You love your cat, but you just can’t take it anymore. The litter box issues
are driving you up the wall. Or maybe it’s the fights between your grand old
cat and the feisty new kitten.
Before you throw up your hands and swear you’re sending Snowflake to a
shelter, you might try hearing what Snowflake has to say -- in a manner of
speaking. “Stop and listen to what your pets are telling you,” says Alice
Moon-Fanelli, PhD, CAAB, a certified applied animal behaviorist.
Cats can develop a fear of people they don’t know for many reasons. Companion felines have unique personalities, and some are just more outgoing than others. However, if a cat is calm and friendly with his family but afraid of visitors, it’s often because he didn’t have enough experience meeting new people when he was very young. To be social and comfortable with all kinds of people, a cat must have frequent opportunities to meet numerous new and different people in low-key, pleasant circumstances...
Too often we just aren’t paying attention to our pets, Moon-Fanelli says.
Empathy is key, so put yourself in puss’s boots.
To help you do that, WebMD consulted with experts on cat behavior and health
about some of the most commonly cited reasons for giving up a cat. Their tips
for understanding kitty (and discarding some of your own misconceptions) may
help you to live happily ever after together.
“We’ll Find Kitty a Good Home”
When people want to give their cat away, they usually say they want to find
the cat “a good home.” Why can’t your house be that good home? With a little
guidance, it probably can be, says Linda P. Case, MS, author of Canine and
Feline Behavior and Training: A Complete Guide to Understanding Our Two Best
Friends. It’s rare that behavior or other issues with your cat can’t be
Start with two key steps:
Talk to your veterinarian before assuming the problems can’t be fixed.
Something as easy to treat as a urinary tract infection can be behind a host of
problem cat behaviors, such as yowling, marking, or refusing to use a litter
box. “A large study showed that people who relinquish their cats tend to have
not seen a veterinarian or other professional in the last year to address their
problem,” Case tells WebMD. So before assuming an issue is unfixable, talk to
the people who really know.
Consult a veterinary specialist about behavior problems. Not every cat
complication has a physical cause, of course, and that’s where a
board-certified veterinary behaviorist (ACVB) or a Certified Applied Animal
Behaviorist (CAAB) can help. These professionals “can discuss, evaluate, and
advise you in person, by telephone, or email,” says Moon-Fanelli. They can
offer insight into why your cat is doing what he’s doing and how you can change
his behavior. Ask your vet for a referral.
6 Reasons Your Cat Doesn’t Need a New Home
Here are solid solutions to problems that you may not have thought were
Inter-cat aggression. Do you like every new person you meet? Neither
does your cat! Bring a new cat into a household with established felines and
everyone usually becomes purring pals -- but sometimes things don’t go so
smoothly and fights break out. Cats instinctually have a social order where one
cat is dominant, so some degree of fighting is normal when first introducing a
new cat. This usually resolves quickly once the new order is established. Cats
can also become aggressive for reasons such as illness.