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BEHAVIOR

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 […]
With his tail held high, chances are this cat’s in a good mood.

Telling Tails

While cats don’t speak our language, there is the language of their bodies, and it can tell us a lot about how they’re feeling. One of the most “expressive” feline body parts is the tail. Here’s how to “translate” its movements and positioning. Erect tail. When a cat’s tail is stretched high and out to […]
High up is where they like to be, even from a very young age.

Why They Like High-Up Places

Why are cats always jumping up onto things — kitchen counters, tables, the top shelf of a linen closet? The answer becomes clear when you consider that today’s house cats are descended from tree-dwelling felines. (Those ancestors are wildcats, known in Latin as Felis silvestris.) Not enough millennia have gone by to breed out the […]
Looks like the zoomies may be about to begin. Hard to say.

The Zoomies

Almost every cat parent has seen it — their perfectly relaxed pet suddenly jumping up out of nowhere in a seemingly random burst of energy, darting here and there with almost alarming alacrity. Veterinary researchers and animal behaviorists call these bouts of “crazy” running around Frenetic Random Activity Periods, or FRAPS. You might know them […]

They Do Not Like Fireworks

For a cat, loud noises signal danger, not an Independence Day celebration. So when the fireworks begin, many cats feel incredibly stressed. To help your pet feel a little calmer: Create a safe, cozy hiding place — but not a closed-off room that she can’t escape. Pull down the shades. The flashes can worry a […]
He can’t learn to read music, but you can still teach him a lot of other fun tricks. 

Fluffy, Sit!

We tend to think of “sit,” “shake hands,” and other tricks as things that dogs do. But cats can learn them, too, and many enjoy putting their inquisitive and active minds to work. The younger the cat, the easier the training, but it’s certainly worth teaching middle-aged and older cats, too. You’ll get as much […]
This is not a habit you want your cat to get into.

The Truth About Cat Versus Dog Bites

Dogs have powerful teeth and jaws and are responsible for an estimated 85 percent of bites from pets, causing more human deaths than any other household animal. But the 15 percent of bites that come from cats often have serious consequences, too, including infections that penetrate deeply and become difficult to treat. Some even cause […]
Does your cat think your mealtime is her mealtime?

Gimme Some!

Most of us have stories of pushy cats who jump onto tables and countertops demanding our food or slyly making their way over to dishes that are not meant for them. Should the behavior be discouraged? The answer depends, in part, on whether it annoys you. It also depends on whether feeding table scraps is […]
A brand new wariness, even though one of the cats was only out of the house for a short time.

Dear Doctor: Sexual aggression in a neutered cat

Q. My 6-year-old boy Hawkeye was neutered when he was 6 or 7 months old, but he clearly likes to “make love” to soft fleece-like blankets. He grabs a little in his mouth, then ends up straddling the blanket, turning in a slow circle and humping away. My old gal Mitzie, who was also spayed […]
She may actually be trying to groom you.

Love Bites, Or Just Bites?

You are gently stroking your cat, and she is clearly enjoying it, when out of nowhere she begins biting you. The bites are not aggressive. There’s no hissing or tail swishing involved, and she’s not trying to scratch you with her claws. There’s something almost casual about the bites, in fact. But while these “love […]
If your cat becomes angry in ways he didn’t when he was younger, he may be suffering from physiologic changes that need to be tended to.

Has Your Cat Grown Grouchier Over Time?

You expect your cat to slow down as he grows older — more sleep, less frenetic darting around that seems to start out of nowhere. But some cats grow increasingly temperamental. They’ll swat you away with little warning — or no warning — when you try to stroke them or give them attention in other […]
For a very anxious cat, medication, along with behavior modification, may do a world of good to help her reach a calmer state.

For a Super-Anxious Cat, Drugs May Help

Any cat so anxious that she cannot relax or overreacts to stimuli like the presence of visitors or common household noises should be evaluated by a qualified animal behaviorist. A veterinarian board-certified in animal behavior or a certified applied animal behaviorist will offer advice about behavior modification that can help her cope with her fear […]