Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Does My Misbehaving Cat Need A Friend?

Hello Kitty Cat Friends,

This is a question I hear time after time at the shelter. Someone has an adult cat that is acting out in terms of being overly active, destroying the house, and/or playing aggressively and they think a playmate will help curb their cat's unwanted behaviors. These people have not intended to add another cat to their family, but think their cat needs a friend. This does seem like a logical solution in our own human minds because the thought is the unwanted behavior will cease because the cat has a playmate to take it out on. That's the problem though we're thinking like humans, not like cats!

Please take note that I'm talking about to adult cats here, not kittens. We'll talk about kittens and playmates in another post!
First and foremost it's my rule of thumb that you shouldn't add another cat into your home unless you want another cat. When you add another cat to your home you're adding more to your budget which is something you should always consider before adopting any animal. If you want to add another cat to your home this is a different scenario. I will be writing a post on proper cat introductions in the future, but let's get back to the topic at hand.

Cats are very territorial. Cats territorial drive kicks in when they reach social maturity which is between ages 2-4. When adding another cat into a home with a socially mature cat you're going to be exacerbating your problem, not fixing it. You started out with a cat who is understimulated and play aggressive, but if you add another cat into this scenario your cat's territory is now threatened on top of it's other stressors. Cats who are territorially insecure may start to spray to mark their territory, urinate/defecate outside the litter box, and/or become more aggressive to you or the new cat! You've also changed their daily routine and their environment by introducing new foreign smells from another cat. Cats are creatures of habit too and can be resistant to change. Yes, cats are complicated! This is all a recipe for disaster and especially not wanted if you didn't want to add another cat to your home in the first place.

When people share with me that their cat is destroying their house and aggressive during play my first question to them is if they have "catified" their house? Cats need scratching posts, cat trees, cat safe spaces, and more to be able to engage in their normal cat behavior (hunting, stalking, hiding and etc). My second question to them is are they actively playing with their cat every day (using a teaser toy etc)? Usually, the answer is no to one of these questions or both.

Cats need outlets for mental and physical stimulation and if you're not providing that your cat will find other undesirable ways to get that energy out. If you have an adult cat who is engaging in these behaviors make sure to invest in cat furniture and play with your cat twice a day for at least 10 minutes each time. The solution is usually you need to put more into your cat not add another cat into the mix. Try these methods consistently for a month and then re-evaluate. If you still find your cat isn't getting what they need, then you might consider adding another cat, but only if they are introduced slowly and thoroughly which I will explain in a future post.

No, a misbehaving adult cat doesn't need a friend especially if you do not want another cat. You're not solving your cat's behavioral problems but adding another cat, you're adding to those problems. Cats who are understimulated and play aggressive need more from you in forms of "catification"and play therapy, not another cat impeding on their territory. Buy them some cat furniture and spend some time playing with them. That's what they need and they'll love you for it!

That's all for meow 😻,
Stephanie

2 comments:

  1. I often wonder if my almost-3-year-old cat would like a friend. Not because he's being naughty, but just because I worry about him getting lonely during the day when we're at work.

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    1. Cats don't really experience emotions like we do. Loneliness is a very human emotion. It's very natural us to impose and assume cats feel the same emotions we might feel. If your cat is behaving normally I wouldn't think he is in need of a friend. He may very well enjoy his solitude when you're away and might not like another cat sharing his space or bothering him. There are many considerations and steps to take when you add in another cat. I wouldn't suggest getting another cat unless you want another cat yourself.

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