Find out why your cat kneads and what it says about their happiness. Is kneading instinct? Is it comforting? Let's talk about the possible reasons for this behavior.
Find out why cats meow and what your cat is trying to tell you.
Find out why your cat licks you so much and/or random objects in the house. There are common causes for this behavior and other health-related issues that should be addressed.
Are you having trouble keeping your cat out of your Christmas tree? This article will offer tips on how to keep your cat from destroying your tree.
Is your cat pooping outside of the litter box? Are you wondering why you are finding cat poop on the floor, in your bed, or somewhere else? Find out what is causing this behavior and get your cat to stop.
Does your kitten or adult cat bite you for no reason? Cat bites big and small can be pretty nasty depending on the severity, but sometimes our feline friends are just trying to tell us something with a little love nip. Find out why they do it.
Cats do unusual things, and sometimes that makes us wonder why. Find out more about cat behavior and why cats do the things they do.
Ever spoken to a cat and been surprised by their reaction? Cats can hear you when you speak to them, but they don't understand your words necessarily. Learn how to help them understand.
Why do cats sleep so much? If you have an adult cat—2 years or older—you may notice that they nap a lot during the day. Although this is no cause for alarm, sometimes over-sleeping can be due to underlying illness. Know what's normal and what's not normal.
Find out what other feline behaviors are normal or abnormal when it comes to eating things that aren't food.
Cats and Christmas decorations can be a disaster. It's important to protect your tree, ornaments, food, and above all, your cat, during December.
Kittens bite and scratch while playing, purring, and cuddling, but how do you know if this behavior is normal, and how do you make your kitten stop?
This article helps owners to prevent litter box problems in cats and answers frequently asked questions.
If you're a cat owner, you probably know all about catnip. It's that herbal magic that gets your cat all kinds of funky and funny. Cats are said to get "high" on catnip—interpret that as you like. Let's discuss the biology and chemistry behind catnip.
What can you do when your beloved kitty starts to act out and be naughty? Here are some excellent tips and tricks to help you train your cat and discipline them the right way.
Did your cat run away? Maybe your cat disappears for a few days at a time but returns home shortly after. You may be wondering what causes this behavior. Get the answers you're looking for in this article.
Is your cat hissing at you? Is your cat hissing at other cats? Sometimes this behavior is totally warranted, but other times it's a cause for concern. If your cat is constantly stressed out, you will want to find out why.
Cats are mysterious creatures. One of the most mysterious things about them is their habit of sipping from the porcelain goblet—the toilet. Gross? Disgusting? Baffling? Check out why cats like to party in the potty.
Many cat owners find themselves frustrated when their perfectly trained feline suddenly decides they don't want to use the litter box. Learn the five most common causes of this behavior and you how can prevent it.
Cats can develop depression, just like humans. It is important for cat owners to recognize these 10 signs and symptoms of depression in their cats so that they can get the veterinary care they need.
Though cats are often described as being aloof and unaffectionate, they can be just as loving as dogs. It might seem difficult to know if your cat really loves you, but there are actually many signs if you know what to look for.
When it comes to our cats, there's no clear way for them to tell us how much they love us; however, just because they can't speak our language doesn't mean they don't show us in other ways. Here are five great ways that our cats show us that they love us every day.
I love cats, but nothing is more irritating than a cat that constantly meows. It is a sound that can grate almost as much as someone dragging their fingernails across a blackboard. What can you do?
The flehmen response, characterized by a "grimacing" expression, is actually a biological mechanism cats use to investigate scents.
Understand why your cat is behaving in such an aggressive manner.
Cats are notoriously hard to read, but their body language can be an excellent indicator of what they're thinking.
Some cats have seemingly always loved to meow, while some suddenly become vocal superstars overnight. Here we discuss a few of the main reasons that some cats meow so much.
Personal grooming is an essential feline routine, but in excess it can lead to health issues.
Cat owners whose cats urinate on the bed instead of the litter box are often upset and confused. Here are a few reasons why a cat may be urinating in your bed!
It can be difficult to tell whether cats are fighting or playing; especially because their interactions involve a lot of wrestling, batting at each other, growling, and biting! Here's how to tell!
Cat bites can be dangerous. Learn why cats bite and what you can do to correct their behavior.
When a cat bites us, it can seem to come out of nowhere. It's not a pleasant surprise! Here is an explanation of common types of cat bites and some ideas as to why your cat might be biting you.
A humorous look at some things people believe about cats. Written by the owner of seven cats: one who knows the truth!
Tackling a dog fight over owner attention requires a systematic approach and the help of a professional.
