Tabby cats licking people and older cat accepting a rescued greyhound

Alana Stevenson, cat behaviorist, answers questions from Life with Cats readers.

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Q:
I have twin tabby cats and they both lick people constantly! I’m curious to know why they do it. – Shannon

A: Kitties can lick for many reasons. Since both kitties enjoy licking people there can be a few reasons behind it. If you had them as kittens or obtained them later on, they were raised with kindness and a lot of handling and affection. You and your friends must also be gentle and loving to cats. If cats get desired attention and affection for a behavior, they will do it more often. There is a good chance they are rewarded or have been rewarded when they lick people. Licking also releases endorphins so the behavior can be self-rewarding. In addition, cats can learn this behavior from other cats, whether by litter mates or from their mother. And it can also be influenced by their own individual personalities, especially since they behave the same way and they’re litter mates.

 

© Mary Alice Alnutt

Q: I would like to adopt a cat tolerant rescue greyhound and my 17 year old cat intimidates hounds that come near the place. Then she does a retribution urination followed by a UTI. Is it too much to expect her to accept or tolerate a hound? Am I a mean mummy for expecting her to change her ways at this stage of her life? – Jenny

A: Although this is a personal decision for you, feline urinary infections and failure to use the litter box are never fun to deal with. UTI’s are very painful and also can reoccur even after symptoms seemingly resolve. As your kitty ages, her ability to fight infections or ailments may decrease. Acclimating new animals into a home can be very stressful. Since your cat is elderly, it may be better to wait. You did not mention how your cat intimidates hounds and what her behaviors specifically are. If she is aggressive, then it might be too stressful for the newly adopted dog as well. Is there a local greyhound rescue that you can volunteer for? This way you can interact with the dogs and help them without bringing one home to your kitty.

If you do decide to adopt, keep the animals separated at first. You can then rotate territories or areas they stay, for any length of time, so that both animals can have access to all rooms. Your kitty should also have a safe area for awhile that the dog has very little or no access to. The success of this also depends a bit on your home layout. Keep in mind too that dogs are very needy, and if your cat sleeps on the bed, cuddles with you on the sofa, or greets you at the door when you come home, your dog will want to as well. If you want to acclimate your cat to a newly adopted dog, this article can help Introducing Dogs to Cats.

Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2014

 

Alana Stevenson can be reached through her website AlanaStevenson.com. She provides consultations by phone and Skype.

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