Kitty Advice 

If your cat or kitten is exhibiting unwanted behaviors, please keep in mind some behaviors can be corrected with some minor adjustments once you understand the language your kitty is trying to communicate. We hope that you will find this kitty advice page helpful in handling some common cat issues.  Please make sure to review our recommended cat behaviorists and feline books listed at the bottom of this page.

Listed below are some common cat concerns and some advice on how to tackle the solution:

Cats are in the middle of the prey-predator food chain so a lot of wild still exists in your cat and sometimes it comes out in different ways.  Knowing the reasons behind your cat’s aggressive outbursts is the best way to understand their behavior and help them adjust. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

If your kitty is biting your hands and ankles, remember cats are natural-born predators.   They want to practice their attack skills on a moving object that is why it is important to actively play with your kitty using toys so that they learn to bite appropriate objects.  Do not use your hands to play with your kitten and always redirect biting to an appropriate toy.   If a kitty is not provided with appropriate prey options like dangling a toy to mimic a bird in flight or tossing a stuffed mouse for them to fetch, then the only potential prey they will see moving around is you!  If there is only one kitty in the home, we suggest getting another kitty for a playmate.

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

Cats get stressed sometimes just like humans. If your feline friend could use some zen, here are some tips and products to help calm a cat who is scared or stressed so you can both find some peace of mind.

  • If the kitty is receptive, give the kitty a relaxing massage for about 5 to 10 minutes on areas when they like to be petted such as on the head, cheeks, neck, back and base of the tail. Gentle pressure using your fingertips in a delicate gentle circular movement. The checks, behind the ears, and the chin are the most delicate areas.
  • Catnip can have a sedative effect on some cats if it’s eaten rather than sniffed.  Plenty of owners choose to give their cat some catnip as a way to reduce anxiety or stress and encourage their cat to relax.
  • Music can have a calming effect on cats and they can be soothed listening to classical music.  Recent research has shown that music made especially for cats can help calm their nerves.  Check out the music from iCalmPet.
  • Cat TV is also another great way to calm your cat.
  • Cat calming diffusers like the Feliway plug-in diffuser can help with cat anxiety by emitting a synthetic version of the feline facial pheromones. Cat calming diffusers like the Feliway MultiCat are specifically made to help calm multi-cat households and promote harmony amongst cats. These diffusers use a synthetic version of the pheromone given off by mother cats while nursing kittens.  One diffuser will cover up to 700 square feet.  Refills can last up to 30 days, and then should be replaced.
  • The pheromones in cat calming collars such as Sentry cat calming collar mimic those that mother cats produce to calm and soothe kittens, and they can also help to calm adult cats. Please keep in mind with cat collars, some owners may have difficulty putting a collar on their cat.
  • The Thundershirt for cats is a kitty-sized compression vest that applies gentle, constant pressure, much like swaddling a baby.  This pressure can calm anxious and stressed-out cats. It is important to know how much your cat can be handled and is amenable to wearing clothes when considering purchasing this item.
  • A great on-the-go solution that will leave your cat feeling calm when traveling is using a pheromone like Feliway Wipes.
  • Rescue Remedy is an all-natural drop that can be placed directly in your cat’s water or on his or her paws, nose, or ears.
  • Giving your cat some treats can have a calming effect, especially a cat calming treat like Composure cat chews.

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

Thinking about bringing a kitten into your life, then make it a double especially if there is no younger resident cat waiting at home.  The companionship two kittens can provide each other helps minimize future behavior problems stemming from boredom or separation anxiety. Kittens will burn off energy chasing, pouncing, and playing with each other which gives them an outlet to direct their kitten crazies meaning less energy to engage in destructive behaviors.  They will also learn social behavior from each other and the bond between two cats who have grown up together becomes very strong and special over time.  If you have an older cat, we suggest two younger kittens who will be able to match each other’s energy level; otherwise, you will annoy an older cat who is unable to keep up with the crazy antics of a younger kitten.  It’s a myth that cats are solitary animals and do not crave companionship.  Just like dogs, cats have a social structure.  Most cats benefit and thrive when they have a feline buddy.  

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

There is a multitude of reasons why a kitty would decide to stop using the litter box.  First, rule out a medical issue by taking the cat to the vet.  Second, once the medical issue is eliminated, take a look at the environment.  Have there been any changes such as a new pet, new home, or new relationship?  Any changes to the litter box like a change to a different litter, location of the litter box, or the type of litter box? 