Cats provide inside information about what they're thinking so you no longer have to guess. Here are 10 things your cat wants you to know.
Learn the number one way to stop spraying! Spraying is typically on a vertical surface and is a normal, although undesirable, behavior in cats. Cats use spraying as a method of communication.
Why do cats purr? Do purrs mean something more than happiness? What do purrs do for the cat and for us?
Do cats really get angry? Can they be vengeful and spiteful? Or might there be another reason for their less-than-friendly behavior? Read on to find out!
How dangerous or severe can the attacks of domesticated cats become? Do cats attack unprovoked?
Have you ever wondered how your cat communicates with you? Their body language says a lot about how they feel and what their needs are. Learn to decode the secret of their behavior.
Are you dealing with a bully cat? If your cat is attacking another cat or dog within your household, here are some ways to stop the behavior. Let's start by understanding behavioral triggers and move on to proactive ways to remedy or lessen the problem.
Why does your cat lick you? Is it because it loves you? Is it because the cat has jealousy issues? Do you just taste good? Find out here! All cat owners would love to know why their kittens lick them!
If you have a cat who is spraying due to stress, will the pheromone collar help him to calm down? Read my real-life review.
Have you ever wondered why cats purr and why they do it so much? Read on to find the answers!
Humping cats are a major nuisance, but there is hope. Find out why your cat may be behaving this way and how to stop it.
While cats may seem passive, there is often an aggressive spirit to them, especialy when they are jealous!
Interactive feeder toys are great because cats love them and they keep cats active! This is an in-depth review based on our experiences with our Maine Coon cats.
How can you stop a cat from attacking a dog? Yes, you read it right, some cats do attack dogs. Learn why cats may do this and some strategies to stop the attacks and break up fights.
What is your cat saying? A cat's meow is iconic. Every children's book will tell you that a cat says "meow." But cats have a wide vocabulary, and they don't just employ their voice to use it.
If your cat is scratching your furniture, it is possible to train them away from this habit. However, it's important that you provide them with an alternative object to scratch—like a scratching post—in order to redirect the behavior.
There’s nothing quite like the comfort and companionship cats provide. They’re notoriously moody, of course, but even the most icy and aloof felines muster up an approving purr from time to time.
Their independent, low-maintenance nature makes cats the perfect pets, and keeping in tune with their needs isn’t particularly hard when they manage to meow for their meals. But there are also times when our feline friends leave us scratching our heads.
Do you know what to do when your cat bares its belly? How about when its tail starts twitching? From the unassuming cat loaf to the midnight crazies, here is a list of some of the most common cat behaviors and what they mean.
A twitchy-tailed feline may be trying to signal disapproval. If you’ve ever wondered how many pets you’re allowed before your cute kitty turns into a nightmare of razor sharp terror, watch its tail.
A calm cat will move its tail slowly from side to side, while an anxious one may jerk it around at a quicker pace. It’s typically not a sign of excitement, but one of annoyance. Watch for those claws to come out soon!
The most satisfying morning stretches are often accompanied by kneading paws. It’s not unusual for cats to knead in other situations either. Young kittens will knead their mothers bellies as they nurse to get the most milk, and the memorized movement simply carries on into old age.
Some cats mark their territory with kneading, so accept it as a sign of affection and play along. You’ll likely hear some deep purring along with the pressing paws. It means your feline is feeling good!
What’s more comforting than the smell of freshly baked bread? The sight of a freshly formed cat loaf, perhaps.
Just like cats enjoy lounging in the well-lit spots of your home to soak up the heat of the sun, curling their paws under into a loaf helps regulate body heat. According to Blind Cat Rescue, a cat’s internal temperature averages between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s likely your cat is just feeling a little drafty and is trying to conserve warmth.
Or maybe it’s just into bread.
Most people recognize purring as a sign of affection and acknowledgment, and they’d be right. But cats also purr when they’re feeling scared, anxious, or in pain.
A cat purrs by vibrating the cords in its larynx while breathing in or out. The vibration is much greater than that of the human voice, and many feline experts believe the act of purring can sooth a stressed cat. Wired reported that purring may stimulate bones that could become weak and brittle, and one cat may even go so far as to lay next to another to purr if one of them is injured.
After a good meal, some cats will paw around the perimeter of their dish in an effort to bury their food. It’s an instinctual motion, related to burying the carcass of a kill in the wild, where it would otherwise attract larger threats. Swiping kibble around on a counter doesn’t exactly accomplish the same goal, but it’s the intent that matters to the cat.
