Q: I have a cat that I adopted almost two years ago, he spent some time in the pound and almost a year in the shelter. I think he developed some behavioral issues, like eating my hair to keep me awake at night, or knocking things off of my dresser. However, my biggest problem is every time he gets mad at me, he pees on my clothes! If I don’t have clothes to pee on, he’ll pee on my bed skirt. What can I do? – Sarah
A: The first thing I would do is take him to a veterinarian and have him checked for a urinary tract infection. Request a urinalysis and urine culture be done. It is important to rule out medical issues when there is a urination or spraying problem. Your cat is not urinating on your clothes to make you angry. In fact, cats do not know how to handle stress well, so purposely getting you upset is not your cat’s intention.
A simple solution to preserve your clothes, while you determine the source of the problem, is to keep them in the closet, dresser, or laundry bin. For help with litter boxes and possible behavioral causes, please read How to Resolve a Litter Box Problem.
Q: I have a female cat who sprays me when she gets mad at me. I spanked her bottom when she got on the kitchen counter. She then came over to the sofa where I had went and sat she backed up to me and sprayed me. It’s like she was saying piss on you lady for spanking me. How can I break her of this? By the way, she is a Siamese that was a rescue. All my animals are rescues with emotional problems. I love all my furbabies but what a battle I have on my hands. – Nancy
A: First, never hit your kitty. Cats will not understand it or learn from it, and you will simply frighten them or make them more stressed. For removing a kitty from the counter, you can simply pick her up gently — do not look at her as you do so — and place her down gently, but matter of factly. You might have to repeat this a half dozen to a dozen times, but when you are calm and unemotional, she will respond by no longer jumping on the counter, or at the very least, much less often.
You can also designate an area you want her to be in, in the kitchen, instead of on the counters. If you have little vertical territory in your home for your cats, and cats are kept on the floor, there is often more stress between cats, and more restlessness in general. By your being reactive and spanking her, she is responding by spraying, most likely out of stress. She is not spraying on you to make you more reactive. Stress can also weaken a cat’s immune system and I have seen stressed cats develop urinary infections, and cats with urinary infections, spray. Cats can spray when there is tension between cats or tension in a household. This means, you will have to change the relationship you have with your cat or ease tensions in the home.
Q: My cat Nikki, has been showing signs of maybe being ill, I have had her at the vet three times, with only a mild ear irritation, she is less active, drinks more water and is eating more than usual, and she eats a lot of grass, and is licking her fur a lot more than usual, her personality has changed a little too, not quite as smoochy and a bit more skittish than usual, any ideas would be most helpful, I do intend to take her back to the vet and maybe do blood tests to rule out anything just wondering if this is a health issue which it appears to be to me, or something else that could be bothering her, thanks. – Carole
A: This sounds like a health issue (medical/nutritional), unless there have been dramatic changes in the home or to her routine, or stress between people and/or animals in the household. A bad batch of food or ingredient changes in the pet food you normally buy could cause some of these behaviors. It is important to take her to your veterinarian to rule out any medical concerns. Your veterinarian will most likely perform blood work and a urinalysis to begin with. Ear infections can be very painful. Cats do not do well under stress. If the ears contain black/brown goo or gunk, it can often be fungal/ yeast (or mites). This should be checked and/or treated. It is perfectly fine and healthy for her to eat grass. If she is craving it, you should definitely allow her to indulge. Many cats love wild grasses and lawn grass. Just make sure the grass she is eating has not been treated and is not laden with toxic lawn chemicals.
Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2013
Alana Stevenson can be contacted through her website AlanaStevenson.com. She provides consultations by phone and Skype.