfast? Or is yours one who experiences attacks of the crazies at 2 or 3 a.m.? If your sleep is being disturbed by feline frenzies or demands, take heart: you have options.

Cats, like the rest of us, will do what works for them -- so if they can get their humans out of bed and get a meal in the bargain, why wouldn't they?

Cats are intelligent, energetic individuals, with individual preferences; they need stimulation and activity, and there are toys out there to satisfy any cat, especially if you spend time playing with them, too.

When you're picking toys for your cat, your first consideration is safety. You have to know your cat to know what's safe: make sure that whole or part of the toy won't be ingested, particularly strings, feathers, or other small parts. Also check to see that toys are nontoxic and don't contain small filling pieces like polystyrene beads or nutshells.

Though cats communicate mostly by body language, some cats “talk” more than others. This is probably in part genetic (some breeds, such as the Siamese, are especially prone to this) and part learned behavior. 

At some point or another, most cat owners have to contend with a cat who partially or completely quits using its litter box. While litter box issues can be difficult to diagnose, most of them are caused by one more of the following factors: