Cat behavior e-Book help needed please

Cat behavior e-Book help needed please

by Michael
(London, UK)

Hi all..I am writing an e-Book on cat behavior. The working title is Ten Ways To Avoid Cat Behavior Problems. The idea is that the title engages the public! Alternative dynamic and interesting titles would be gratefully received! An e-Book is an electronic book. It can be seen on the internet and downloaded to peoples’ computers where it can be read and distributed to other people.

I don’t want to simply rely on myself. I have actually more or less written it but I feel it very important to try and obtain a wider perspective and that is why I am asking the regular contributors for assistance.

You are great cat keepers. You are intelligent and caring. You are perfect advisers on how to get the best cat behavior from your domestic cat companions. I am thinking of Ruth, Maggie, Finn, Gail, Michele, Babz, Fran, Tracey, Joyce, Merrily and many more..sorry for leaving people out.

Cat behavior problems are one of the most searched for subjects on the internet in respect of cats.

In my view a lot of cat behavior problems are in fact to do with human perception, expectation and human behavior problems!

But I would be most grateful and pleased if one or two of the regulars (or indeed anyone else who visits) could leave a comment telling me what they consider to be the most important factors in avoiding cat behavior problems.

The kind of topics I mean are:

— Cat punishment – this makes things worse.

— Our expectations – if we expect unrealistic cat behavior it is bound to disappoint and will automatically be problem cat behavior.

— Creating the proper environment for a cat.

These are just three examples. There are more. What are your thoughts? What are the most important things that a cat caretaker must do to avoid cat behavior problems?

All contributors will be credited in the e-Book and links provided in the book to their chosen site.

Depending on the quality of the finished version (I expect and hope for very high quality) it may be possible to sell it and if so the funds will be distributed to the authors.

Thanks for reading this. I won’t be too disappointed if no one responds!

Michael Avatar

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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Cat behavior e-Book help needed please

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Jul 08, 2010 Time Outs
by: Lenore

Hello Rose,

Sorry it took me so long but I just saw this response. I understand what you’re saying about the time outs. My Blue is 7 months old now and I have gotten him a companion kitty, a little lilac point girl. He was recently neutered and she’s still a baby, so no worries there.

Between the neuter and the new friend, he has totally stopped the play aggression and no longer bites, scratches or anything else. Blue and Moon are totally best friends and keep one another company and play and wrestle all day. No more ankle biting. Just love in my home!

Jun 14, 2010 Sadie Wreaks Havoc in Mousedom
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Thanks Maggie for the kind words. Each one of us has a unique relationship with our cats and no one thing will always work across the board. That’s why this site is so fabulous!

Well, praising and positive reinforcement netted me another RIP mouse the other day – only this time she didn’t tuck it under a plant leaf…she left it on the threshhold of the bedroom, LOL!

When I first woke up, I thought Sadie may have left me a ‘dukie’ since her litter box is on the other side of the door. Upon putting on my glasses, I discovered another ‘stiff’ who’d met his maker.

As always, I praised her to the heavens, telling her what a “great mouser” she is, to which she happily went back out to the kitchen to stand guard for the next one. So far, Sadie 3, mice 0. She catches spiders too and with all the rain we’ve had, they’re coming out to dry off…much to their peril. I’d say that ours is a wonderful lifelong friendship with respect on both sides.

Jun 11, 2010 I agree with Gail
by: Maggie Sharp

I know I shouldn’t jump into this, but I do agree with Gail.

I respect your point of view, Sue, but it is too blunt. Simply ignoring bad behaviour doesn’t ‘teach’ the cat that such behaviour is not acceptable, whereas Gail’s method brings to Sadie’s awareness that what she is doing is not acceptable. I agree with what you said about praising good behaviour though.

