Ask the Feline Behaviorist: Chewing, Banging Doors, Cat bites other Kitties, and Dog Chases Cats
Q: My 1 year old cat likes to chew. He chews cords, wood, plastic, anything! How can I get him to stop chewing?
A: This could be related to diet, boredom, and/or displacement behavior from stress. It could also be a sign of an underlying medical problem, depending on the severity and exactly what he chooses to digest. Depending on other behaviors, it could also be influenced by early weaning. More information would need to be known i.e., other pets in the family and what their relationships are, what you feed your kitty and how often, your workday schedule (Is your kitty home alone all day?), how often you or other family members engage or play with your kitty and how you play with your kitty, as well as what other interactive toys, edible plants and so on, your cat has for enrichment. A poor diet i.e., low quality and corn based dry food and/or rationed feeding or meals, as opposed to free feeding, can also contribute to this behavior.
Q: I would like to understand why my cats keep banging on my bedroom door when my alarm goes off for me to wake up. If I choose not to open the door, the banging gets worse. Why is it so? – Jasmine
A: Is your kitty allowed in the bedroom at night or is the banging coming from outside your bedroom door? If your kitty is young and a singleton (only kitty or animal in the home), s/he wants your attention and/or feeding. Kitties also do not like closed doors. They like the option of being able to enter or exit at their discretion. Your kitty knows you get up after the alarm, so is insisting you do so, to start the day or get affection or attention, or to get out of, or into, the bedroom.
Q: We have a special needs cat (probably from lead paint) who was rescued from an abandoned building when he was about three months old. He’s three and still nurses on my collars and sleeves. Macky doesn’t know how to play without biting the other cats, so they run in fear of him and he is isolated. How can we break through this? – Gayl
A: Macky’s behavior with other kitties is best addressed with a behavior consult. A consult is a few hours and questionnaires on the kitties are completed to get a history and background. The nursing is from early weaning. The interactions between kitties could be overzealous play (by Macky) or it could be adversarial or anxiety based (so not play driven). If there is play aggression or if Macky is playing because he has pent up energy, and the other kitties are lap kitties or older kitties who just want to chill, redirected play, appropriate play that funnels his prey drive (See How to Play with Your Kitty), and intervening by reorienting/repositioning him in a different direction/angle away from the other kitties can help. It is important to do redirect him to another activity or behavior, or reposition him, when you see him staring at the other kitties or in stalk mode, before a chase ensues. The ages of the other kitties wasn’t mentioned, but may be relevant. Older kitties are often stalked and chased by younger ones due to the pent up energy younger kitties have and their intense play drive, frequent boredom and need for entertainment. Younger kitties tend to be ‘busier’ than older ones, which can lead to chases and then to fights.
Q: I adopted a Boston Terrier earlier in the year, and then two sibling kittens just a couple months ago. I’ve been keeping them separated because the dog goes after the kittens, or the kittens run from the dog. It’s a case of chicken or the egg. I’m not sure which is causing which. How do you integrate cats and dog into the same home, so we can all be one happy family? – Deborah
A: Please see my article on Introducing Dogs to Cats. It is vital that your dog doesn’t chase your kitties, even if they run, and there are many ways you can do this in a humane way, through positive training. Your kittens will stop running, when your dog stops chasing. You can also order my book The Right Way the First Time (on positive dog training) or Training Your Dog the Humane Way to help you teach your new pup.
Alana Stevenson can be reached through her website AnimalBehaviorTherapy.com. She provides consultations by phone & Skype.