We love our cats but still complain about their “behavior problems,” but did you ever think why your angry cat might behave badly? Our blood pressure goes off the charts when Sheba and Tom scratch the furniture, baptize the bed, and caterwaul at 5:00 a.m., even though we’re purr-fect owners!
Our cats love us back. But there’s no doubt that kitty’s tail gets in a knot over a human’s “behavior problems.” Put yourself in your cat’s paws.
8 Ways People Hiss Off Cats
Clawing Angst: Cats claw to mark territory, to exercise and relieve stress. Owners hiss off cats by not providing the kitty-correct claw object and location. Cats don’t care if it’s color-coordinated to human taste. A nasty-clawed-ugly-old-post with scratch-graffiti is like a child’s favorite binky and can’t be replaced with a spanking-new post. Hiding it away means claw-art won’t be seen. Cats re-train humans by clawing kitty-correct objects of the proper texture and location—like the sofa. Use these tips to help your cats claw in the RIGHT way.
Declawing Growls: Surgical claw removal offends many cats on an emotional and physical level. It strips away normal kitty defenses, and changes kitty stride/balance. Yes, some cats manage to suck it up and soldier on, but others demonstrate hissed-off status by avoiding the litter box (it HURTS to dig with sore toes!), or biting more often in defense.
Litter-ary Woes: Hit-or-miss potty behavior is the top complaint of cat owners—but we bring it on ourselves. Most standard commercial boxes are too small for jumbo-size cats so they hang over the edge or look elsewhere. Kitties hate being surprised in the potty, and dislike strong odors from perfumed litter or stinky deposits—a covered box condenses smells and blocks the view. Do you have a favorite TP? Cats get attached to favorite litter, too, and switching prompts some cats to take their business elsewhere. Having to “share” facilities is like you discovering somebody forgot to flush—ew! Extra boxes will reduce the hiss-quotient for kitties. Find more tips here!
Carried Away: Cats love the status quo. Changes to routine annoy or frightens them. Fireworks can send your cat under the bed (refer to tips here for relieving fireworks fears). Being stuffed into an unfamiliar cat carrier and then grabbed, poked and probed by scary-smelling strangers (vet alert!) makes cats hit the panic button. Couldn’t the vet at least warm up the thermometer? Savvy kitties teach owners a lesson by disappearing each time we reach for the carrier. Make cat carriers part of the furniture and add catnip toys or fuzzy bedding to take the “scary” out of the equation.
Left Behind: Vacations hiss off many cats because it messes with feline routines. Your felines get used to being fed, petted, played with, and snuggled at certain times and the owner’s absence throws a furry wrench in kitty expectations. It can take kitty a week or longer to become used to a new schedule of you being gone. Your return disrupts the newly learned kitty schedule all over again, so the cat has a double-dose of kitty angst from owner vacations.
Sleeping Late: Why would owners want to sleep late, when a kitty bowl needs to be filled? Cats raise a ruckus to point out food bowl infractions or other owner irresponsibility. Felines become quite adept at training us simply with consistent purr-suasion, causing sleep deprivation until we give in.
Indoor Incarceration: Cats that have experienced the great outdoors can become distraught when “jailed” exclusively indoors. Never mind they’re safer indoors away from dangers—closed doors and barred windows drive these cats crazy. Bringing the outdoors inside with puzzle toys, cat towers and a kitty house-of-plenty can calm the feline freedom fighters.
Unfaithful Owners: Owners may think kitty is lonely and wants a friend, but they never ask the cat! Bringing a new pet (especially a cat) into the house turns up the hiss-teria. How would you feel if asked to share your potty, dinner plate, toys, bed—and love-of-your-life human—with a stranger off the street? To the cat, the interloper looks funny, smells scary, and disrupts that all-important familiar routine. It can take weeks or months for cats to accept newcomers as family members.
You can find many more details and tips for relieving the angst in my ComPETability: Cats book. There are always feline exceptions. Your cat may not have read the kitty rule-book, and perhaps throws hissy-fits over other issues. Understanding what concerns our cats helps us be better owners, and enhances the love we share.
What have I missed? Are there other things you do that really urk your kitty? Do tell!
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!