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Overcoming 7 Obstacles to Cat Ownership

Cat Aggression

Cats fight one another and us for many reasons, emotional and physical. Territorial, inter-male, and maternal aggression are a few of the most common. And, of course, sometimes it’s just overly rambunctious play. While solutions depend on the cause, here are some to consider:

  • Talk with your vet. Cats can become aggressive due to serious illness, so it’s vital to rule out a physical cause for a cat’s aggression.
  • Encourage appropriate play. When cats are aggressive toward a person, it’s usually because they’re frightened or they’re playing. To prevent a cat from playing rough, never use your hands or feet as playthings. Offer many toys and spend time playing with them with your cat. You might also consider adopting another cat as a playmate or providing a more stimulating environment, such as an outdoor enclosure.
  • Consider spaying and neutering. Intact males are more prone to aggressive behavior, and one intact cat can affect the behavior of others. So be sure all felines in a household are spayed or neutered.
  • Ease competition among cats. If you have more than one cat, you can prevent competition by providing multiple food and water bowls, and at least two litter boxes in different parts of the house.
  • Provide pheromones and perches. Encourage the cats in a multi-cat household to spread out by providing hiding spots and perches throughout the house. You can also buy artificial pheromones that mimic a natural cat odor (undetectable by humans); these can help cats stay calm.
  • Use short-term medication. Prescribed by your vet, these can help while you’re dealing with cat aggression. Never use over-the-counter medications -- especially those meant for humans -- unless recommended by your vet. Some drugs that are safe for humans can be fatal to cats.
  • Restrain, but don’t punish. Don’t hit your cat for being aggressive, as it will only spur more aggression, as well as fear. But don’t let cat aggression go unchecked, either. To stop a cat fight in progress, make a loud noise, squirt the cats with water, or throw something soft at them. Don’t try to pull apart two fighting cats.

Solving aggression problems between cats takes time. Enlisting the help of a family vet, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (ACVB), or a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) can make it easier.

Cat Health Care Costs

If you’re concerned that cat health care is too expensive, it’s good to know that cats tend to be healthy and usually don’t require a lot of pricey care. That said, they still need regular exams and vaccinations. And like human medical care, veterinary care can be costly. Fortunately, there are options to help manage the cost:

  • Pet insurance. It costs money, but it can potentially save you money too. There are many options available. Some pet insurance is affiliated with national pet store chains and others can be purchased through a local veterinarian. Talk with your vet, as well as friends and family, to get an idea of the available options and what they cover.
  • Subsidies through a local shelter or chapter of the Humane Society (HSUS). If you have trouble affording care for your cat, they may offer subsidized health care or know of local groups that do.
  • Veterinary school discounts. Vet schools sometimes offer discount services to the public. You can locate a veterinary school near you through your vet or the American Veterinary Medical Association web site.
  • Payment plans. Many veterinarians are quite happy to work out weekly or monthly payment plans so you don’t need to pay for the entire cost of each visit up front.

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