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Cats + Behavior

  • Some cats that appear to be perfectly comfortable resting in a lap can suddenly turn around, bite, and run away. There are ways to reduce the likelihood that your cat will bite you. Treatment will depend on the specific reason for the behavior.

  • House soiling in cats, also called feline inappropriate elimination, is the most common behavioral complaint of cat owners. Problem behaviors can be urine and/or stool deposited outside of the litter box, or marking behaviors.

  • The birth of a baby or the adoption of a new child is associated with a great deal of anxiety, excitement, and stress for not only the family, but also the family pet. Some dogs and cats can have a difficult time adjusting to these changes, especially if this is your first child, but preparation and planning will help.

  • Cats were once considered to be solitary creatures. Although there may be individual differences, we now know that they are in fact social animals who benefit from interaction with their own and other species.

  • Dexmedetomidine is a sedative/tranquilizer used primarily in cats and dogs as a pre-medication injection for anesthesia or for chemical restraint. It is also used orally in dogs for short-term anxiety management. The most common side effect is a low heart rate. Dexmedetomidine should not be used in patients with severe heart liver or kidney disease. It should be used cautiously in young, old, or weak animals. Consult your veterinary office immediately if you suspect a negative reaction or overdose.

  • The estrous cycle, better known as a female cat's heat cycle, consists of several stages; the stage called estrus refers to when the female is sexually receptive. This handout explains the age of onset, the clinical signs of a cat in heat, the length and phases of the heat cycle, as well as the benefits of spaying a female before her first heat cycle.

  • Losing weight can be difficult. While feeding a prescription weight loss diet is certainly a good start in a weight loss program for your cat, it is important to remember that food intake is only one part of the problem; energy expenditure is also significant. Encouraging your cat to exercise by playing with him, putting his food in unusual places so he has to look for it, and making him work for his food (e.g., training, foraging toys) will help.

  • Obesity occurs when a cat consumes more calories than he expends. Therefore, managing obesity in cats often requires both dietary changes and increased exercise/activity. There are several methods for increasing activity in cats, including play, using cat trees and climbing structures, outdoor enclosures, and intentional, active feeding practices. Each of these can be beneficial in promoting weight loss.

  • You’ve probably heard lots of funny cat anecdotes; about how you don’t own them…they own YOU; how they feel superior to everyone, especially dogs; that they expect to be treated like royalty. If you are considering a feline acquisition, first consider this: lots of those remarks are true! This handout explains the other factors to consider in selecting the cat most likely to choose your family, too.

  • Fear is an aversive emotional state with physiological, behavioral, and emotional reactions to stimuli which are perceived as an actual threat or danger. Fears may be rational or irrational; they may be adaptive or maladaptive. Fear may result in aggressive responses by pets. A phobia is a sudden, profound, or excessive fear response. Anxiety may be defined as diffuse generalized feelings of apprehension, unease, and/or nervousness regarding an imminent event, uncertain outcome, or an anticipated threat or danger. Fear can be the result of an early experience that was unpleasant or perceived by the pet as unpleasant but it does not always take an unpleasant experience for fear to develop. Any stimuli that a dog or cat has not been exposed to during its sensitive period of development, which is up to 3 months of age in dogs and 2 months of age in cats, may become a fear-evoking stimulus. Illness, pain, or the effects of aging may lead to an increase in fear or anxiety in situations where there was previously little or no problem. A good program of socialization and exposure to many new and novel situations while a pet is young and in a thoughtful and proactive manner can be helpful in preventing fears and phobias. Professional intervention can help to prevent the behavior from worsening.