Q: I have a 11 week old Maine coon kitten. He seems to be scared to be downstairs in my house for a long period of time. He will walk to follow my daughter down then run all the way back into her room under her bed. Will he stop running and explore the rest of the house and get to know the rest of the cats? – Nikki
A: This really depends on the cats’ behaviors towards him, as well as his fear of other people in the household. If he is skittish, he will want a quiet and safe environment. Making friends with him, sitting with him, feeding him wet food, engaging him with play and treats and allowing him to come out at his pace, is by far the best way to entice him to interact with you (and the family downstairs). Keeping the door to the bedroom open is a beginning, providing the other cats are welcoming and not aggressive in any way (i.e., do not stare at, stalk, or chase him).
You can also invite him downstairs. By inviting him (gently carrying him) downstairs, and placing him on a kitty condo or on a sofa where you know he will not be chased if he gets down, he will know your intention (that you want him to be downstairs). He may run upstairs again, but after being invited one to three times, he may begin to settle or maybe come down on his own. Often animals will not venture forth into unknown areas or territories because they don’t know what is there and if it is safe or not, or even if it is permitted. By inviting him, he can see your intention and that the environment is safe, friendly, quiet and inviting to him. This will depend on the size of your house, rooms, the number of other animals, how they behave towards him and how skittish he is with the people in the household too, as well as if he feels safe being carried. Quiet or skittish animals can come out of their shells, and then blossom. But they need to feel safe and to feel confident and secure in you, the people they are with, and their surroundings. You might also begin feeding him yummy food and enticing him through play in the hallway, without the pressure of going downstairs, which will encourage him to come out of the bedroom.
Q: I have an older cat (he’s 11) and he’s pretty laid back, he’s never bitten and never been aggressive…till last night. He came into my room last night and actually bit my face while I was asleep…do you have any idea what could have caused this behaviour?? This is not like him at all! Could he be sick? – Sunni
A: There would need to be more information giving on your cat’s routine, your routine, kitty’s diet and exercise as well as play and attention behaviors. Your kitty obviously wanted your attention. His behavior may not have been ‘aggressive.’ If your kitty starts to be active at night, on alert, pacing or crying at times, you might want to check his thyroid function. Make note of any changes in routine (yours or his) and changes in food and see if they may coincide with this new behavior. If cats go on diets and have food restriction in the way of meals versus free-feeding, it can cause restlessness and agitation as well.
Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2013
Alana Stevenson can be reached through her website AlanaStevenson.com. She provides consultations by phone and Skype.