I practice the same methods as Gail, and I have had good results, but it does take time for a cat to learn things, Sue, perhaps Sadie just doesn’t know yet… Or perhaps she is just being a cat…

Jun 08, 2010 To Sue
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Well, Sue, you are entitled to your own opinion, but considering Sadie and I have been together for over 11 years and she seldom scratches where she shouldn’t proves otherwise. Sometimes she’ll reach out her claw and look to see if I’m watching, just like a little kid, and does nothing. Obviously, what works for your cats is fine for you but not for Sadie.

Because of Sadie’s medical condition, she cannot have food treats, other than her medicated chewy treat in the morning. She’s on prescription food due to intestinal issues, so her ‘treats’ are of the love/attention paid kind. I would no more ignore her totally than you would a sick child who misbehaves periodically. Sadie is highly sensitive in that area and very affectionate. To ignore her totally would be a disservice to her and, quite frankly, break her heart. Considering her advanced age and the fact that she stills chases/catches field mice, I’d say she’s earned her keep.

Jun 08, 2010 Published
by: Michael

The e-Book is published (link on home page) but the beauty of an e-Book is that it can be refined easily at anytime. So, it will be refined and I will do work on it today as I have some more contributions to add.

Thank you again for these excellent contributions. Please keep them coming if you can because I will add good suggestions to the e-Book.

Michael Avatar

Jun 08, 2010 Gail
by: Sue

Your method obviously doesn’t work as Sadie is still scratching where she shouldn’t.You are still having to stop her doing it when you”catch” her.
Where it falls down is you are not her feline momma and besides”when the cats away the mice will play”
There is no point being good only when momma is watching.She knows you will”growl”but she also knows you will follow up with love and treats which naturally she enjoys.
Sorry but the only way to teach a cat to behave as you want it to is to totally ignore”bad” behaviour and reward”good”behaviour.
My cats agree.

Jun 07, 2010 Cat Behavior…Two Cents Worth
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Although I agree pretty much agree with everything said, I have a have slight difference of opinion but again, it depends on the cat.

Ever watch a momma cat’s behavior toward her brood? If one of her little ones is doing something she doesn’t like, she will gently touch her paw to the errant child and very softly growl, almost under her breath. It’s fascinating to watch. The kitten stops immediately and head bumps mom to which mom responds in kind.

Over the years, I’ve found that Sadie responds in the same manner. When I catch her (the point being “when I catch her”) in the act of scratching somewhere she shouldn’t, I will go over to her, softly say “noooo…” then gently pick her up and bring her to her scratching post and imitate a cat by scratching it myself. She responds in kind every time and then I praise her with a lilting “good girl Sadie..what a special good girl you are!” She then continues scratching her post and I continue to praise her and she responds with kisses.

If she scratches me accidently, I say softly “gentle Sadie..gentle” to which she retracts her paws immediately and again, she gets praised. Never, ever hit a cat, yell at a cat, spank or any form of corporal punishment. NEVER.

If she’s being a brat for whatever reason(we all have our moods), I very softly growl under my breath (like a momma cat would), at which point she ceases the bad behavior, wants kisses and she gets them every single time. She head-butts and gets a gentle head-butt in return.

The couple times she got out the door (once outside on the back porch stairs), I softly said “Nooooo…” and she stopped dead in her tracks and waited for me to pick her up. When I did, she got lots of praises and love for being such a sweet, special good girl.

Sometimes all she wants is love and she gets it. I always say softly “You’re my baby Sadie, my very special lady that I love so much!” in a sing-song voice and she always responds. When she’s had enough, she just puts her paw on my arm or face and walks away and I don’t bug her.

When a cat slowly closes their eyes at you, they are saying “I love you.” When you respond in kind, or even if you do it first, it’s a positive message and your cat will appreciate it.

Jun 06, 2010 Silent treatment
by: Jane

I can vouch for Ruth’s silent treatment when a cat’misbehaves’
There is no need to squeal or yell or hiss or even sternly say no.That is counter productive in an attention seeking cat because to some cats any attention including displeasure,is better than none.
I’m ashamed to say I tried squirting water before I knew how wrong it is,but since meeting Ruth and using her kindness and distraction advice,my cats are beautifully behaved and happy.
I agree too with Babz who says each cat is an individual.To many people they are cats plural but in reality they are each cat.
I also talk to each of my cats and include their names in my conversations.

