Even when you’ve lived with them for years, cat behavior can be weird, and sudden changes are frustrating. It may seem like your misbehaving cat wants to ruin your life, but she might actually be telling you that something is wrong. Here are five things that might be happening with a cat acting weird.
1. A cat acting weird might signal depression
A cat acting weird might be depressed. Remember how you felt the last time you got dumped? You stayed in bed all day, didn’t change your clothes, and ate only when your mom called and insisted that she was going to come over if you didn’t shove some food into your face right now.
A cat who has, for example, lost a beloved companion might behave similarly. He leaves his food untouched for days, ignoring even treats. He hides under the bed. He is indifferent about grooming, because “sigh” what’s the point? And he sleeps even more than his usual 18 hours per day.
How to help: What a depressed cat needs more than anything is patience and TLC. Coax him out of hiding with toys and treats while talking in soothing tones. Also try Tellington TTouch, or TTouch, which involves massaging him in circular motions, and give him a familiar blanket or article of clothing.
If all else fails, your vet can prescribe antidepressants.
2.Your cat is acting weird because she’s stressed
She hates change more than the most neurotic person you know, and since you moved, she’s been in full-blown fight-or-flight mode. Your new apartment is smaller, and all of your furniture is different. You also just started a full-time job, so she’s alone most of the day. Stress might be one of the reasons behind a cat acting weird.
How to help: Disrupt your cat’s routine as little as possible by keeping her in a separate room with her toys, litter box, food and bed while you pack and move. Then keep her in a safe room at your new place while you unpack and rearrange. Being surrounded by familiar items and smells will help her feel more at home. Additionally, before starting a new job, ease your cat into the routine by leaving her alone for increasing intervals each day and showering her with treats and attention when you return.
3. Your cat might feel threatened
You just brought home a new cat, and your old cat wants her dead. They run shrieking across the room, a footrace that ends in a furious flurry of fur. You’re afraid to leave them alone together, and they pee everywhere except the litter box.
How to help: Take a page from My Cat from Hell television host Jackson Galaxy. He makes sure that each cat has a safe place to eat and use the litter box, and he creates escape routes with cat trees and shelves. This lets cats know their territory is not under siege. Playing with the cats simultaneously can also redirect the energy they normally use to beat the crap out of each other.
4. Your cat is acting weird because she’s sick
It’s merely an inconvenience when you step in a lukewarm pile of kitty kibble barf-mash at 6 a.m., but it can become worrisome if your cat’s vomiting happens daily. It doesn’t help that evolutionarily, a sick cat is a dead cat; therefore, cats are excellent at hiding signs of illness. If your cat isn’t eating, drinks excess water, seems lethargic, hides for more than a day, stops using the litter box or suddenly changes temperament, she might be telling you something is wrong. The protrusion of her “third eyelid” can also indicate illness.
How to help: Odds are it’s nothing major, but to be sure you’re not overlooking a potentially serious health problem, a cat acting weird with these symptoms should be seen by a vet.
5. Your cat might not be your biggest fan
Well, technically this might be your boyfriend’s cat, but the two of you just don’t jibe. You try to pet him and he hides under the coffee table. Then he emerges a few minutes later and lavishes your boyfriend with headbutts right in front of you.
How to help: Realize that sometimes a cat acting weird simply might not like you. Just like humans, cats have distinct personalities, so you’re not going to get along with all of them. They’re kind of like children: Even though we’re not supposed to have a favorite, we do.
Tell us: Is your cat acting weird? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments!
Thumbnail: Photography ©PeopleImages | DigitalVision / Getty.
This piece was originally published in 2012.