You may notice cats do the same after finishing up in the litter box. A cat can tell quite a lot from the smell of another, and covering up its tracks helps disguise its whereabouts from predators. There may be far fewer predators in your home than in the great outdoors, but old habits die hard, and instincts even harder.
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Some cats will sprawl out when they sleep, but most will curl up into a tight ball. It’s a natural way for mammals to keep warm and safe while they rest.
“They either push into small spaces to have some security with solid walls around part of their body so they can’t be snuck up on, or they roll into a tight ball,” Dr. Kat Miller, Ph.D., director of anti-cruelty and behavior research at the ASPCA and a certified applied animal behaviorist, told PetMD. “It’s also similar to the way a bird tucks its wings in or tucks one foot up into his feathers. It’s an easy way to retain heat.”
When a cat exposes its midline to you, it’s telling you that it feels comfortable with you in the room. You may reach out for a belly rub, and while many cats will even let you follow through, you’ll know the second a cat isn’t interested in such advances.
Apart from a sense of satisfaction, or perky playfulness, a cat may bare its belly when expressing trust, or even when attempting to defend itself from taller animals. In an unspayed female cat, an exposed belly may mean that she has mating on her mind.
Cats are notorious for interrupting work spaces. There are likely few computer-owning cat owners who haven’t found their feline traipsing over their keyboard at least once. Why do they do this? Simple. Cats crave warmth, and a plugged-in computer, especially one running several Animal Rescue Site tabs in a browser, is nothing more than a glorified heating pad to a cat.
Purr-haps it’s simply for attention, or maybe it’s so they can maintain their higher internal temperatures. Or maybe you’ve just browsed enough today.
According to Dr. Miller, “it’s hard to ignore a cat when she’s sitting on the keyboard, and she’ll quickly learn that by sitting there, Mom is more likely to give her attention.”
Late at night, when you’d rather be fast asleep, your cat may have wilder plans in mind, like running around or pouncing wildly. The “midnight crazies,” as some call it, perfectly describes this spike in cat activity during nocturnal hours.
It may be an instinctual behavior, exciting a feline with the thrill of the hunt when nocturnal prey can be found outdoors. It may also be a sign that your furry friend doesn’t get enough play during the day.
“Cats in the wild are active at times when rodents come out, typically after dark,” Sandy Myers, an animal behavior consultant with Narnia Pet Behavior Clinic in Naperville, Illinois, told Pet Place. “A cat naturally wants to spend her evenings hunting and playing predator games, even if she is a well-fed house pet.”
While midnight crazy cats typically find ways to entertain themselves, the incessant racket they stir up isn’t always as entertaining to humans. Spend a little more time with your pet, introduce some new toys, or play some calm music, and you may find your nights getting a little quieter.
Cats could probably care less about plumbing, but few have met a sink or tub that wasn’t worth inspecting a little closer. Leave a trickle on, and they’ll jump right in to drink. Shut it of and they’ll jump in anyway. There are several theories as to why felines enjoy these bathroom fixtures so much, but it’s possible we will never know the truth.
Tubs are great hiding places and may have the same allure as a cardboard box to a cat. The damp environment may be preferable to other parts of the house. The bathroom fascination could also stem from a cat’s innate curiosity of running water.
What strange behaviors does your cat have? Let us know if they didn’t make the list! In the meantime, click next below to read about a cat with a very important job — keeping his fellow shelter animals calm while they go through trying surgical procedures.
Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free! →
Some guardians are training junkies-in the best sense. For them, resolving problems by teaching alternate behaviors is a pleasure. Others are less committed to training and more interested in keeping things simple. If that is your philosophy, environmental management may suit you better. Does one really need to spend countless hours creating setups to teach Snoopy to stay out of the garbage, when just keeping the trash can out of reach would suffice? Don't want the cat on the bed? Close the bedroom door. Hate it when the puppy eats the kids' toys? Put the toys away when the pup is out and put the pup away (in a crate or gated area) when the toys are spread all over the living room. It's quick and easy and may be just what the overscheduled guardian needs to resolve certain problems. Note: Please make sure not to abuse this solution by socially isolating your companion animal in a crate, garage, yard, or basement for long hours every day.
These three steps can make most perplexing pet problems vanish. But if yours persist, contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) or an applied animal behaviorist to learn what other tricks they have up their sleeves.
This online library contains tried-and-true methods for managing many common pet behavior problems as well as tools for evaluating situations that may require additional resources. Please browse the list of titles below and study the information that's relevant to your particular situation. Try the solutions that are offered.
If your problem persists, please contact our Pet Helpline to connect with a behavior specialist.