Jun 06, 2010 Just a thought
by: Ruth

Just a thought Michael and I’m sure you WILL have stated the obvious if your ebook is intended to be read by American and Canadian people too, that declawing a cat is the biggest cause of behavioural problems.
A lot of people think it will solve problems but in reality it just creates more.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jun 05, 2010 Talk to your cat
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

I agree with all that has been said about not punishing cats. Also it should be noted that if the unwanted behaviour is not actually happening, the cat will not have any idea why it is punished. It’s not that they don’t have memory, they just won’t connect trouble right now with something they did 5 minutes ago .
Also cats might know what they are not allowed – like steeling food from the table. But if nobody is watching they’ll often do it anyway, as the rule obviously is not enforced at the moment.

Maggie mentions the stern “No!” and it’s usually enough for stopping unwanted behaviour. If not, move the cat, but never in an unkind way. Once it has stopped, do remember to talk calmly to the cat so that it knows you are not mad at it.
I really can’t emphasize the importance of talking to your cat enough. Even if it feels a bit silly at first, talk to your cat. Even if the cat doesn’t understand a word of it, it helps bonding so much – and also makes yourself feel better. 😉

Finn Frode avatar

Jun 05, 2010 A great idea
by: Maggie Sharp

This is a great idea Michael, educating people is everything!

As you know, the one thing that is really important to me is respect, people need to respect a cat as a cat. A cat is not a person, they don’t think like a person, they don’t behave like a person, and they often don’t understand why people behave in certain ways towards them. If a cat is playing with you and they bite you and then you hit them, the cat won’t understand why you did that, as far as the cat’s concerned you’re punishing it for playing, that’s how cats play, biting and scratching is involved, so when you think about it, are you teaching the cat a lesson, or are you causing it to lack trust in you and brake down any bond that is there, because from the cat’s point of view, you seem to lash out at it when it’s having fun and behaving in a healthy cat-like manner. Therefore, you are not respecting the cat and its typical cat behaviour.

Also, I know that physical discipline on cats is very painful for them emotionally, whether it’s tapping them on the nose, hitting them or spraying them with water. The idea of physical discipline is to inflict pain on the cat in order to deter the cat from doing a certain thing. Yes, it does get results, because it hurts and scares the cat so much that it is frightened of doing that due to the fact that it knows it will have some sort of pain inflicted on it, that’s no way to teach a cat the wrongs and rights, the infliction of pain, purposely, is also the meaning of cruelty, which is why it is wrong to physically discipline a cat, your intentions might be good, and the results might seem pleasing, but your cat is suffering to the benefit of you. A simple yet stern “NO!” when a cat is doing the ‘wrong’ thing does work, the cat understands by the negative tone in your voice that you do not approve of its behaviour and eventually such behaviour will cease to occur.

Feel free to contact me if you need to Michael, I’m not sure if this is what you wanted because I don’t think Australia has e-Book.

Jun 05, 2010 Thanks Babz
by: Michael

Thanks a lot, Babz, for your welcome input. It is noted and will be included plus a credit and link.

