Have you ever wondered what your cat is trying to tell you through certain behavior? For example, when your cat pees on your pillow, he’s not trying to get even with you for coming home late. When he scratches your new sofa, he’s not being bad. Because cats have different needs and desires than us and a completely different way of seeing the world, they communicate in ways which we don’t always understand or appreciate.
People often try to change their cats’ "bad" behavior in ways that don’t work and may even make things worse. That’s not good cat care. Some people learn to live with their cats’ behavior, while others heartbrokenly surrender their cats to animal shelters. It doesn’t have to be that way. Most cat behavior issues are quite solvable once you know how cats think and why they are behaving as they are.
Understanding your cat’s behavior will not only help you to resolve behavior issues that might exist but will strengthen your relationship with your cat.
In honor of National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, here are some important questions that your cat would like to ask you.
How would you like your litter box down a long flight of stairs, in a dark, cold basement? When’s the last time you cleaned my litter box? Why did you move my litter box? Where did you put the other litter I liked? What makes you think I want to share my litter box with that new cat you brought home? There’s a reason I’m not using the litter box. I may even be sick and can’t help it. Have you taken me to the veterinarian?
Don’t you know that scratching is normal for cats? What else am I supposed to scratch? You call that wimpy thing a scratching post? Why did you put the scratching post there? There’s a reason I’m scratching the sofa. I may even be stressed. I’ve noticed you do have some interesting behaviors when you’re stressed.
I like when you pet me, but I have my limits. Didn’t you see my ears flatten and my tail swishing? Haven’t you noticed that cats typically groom each other around the head? Do you have to pet me so hard? There’s a reason why I’m sensitive. I may even have a medical problem, like arthritis, and need veterinary care.
Why do you tempt me by leaving food up there? Don’t you understand that I what to survey my domain? Did you ever consider that I feel safer when I’m out of the dog’s reach? Have you given me anything else high to climb or rest on? Okay, so you did, but why did you put it in such an out-of-the-way place? Don’t you realize I want to be with you? There’s a reason why I get on the counter.
What makes you think I want to share my territory with another cat? Did you think I’d just say, "Oh, fine, just bring in another cat"? How would you like it if someone just showed up to live with you? Wouldn’t you want to get to know them first? Why did you bring in a kitten to taunt me in my old age? How come he’s getting all the attention? Hey, why is he playing with my toys? There’s a reason I’m stressed. Isn’t it obvious?
Are there any questions your cat is asking you? Let us know in the comments!
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About the author: Nancy Peterson is a registered veterinary technician and award-winning writer. She joined The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s largest animal protection organization, in 1998 and is currently the Cat Programs Manager. She lives in Maryland with her cats Luna, adopted from a feline rescue; Toby, adopted from an animal shelter; and Jenny, a feral kitten she fostered. Check out the HSUS cat information at humanesociety.org/cats and humanesociety.org/outdoorcats.