This online library and our expert staff assist Animal Humane Society in carrying out its mission to reinforce the human-animal bond and reduce the number of surrendered animals. Materials can be mailed to people who don't have access to a computer.
Aggression, defined as hostile or violent behavior intended to dominate or intimidate another individual, is a fairly common behavioral problem in cats.
Its causes in cats can be complex, both in terms of triggers and targets, making it challenging to find strategies to eliminate aggressive feline behavior.
The consequences of aggressive behavior in cats can be significant, ranging from injuries to other cats and people to the surrender of aggressive cats to shelters. A recent study reported that 27 percent of cats relinquished to shelters for behavioral reasons were surrendered for aggression. Given these high stakes, it is important that cat owners understand the cause of their pet’s aggressive behavior in order to develop a plan to successfully intervene.
Regardless of their cause, recognizing the signs that a cat is fearful or aggressive can help prevent injury to pets and people. These cues can be separated into two categories: those observed in the face and head and those expressed by body posture.
Signs of aggression include dilated pupils, ears flattened backward on the head, tail held erect with hairs raised, and an arched back. Signs of fear include dilated pupils, ears flattened and held outward, whiskers flattened or pressed downward onto the face, tail closely wrapped or tucked under the body, and head held upward while lying prone ( Figures 1 and 2 ).
There are a number of different types of aggression that cats can display, and in some cases, a cat may display more than one type at a time. Here are some general principles for managing all types of feline aggression:
The first step in managing an aggressive cat is to ensure that there is no medical reason for aggressive behavior. Diseases such as hyperthyroidism, osteoarthritis, dental disease, and central nervous system problems may cause aggression, so consult a veterinarian before attempting to manage aggressive cats through behavioral and/or environmental modification.
Once a veterinarian has ruled out medical problems, identifying the type of aggression is key to understanding its cause and to developing a plan to intervene.
Types of Aggression
Cats can display aggression for a number of reasons. Determining the cause of a cat’s aggressive behavior is important, as different types of aggression may be managed differently. The following are general categories of feline aggression and how they can each be addressed.
Young cats and kittens that were not raised with littermates, or that lack opportunities to play most commonly show play aggression. Learning appropriate play is an important part of a cat’s socialization, and this normally occurs during time spent with littermates. Cats learn that they are biting or scratching too hard when their littermates stop playing or retaliate. Cats raised alone during their early lives may not learn this important lesson.
Cats that are about to engage in play aggression will often thrash their tails back and forth, have their ears pinned to the tip of their head, and have dilated pupils. They may stalk their target, whether animal or human, and will often pounce from a hiding place as the target passes by.
To intervene in play aggression, first determine if there is a pattern to when and where aggressive behavior occurs. If so, preempt the aggression by distracting the cat with play or denying access to places that encourage the behavior, such as under the bed if the cat hides there before pouncing. A bell on a breakaway collar may be helpful in signaling a cat’s whereabouts prior to and during aggressive behavior.
The use of noise deterrents within a few seconds of aggressive behavior, such as a blast from a can of compressed air or a person hissing, may be helpful in startling a cat and redirecting his attention. The goal is not to scare the cat, but to distract him and refocus his attention. Never physically punish, or even touch a cat, during these times, as this may cause a cat to become fearful of people or may be interpreted as play, which may inadvertently reward the aggressive behavior. Walking away and ignoring a cat engaged in play aggression may teach him that inappropriately aggressive play results in no play at all.
Any objects used to distract a cat from play aggression should be kept at a distance from your hands so that the cat cannot bite or scratch you while venting his aggression on the toy.
This type of aggression may be seen when a cat encounters unfamiliar stimuli, such as a new person, animal, or noise, or when a cat is exposed to an experience that he associates with unpleasant events, such as a trip to the veterinarian.
Cats demonstrating fear aggression may flatten their ears against their heads, hiss, bare their teeth, or crouch low to the ground with their tail tucked under their body, and their fur may stand on end.
The best way to deal with fear aggression is to identify and avoid situations that produce a fearful response. If a situation cannot be avoided, then you can attempt gradual desensitization by briefly exposing the cat to the stimulus that causes the fear from a distance, and then rewarding non-aggressive behavior with food and praise.
It is very important not to console an aggressive cat, as this may be perceived as approval of aggression. It is also important not to retreat or show fear, as this may reinforce the behavior if your retreat is what the cat wants. Lack of attention is a better way to handle fear aggression.
