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BEHAVIOR

It’s Not Out Of Spite

You come home after being out all day to find your cat has urinated on your bed. Was she getting back at you for being left alone? “Clients tell me all the time that their cats act out of spite,” says Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic. “But spite is […]

Are the Cats in Your Home Part of the Same Social Group?

“Cats are solitary survivors,” as both the American Academy of Feline Practitioners and the International Society for Feline Medicine point out. “They need to have free access to key environmental resources without being challenged by other cats….” That said, in a multi-cat household, two or more cats may perceive themselves to be part of the […]

Cat Likes the Laptop

A number of people have written to tell us that their cat likes to sit on something they’re trying to look at: a newspaper, a computer keyboard, whatever. Take it as a compliment. When a cat comes between you and the thing you’re interested in, she becomes the thing you’re interested in. That is, she’s telling […]

Your Cat Is Talking. 
Are You Listening?

Cats don’t have a language center in their brains, which means they don’t communicate with words per se. But their vocalizations have meanings. If you listen carefully, you can tell whether your cat is hungry, angry, feeling affectionate, impatient, or in pain. Here’s a rundown. Meow. Cats don’t meow to each other, unless they’re kittens […]

Subtle Signs of Feline Fear

“People think hiding is just what cats do,” says the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Service, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM. “But hiding is a sign of fear. Cats that generally avoid contact are afraid.” There are a number of other signs of fear in a cat that are also easy to misinterpret — or at […]

Is Your Cat a Psychopath?

Human psychopaths, according to one model, are said to have three distinct traits: Disinhibition, which reflects a problem with impulse control. Boldness, an outlook where social dominance aligns with a lack of compassion for others and a willingness to tread into situations that are risky or dangerous. Meanness, specifically, aggressive seeking of resources without regard […]
Jackie Dobrovolny wonders if her two cats, Ebby (left) and Pumpkin, can be left alone at home longer than a cat by itself.

Dear Doctor: Can two cats be left alone longer than one?

Q.  In your article “Home Alone, But For How Long?” (November 2021 Catnip), you said that even though the rule of thumb for how long a cat can be safely left alone is 24 hours, cat owners should definitely have someone at least come in to check on and pay attention to their pet two […]
There are certain parts of the body where cats really liked to be touched.

C.A.T.

C stands for giving a cat Choice and Control. A stands for pay Attention to your cat’s reactions. T stands for thinking about where your cat likes to be Touched. That’s what experts in feline behavior and welfare at England’s Nottingham Trent University found in their observation of 100 cats. When it comes to choice […]
It is a really bad idea to let your cat regularly eat dog food rather than her own diet.

Myth/Fact Round-Up

Here are a lot of urban (and suburban) myths about cats that throw off people’s understanding regarding feline behavior. In some cases, they can lead to owner care practices that are unhealthful, and even unsafe. Here’s a rundown of seven of the more common ones. Myth: All cats love catnip. Fact: An estimated 25 to […]
If your cat is aggressive with you, your own behavior may be influencing hers.

Are You Making Your Cat Aggressive?

It has been posited that kittens taken from their mothers too soon and need to be bottle fed are more likely to turn out aggressive, as are cats who are singletons or end up in shelters without their littermates. But new research shows that the way owners treat their cats after adoption is much more […]

She Loves Having Me Around, She Loves It Not

Dogs loved having their owners home with them during the COVID pandemic. Among cats, however, the reaction wasn’t uniformly positive. In a survey that included more than 100 cat owners conducted by researchers at James Cook University in North Queensland, Australia, people were split roughly 50/50 on whether their cats were more content and more […]

Bunting: Why a Cat Does It

Your cat rubs her cheeks against your legs or the furniture. Or she gently bumps her head against your face. What’s that about? The behavior is called bunting, and it has a lot to do with scent. Cats have scent glands around their faces, specifically on their chins, sides, ears, and neck. So when they […]