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Cat Behavior | PetsWeekly

Cats and Whisker Stress (yes it's a real thing)

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Believe it or not, whisker stress is a real problem amongst cats of the world. It primarily occurs when your cat’s whiskers touch the sides of a bowl while eating.

You may say to yourself, “Whisker stress?! As if I don’t have enough worries, now I need to be concerned about my cat having whisker stress…”

Signs that your cat suffers from Whisker Stress

  • Your cat prefers to eat from the floor, pulling out each piece of kibble one at a time.
  • Your cat refuses to eat from a bowl, scooping the food onto the floor with a paw to eat.
  • Your cat paces angrily in front of a half-full bowl, meowing piteously as he wonders what he did to anger you.

Not to worry - there is a simple cure to this common ailment. But in order to discuss how to fix the problem, we must first look at the causes.

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Cat Litter Matters

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Cats have come indoors to stay and consumers are as fastidious as their feline about controlling litter box odor. While litter boxes aren’t the most glamorous part of owning a cat, it’s the part that can make or break a relationship. According to a report from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), inappropriate elimination was the most commonly reported behavior issue that led to nearly 43 percent of cats being relinquished.

So, this is a very important topic...

Technology is helping us keep litter boxes clean, behavioral studies helped create an entire market of new sizes and shapes, and society is helping us become more responsible cat caretakers. In this day and age, there is no legitimate reason to relinquish a cat due to litter box problems. Here are a few of the newest innovations that we've had a chance to look at in cat litter, litter boxes, and accessories.

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Hunting Styles of Cats Dictate Toy Choice

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There is no better hunter than a cat (well, with the exception of humans). So, if you live in a multi-species household that enforces a strict “no hunting live game” policy, what do you do with a house full of apex predators? The correct answer is that you provide a proper hunting experience during playtime. Doing this allows your cat to exercise, encourages healthy interaction with one another, and substantially diminishes behavior issues.

However, in order to support a healthy and stimulating environment, you have to identify your cats preferred hunting style in order to find the right toys for them.

In the book, Wild Cats of the World,the authors identified three different hunting styles in wild cats:

  • Fast Hunt: The cat moves swiftly (2-3 km/hr) through and over vegetation, flushing prey from cover.
  • Slow Hunt: Involves a slow(0.5-0.8 km/hr) stalking movement with the cat winding snakelike between grass tufts, turning its head from side-t-side, alert to movements and sounds.
  • Resting Hunt: Sits with its eyes closed, but the cat's ears move constantly and it's eyes open at the slightest sound. When hunting small birds, the cat stalks as close possible, then makes a quick run and launches itself at the bird with a great jump (2 meters high). The cat either pins the bird to the ground with its forepaws and then finishes with a quick bite.

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Feral Cats In Your Backyard

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For the last twenty years, I have participated in TNR - both in outreach efforts and actual clinic time. During this time, I have lived with domestic cats and cared for a small colony of feral cats. This has not always won me friends, but I take the care of pets seriously and don’t believe that animals should suffer for irresponsible humans. For this reason, when we moved to a new home further out from the city, we moved our feral colony with us. This is neither easy to do, nor recommended, but it is possible if you’re committed.

Because we were moving into an area where wild dogs, coyotes, and big cats are prevalent, it was important for us to move the ferals into an enclosure. We built one that takes up a large section of our backyard and is connected to the house with a doggy door where they can be inside (if they wish) for the air-conditioning and heating.

The move was a big challenge for everyone, including the cats, who were moving from having the run of the city to an enclosure. While I can't say that everyone will be as successful in bringing outdoor cats in, I can say that it was necessary in our case. There are coyotes and snakes and vast areas of open desert out here. It’s not safe for cats to run loose. Had we simply turned them loose in the new neighborhood, it would have resulted in lost and injured cats.

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Problem Solving: The Bored Cats Syndrome

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Cats need mental and physical stimulation. If you’ve ever worked at an office that cordoned their employees off in cubicles, then you know that going home is a welcome relief from humdrum walls and repetitious work. Just as you yearn for your freedom while answering yet another call, your cat longs to do more than sleep the entire day away—for sure, he definitely enjoys a solid five-hour nap, but he wouldn’t mind a little game of chase either!

So, if your curtains, recliner, or your grandmother’s antique pine bed frame have ever been the victim of a bored kitty’s claws—this article is for you. While the stereotype would lead us to believe that a bored cat will simply find a sunbeam to park in for the day, many cats, especially young ones, will alleviate their boredom in other ways—sometimes very destructive ways. They have no idea that the couch edge they shredded to bits cost you a lot of money. To them, it’s just a big toy.

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Feline Behavior

  • Is Mint Safe for Cats?

    Hello Grey Socks, Every time I put toothpaste on my brush, which is mint flavored, my cat wants to lick it. She goes completely banana's over it. Is it okay to let her lick some? Thanks,
    Kathy Easley

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  • Wool-sucking in cats

    Dear Kyra, I have an adopted 5-month-old ginger boy named Barney. He's a very sweet, funny kitty, and I love him to pieces. But...he has some strange quirks. The nice people at the animal shelter told me that he was… Read More +

  • Cats covering feces

    Dear Ghost, Why do cats cover their feces? My two cats are neurotic about covering up everything in their litter box, which is stupid because it's automatic anyway. Is it really necessary? Thanks,
    Kristin

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  • Cats spraying

    Baby, I live with 2 male cats (neutered) and 1 female cat (spayed). All of a sudden they have started spraying (they are 1 year old). They have sprayed my bed, my doors and in my closet (that I know of). I'm… Read More +

  • hypersthesia

    Mama-San, My 1 yr old tabby has developed a fear of its tail! The end twitches and she sometimes lightly attacks it, but most times just runs from it (especially at night) your site mentions anger in connection with tip- twitching.… Read More +

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