10 Challenges in the work with cats.
Lately we’ve talked about complicated cases in the work with dogs and how one should handle these challenges. A subsequent article is devoted to the same topic but this time it’s referred to cats. Sometimes one finds as much difficulties in working with them as with dogs so it’s highly important for the masters to successfully resolve them.
1. The cat demonstrates aggression to its junior counterpartIf such a situation happens without distinction of a sex then the issue is the most likely is a territorial aggression. In this context it’s crucial to understand what provokes the cat to show its discontent and what poses a real problem. It may defend its private space, litter box or the places where it eats or sleeps. As a rule cats are fairly tolerant to the presence of their congeners in an apartment. Moreover their attitude is unaffected by their sex as long as your dwelling is large enough. But if you still notice aggression, then it’s a matter of the territory and when you can’t expand it physically, you can work on the situation in a different way.
In this case corrective measures will be addressed to the certain division of the territory where you keep cats. They should be provided with greater amount of litter-boxes, individual bowls as well as they should eat and rest in different rooms or at least in the different corners of the room. This will ensure that the cats are spaced sufficiently apart. Three-dimensional space, which is available for the animals, will allow enlarging the territory in terms of their perception and it should consequently lessen territorial aggression. So make sure to equip your dwelling with hammocks, ledges, cat trees and houses, which should be situated above the floor. Each of your animals should have a cosy quite nook, which is coved from the views of both its congeners and masters.
Pheromones and catmint will also help to bring the overall level of aggressiveness down. The application of tranquilizers is a short-term fix so it should be used only when the animals are stressed out and show heightened aggression, which is hard to control.
2. Unmotivated human aggression, which is based on the attempts of social dominationSuch outbursts of aggression are caused by an internal motivation of your cat so at first sight they may seem absolutely unpredictable and unmanageable.
The most important aspect in correction of such an aggression is to let the cat know who is in charge and in the control of the situation.
The animal, which is prone to such a form of aggression, usually seizes the moment when it can take it out on the human with no further consequences. As a rule it happens unexpectedly for the master while he is playing with his pet or caressing it and doesn’t anticipate this reaction at all. The cat that has bitten its master without any warning quickly walks away or keeps behaving itself matter-of-factly.
In order to control the situation it’s recommended to avoid the moments when the cat starts trying to take a dominative position. As a rule it’s possible to unravel certain consistent patterns, for instance, when the cat is keen on being near you or jumps on your laps. If it extends its claws, toughens the muscles, wriggles its tail, jerks its ears or arches the back, then you should immediately get on your feet, forcing the cat to fall on the floor. Don’t try to grab or push it. Such cats perceive these actions as a challenge so eventually it will bite or scratch you in response to your actions.
It’s advisable to always have a whistle, an air duster or a water gun so at the first signs of aggression you should use them in order to abate quarrelsome mood of the animal and to disorientate it in general. Encourage only adequate behaviour of the cat and don’t attempt to calm it down or to give it a stroke while it’s in an aggressive mode. It will instead reinforce its aggressive behaviour, since the cat will think that you approve such actions.
When the cat is sitting on your laps peaceably and tenderly, you should stroke it a bit but you shouldn’t draw your caresses and overall interaction out to a great length. You, rather than the cat, must decide as to how long each action should last. When you want to get up, you should calmly take the cat off your laps.
Don’t allow the cat to control your movements. If it obstructs you a road, throw it some toy or scare it but you should never let it take your movements under control as well as you should by no means change the direction of your movement under the influence of the cat.
If the cat chafes against you or leaves its marks on your clothing or shoes, you should walk away or push it off as soon as it will try to do it again. In this case it will have the reason to think that you, rather than it, are in charge of the situation and control the territory. So it will understand it belongs to you and not the other way around.
3. The cat demonstrates aggression to a puppy or a kittenIn this instance you should isolate the animals from each other for a while in order to give them a chance to get used to the smells of each other and only then to forge relationships. It’s recommended to segregate the senior animal to lower its status and to minimize manifestations of territorial and social aggression towards the junior one. You shouldn’t be afraid that your cat would be offended since these animals are incapable of such feelings. Of course, this action will displease it but it will only attach priorities and let it know that you don’t give it the right to decide as to who is allowed to stay on this territory and who isn’t. Further introduction is performed on the territory of the junior animal and over a certain distance, which should be gradually shortened.
Each and every demonstrations of aggression from the senior pet should be immediately suppressed with the help of a water gun or other distant influence (so the cat won’t associate this action directly with you). You should by no means punish the cat physically; it will provoke the redirection of aggression on the junior animal since it will blame it for change of your heart. Avoid leaving the animals face to face without your control in the very beginning. You can accustom the cat to the puppy or kitten by swapping their places in the rooms or by using nets or cages.
4. The cat is too timid and fears to leave the hide-outsYou should try to understand as to what scares the animal the most. This may be loud sounds, large noisy objects, other animals, noise from the TV set or strong smells. Make sure to eliminate all stress factors or at least to offset them. It’s a good idea to provide the cat with several hiding places in different rooms so it can stay inside them and retain visual contact with you but it isn’t affected by the stress factor. Soft cathouses or baskets are well-suited for this purpose and all cats feel themselves much calmer in them.
