Cats make great pets, and understanding cat behaviour is key to enjoying the best relationship with your pet. Cats are especially sensitive to their environment and surroundings, and if I’m on a home visit and see or hear about a cat that’s always hiding, I know something is amiss and making the cat unhappy.
Many cat owners are simply not aware this is a problem, and this is entirely understandable. Cats are known to be solitary and private creatures and, for many people, their cat has simply always been like this. “It’s how she is!” people tell me.
Early life socialisation experiences are super important for all cats. Cats who don’t get contact with people when they are young kittens are highly likely to always be terrified of strangers. They come out when it’s just you home, but as soon as someone comes to the door they are back in that closet. Terrified. This is depressingly common in rescue cats and even sometimes with cat breeders.
Cats can lead happy lives either living alone as the only pet cat, or when living in a multi-cat house-hold. But there are some common triggers to making a cat unhappy, and when cats are not happy they demonstrate this through changes in their behaviour. Indications of an unhappy cat include hiding, toileting in inappropriate places, scratching furniture, over-grooming, aggression, and changes in appetite.
If you notice that your cat is always hiding and isn’t keen to interact, then the cat is usually anxious or stressed for some reason. As part of a veterinary home visit consultation, I can help with assessment on what might be causing this behaviour in your cat, and by discussing potential solutions.
Cats pick up on changes to their surroundings, so things like new pets in the household (or even in the neighbourhood) can cause anxiety and changes to the cat’s behaviour. Anxiety can also occur if there is new or different furniture, people (eg a new baby or a new housemate) or activities occurring in the house (eg excessive noise, renovations).
In looking to treat behaviour issues in cats, I usually start with a full history and examination – asking you lots of questions about what’s happening in your household, and then examining the cat to assess for any physical causes of stress – such as injuries (eg cat fight wounds) or any potential indications of underlying illness or disease.
Treatments for unhappy cats will vary depending on what the possible cause may be, so as part of our investigations we might recommend blood tests or other diagnostics. Sometimes medications might be necessary, and otherwise it can often be a simple matter of changing various things within the household which usually positively affect the cat. This might include providing separate spaces for pets, or adding in additional litter trays and feeding bowls. There are also some great products available which can also help reduce anxiety in cats, so I can let you know more about these options as well.
If you notice your cat displaying unusual behaviour, then it can be very worthwhile to have a veterinary consultation so we can help make your cat happy again. I’m available for both home visits or consultations in our hospital, so just give our friendly team a call to find out more or to book.