Email Cats are emotional and expressive animals, capable of deep affection and sweetness on the one hand and anger, jealousy and fear on the other. On top of that, each cat has a unique personality and temperament, so deciphering your pet's cat psychology can be a difficult task. Many veterinarians recommend methods of training and problem behavior modification based on cat psychology. Understanding the basics of cat psychology will help to explain why your cat acts the way he does, and how you can best address difficult behaviors.
Before you can tackle behavior problems, you need to know a little bit about cat behavior and what your cat is trying to tell you.
There are so many fascinating ways that cats communicate with each other. Some of their methods are so subtle that we humans are not sensitive enough to understand what they are saying.
Cats often use mild and controlled signs of body language. A minor flick of the tail or the slightest movement of the ears send messages that are worth a thousand words to another cat. But since their body language is so restrained, we often find it difficult to comprehend, so we end up making mistakes trying to interpret their messages.
Their range of sounds -- from a gentle purr to a seething hiss -- let us know if a cat is happy or angry. Once we learn to make sense of the body language and the vocalizations of cats, we are one step closer to understanding cat behavior.
In the study of behavior, experts talk about nature versus nurture, meaning which behaviors are inbred or instinct and which are learned. Most experts agree, however, that animals like cats and dogs have both kinds of behavior; they just disagree on which ones are which -- and which kind is more important.
That response of sticking his backside up in the air is hardwired into his nervous system. A learned behavior is something like your cat running into the kitchen whenever he hears the can opener.
Classical animal behavior talks about reflexes and has its own nature versus nurture debate. Unconditioned reflexes are those the body seems to produce on its own. For example, if you kick your leg up when the doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.
A conditioned reflex is a learned response. After awhile, Doc Pavlov could ring the bell and his dog would start salivating -- even if there was no food present.
The great debate resolved. What Pavlov really proved was that animals are born with a set of instinctive, natural behaviors, and they learn how to apply and adapt them as needed.
What it all means for your cat. In order to train your cat, you need to understand his behavior. The best example is the litter box: Cats have the instinctive behavior of digging in loose materials and burying their urine and feces. However, he may be more intrigued by soil in your potted palm, the loose, fluffy pile of your carpeting, or the nice, soft pile of socks left in a corner of the utility room.
But they do have a voice, and they make sounds that have different meanings. This is their means of communication. Their purpose can range from expressing contentment to a call for help, from solicitation of food or companionship to a bloodcurdling expression of stark terror. The classic cat sound or vocalization is the meow.
Newborn kittens will meow with surprising volume. These vocalizations are probably to indicate hunger or cold and to help the mother cat locate them. An angry, frightened, or aggressive cat may hiss, which is a clear warning that whoever or whatever is approaching should come no closer.
Hissing is often accompanied by a yowl, a throaty warning sound that rises and falls. An extremely frightened or angry cat will scream -- a sound that needs no further explanation.
Calling or yodeling is that mournful, slightly spooky sound your cat makes usually in the middle of the night while wandering around the house.Pam Johnson-Bennett is the best-selling author of 8 books on cat behavior.
She starred in the Animal Planet UK series Psycho Kitty, and is one of the most popular and sought-after cat behavior experts in the world. | Read More About Pam |. Every pet owner knows that having pets come with a lot of responsibility.
And when it comes to cats, understanding feline behavior problems can be difficult. It’s important to train your pets while they’re young so you can avoid many common behavior issues.
With cats, learning not to exhibit feline behavior problems as kittens can [ ]. The best example is the litter box: Cats have the instinctive behavior of digging in loose materials and burying their urine and feces.
As long as the litter box is the place that appeals to the cat most, that's where he'll consistently eliminate.
Behavior Understanding the Cat Ellen M. Carozza LVT NOVA Cat Clinic, Arlington, VA Ellen graduated from SUNY Delhi in and has worked in many sectors in veterinary medicine. Litter box problems for cats can be diverse and complex. Behavioral treatments for the specific cause of your cat’s litter box issues can be very effective.
Learn more about the causes behind common litter box problems.
This is "numero uno by far" of problems people report with their cats, says Linda P. Case, MS, author of The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health.
And no wonder. It can be extremely frustrating when your kitty decides that the litter box is off-limits.