Cat Behavior - FAQs

Andy W.
Hoof & Paw Animal Clinic

What does my veterinarian need to know about my cat's behavior?

Well, what's your cat doing? That's gonna be the first question. Let us embark on a journey here in which the litter box issue is the behavior because that's the primary one that I have to deal with. Litter box behavior can be essentially reduced to does it occur in nature? So, unscented cat litter is key. An uncovered cat litter box is key. A clean litter box is key. And I can refer all of those things to nature for you in this way. Scented cat litter or scented sand boxes or scented dirt doesn't occur in nature. Cats don't go into caves to go to the bathroom because who wants to use a Johnny on the spot for the rest of their lives? And who wants to keep going back to the same filthy rancid place over and over and over again? So, if your cat is doing inappropriate urination or defecation, chances are you're missing one of those three factors.

How do I know if things like kneading and hunting are normal behaviors in my cat?

Kneading and hunting are absolutely normal behaviors because first of all cats are carnivores. I mean we don't feed them like they're carnivores but cats in fact are carnivores. They're not designed to live on anything other than small furry woodland creatures. Kneading is a leftover, almost like a thumb-sucking kind of thing, leftover from being a kitten. What kneading does is that encourages breast milk to flow. And so if a kitty is feeling good and groovy with you, they're gonna make biscuits. Think of it as getting a big hug from mom. That's why they do that.

How do I assess whether a change in my cat's behavior means they're sick?

A change in your cat's behavior can oftentimes indicate something is amiss. Keep in mind that the seasons change and all those, but let's say for example your cat's hiding and then crying. You've probably got an underlying litter box issue that you don't even know about and the cat is manifesting his issue with that that way. The reason that that happens is because if a kitty doesn't want to go to the litter box, he or she is not going to use the litter box, which is either going to result in them A. peeing on your dirty laundry or your bed or in your closet or somewhere where it's at least relatively clean. Or they're gonna simply hold it until they can't take it anymore. That's how bacterial infections happen.

What are some possible health concerns that can arise from cat behavior problems?

In males, if you are not using the litter box and you hold your urine long enough, you're going to get stones, and stones are going to plug up the urethra and then the kitty can't pee. That is a medical emergency. You've got two days, maybe three tops, before that becomes a death sentence for kitty. That is no fun for anybody. In females, they don't actually get blocked, but urinary tract infections run rampant and it has everything to do with the cats not using the bathroom. The other thing that you can do to encourage good kitty behavior, especially litter box good behavior, is have water running. I'm not saying a fountain because I don't like fountains because they always build up with algae, they taste bad, and the only way that you can clean that is with bleach. That also tastes bad as it turns out. If you're okay with kitty being on the countertop like I am at my house, have your water faucet drip all the time. Just drip into a bowl, the kitty will splash around in it, they'll drink more, they'll pee more, and you can eliminate that problem from the mouth down.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (618) 233-2800, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram