Cat lying on the ground

Cat Habits: Learning to Care for Your Feline Friend

Reading Time: 9 MIN

The Sounds Cats Make

Cats make about 100 sounds. Dogs make about 10 sounds. One of the main sounds cats make is the meow, which is what most of us are familiar with. Fun fact about meows is that most adult feral cats do not meow. Meowing is typically reserved for communicating with humans. Purring is also one of the most familiar sounds. Typically, cats purr when they’re happy.

Chirping and chattering are reserved for when cats are excited or are hunting. When cats see birds or squirrels, they will chatter, and this mimics them catching prey. Hissing means “back off”. Growling also means do not pet or look at.

Body Language

Cats being on their backs mean they are completely relaxed. It doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be petted on the belly. When a cat’s tail is low and stiff, that means they are spooked. Puffed fur, especially on the tail, can indicate a cat being anxious.

It’s important with new cats to let the cat come to you, and let them smell you. If the cat comes to you, that’s a good sign.

Behavior Help

blue british shorthair cat looking down from scratching post meowing or hissing showing teeth

A lot of cats get rehomed for these main reasons: biting, scratching, and inappropriate urination. Synthetic pheromones are wonderful for alleviating these issues. If there’s a certain room that your cat hangs out in, the diffusers work well. For a more targeted approach, the pheromone spray helps. You can spray this on stairs, beds, or any other area where your cat hangs out.

Mentally stimulating toys also help with behavior issues as well as scratch pads. To keep your cat from scratching furniture, the scratch pads and cat trees are helpful to keep them interested in scratching those specific areas.

Cats also require a quiet space. Cats are very territorial, so it’s important they have a space where they can go to have time to themselves. One of the best places to put cat trees is in the den, so cats have a safe space to hide away from dogs or children.

Litterbox Issues

For inappropriate urination, if it’s sudden, you should call your vet. A lot of times these issues can be medical. For other instances, the location of the litter box is important. If the location is in a high traffic area, the cat will be less likely to use the box.

For every cat, you should have one litter box plus one and make sure you clean the litter box every day. The type of cleaner is also important. Lysol can be toxic to cats, so a mild cleaner works better, especially one that doesn’t have a strong smell that could deter the cat from using the box.

The litter pan type is also important. For the automatic cleaners, those are self-cleaning, which can help with urination issues. Covered litter boxes are also great for cats who overshoot and urinate outside the box thinking they are using it properly.

Cat to Cat Introductions

Cat introductions must start slowly because cats are so territorial. One tip is to have a cardboard box and fill it with toys. Let one cat play with the toys in the box, and then rotate the box to the other cat. The cats will get a positive association with the smell they’ve left on the box and toys which will help with the introduction process.

Keeping the cats separated for a couple of weeks will help with a positive introduction. You can feed each cat on either side of a gate or door so that there’s a positive association between the new cat and the cat already in your home.

Introducing Dogs and Cats

A young kitten rubbing up on her adopted Mama dog.

Most important thing with dog and cat introductions is to go slow. If you stress, you should stop, because your pets will sense your stress. Always keep the dog on a leash when introducing the dog to the cat so that the dog doesn’t chase the cat. You don’t want the first introduction to be negative. Do not let the dog invade the cat’s safe space, and don’t leave the cat and dog unattended.

Toys for Cats

Mentally stimulating toys, like the Lick Mat, are great for soothing the cat. They’re a great way to redirect the cat while you groom your cat too. The Spot Spin About toy is great for cats who are very energetic, especially at night. This will tire them out before bed. Another great toy is the cat wand. It will help the cat use their hunting skills. Always let your cat catch the mouse or they can get frustrated.

You Can Teach Your Cat Tricks

Shot of a cute little cat on floor about to run after a crochet catnip mouse at home

Training commands like coming when called is one of the easiest to train. Shaking the bag of treats or food and then calling the cat to come can help. You always want to reward your cat with a treat when your cat comes to you. This is also important to teach if your cat goes outdoors.

You can teach your cat to sit as well. The same way you would train a dog to sit is what you would do for a cat. You’ll put the treat to the cat’s nose and move their head up until they sit down. Then, you’ll want to capture the behavior with a clicker and a treat. With cats you typically will have less time to train them, as they’ll get bored, so be sure to take your time when training your cat and don’t expect too much too quickly.

Q and A in word bubbles

Amy Lear’s Responses to Unanswered Questions from Class

A friend was no longer able to keep her 4-year-old cat. He was a rescue cat. We have 2 other cats but agreed, not realizing that he did not get along with other cats. We’ve had him for 7 months now and he continues to be very aggressive towards the other cats, trying to attack them. He also sometimes attacks my legs. Thank you so very much!

He is probably stressed from the rehoming, so I would get the pheromone spray & mentally stimulating toys, but I do feel that a vet consultation might be necessary. They may prescribe medicine if they feel like it will be beneficial. 

