Why Does My Cat Do That?
WHY DOES MY CAT DO THAT?
I have been studying Pet Sitter's International Certification Program Coursework to further my education in the areas of pet care, health, behaviors, etc. in order to be the best pet sitter I can possibly be. I wanted to share some of the information I am learning with pet owners, particularly CAT owners in this blog.
Cats are not fond of change, so pet sitting is the best option by far for taking care of a cat while the owner is away. But there are still issues with cats that pet sitters need to recognize, know what's behind the behaviors and how to deal with them.
Our cat companions can be a real challenge at times. Sometimes we just don't understand why our cats are acting strange, or being destructive. As a professional pet sitter, I know that sometimes cats can act differently for a pet sitter than they do with their pet parents. And, I am also owned by 3 cats myself, so I know how perplexing cat behavior can be.
Here are some possible explanations for “WHY do they do it?”
A good example of that is going outside of the litterbox. The cat may have had a sub-clinical medical problem and when you add any sort of stress, it goes over the edge. That's why a problem seems to appear suddenly – out of the blue. An experienced pet sitter can alert you to any changes in litterbox habits that may indicate a health concern that would warrant a check up by your veterinarian.
Some cats you sit for, you may never see. You peek under the bed and there they are! With a cat like that, you don't want to reach in and try to haul it out Believe what it's telling you. If it's looking for a fight, leave it alone. Make sure your pet sitter is experienced in cat behavior in order to make your feline feel relaxed and comfortable while you are away. I find that almost every cat I have cared for comes out eventually to see me, even if I have been told “I will probably never see the cat.”
You've got to give a cat an opportunity to be a cat or it will act out. Cats are predatory, playful, territorial. Providing a cat with the attention it needs, whether it be petting, lap time, chasing after toys or laser lights, are all easy outlets for you to provide for your feline friend. Cats need daily interaction with their humans. For social and active kitties you may want to have your sitter visit two times a day.
A lot of people get injured by introducing a cat to a dog by holding it out and saying, “Kitty, meet Doggy.” You are the nearest vertical object and that cat wants to get away and high up to safety. At this point, you simply become an obstacle to go over or through. If you try to handle the cat, you'll get bit or scratched. Cat scratches or bites can be very serious – always seek medical attention. Also, it is best to let your cat be the one to initiate contact with a new person in your home at their own comfort level.
Cats are the best blackmail artists in the world. They will meow and meow and they won't give up! They know they'll eventually get the attention they want. A dog will ask for a while, then go away. Not a cat. See if you can figure out what your kitty is asking for. Is it affection? Play time? Wanting to be petted? Note: Sometimes they are just beggars for more treats or food. Be sure you are feeding them a nutritious diet and the proper amount to keep kitty at a healthy weight. But, a couple treats never hurt, right?
Destructive scratching is usually territory marking, exercise or claw sharpening. Be sure you have several scratching posts available for your kitty. Kittens need to be taught where it is appropriate to scratch. I sprinkle cat nip on the areas I want kitty to scratch and I provide vertical and horizontal scratching opportunities in various locations throughout my home.
Cats need a place to “do their business” that is private and away from their feeding areas. The general rule is one litter box per cat, plus one extra if you have multiple cats. They should be placed in different areas of the house and cleaned daily. If you need to change the type of litter you use, it should be done gradually. Cats do not usually like change and may go outside the box when there are sudden changes.
THE “FELINE TOOL BOX”
There are some things that I have found useful in my profession as a cat sitter, as well as sharing my own home with cats.
Feliway. This is a product that uses the facial pheromones of cats to relieve stress and help prevent unwanted behaviors. It seems to help upset cats to become calm. It comes in a spray or a plug-in. I use the spray on my clothes when meeting cats that may be fearful of new people. You can also spray it in their room (never spray on the cat.) The plug-in works well in a room where the cats hang out and are in a stressful condition, such as moving to a new location, fireworks or thunderstorms, pet parent leaving for a trip, etc.
Aluminum Foil. Cats do not like it! You can tape it on an area that you don't want a cat to scratch. Or if a cat is spraying a certain area, put up a sheet of foil there.
Plastic Carpet Runners. This is the type that has the bumps on the back. Turn it upside down. Cats don't like the way that feels and you can use it to keep them off of things or out of certain areas.
Double Sided Tape. If your cat is scratching your furniture or getting up on counters, you might want to try this (or one of the other suggestions).
Spray Bottle. I have found that this works well to stop unwanted behavior – like a cat getting up on counter tops. But when you use it, don't say anything or they will simply relate the negative consequence to your presence. Be sure to reward your cat with treats or praise when doing the behavior you want, like using their scratching post or staying off of the counters.