Is Your Cat Acting Weird? 5 Reasons Why
Have you noticed your cat acting weird recently? A cat might act weird for silly or serious reasons. Here’s how to figure out what exactly is going on.
Even when you’ve lived with them for years, cat behavior can be weird, and sudden changes are frustrating. It may seem like your misbehaving cat wants to ruin your life, but she might actually be telling you that something is wrong. Here are five things that might be happening with a cat acting weird.
1. A cat acting weird might signal depressionIs your cat acting weird? She might be sick. Photography © Tanchic | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
A cat acting weird might be depressed. Remember how you felt the last time you got dumped? You stayed in bed all day, didn’t change your clothes, and ate only when your mom called and insisted that she was going to come over if you didn’t shove some food into your face right now.
A cat who has, for example, lost a beloved companion might behave similarly. He leaves his food untouched for days, ignoring even treats. He hides under the bed. He is indifferent about grooming, because “sigh” what’s the point? And he sleeps even more than his usual 18 hours per day.
How to help: What a depressed cat needs more than anything is patience and TLC. Coax him out of hiding with toys and treats while talking in soothing tones. Also try Tellington TTouch, or TTouch, which involves massaging him in circular motions, and give him a familiar blanket or article of clothing.
If all else fails, your vet can prescribe antidepressants.
2.Your cat is acting weird because she’s stressedShe hates change more than the most neurotic person you know, and since you moved, she’s been in full-blown fight-or-flight mode. Your new apartment is smaller, and all of your furniture is different. You also just started a full-time job, so she’s alone most of the day. Stress might be one of the reasons behind a cat acting weird.
How to help: Disrupt your cat’s routine as little as possible by keeping her in a separate room with her toys, litter box, food and bed while you pack and move. Then keep her in a safe room at your new place while you unpack and rearrange. Being surrounded by familiar items and smells will help her feel more at home. Additionally, before starting a new job, ease your cat into the routine by leaving her alone for increasing intervals each day and showering her with treats and attention when you return.
Feeling depressed or stressed yourself? Check out these 6 tips to conquer stress, anxiety and depression symptoms >>
3. A cat acting weird might feel threatenedYou just brought home a new cat, and your old cat wants her dead. They run shrieking across the room, a footrace that ends in a furious flurry of fur. You’re afraid to leave them alone together, and they pee everywhere except the litter box.
How to help: Take a page from My Cat from Hell television host Jackson Galaxy. He makes sure that each cat has a safe place to eat and use the litter box, and he creates escape routes with cat trees and shelves. This lets cats know their territory is not under siege. Playing with the cats simultaneously can also redirect the energy they normally use to beat the crap out of each other.
4. Your cat is acting weird because she’s sickIt’s merely an inconvenience when you step in a lukewarm pile of kitty kibble barf-mash at 6 a.m., but it can become worrisome if your cat’s vomiting happens daily. It doesn’t help that evolutionarily, a sick cat is a dead cat; therefore, cats are excellent at hiding signs of illness. If your cat isn’t eating, drinks excess water, seems lethargic, hides for more than a day, stops using the litter box or suddenly changes temperament, she might be telling you something is wrong. The protrusion of her “third eyelid” can also indicate illness.
How to help: Odds are it’s nothing major, but to be sure you’re not overlooking a potentially serious health problem, a cat acting weird with these symptoms should be seen by a vet.
5. A cat acting weird might not be your biggest fanWell, technically this might be your boyfriend’s cat, but the two of you just don’t jibe. You try to pet him and he hides under the coffee table. Then he emerges a few minutes later and lavishes your boyfriend with headbutts right in front of you.
How to help: Realize that sometimes a cat acting weird simply might not like you. Just like humans, cats have distinct personalities, so you’re not going to get along with all of them. They’re kind of like children: Even though we’re not supposed to have a favorite, we do.
All About the Cat Belly — Why Cats Show It and If You Should Pet ItIsn't that cat belly just begging for a rub, pet or tickle? Why do cats show us their bellies? And do cats like belly rubs? The answers vary.
Picture this: Your cat is sitting on your lap, lazily enjoying spending some quality time with you. Then, he rolls over onto his back, exposing his belly. What do you do? The cat belly is a tempting thing, but, as Admiral Ackbar says in Star Wars, “It’s a trap!”
There are lots of places cats like to be petted, but if you try to pet a cat’s belly, you’re almost certainly going to be met with some claws and teeth. So, why do cats react this way when we try to touch their bellies? Let’s break it down.
The Cat Belly is a Vulnerable PlaceIf you see your cat’s belly, should you pet it? Photography ©Aleksandr Zotov | Thinkstock.
First of all, the cat belly is a very vulnerable place. A host of vital organs sits mere millimeters under the skin of your cat’s tummy, and damage to any of them could be potentially fatal. Cats are therefore highly likely to guard their bellies from potential injuries.
Unlike dogs, who love to have their tummies rubbed, cats are a good deal more reticent about it. Sure, there are some cats who love belly rubs, but they’re few and far between. Although you’re not a predator bent on helping your cat meet a grisly fate, instinct tells cats that they should never leave themselves that vulnerable. That’s why you rarely see a cat lying on his back, even when he’s fast asleep.
So, When Do Cats Show Their Bellies? What Does It Mean When a Cat Shows His Belly?Like dogs, cats have been known to roll over and expose their stomachs to the people they know. That doesn’t mean you should take it as an invitation for a cat belly rub. When you see that cat belly, your kitty is telling you, “I trust you with my life.” Don’t violate that trust by going in for a belly rub, pet or tickle!
Okay, But What If You Really Want to Pet a Cat’s Belly? Do Cats Like Belly Rubs? How Do You Rub a Cat Belly the Right Way?So, what should you do if you really feel you must try for a cat belly rub? One obvious answer is, don’t.
The second answer, if you can’t follow that advice, is to take a different approach to the cat belly.
Some cats will let you touch their stomachs if you go in from the side, but you really have to watch their body language. My cat, Thomas, will let me rub his belly if he’s lying on his side and I touch the tummy fur with my fingers as I’m stroking his flank. My Tara will even let me stroke her stomach once or twice, but for my little Belladonna, the belly is strictly a no-go. Any time I do approach Thomas or Tara’s bellies, I’m constantly aware of subtle signs of discomfort, like a twitching tail tip or a glance toward my hand, and I stop as soon as I see it.
Have I gone in for the cat belly rub, even though I knew better? Yes, of course I have. Haven’t we all? But I’ve only done it with cats I’ve known for many years. I still got a paw-smack or two while doing so.
The Bottom Line on the Cat Belly and Cat Belly RubCan you / should you pet a cat belly? In some cases — and if you do, proceed with caution. Photography ©anurakpong | Thinkstock.
By and large, I don’t recommend rubbing a cat belly. If you do rub the cat belly, you might betray the sacred trust between you and your kitty. Before you get anywhere near your cat’s stomach, be sure you know each other very well. Stay attuned to any signs that your cat has had enough, and stop before you reach the point where claws and teeth come out.
Cat Yowling — Why Do Cats Yowl and What Does It Mean?Cat yowling is among the strangest — and most alarming — cat sounds out there. So, why do cats yowl? And what does it mean when your cat yowls?
Cats make all kinds of sounds. Some feline vocalizations are pleasant for us, like purrs, trills and meows. Others are annoying or downright alarming, as in the case with cat yowling. So, why do cats yowl? What does cat yowling mean and more importantly, how do you get cat yowling to stop?
First, know that when your cat makes any type of sound, she is talking to you. Of course, the problem is, humans don’t technically speak cat. “They’re trying to communicate something,” says Cynthia Karsten, DVM, outreach veterinarian for the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Companion Animal Health. “We just have to try to figure out what that something is.”
To identify the reasons for cat yowling, act like a detective. Landing on the right answer is often a process of elimination. Consider the following reasons for cat yowling, then see if your cat might be experiencing one or more of these things.
1. Cats yowl because they’re hungryA cat might yowl because he’s hungry. Photography ©Анатолий Тушенцов | Thinkstock.
This one is obvious, but cats do what works. A cat yowling in your face gets that food bowl refilled. Hunger is easy to rule out. If your cat has plenty of food and is still yowling, hunger is probably not the cause.
2. Cat yowling happens to get your attentionAlthough cats have a reputation for being aloof loners, some cats need more attention than others. If you’ve been away from home a lot lately or not playing or cuddling with your cat as much as usual, try to ramp up the attention and see if that cat yowling stops.
3. Cats yowl because they’re boredCats require a certain amount of enrichment in their lives. A cat yowling might be the cat’s way of expressing that she’s frustrated and bored. “It’s really hard for owners to provide an indoor-only environment that’s entertaining to cats — especially a cat that’s been outside and then is brought inside,” Dr. Karsten explains. “Some cats do fine with it, but many don’t.” If you think your cat is longing for the great outdoors, consider building or purchasing a cat enclosure so she can have safe outdoor time.
4. Cat yowling might signal a hormone issue“When I think about yowling, the first thing that comes to my mind is breeding season,” Dr. Karsten says. “When cats are breeding, they can make really horrible noises that really disturb people, but it’s quite normal.” If your cat isn’t spayed, she might be in heat. Talk to your vet about having your cat spayed and see if that takes care of the yowling.
5. Cats yowl when they’re in painA cat might yowl if she’s hurting. Since cats instinctively hide their pain, almost anything could be causing it, including arthritis, an injury or an illness. “You want to rule out medical (causes), so have your vet do a full physical, including looking at bloodwork to make sure there’s nothing abnormal and checking for pain,” says Dr. Karsten, who adds that hyperthyroidism may cause irritability, which manifests in cat yowling.
6. Cat yowling could signify cognitive dysfunctionIf your cat is older, cognitive dysfunction (aka cat dementia) could be behind all those cat yowling sounds. Your vet can examine your cat to determine if this might be the cause. “They start to not really understand what’s going on and then they start to vocalize,” Dr. Karsten says. “A lot of times, the yowling seems to happen at nighttime. You can try feeding them a highly digestible meal before bed so they’re not hungry, create a relaxing area for them at night, and increase environmental enrichment throughout the day so they’re tired at night.”
7. Cats yowl due to behavioral issues“If nothing seems medically abnormal and it’s a younger animal, it could be some sort of behavioral issue going on,” Dr. Karsten says. “Keep a log of all your cat’s activities. Journal when the yowling happens and try to link it to something, some sort of trigger.” For instance, if you’ve had any changes in the household, like a new baby, a new housemate, or a recent move or divorce, your cat might be yowling out of stress or anxiety. If your cat is always yowling next to the same window, for example, maybe a stray cat outside is coming around and upsetting her.
If all that cat yowling becomes bad enough that it’s affecting your cat’s quality of life (or yours!), and you can’t identify a trigger, ask your vet for a referral to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, who might be able to figure out the root cause of the yowling and help you work with your cat to resolve it.
How to Speak CatThink your cat can’t talk to you and you can’t talk back? Learn how to speak cat by paying attention to your cat’s body language and vocalizations.
Learning how to speak cat is not simply a parlor trick you can perform to amuse your dinner guests. It’s an important part of training your cat and reinforcing your bond with her. Teaching your cat simple commands like “DOWN” and “NO!” will make her a better pet, while words like “Treats!” and “Dinner!” will help her associate you with something pleasurable.
Cats rarely vocalize with other cats (other than to hiss and growl at trespassers); they reserve verbal interaction for humans. Cat language is a complex mix of facial expression, tail position, ear position and other forms of body language in addition to scent and sound. Cats learn to make demands of us by observing which of their sounds cause which human responses. Here’s how to speak cat:
Before we talk how to speak cat, here’s how to understand your catWondering how to speak cat? Follow these tips and tricks. Photography ©SensorSpot | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
Some cats (like the Oriental breeds) are vocal and have extensive vocabularies. Other cats scarcely “speak” at all, or have a one-size-fits-all yowl that covers all the bases.
Whether your cat is vocal or not, she will be fluent in body language, a key component of her interactions with you and other animals. By tuning in to both her body and her voice, you can learn how to speak cat.
The following vocalizations are fairly common when learning how to speak cat:
To correct behavior, use a loud, firm, authoritative voice, and use this same tone consistently in conjunction with body language. For example, when ordering your cat “down,” make a stern face, and use one of your hands to point down.
For praise, or when calling your cat to dinner or offering treats, use a higher-pitched “happy” voice, smile, and beckon with your hand.
If your cat is begging for attention when you are trying to work or accomplish some other task, you will need to say “NO!” firmly, and gently push the cat away without showing affection. Cats don’t have much respect for the human’s personal space and will try repeatedly to invade it, so you may need to repeat this several times before Fluffy gives up and leaves you alone. If you say “no” and pet your cat instead of pushing her away, she will interpret your actions as a welcome signal.
Most cats will also respond to a sharp hissing or spitting sound as a “no” command when they are doing something seriously wrong and need to be stopped.
The bottom line on how to speak cat:If you consistently use the same voice, facial expressions and hand gestures, most cats will have no trouble understanding what you say. The more you communicate with your cat, the better the two of you will become at understanding each other.
How Long Are Cats Pregnant? The 5 Stages of Cat PregnancyIs your cat pregnant? We hope not. But if so, we answer some questions like, "How long are cats pregnant?" and go through the stages of cat pregnancy.
I am a big advocate for spay/neuter. It’s a crucial part of the equation for reducing the number of cats killed in shelters, and having your cat spayed or neutered improves cat health, reducing the chances of injury and disease. But a lot of us encounter cat pregnancy at some point, whether through working at a clinic or shelter, an accidental liaison or deliberate breeding. So, how long are cats pregnant for and what should you expect week by week? Let’s look at the five stages of cat pregnancy:
1. FertilizationHow long are cats pregnant for? Photography ©Doucefleur | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
When answering the question “How long are cats pregnant?” let’s first discuss at what age cats start going into heat. Cats reach sexual maturity as early as six months of age, with Oriental breeds generally reaching this stage the earliest. I’ve even heard of cats going into heat at five months old, which is a good reason to have your girl kitty spayed early. A litter of kittens can have more than one father, depending on how many toms successfully mate with the queen.
The simple answer to”How long are cats pregnant?” is two months, or nine weeks. But that’s just an estimate. Depending on what source you consult, the answer to “How long are cats pregnant?” ranges from 58 to 72 days.
2. The early stage of cat pregnancyAnother question you might have when thinking “How long are cats pregnant?” is — “Do cats get morning sickness?” You might be surprised to know that a cat can get morning sickness during the early stage of her pregnancy. For the first two weeks of her pregnancy, your cat may eat less because of the nausea, but by the third week she’ll start eating again and begin gaining weight. By the third week, you may be able to feel the lumps of her developing kittens.
3. The middle stage of cat pregnancyNow your cat starts gaining weight in earnest. The kittens are getting bigger, and depending on how many kittens she’s carrying, she may start looking like she swallowed a football. If you want to know how many kittens your cat is going to have, your vet may do an X-ray at this time.
4. Pre-laborSince the answer to “How long are cats pregnant?” isn’t an exact science, you might wonder how to tell when your cat is getting close to giving birth. The pre-labor stage starts about a week before your cat gives birth. Her nipples will be very visible at this point, and you may even see milk drops on them. She will start looking for warm and safe places to create a nest for her kittens. You can help her at this time by offering nesting boxes in the places she seems to prefer. Your cat will stop eating about two days before she goes into labor.
5. Labor and deliveryIt will be pretty obvious when your cat goes into labor. She’ll start licking her genitals and may even make noises of discomfort. If this is her first litter, she may pace and act anxious. She should give birth to her first kitten about an hour after labor starts. After that, the kittens should come every 15 to 20 minutes until the last one has been born.
Generally, mom cat will clean up the kittens: She’ll lick them and eat the placentas to give her the extra nutrition she needs. Let her eat those placentas, even if you think it’s gross.
There’s no need to panic or rush your cat to the vet when she goes into labor. Just keep an eye on things and make sure the delivery is progressing normally. The kittens need to be with their mothers for a minimum of eight weeks in order to be properly weaned, but 12 weeks with mom is better.
Once the babies are weaned, get your queen spayed as soon as possible. She can go into heat pretty quickly once she no longer has to nurse her kittens.
Dealing With an Aggressive Cat? 7 Reasons Why Cats Become AggressiveCats don't get aggressive out of nowhere. An aggressive cat is usually behaving that way for a good reason. Here are seven reasons why cats become aggressive — plus the warning signs and how to handle each.
1. Cats Become Aggressive Because They’re in PainAn aggressive cat might be responding to pain. Photography
Cats who are in pain will respond with hisses and swats when sensitive areas are touched. My cat, Siouxsie, does this if I accidentally put pressure on her sore hips. A hard yank on the tail, for example, can be quite painful. Ignore the warning signs and a scratch and possibly even a bite may follow. This is especially true if the pain is a result of physical abuse such as being kicked or hit.
2. Fear Can Cause Cat AggressionA terrified cat will respond with body language that’s obvious to an experienced cat caretaker: She will turn sideways and puff up her tail and fur in order to look larger. Her ears will flatten backwards, she will hiss and her pupils will dilate. Attempting to approach a cat in this state is risking an aggressive reaction, not because the cat dislikes you but because she’s in the middle of a panic reaction.
3. Hormones May Cause a Cat to Become AggressiveA cat who is not spayed or neutered is much more likely to be aggressive. Male cats in particular are biologically wired to fight with other male cats when females in heat are present. If you see two cats fighting, do not physically intervene because you will almost certainly become the target of the cats’ aggression.
4. Cats Can Get Aggressive Due to Frustration“Redirected aggression” is the term for violent acts carried out by cats because they can’t reach the object of their predatory passion. For example, an indoor cat who sees another cat walking by or marking his territory in “his” turf may get into a highly reactive state. At that point, anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby, whether that’s another cat, a dog or a person, may end up on the receiving end of the cat’s aggression.
5. Cat Aggression Happens Due to StressAn aggressive cat may be responding to stress within your home. Photography ©Ornitolog82 | Thinkstock.
If a cat lives in a highly stressful environment — for example, a home in which people are fighting or a home with too many cats — it’s quite possible for that cat to be quick to respond aggressively. Like children who live in homes with a lot of verbal and physical violence, or a lot of unspoken anger, cats often act out the dynamics of their human families.
6. An Aggressive Cat Might Be Responding to TraumaDon’t laugh: Cats can suffer from post-traumatic stress. Their brains are wired similarly to ours, and the effects of chronic anxiety from past human violence or struggling to survive on the streets can lead cats to become aggressive. In order to resolve this issue, a short course of anti-anxiety medication (prescribed by a vet, of course; don’t give your cat your antidepressants, please), homeopathic remedies or flower essences can help make a cat less reactive to triggers.
7. Chemical Imbalances Can Cause Cat AggressionThis is by far the rarest reason for cats to become aggressive. But like humans, some cats simply have biochemical imbalances that affect behavior. For these cats, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can be a lifesaver.
The bottom line on handling an aggressive catNo matter what the cause of the aggression, there are almost always warning signs. If you understand feline body language, you’ll be able to see that your furry friend is getting wound up before the situation escalates to a crisis point. If you have a highly reactive cat and you want to help him or her, be aware that it will take time and patience — but take it from a person who has rehabilitated traumatized cats: The reward is so worth the effort!
Tell us: How about you? Have you had an aggressive cat? Were you able to help your kitty feel better and become less reactive? What did you do to help her? Have you ever been unable to help an aggressive cat? Share your thoughts in the comments.