For reasons that remain unknown, some cats may suddenly become aggressive when being petted. Possible explanations include overstimulation and an attempt by the cat to control when the petting ends. Handling, bathing, grooming, and nail trimming can also cause this type of aggression. In many cases, the cat will demonstrate dilated pupils, tail lashing, and ears moved backward on the head before becoming aggressive.
To manage a cat with petting-induced aggression, owners should avoid uninvited handling or petting, any type of physical punishment or restraint, and attempts to pick up or interact with the cat while he is eating. Rewarding a cat with a food treat for allowing brief, light stroking without signs of aggression may also be helpful. Over time, owners can gradually increase the duration of stroking, but with any sign of aggression, the owner should stop the petting and begin a cooling down period with no physical contact.
It is particularly important to supervise cats that display this type of aggression when they are in the presence of young children, who often want to pet cats but miss the visual cues of impending aggression. Ideally, owners should prevent physical contact between small children and a cat with a history of petting-induced aggression.
When a cat is excited by a stimulus but cannot respond directly, the cat may redirect his aggression toward a human or another cat. Common stimuli that trigger redirected aggression include loud noises, seeing an outdoor or stray cat through a window, or an altercation with another cat in the house. Sometimes, aggression may be redirected toward a human after an aggressive interaction between indoor cats.
The best way to prevent this type of aggression is to remove or avoid the stimuli, for example, by pulling down a window shade, using deterrents to keep stray cats away from the window, or by preventing aggressive interactions among indoor cats.
Cats that are in pain may act aggressively toward people or other pets in an attempt to avoid touch, movement, or certain activities that might worsen the pain. Cats with osteoarthritis, for example, may resent having their joints touched or manipulated, and may hiss, bite, or scratch in response. Rarely, some cats may continue to act aggressively even after once-painful parts of their body have healed, presumably to avoid the pain they experienced previously.
Owners can manage pain-induced aggression by refraining from touching painful parts of a cat’s body and by working with a veterinarian to establish an effective therapeutic plan for pain control.
Cats may occasionally show signs of aggression toward people or other pets when they want to establish social dominance. Cats that block doors with their bodies or swat at other cats as they pass may be demonstrating this type of behavior.
The best way to address status-induced aggression is to ignore an offending cat completely. Attention, including play and food rewards, should be given only when an aggressive cat is relaxed. A relaxed cat is not swatting or hissing, has normal sized pupils, ears held upright, and normal tail posture, with the tail held upward with no flicking, twitching, or hairs on end.
Cats tend to establish and defend their territories. They may show aggression toward newly introduced cats, and occasionally other animals or people, that encroach upon their established domain. In some cases, cats may even attack resident cats that were previously accepted but were away from the home, such as for a hospital stay. This aggression commonly takes the form of swatting, chasing, and attacking the encroaching individual.
The most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with territorial aggression is not to rush an introduction or reintroduction. New or returning cats should be confined to their own room with separate litter box, water, and food. After a few days, replace the new or returning cat with the aggressive cat and close the door for about 30 minutes, then return the cat being introduced/reintroduced back to his own room and the aggressor back to the rest of the house. This step can be repeated daily for several days.
The next step is to place the cats on opposite ends of the same room in carriers or on leashes with harnesses, so that they can see and smell each other but cannot interact. Feed the cats so that they associate the positive experience of being fed with the presence of the other cat. If they won’t eat, move them farther apart. This step should be done repeatedly over several days, with a smaller distance between the cats each time. Lastly, once the cats have become acclimated to each other’s presence with restraint and feeding, release them in the same room, at a distance, and feed them. If any signs of aggression occur, resume restraint and feeding in the same room until the cats calm down.
This process can take weeks to months, depending upon the cats involved. In some cases, your veterinarian may have to prescribe medication to one or both cats to prevent adverse interactions, but it is important to note that medication must be used in conjunction with the gradual desensitization process outlined above.
It is crucial that you never put your hand or any other body part between cats that are fighting, as you can be seriously injured. Using barriers such as baby gates or panels made of cardboard, light wood, or plastic to separate aggressive cats can be very effective.
Queens that have recently given birth and are nursing kittens may demonstrate aggression toward individuals that approach them. Owners should provide a quiet, low-stress environment, keep visitors to a minimum, and avoid contact with the queen and kittens if they observe aggression. Maternal aggression will usually subside as the kittens get older and more independent.
Male, and more rarely female, cats may demonstrate aggression toward other male cats as they approach social maturity between two and four years of age. The first step in addressing this behavior is to neuter or spay all cats involved, as sexual hormones may play an important role in this type of aggression. Territorial aggression may also play a role, as described above. If neutering and spaying does not improve the situation, the cats should be separated and reintroduced using the technique outlined above.