Michael Avatar

Jun 05, 2010 My thoughts
by: Babz

Congratulations on a brilliant idea Michael, I’m sure the ebook will be a huge success and will probably ease the lives of thousands of cats who live with people who need more knowledge of how to live in harmony with cats.
I don’t think I have any fresh ideas but here is my philosophy on sharing my life with cats. Each cat is an individual so two cats can have totally different likes and dislikes,and they are not “it” they are he or she. They appreciate thought as to the siting of their equipment,a warm quiet place to sleep (unless they take over your bed) their litter tray away from their eating area etc and they appreciate us talking to them, they may not understand what words mean but repeatedly hearing good girl or boy in a loving tone of voice comes to be an expression of love to them. They also like it when we whisper to them, and look at them with slightly squinty eyes, they tend to squint back at you. Some cats like you to get down on the floor to their height and gently bump your head against them, this is how cats interact and you’ll notice they bump you back and weave around your head rubbing against you. I don’t believe in any form of physical or mental punishment for cats, it works against you in the end, in their own eyes cats can do no wrong so punishing them only makes them flinch from you or become nervous around you, “time out” means nothing to cats, it may be fashionable for kids but cats are not kids and have no clue why you’re putting them in a room for 5 minutes then getting them out again. Cats deserve respect as do all living creatures, they deserve to be given time to learn what we require of them, and to be taught kindly, they deserve time to do their own thing (sleep)without being disturbed, they deserve fresh air, access to grass, fresh food and fresh water and they have the right to bear claws.
I also firmly believe that the bit of their face at the top of the nose, between their eyes that measures approximately an inch across is absolutely made just the right size for putting a kiss on, and this should be done at least once daily!

Barbara avatar

Jun 05, 2010 Time out
by: Rose

I’m not nit picking Lenore but time out is not a good idea and you are giving your kitten mixed messages by rewarding him for attacking your ankles.Yes he did it gently but now he thinks attacking ankles gently is acceptable…it won’t be so acceptable when he’s grown bigger and stronger and then he will have to learn not to attack ankles at all.
You’d do better with distracting him by throwing a cat toy when he goes for ankles.
Time out does not work,it’s confusing and unkind for animals and for kids too.
As Ruth has already said,no punishments work.
I can vouch for that with my kids,cats,and dogs.All are treated with respect and kindness and ours is a happy home with no stress,all of us well behaved.

Jun 05, 2010 Thanks Ruth
by: Michael

Thanks Ruth for your valuable input. I have mentioned this as one of the basic rules of cat caretaking but will expand the section and credit you as one of the authors…

Michael Avatar

Jun 05, 2010 What a good idea
by: Ruth

Michael your book will be worth its weight in gold to help us educate people about cat behaviour.
You’ve more than likely already written all this but here goes anyway:
In my opinion and experience,the most important thing is that cats should never ever be punished.They don’t understand punishment as what they do is natural behaviour for them.
They need to be taught like children but we always need to bear in mind they are not children,they are cats and they like being cats.It’s impossible for cats to behave the same as humans do because they are not humans.
So no shouting,hitting,scruffing,holding hem up,holding them down,squirting water or any other liquids,no time out, no shutting in cages,tying up in basements, rubbing noses in the mess if they do it outside the litter tray.No even more cruel punishments like scat mats, electric fences etc….the list is endless….
All these things and more, only confuse cats and the end result is that not only do they not work, the cat becomes nervous around you.
You teach a cat as you teach a child, by kindness and distraction.Distract them from the behaviour you find unacceptable and reward them when they learn.
For example,after you’ve shown the cat how to use his scratching post,if he goes to scratch anywhere else (or anyone) don’t say a word, simply lift him to his scratching post and praise him when he uses it.Cats are highly intelligent and soon learn what behaviour pleases you.
All it takes is patience, kindness and a little bit of your time.
Another thing I’d say is respect the cat,don’t force yourself on him when it’s obvious he wants some ‘private time’ If he’s peacefully sleeping, let him sleep.
Talk to your cat, sing to him, make him feel important and loved and he will reward you a thousand times over with his love and trust in you.
Get down on the floor with him and look at the world through his eyes,you can learn a lot that way.
I heard this old saying many years ago and I think it’s true:
If you can win a cat’s friendship,you’ve something to boast about’
36 years of happy well behaved cats of our own have made/still make me,very happy

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jun 05, 2010 Stray cats UK
by: Michael

Hi Rudolph, to the best of my knowledge stray cats and dogs are not rounded up en masse. There just are not that many it seems to me. The climate must be a factor. It is too damn cold and damp throughout much of the year so cats stay inside.

Obviously some animals are taken to rescue centers but relatively few. Perhaps also more than the average number of cats are neutered in the UK. I’ll do a bit of research on that.


