June 21, 2010

Cat Aggression During Playtime

Filed under: cat aggressive behaviour,Cat behavior,Kitten Care — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:39 pm

Anybody who has had a kitten can tell you that their play can be aggressive.  In fact, you may be able to spot a new kitten owner by the scratch marks on their hands and arms.  While some owners can withstand the sort of aggressive attacks that leave marks on the skin, as kittens become cats the scratching becomes more serious (not to mention more painful).  At this point, you want to teach your cat to play without the aggression so as to avoid injury to friends, family, and children.

cat aggression while playingFirst of all, you need to understand that kittens playing aggressively are only acting out on natural instincts.  As hunters, kittens need to develop and hone their skills so that they can feed themselves, or at least this is how cats have evolved.  One of the best ways to prevent this behavior is to direct aggressive play to another target like a toy, or maybe another kitten.  String toys are great for interactive play and they allow kittens to practice pouncing and attacking without damaging your skin.  Also, use a variety of toys to keep your cat stimulated and make sure you can always keep your hands well clear of the toy.

Sometimes during play your kitten, and even cats, may bite you.  While they may not break the skin, they can become overly excited and may even hold on to your hand for an extended period.  Your hand is like their prey and they want to keep control.  Do not try to pull your hand away forcefully as kittens will instinctively try to hold on more tightly.  Instead, relax your hand and attempt to distract your cat with another toy.  Otherwise, you can also try to distract your cat with your free hand by scratching or tapping some furniture.  Your cat should release its grip.

Most importantly, when you’re trying to teach your kitten not to be aggressive, you must be consistent and patient.

May 31, 2010

Preventing Behavior Problems in Cats

Filed under: cat aggressive behaviour,Cat behavior,cat stress — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:01 pm

feline stress Do cats feel stress? This is a valid question, one that many people believe they know the answer to. How could a cat feel stress when they have no responsibilities in life? The fact is, stress is a normal coping behavior for all animals, human or not, and as such your cat does indeed feel stress from time to time. One particular instance that can cause a great amount of stress for your cat is when you leave her home alone. Moreover, when you have multiple cats, leaving them alone in a confined space (your home) can also be extremely stressful. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to prevent stress and the subsequent behavioral problems that cats may demonstrate.

The easiest way to help your cat with stress is through playtime. Even just five minutes of play every day is enough mental stimulation and exercise to prevent stress in your cat. And, if you have multiple cats, you may want to play with them separately. When cats sleep and groom together they are demonstrating that they have a good relationship and it’s ok to do group play. However, when cats are distant from each other, they may view other cats as a threat and you’ll want to separate play time.cat behavior problems

By engaging your cat, you prevent many potential behavioral problems like aggression and you even contribute to their overall health. Daily play provides exercise so that your cat is less likely to become overweight or obese. Plus, play time is a great way to demonstrate appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. Make sure your cat knows that scratching and biting are unacceptable behaviors and remember that it’s easy for cats to misinterpret your behaviors as play so be patient.

January 20, 2010

How Can I Train My Cat To Stop Biting?

Filed under: cat aggressive behaviour,cat biting,training cat to stop biting — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:26 am

When we make the decision to extend our family by bringing a cat home, our expectations are for a lovely, cuddly creature that will bring love and affection into our lives. For the most part, cats provide the kind of love we’re looking for but from time to time cats exhibit aggressive behaviour like biting and pet owners are left trying to figure out how to stop this unwanted behaviour. One of the first steps a cat owner must take when trying to cease biting behaviour is to understand the underlying cause. In many cases your cat may be suffering from a painful physical condition, like an ear or tooth infection that can make your cat irritable and more likely to strike out. As such, one of your first responsibilities is to visit your veterinarian.

how to stop a cat from bitingStill, many people will tell you that the vet couldn’t solve the problems they were facing because of cat biting. In these situations, training your cat to stop biting is your only option. Again, the underlying causes of the biting must be determined. Most of the time, cats bite when they are playing, but sometimes stressful changes can lead to dramatic changes in your cat’s behaviour. Preventing cats from biting requires training them from a young age that biting humans is unacceptable behaviour. Behaviour modification techniques usually rely on a model of punishment or reinforcement. Reinforcing good behaviour while mildly punishing bad behaviour is the most effective way of stopping cat biting. Remember that your punishments and rewards need to be consistent. Carefully observe your cat so you can learn the signs that indicate biting will occur. When you see your cat demonstrate these behaviours, remove it from the situation that is causing your cat stress so that it doesn’t have the opportunity to bite. Moreover, when your cat demonstrates good behaviours give it rewards like treats or gentle pets. Remember that you need to set a consistent example and never let biting behaviour go unnoticed. In a short time you can teach your cat that biting is not going to be accepted.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.