August 27, 2020 – Does your cat sit and stare at you sometimes? Maybe they are trying to telepathically tell you something of great importance about their health and well-being.
According to feline health experts, here’s what they may be saying:
- The other cat is bullying me and I need my space.
Providing multiple, separate food dishes, feeding areas and litter boxes is one way to reduce aggressive cat-to-cat interactions. Every cat in the household (and you) benefits from separate eating and bathroom areas.
- Elevate me.
Cats love high perches so they can easily monitor the space around them. It makes them feel safe and gives them a sense of control over their domain. Build some vertical spaces in your home for your cat. Your cat will thank you!
- That lemon-scented plug-in is driving me crazy!
Cats have a keen sense of smell and what we think smells pleasing may be highly irritating to your cat. For example, cats don’t like citrus scents or strong household cleaners, like alcohol or bleach. However, cats do love their own scent and it’s why they rub up against us and the furniture. Do a scent inventory of your house and eliminate smells that may add stress to your cat’s life.
- Inside voices, please.
Cats have extraordinary hearing, an adaptation needed as a hunter. They can hear sounds we can’t hear, like the ultrasonic chitchat of mice and rats. So, it’s no wonder that loud sounds can be startling to them.
- I want a catio!
If possible, cats should have access to safe, outdoor spaces. Enclosed patios for cats keep them safe from predators, while giving them fresh air and a safe place for bird watching! If a catio is not in your cat’s future, provide them with a room with a view or, if you are adventurous and patient, try leash training them for a safe, outdoor field trip.
- Did you know I’m still a predator?
Cat brains are wired to hunt. To keep them from getting bored, provide them with toys that can be pounced on and thrown up in the air to simulate the chase. Also, find ways to play hide and seek with their food, including placing dry food in store-bought feeding balls that mimics hunting. An active cat is a happy cat.
- I need a time-out place.
Cats love to hide, especially when they feel threatened. It also gives them a safe and peaceful place to rest outside the hustle and bustle of their human housemates. Give them plenty of hiding options, including boxes, covered carriers or a favorite closet with lots of blankets.
- I’ll choose when I want to interact with you.
Always let a cat come to you and signal it wants attention. These signals can be as obvious as jumping in your lap, purring or rubbing up against you. Some cats also are just happy sitting next to you. Cats, just like people, need varying degrees of attention and they’ll let you know how much attention they need to be happy.
- I’ve got to scratch.
Most people think cats need to scratch to sharpen their claws. What they are really doing, beside some manicure maintenance, is marking their territory with scent glands in their paws. Provide your cat with scratching posts in areas where they can stretch out and scent away. Cats have different preferences for scratching surfaces so you may need to experiment to find the right fit.
- Don’t scold me if I have an accident
Peeing and pooping outside the box can be a simple matter of the litter box being dirty or using a scented litter your cat didn’t like. But bathroom indiscretions also can indicate a health problem such as kidney disease, diabetes and even arthritis. If accidents become more frequent, it’s time for a cat checkup to make sure there is not an underlying health issue going on.
Providing a comfortable space for your cat, with the resources they need, can dramatically reduce your pet’s anxiety. A more relaxed cat translates into a healthier and well-behaved cat. So, listen to your cat whenever possible. They really are trying to tell you something.
Funding a Pressing Need for Feline Behavior Research, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, April 2020
AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, February 2013