The Domestic Cat’s Cry for Help

This is looking at feline behaviour a little differently. I had not heard of it before but I like the phrase “a cat’s cry for help”. In this instance, it refers to feline behaviour which some cat owners might consider to be behavioural problems.

The sorts of problems that I’m referring to are, for example, increased territorial marking activity inside the home (urinating horizontally), scratching furniture, inappropriate elimination (urinating or defecating outside the litter tray), leaving faeces in new places and unburied (sometimes this results in cats defecating on their owner’s bed as just one example), over-grooming, excessive vocalisations, loss of appetite, eating too much and the classic cystitis resulting in a burning inflamed bladder and perhaps hiding a lot (you can find a lot of information about these conditions by using the search box above).

Stressed cat?
Stressed cat?
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Tag on PoC for “stress” and custom search for “stress” – both links take you to many articles on this topic. You may well find answers.

You have probably guessed that the so-called “behavioural problems” mentioned are caused by stress. The most common cause of stress in the home is probably problems within multi-cat households. We know by now that cat caretakers cannot presume that two cats will automatically be good company for each other. People can make the mistake that domestic cats will get along in multi-cat households.

Domestic cats are becoming more sociable and perhaps more used to living in multi-cat households (many are harmonious) but it is said that the domestic cat is more likely not to get on with another domestic cat than the opposite.

The argument is that when there’s more than one cat in a territory the size of a typical household – which is typically small in terms of domestic feline territorial requirements – there is the distinct possibility that the environment will be stress-making for the cats.

The domestic cat looks upon their territory (home range) as their resource for food, protection, comfort, security and warmth. The presence of another cat within that resource is threatening which can quite naturally cause stress.

As mentioned, perhaps the biggest source of potential stress is another cat within the household but other sources of stress would be the presence of a new human at home, such as a new baby and the classic disruption of moving home. Even moving furniture can cause stress for the timid cat.

We know how inscrutable the domestic cat can be. The domestic cat does not portray to us her feelings through facial expressions. The domestic cat does not give much away in their face and in the look of their eyes. Although they do give something away and experienced cat owners can often pick up certain signs within facial expressions but they are subtle and quite difficult to detect especially for the inexperienced cat caretaker.

Although the cat does not give much away in expressions, they convey their emotional state and feelings through their actions. I’ve mentioned those in the second paragraph.

If these patterns are present the owner will have to work out the source of the stress whatever it might be and then whenever possible eliminate them and improve the environment. Sometimes, distressingly, this might mean the rehoming of a cat from a multi-cat household to a household where that cat will be the sole feline resident.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

2 thoughts on “The Domestic Cat’s Cry for Help”

  1. Hello again Michael_ these signs of stress are pertinent ones because we all need to pay closer attention to our cats behaviors. One example , If your cat is happy and lives in a peaceful environment , but out of the blue and for no obvious reason you can see, acts differently and displays repetitive gestures and sounds to get your attention then they may need medical attention.
    Naturally, if you have a strong bond with them then your cat is pleading for you to help them. Cats view you as a parent & guardian.

    Back to stress involved with having multiple cats, they do form boundaries. My four Maine Coons certainly have theirs, but they are related and have been together since birth.
    Thank you Michael__for posting and please continue. You have helped us and our pets to have a better lives. Eva__

    1. Thanks Eva. I agree that cat caretakers need to be observant and think about their cat’s behavior. People need to be switched on and not make presumptions.

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Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
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