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Behavior Issues Affecting Your New Cat

Adopting A Kitten · What you’ll need · Behavior Issues · Grooming · Related articles

More cats wind up at shelters and humane societies because they have behavior problems than for any other reason. The number one cat behavior problem is inappropriate elimination. This means the cat urinates or defecates outside the litter box. There is a full discussion of Inappropriate Elimination and Spraying in the Behavior Section with steps for changing behavior. Many cats that are eliminating outside the litter box—especially those who eliminate on their caregiver’s bed—are suffering from separation anxiety. There is a full discussion of Separation Anxiety in the Behavior section.

For cat behavior tidbits, check out 50 Cat Health and Behavior Facts.

Cat Books:

Dozens of books have been written about cats, and several are reviewed in News Section Book Reviews. Skim the reviews and see if there is a book you’d like to curl up with cradling your new cat.

  1. Roger Tabor’s Cat Behavior: A Complete Guide to Understanding How Your Cat Works by Roger Tabor
  2. Good Owners, Great Cats: A Guidebook for Humans and Their Feline Companions by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson
  3. Why Cats Do That: A Collection of Curious Kitty Quirks by Karen Anderson with illustrations by Wendy Christensen
    If Cats could Talk: The Meaning of Meow by Michael Fertig
  4. 50 Uses for Your Cat: Cat Skills Uncovered by Jay Groce, Francesca Peppiatt, and Paul Seaburn
  5. Cat Speak by Bash Dibra
  6. What Your Cat Needs by Liz Palika
  7. What Is My Cat Thinking? by Gwen Bailey
  8. Why Do Cats Do That? Real Answers to the Curious Things Cats Do by Kim Thorton
  9. Totally Fun Things To Do With Your Cat by Maxine Rock
  10. Know Your Cat’s Purr Points: The Art of Cat Massage by Margaret Woodhouse
  11. Cats Rule: The Rules, Wisdom, and Witticisms That Go Along With Being A Cat by Bob Lovka
    How to Talk to Your Cat by Patricia Moyes
  12. Women Who Love Cats Too Much by Allia Zobewl
  13. Splendid Little Book of All Things Cat by Bob Lovka
  14. 277 Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know: A Cat-alog of Unusual and Useful Information by Paulette Cooper & Paul Nobel
  15. The Body Language and Emotion of Cats by Myrna Milani, DVM
  16. How to Talk to Your Cat by Claire Bessant


Helping Your New Cat Adapt To Children
Some cats are good with children and some are not. Give your cat plenty of room to escape and teach the children that cats prefer to come to people rather than to have us chase after them. If a child frightens a cat and is scratched, wash the injury twice a day with antibacterial soap until it heals. If the area appears red and sore rather than healing, consult your physician. Occasionally cats carry bacteria (Haemobartonella henselae) that cause cat scratch fever and your child may need antibiotics. Infected scratches often cause more serious symptoms in children and in immune-suppressed adults.

It is never advisable to leave children alone with a cat that has just become a new family member, and—depending upon the nature of your new cat—it may never do well when left with children. On the other hand, your new cat may be an ideal pet for children of all ages. Do not leave newborns, toddlers, and physically handicapped children alone with cats. Instead, enjoy the cat together with these children.

Helping Your New Cat Adjust To Your Home and Other Pets
Introduce your new cat to one room. After it becomes comfortable there, allow it in two rooms. Gradually increase until your cat has explored all the house it will have access to. Take as many days to progress through the house as your cat needs. Ensure it has food, water and a litter box in the room it inhabits.

Allow other pets in the house to smell the new cat before they see it. Carry the new cat’s scent to your other pets on a towel and allow them to sniff it. The first introduction should be through a window or screen so that they can see each other but do not feel threatened. Giving your pets treats while they are separated from but can see the new cat encourages your established pets to associate positive feelings with the new cat.

On the day you allow the new cat to physically interact with the other pets, choose a neutral room to bring them together. Limit exposure to the time you can be with them. Gradually increase the time all your pets spend together, but stay with them. Begin leaving them alone together when you’re confident they interact peacefully. Some new cats do best if they have their own sanctuary to return to. Some cats do best if fed separately. Take your time introducing a new cat because slow introductions have been proven to decrease aggression between pets. It is much more difficult to repair this aggression than it is to prevent it.

The articles here were answered by a variety of pharmacists and veterinarians
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