How Learning About Cat Behaviour Can Positively Impact Your Cat’s Welfare

I recently read an article containing new cat behaviour research showing how owners in the USA perceive troublesome cat behaviours. From 2016 to 2022 owners were given the opportunity to voluntarily complete a survey about their cat’s behaviour.

So What Were the Results of this Cat Behaviour Research?

It concluded that whilst behaviours such as cats showing aggression towards their owners, aggression between cats, urine spraying and cats keeping their owners awake at night were perceived as a problem, other behaviours such as separation anxiety, over-grooming and other compulsive behaviours were not.

What Does This Mean?

In order to maintain optimal welfare standards for our cats it’s important that we try and learn as much as possible about cat behaviour so that we can identify when something isn’t quite right.

For example, supposing your cat starts to over-groom. You mightn’t notice it at first, or you might think he’s just being extra fastidious. It’s not until you start seeing bald patches appear that you realise something could be wrong, by which time the habit has become entrenched and more difficult to resolve. The cause of the over grooming could be anything from itchy skin as a result of having an allergy, or he could be in pain and grooming the affected area, or it could be a self-soothing activity to help him deal with a stressor in the environment.

I’m in pain!

In other words, most new behaviours have an explanation which is usually either something that is causing your cat physical distress, or something within your cat’s environment that causing him emotional distress. And unless we understand what’s normal behaviour for cats how can we recognise when the behaviour is not normal? Understanding how you can positively impact your cat’s behaviour through learning and education will help you to identify which is which.

There is more information available about cat behaviour than ever before, but where do you start? You might be tempted to seek help from friends that have cats or from cat owner online forums. My advice here would be to try and avoid going down this route!

The way your cat behaves is influenced by a combination of genetics ie characteristics inherited from his mum and dad, by past experiences and by his physical environment and the relationships with people and other pets that he has within it. All these variables make his behaviour unique to him. And whilst some behaviours he performs might look the same as behaviours performed by other cats, the reasons for doing it might not be the same.

The most common place people look for information these days is the internet. However, as with any advice you search for, some of it might not be factual or correct! Here are two sources which give reliable, comprehensive and free guidance (clicking the images will take you to their respective websites)

You can also find cat behaviour advice on this blog.

And if you want to take your knowledge to the next level International Cat Care run the following on demand, online course: Getting to know your cat: An Introduction to Feline Behaviour

Learning more about your cat’s behaviour will not only help you recognize the importance of those behaviours which are an indication of his emotional and physical status, allowing you to take steps to improve things for him, but could also help strengthen your bond and enable you to have a more fulfilling cat-owner relationship.

Ginger cat on owner's lap showing relaxed cat behaviour

Clare Hemington

Clare has worked in the field of cat behaviour for sixteen years. She is an accredited Cat Behaviourist and respected member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers. Clare believes that understanding cat behaviour is key to their overall welfare. Through consultation and education her aim is to share information with owners that enables them to give their cat a life that is as happy as it possibly can be. Clare is also founder and owner of Honeysuckle cat toys. Toys made from Tatarian honeysuckle wood which provide wonderful natural enrichment for cats.

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