Jun 05, 2010 Thanks
by: Michael

Hi Rudolph, Lenore, Susan for your contributions which are gratefully received. I will keep you updated as to progress!


Jun 04, 2010 Cat behaviour E-Book.
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

Congradulations Michael for planning to write an E-book on “Cat Behaviour”.
I have just returned from a 17 day holiday(15-5-2010 to 1-6-2010) to Europe, having visited Rome,Florence,Venice,Switzerland,Cologne,Brussels,Paris and finally London.
One important observation was the total absence of “STRAY CATS” or “Stray Dogs” on the streets of all the city’s that i visited, unlike Mumbai where they thrive.
I was in London for a week, touring most of ‘old London” and its tourist attractions including the fish and meat markets, yet, never came across a “Stray cat or dog’!
Are stray cats or dogs immediately seized by the “animal welfare authorities” and either euthanised or set for adoption?
I also didn’t come across a single cat either stepping out of a house or in any of the shops,something utterly bizarre to a person from a developing country where outdoor movement of cats and dogs is considered a way of normal life.
My 2 pet cats “Matahari” and “Matata” have been projected on “P.O.C” with their various habits and problems. If you find some of my articles on them helpfull for your book then you are free to use the same from my previous articles.
One things for sure, the art of breeding and keeping pet cats varies considerably between Europe and Asia.
Through my pet cats “Matahari” and “Matata” you could project the practical facts of cat upbringing in closed apartment life-style.

Rudolph avatar

Jun 04, 2010 biting and scratching
by: Lenore

i have a 5 month old siamese kitten. He was given to me too early and he is play aggressive. He bites and scratches way too hard. I have been training him not to do that. When he attacks me I immediately distract him with a toy. I will ignore him if he plays with me too roughly and I always squeal when he hurts me (that is not pretend).

I have numerous scratches and bites on my ankles, legs, hands and wrists. I will give him a time out for about 5 minutes at a time and then he is allowed to rejoin the family. I have never hit him or hurt him.

I am begining to see the fruits of my labor, because he is playing less roughly. He attacked my ankles GENTLY earlier today to let me know that he wanted to play and did not hurt me. I was so proud of him that I gave him a treat.

I am also getting him a friend and I am picking up the new kitty next week. Wish me luck.

Jun 04, 2010 Kitty Potty Problems/Scratching Problems
by: Susan Sullivan

As you may know, cats are very territorial, even inside the house, and in order to claim their territory, they often mark it by spraying, if they are male, or urinating if they are female. In order to keep this from happening inside your house as much as possible, try to keep the number of housecats that you own down to a minimum, preferable only one cat. If you do have more than one cat, definitely have more than one litter box, preferable one for each cat, which kept in his or her favorite area of the house. Keep the box immaculate! There are also two products that can assist in keeping the urinating and spraying to a minimum, and they are Boundary and Nature’s Miracle. They not only eliminate the odor to both your sense of smell as well as the cat’s, but have a built-in repellent which discourages the cat from marking the area again. Boundary is also supposed to keep animals such as cats away from certain objects, such as a sofa that he or she loves to scratch. From my personal experience, Boundary did not work that well for this purpose, however. What seems to work better is some sort of scratching device such as a mat or scratching post that you can embed with catnip (there are specially made devices such as this). This will be very attractive to the cat and will be highly enjoyable to him or her as well.

Always praise your cat when you see good behavior. Pet him or her as much as possible. Always tell your cats how wonderful you think they are and how much you love them. If you have multiple cats, spend as much individual time with each cat. This will keep the fighting and other acting-out behaviors down to a minimum. When they are together, praise them for getting along. Cats are smarter than many people think and understand much more than most people think they do. The more they are spoken to directly by you, the more they will learn human language. Try to keep tension and/or yelling out of your home and never yell at your cats or hit them, and your relationship will be better and behavior problems minimized.

Contributed by Susan K. Sullivan, longtime cat lover, at

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