This is a page on cat behavior. It is written for children and people who like plain English. It is also simplified but there are enough facts to be a really good cat owner.
If you watch your cat, you can see how she behaves. It is actually good to watch your cat as you get to know what her normal behavior is. You can then tell if she is feeling well or poorly and you learn about cats.
You could keep a diary of what she does over one day and one night, which is 24 hours. Do it carefully and ask yourself questions about (a) why she is doing things and (b) what she might be thinking and (c) what she wants.
A lot of the things a cat does are the same as the things we do. But don’t forget that a cat is a cat and not a child.
The chart below tells you what my cat does in 24 hours. What does your cat do?
This diagram sums up what a cat might do in 24 hours. All cats are different, though and have their own ideas of what to do.
The most important part of a cat’s behavior is playing. Playing is what a domestic cat does instead of hunting. Domestic cats are almost the same as wild cats. Domestic cats that are allowed to go out in the garden (yard, in America) might do some hunting. Cats that are kept inside need to play at hunting and it is healthy for them to do it as it allows them to behave normally. If you have the time, please spend about one hour every day playing with your cat. Always be gentle, please. Use a feather on a stick, that sort of thing. You can make homemade toys. Ask your mum (mom) or dad to explain this page to you if you need an explanation.
Cat Friendly Home
What you need to know is how to make your home nice for cats and people. A lot of cat behavior that people don’t like, such as aggression, is because the cat is stressed. You will discover that cat behavior is as much about what you do as it is about your cat. How you talk and play with your cat affects his behavior.
Cats will behave normally and in a way that you expect if your home is calm and if your cat knows what is going to happen. Sometimes, it is good if new things happen as it makes life for your cat more interesting but overall there should be calm.
There are two main rules to follow:
- Understanding that the domestic cat is a wild cat at heart and
- What we do, is the most important thing in their lives.
We might forget that we are much larger that our cat. Put yourself in the place of your cat. Look up to the top of the house where you live and pretend that it is a giant person. How would you feel? That’s how a cat feels unless you can tell your cat that you are safe and a friend.
Watching and Climbing
Indoor cats get a lot of fun looking out of the window. Sometimes they see birds and they chatter their jaws. A nice bit of cat furniture that allows her to get high up and look down at the outside is good for your cat. It will make her happy. People do almost everything on the ground. Cats do a lot of things off the ground. They like to climb up as it is like climbing a tree. Give her the chance to do that.
Think What Your Cat Likes Not What You Want
It is up to us to make sure our cat knows we are friendly and safe. If you can tell your cat that you are safe and a friend and if you have given your cat a friendly home you are a long way to pleasing your cat.
Here is an example about getting a new cat. There are two ways to meet him:
You have a new cat. You race over to grab him and cuddle him. You put your hand out to grab him. He scratches you and runs away. What happened? He was scared. He was not aggressive. He was just a bit frightened and unsure about you.
You have a new cat. You slowly go up to him. When you get close you might crouch down and become smaller. You sit next to him about 3 feet away. You put your arm out slowly with the back of your hand placed near his nose. He smells you. You slowly place the back of your hand against his cheek and rub it gently. You stop and wait and perhaps you get up and let him explore. That is it for the first time. Patience is important. Give him time and space.
What is the lesson? Think what is good for your cat not what you want. This is important because your cat lives in a world made by people and your cat might be unsure until you can convince him he is safe.
More Than One Cat
If you want to keep more than one cat, make sure they get along. It is best to adopt cats who are brother and sister or sister and sister, that sort of relationship. They will get on. If you adopt a new cat without checking out how your cat feels about it, they may not get along. One cat may bully another causing stress. Most often cats living together live separate lives.
Where there is more than one cat in a home, they like to have their own space, litter, food and water and a place to hide.
It is our job to make sure our cat is allowed to behave normally. When a cat is allowed to behave normally, he will be more relaxed and behave as a cat should. This will also make him happier. You should try to accept the way a cat behaves rather than make him behave as you want him to. If your home is cat friendly and you have kept a diary of what he does you will know what normal cat behavior is.
Important: If you really must stop your cat doing certain things you will need to train him. This should be done with praise not punishment. Never shout at your cat, please. It does not work.
You may see cat aggression in your home. There are three times when it might happen.
- Your cat meets a strange cat just outside or in the house. He may be aggressive towards this cat. If you try and break it up he may be aggressive towards you. It does not mean he hates you. It is just that he can’t turn off the aggression like a tap. Remove the strange cat from the home carefully and let your cat calm down before handling him.
- If there is there is more than one cat in the home sometimes they may be aggressive towards each other because cats like their own space and some cats don’t give the other cat enough space.
- Your cat feels pain when you touch him or pick him up. You might not know about it. In feeling pain he may lash out. If this happens take him to a vet.
In a calm home, a well fed and cared for cat who gets on with all other cats and people should not be aggressive unless you are doing something wrong.
Bad Cat Behavior
People call it ‘bad cat behavior”. I think it is fairer to call it “behavior we don’t like” because for a cat, their behavior is never bad. Here is some cat behavior we don’t like and what to do about it:
Peeing and pooping in the wrong place – never punish a cat for this. The two main reasons are (a) your cat is stressed and wants to make her home more friendly. She does this by putting her scent which is her urine or poop on things in the house and (b) illness. Your cat might be ill. If you have a friendly home she won’t be stressed so the problem will be illness. Please take her to a vet as soon as possible.
Scratching and biting people – your cat should never scratch and bite you. If she/he does it will be your fault. Ask yourself if you could have done things differently. Handle cats carefully and approach them gently.
Scratching furniture – cats need to scratch objects. Wild cats scratch the ground and trees to leave a mark and scent on the tree. This tells other cats that they were there. Domestic cats do the same automatically. Let them do it. Buy a cat scratching post.
Cat Illness Causing Strange Cat Behavior
Here are some cat behavior problems because your cat is not well.
- Fat cat – your cat will less active. He may have bad joints in his legs. He may be ill with “diabetes”.
- Peeing on the carpet – your cat has something wrong with the organs inside him that allows him to pee. Don’t punish him. Ask the vet for help. Also make sure he is calm. Cats that are not calm can become ill and pee on the carpet.
- Skin is itchy – lots of illnesses can cause an itchy skin. Your cat will scratch himself. He may be grumpy. Take him to a vet.
- Old age – your cat can’t think straight and she may be confused and howl. This is normal. Be patient.
- Hungry and active cat out of character – he may have a cancer that affects a gland in his throat. See a vet.