How do our cats recognize us (if they do!)? Most likely they use multiple cues – our appearance, our scent, our mannerisms, and likely, our voices. Some scientists recently examined whether cats can recognize us by one cue alone – the sound of our voices calling their names.
Welcome to Part Three of an informative series on the fantastic feline senses and how these innate behaviors can present as behavior challenges in the home environment. If you are just joining the discussion please refer to Parts One and Two of the series.
This post is Part Two in an informative series on the fantastic feline senses. If you are just joining this discussion please refer to Part One for an introduction. The following are additional feline specific behaviors and an explanation of how their senses can conflict with the very human world that we expect for cats to comply to. I hope you find this information helpful, enlightening and potentially life changing, to better help you to be able to meet your cats need in your home environment.
The domestication of the cat has increased its need for communication and signaling. The domestic cat is no longer an exclusively solitary species as it now lives close together with other animals and humans, benefits from cooperation, and needs to resolve conflict without physical confrontation. For the purpose of self-preservation cats perform a number of species-specific behaviors that can contribute to behavior challenges in the home environment. Their predatory behavior can present as play and aggression concerns, feline elimination preferences can present in litter box and marking challenges, and their superior senses can become overwhelmed in our human world presenting problems owners have a hard time grasping and relating to.
I was the only feline behavior consultant attending this year's American Animal Hospital Association conference, as far as I knew. I wasn't a vet, nor a tech.
After the four days, I left with a notebook of interesting bits I could pass on to my clients, yes, but also confirmation
that feline behavior was still low on the vet's priority list.
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that can contribute to behavior changes in cats.
Our cats may seem like pampered indoor housecats, but on the inside they are still fierce predators! The greatest thrill for a cat is what is referred to as the “completion of the sequence of the kill.”
In the beginning, I underestimated play. Interactive play. As an owner I knew it provided exercise (for me especially; my cat would watch while I chased—you know the drill). As time and experience as a behaviorist carried on, I learned of the many benefits that play offers for a cat’s health—not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It can make all the difference to a cat’s complete well-being. Play is fun exercise.
Cats visit the veterinarian far less than our canine companions. This is largely due to the common problem that most pet parents cannot get their cat into a carrier; at least not easily. If we change our expectations of cats and train them from kitten hood the way we do with puppies it would certainly make things a lot easier. One of the first activities for families with a new puppy is an exciting ride in the car to pick out a leash and collar. We should do the same with our cats. We also take the puppy to different places, which means the car ride doesn’t always equal a trip to the veterinarian. We should do the same with our cats!
While living in England, I often met vets and other cat-lovers who maintained that outside cats lived healthier lives, even if they were shorter ones. One professor at the Royal Vet College recently admonished me, ‘Keeping cats indoors is both cruel and unnatural. It’s a pity the U.S. doesn’t feel that way.’