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Cat “Psych” 101

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April 5, 2012 by Linda Ford

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Unless you were born and raised “reared” with cats around, you may be perplexed at times as to their behavior. Dogs are easy to figure out but cats are another story all together. New cat owners are often startled when a seemingly non aggressive pet cat suddenly turns on them with no provocation and bites their leg or attacks their head. This is absolutely normal behavior for cats, especially when they are young. By young I mean about up to the age of 12 years. You should really start cats with 2 kittens. Watch these 2 kittens play and you will begin to understand. They stalk- attack-hiss-raise their little backs up high like its Halloween-fur flying and blood letting from each other. Then they curl up together for nice long naps.

They get up and eat and do business and then the battle begins all over again. So, your cat is just playing with you when he attacks you. I actively play this way with my cats and I have the scars to prove it. Cats can be taught to leave you alone but I don’t know how. They say that staring can be a common form of aggressive display. So, if you see your cat staring at you don’t run but slowly back out of the room. A twitching tail is a sure sign that something is about to happen. My favorite cat sleeps with me and I can feel his tail flicking around for a long time. I know he’s really asleep if his tail stops moving-then I can get some rest.
Cats are natural hunters and need lots of opportunity for play that enables them to act out the hunting experience. Fish toys on a pole and string make for great hunting and catching play. And it can be hilarious especially when they run into a wall or fall off a couch in hot pursuit. Feather toys are great fun too. They’ll even follow the laser pointer things up the wall and around the room. Climbing and scratching habitats are essential for indoor cats unless you don’t care what your couch looks like. Get the biggest most elaborate one that will fit in your living room. Make sure it has lots of hidy-holes so they think they are hiding from you and have some privacy for naps.
Believe it or not, cats are fastidious about their hygiene. They are always licking and grooming themselves and if they live outdoors you may witness them being very careful to cover up their waste products, urine and feces. If you want your cats to always go in the litter box and not the dirty laundry hamper, you need to study the situation. Place their litter box in an area that is not well traveled by humans and dogs. A nice off to the side quiet place like the laundry room works for me. And change it often. Like I said, they like things clean and will refuse a litter box if left dirty.  If you bring in a formerly outside cat I suggest you buy a large dog crate and keep the cat in there with his food, water and litter box until he becomes totally familiar with how to use it. Otherwise, he may choose his own spot to do business in.
Be sure to get them spayed and neutered as kittens, get all their shots and have them wormed by the veterinarian to assure you got ALL the worms. Dogs and cats can give worms to your children. Keep them free of fleas and ticks to avoid infestations and tick diseases. Tick diseases in Arkansas KILL cats. Cats can be a lot of fun, enjoyment and companionship if you understand their behavior and adapt to it. Otherwise you may end up hating cats or at best tolerating them for the sake of your human relationships.
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