I adopted a 3 yr old cat. The cat was well cared for by the previous owner. 2 weeks into having the cat, my child accidentally dropped a gaming remote on the cat. Since then, the cat is super alert around my kids, and she hisses at them. It has been over a month and the situation is better but has not changed much. Kids are scared of her. They can’t move around the house comfortably because the cat is always there with its ears flipped back and stare at them outside of the bedroom or restroom. Kids tried to play with the cat and feed her treats. But she would snap for no reason and make my kids scream and cry. We hate to re-home the cat. Is there anything else we can do?

We might need a little help from the vet here since the cat is scared of the children at this point. They may prescribe something to take the edge off to ease the situation. Cats do remember traumatic events, so this may be something that takes time. 

I have a neutered male cat and 2 litter boxes. He started peeing in my room, and the vet said no UTI. Do you have any suggestions?

I would put him in a bathroom or laundry for a couple of weeks to get him re-accustomed to a litter box. If that doesn’t work, go to Hollywood Feed to try out new litter and litter box options. 

I have a kitten that I adopted not too long ago. For some odd reason he’s the biggest terrorist of our housel; he destroys everything, and he knows that he’s doing something bad, and when he gets corrected he’ll run away quickly and then go right back to what he was doing. He bullies my dog. Is there any solution or maybe correction for my cat maybe like cat prison?

Any kind of aversive techniques or force used on a cat can make the situation worse. I would suggest a quiet space where the cat can be alone in order to decompress. I would also try a pheromone or calming treat. This cat may be overstimulated, so down time and interactive toys and feeders may help. 

I have one cat that is very very picky and won’t eat hardly anything unless it has tuna in it. UNLESS you have lettuce. If she sees lettuce she will attack it… is there a reason why lettuce? I thought cats didn’t really do veggies haha.

This could be due to the cold texture of the lettuce. I would suggest sprinkling the tuna bonito flakes on food if she has trouble with pickiness. Cats also don’t see color like we do, so it’s possible that she is mistaking the lettuce for actual tuna!

What would cause a cat to pee in very specific locations? Base of bathtub, dishwasher, and washing machine?

It might be a cat that likes hard surfaces. Thai can depend on his upbringing or environment. Maybe try a hard litter box with very little litter in order to feel the same as those hard specific textures. 

Is there something to keep the cat off tables or to keep them from scratching the couch, even when they have a cat tree and scratching post and toys?

I would try to use tin foil around certain items to keep them away from the surface. Maybe spray a pet safe citrus product around the area too. 

6 years ago I adopted a mother kitty Cleo and two of her kittens. One boy was born to her, Domino. Her other son Meenu was found as a kitten whose mother was killed by a car and who Cleo adopted and nursed to adulthood. For years, they all existed as a happy family. Then Cleo went missing for 78 days the year before last. We searched high and low. She showed up on Thanksgiving. She had lost over half her weight. Since then she has recovered physically, but has extreme PTSD. She is very stressed with her boys wanting to see her, smell her. She hisses, runs and hides under a chair. She wants out — if she gets out, she is gone overnight — shows up the next day. Haunted by her sons. She will not come in and runs off again if she sees her sons at the door. Meenu runs after her after she hisses and runs. Scared to death by Meenu (who is not aggressive) but just wants his mommy. A little more tolerant of Domino who is very laid back. So much chaos around the house. So sad for Cleo. She is traumatized, and I’m certain it is PTSD related. No meows or howls, just intolerant of her two sons.

This is probably a veterinarian call. You just need to make sure that if your vet prescribes something, that it cannot be detrimental if it’s not taken every day in the event that she runs off for a night. You may try to do scent transfer of the kittens and provide rewards for her smelling next to it. Practice introducing them between the door with treats, as well. 

Recently our cat Oliver died suddenly of a heart attack. He was only 1 year and 5 months old. His brother now is alone; they were always together. It has been 3 weeks now since it happened, do you think we need to adopt another one so he is not alone? We are always at home with him and play a lot with him.

This cat probably relied on his sibling, so I would definitely start looking for another male cat. I am so sorry for your loss! 

Why would a cat that was first very friendly and affectionate turn into a recluse cat?

It could be medical; it could have been a life changing event. You are going to have to approach the cat as if it’s a shy cat. Don’t push the cat in fearful situations, and go slow. If it was sudden, I would definitely contact your vet to check out medical possibilities, too. 

My younger two year old male cat likes to pick on my older, ten year old female cat, especially late through the night when they are more active. They are mostly fine the rest of the time. He hides and will jump out and tackle her. She clearly hates it because she screams at the top of her lungs, but is it right to assume he’s trying to play pick on her or is there anything I can do to correct this besides moving him away from her when this happens?

I can relate to this! I have a 12 year old female and 3 year old male. I redirect and offer treats when I see him coming to pounce. I would at night wear him out more, let him hunt and play before it’s nighttime, and he goes into his crazy mode. It doesn’t sound hateful, it sounds like he’s just an exuberant male that wants to play. 

My cats won’t use their scratch pads. They definitely tear up their cat tree but how do I get them to start using the scratch pads

As long as your cats do well with catnip, try using the catnip spray from Hollywood Feed to entice them! 

What dog pheromone do you use?

Thunder Ease by Thunder Shirt! 

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