Most Commonly Reported Cat Behaviour Problems

Bad cat behavior leading to euthanasia
Photo: Flickr User MiuMiuKitty
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UK: the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) represents a group of experienced and qualified pet behaviour counsellors (I hasten to add that I’m not that keen on the concept of cat behaviourists or cat behaviour counsellors). In the UK the most readily published information about cat behaviour problems as at 2003 was produced by the APBC in their annual report. The information comes from the clinical records of the members of the association.

In their 2003 review of 66 cases of reported cat behaviour problems to their counsellors, the most commonly reported reason for referral was marking behaviour in the home by 25% of the cats. This means spraying and defecating inside the home. This is almost always due to stress brought upon by environmental issues controlled by the cat’s owner; but not always. The strategic depositing of faeces is called middening.

The next most commonly reported cat behaviour problem amongst this group of 32 male and 34 female cats of which 97% were neutered, was aggression towards people. This accounted for 23% of the group of cats. Thirteen percent of the cats were referred to counsellors for aggression with other cats. Other feline problem behaviours were difficulties with house training (12%), attention seeking (11%), and self-mutilation (6%). The average number of problems per cat was 1.7 and there was no difference between females and males.

Most of the cats referred to the Association were regular domestic shorthairs (random bred cats or moggies) at 57% of the group.

As for purebred, pedigree cats the two most commonly referred oriental breeds were the Siamese (11%) and Burmese (11%). These breeds are also quite well represented in the general cat population in the UK.

In a research study at Southampton University in 2000 conducted by Bradshaw and others and in 2001 by Casey, it was found that the association’s findings of feline behaviour problems relating to house-soiling and aggression towards cats and people was overrepresented. What this means is that they found that the two problems were not as prevalent as indicated by the APBC review.

What the Southampton University study found was that the most commonly reported cat behaviour problems which are underreported were unwanted scratching behaviour and fearful and avoidance-related behaviour whether toward unfamiliar people or other cats.

Cat owners are more likely to refer problems relating to house soiling and inter-cat aggression to cat behaviourist and therefore these forms of behaviour are more commonly reported to cat behaviourists and counsellors whereas fearful and anxious cats who hide are hardly a problem to cat owners and these owners probably refer to their cats as nervous or timid and do nothing about it.

Is interesting that all the cat problems referred to on this page are ultimately related to the environment in which the cat lives which in turn has been created by the cat’s owner or are related to the owner’s perceptions about cat behaviour and their interactions with their cat. All the problems will be normal cat behaviours under the prevailing circumstances. The obvious problem is that some people don’t like certain aspects of feline behaviour which they may have inadvertently provoked in their cat companion.

Source: The Welfare of Cats 2007

P.S. All the so called cat behaviour problems referred to can be successfully searched for on this site.

1 thought on “Most Commonly Reported Cat Behaviour Problems”

  1. My cat has never defecated anywhere but the litter box with one exception.

    I was renting a room with a landlord who was mean and unkind to me. He was also unfriendly to Mitzy.

    He used to leave his sleeping bag in the living room on a bean bag chair. One day, I was shocked to see that Mitzy had pooped right in the center of the sleeping bag!

    I could see no reason for this, other than a kind of kitty “retaliation”. He was extremely upset and angry about this. I still wonder if my cat did this intentionally. Has anyone else experienced this kind of behavior?


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