Special evaporators with pheromones and drops for cats will help to reduce nervousness since they are specifically designed to allay pets.
If the cat is affected by stress factors, which can’t be removed, you should try to distract it with toys or treats so it will reinforce positive results and wean it away from being afraid. Gradually it will understand that this factor evokes not only unpleasant emotions but also nice sensations.
5. Separation anxietyGenerally speaking, separation anxiety is rather untypical for cats since dogs suffer from it much more frequently. But if the cat feels sad while its masters are out and becomes depressed every time you leave the house, make sure to give it things, which have your smell on them– for example, worn tee-shirts, pillow cases. The cat can lay on them and through their smell it will keep an illusionary contact with its master.
Before leaving you can also play with the animal, distract it and simultaneously fatigue it a bit. Leave some toy at the cat’s disposal so when it takes some rest and will want to play again. This toy will have the smell of the master and it will additionally sedate the cat. Alternatively you can give it a new toy so the cat will be preoccupied by studying it.
6. The cat refuses to use the litter-box for intended purposeSuch behaviour of the cat doesn’t points out to its uncleanness or vengefulness as some owners mistakenly interpret it.
Urination near the litter-box or in other secluded spots means that the cat sheers away from the litter-box. There are several reasons of such avoidance:
- the cat doesn’t like the location of the litter-box. Cats can’t stand doing its business in open exposed places so if the litter-box stands somewhere in the pass way the animal will ignore it. As soon as you carry it in a more shrouded place, all will get back to normal.
- the cat may also dislike the filler. In that event through try-and-error method you should pick the filler whose smell and consistence your cat will tolerate.
- the cat feels discomfort while urinating. If that’s the case you should seek help from a veterinarian. Submit its urine to a test and observe the behaviour of the animal prior to urination. In order to resolve this problem you will probably need to treat the animal from some disorder of urogenital apparatus.
7. The male cat marks in the apartment and things of its mastersThe most obvious decision is to neuter the animal but bear in mind that hormonal changes proceed during two to three months after an operation and at that time the cat may continue to mark territory. In certain instances this propensity persists lifelong if other corrective measures have not been timely implemented.
During this period the male cat should be kept in a separate room in order to avoid reinforcement of unacceptable behaviour. The spots where it has placed its marks should be carefully cleared out of urine smell to the extent of replacement of floor covering. The master also can use so-called «anti-droppings» or substances with strong smell (orange oil, vinegar and etc., especially if the male cat chooses same places for urination).
In some cases these marks result not only from sexual but also from dominative or territorial behaviour as well. In that event it’s necessary to correct behaviour and to establish the social status of the animal in a similar fashion as it’s performed in the case of dominative aggression. Such correction should be combined with spraying of the spots where the animal usually urinates with veterinary preparations with harsh odour.
8. Purposeful destructive behaviour when the cat throws small and fragile objects off shelves and tablesThe cat behaves itself in such a way when it tries to attract attention of its master or it lacks physical stimulation and opportunities to implement its hunting instincts.
Make sure to offer it sufficient amount of interactive toys, which it can bite, tousle and tear, so it will successfully satisfy its prey drive. Meanwhile don’t forget to play with your pet with involvement of both these toys and other ones.
Playing with the cat is a good physical exercise for it. It also provides a physical contact with the animal in the process of the game so it receives the portion of your active attention.
Give your animal an opportunity to climb since cats are inherently keen on climbing. Special tree-trunks, pendulous hammocks and climbers will satisfy the cat’s need to explore vertical space.
Additionally you should arrange «traps» from a glue tape or from a few drops of orange juice in the places where the cat likes to climb in search of interesting small objects. It will allow to redirect its energies.
9. The cat actively scratches various surfaces including ones that are ill-suited for sharpening its clawsSuch a behaviour can mean that the cat feels itself uncomfortably on its territory or it has lost control over some situation.
Provide the cat with several cat scratchers and place them in some noticeable places in various parts of your apartment. By the scratching visible places cats mark territory and demonstrate willingness to defend it in case of a threat. When the cat meets several cat scratchers on its way, it will boost its confidence and appearance of control over the territory so it won’t need to scratch other surfaces.
You can also offer the animal a soft toy, rug or piece of furniture, which the cat can vandalize to its heart content. It will give the cat an opportunity to freely display aggression and reduce stress from instability of its territory, which it has to share with its masters or other animals.
10. The cat gnaws cables, plants, bands, cellophane, paperThis usually happens when the cat lacks vitamins or it needs to clear its stomach from hairballs.
It’s recommended to sprout special seed mix, which cats enjoy eating, as well as to add to its ration veterinarian preparations with taurine and iron or other vitamins, which will suggest your veterinarian on the basis of analysis. Anyway, such behaviour should never go under the radar since it’s not just rowdiness but it’s a serious sign of problems with the cat’s health.
Give the animal a special paste for excretion of hairballs from its stomach and subsequently give it once every two or three months as a preventive measure.
In the meantime treat cables and plants with preparation called «anti-gnaw» or diluted clove oil so it will put the cat off biting them as soon as the main reason of such an inadequate behaviour will be successfully eliminated.
Translation: Olga Kosenko