Some helpful tips on proper cat litter box set up are listed below: 

  • One litter box per cat plus one is recommended.  The litter box size should be 1 1/2 times the length of the adult cat, from the tip of the nose to the end of the rump.  Most standard litter boxes are not large enough.  A concrete mixing tub or a large storage container are good options especially for cats that like to pee up the sides.  
  • A soft clay litter that is clumping unscented is preferred.  Avoid using plastic liners or litter additives.  Maintain a 2-3″ level of litter in the litter box.  
  • The litter box should be scooped twice a day.   If using a scoopable litter, the litter box should be emptied, scrubbed, and refilled with fresh litter once a month. If using non-clumping litter, the litter box should be scrubbed and refilled weekly.  Replace any litter box that is worn or scratched as needed.
  • Multiple litter box placement throughout the house is essential in a multiple cat home.  Make sure the cat is not being bullied or feeling threatened while using the litter box and if so, that cat will need an easy escape route from the other kitty. Do not place the litter box in front of a window if there are cats outside upsetting the resident cat. 
  • Dogs love to eat cat poop and these acts can have disastrous behavioral backlashes from the cat.  Not only is it the worst invasion on a cat’s territory but if the dog happens to nose into the litter box while the cat is using it, that will constitute an ambush.  These acts will lead to a lack of confidence in using the litter box and a preference to use someplace else so they will have a better view to see the dog coming.  If you have a dog, solve this problem by putting the litter box behind a baby gate with a small cat door or Door Buddy that only the cat can access and the dog cannot.  Remember that an ambush can also occur outside the cat door so train your dog not to lie in wait for the cat to come out of the litter box area. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

A cat’s natural circadian rhythm is to hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom and sleep.   Experts believe that putting the cat on a feeding schedule and making sure to feed their last meal an hour and a half before your bedtime will help them adjust to your schedule.  We suggest playing with your kitty daily using interactive toys most especially right before bedtime so your kitty will be tired and more likely to sleep at night.  Make sure to rotate the toys so that they do not become bored with them.  Put a toy away and reintroduce it in a few weeks. Not all toys have to be bought as there are a number of great homemade cat toys that you can make using toilet paper rolls, wine corks, or food puzzles.  As a precaution, please do not leave out any feather toys, strings, or rubber hair bands unattended for the kitty to swallow.   If there is only one kitty in the home, we also suggest getting another kitty for a playmate. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos on this topic:

It is not uncommon for cats to get overstimulated while being petted and act out in aggression. Every cat’s tolerance level for cuddling and receiving pets from their humans is different. Some cats have a lower threshold for contact than others and they may be more sensitive to touch. 

Most cats like being pet on the back of the head and under their chin.  Some cats enjoy long strokes down their back towards their tail.  The hair follicles on a cat’s belly are very sensitive to touch.  Stroking the belly area may provide too much tactile sensation which is why a petting session can go from docile to hostile.

Figure out your cat’s preferred petting boundaries by trying each area briefly and watching your kitty’s reaction to determine whether they enjoy that spot being touched. When your cat’s overstimulation threshold kicks in, please make sure to respect your kitty by no longer petting them in that area. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

A cat’s natural instinct is to scratch and they will scratch to clean the exterior sheath of their nails, remove cuticles, and sharpen their claws.  It is so important to provide the kitty with appropriate items to scratch.  Think of it as a feline manicure!  

Here are some tips and products to help with cat scratching:

  • Cats love scratching items made of carpet, sisal rope, and cardboard.  Sprinkle catnip to attract them to scratch.  Most cats love silvervine catnip or use a catnip spray like KONG.
  • Get a tall sturdy scratching post to give the kitty a good stretch while they are scratching and make sure it is not wobbly when the cat rubs against it.  We recommend SmartCat Pioneer scratching post, Animals Favorite cat scratching post, Trixie Baza cat tree, and Go Pet Club cat tree.  
  • Make sure to trim the kitty’s nails using nail clippers every 2-4 weeks so they do not get stuck in items.  
  • Many cats don’t like to scratch sofa fabric made of microfiber, faux suede, or chantelle fabric.  We like using Sticky Paws on items you don’t want kitty to scratch and couch guard self-adhesive protector pads. 
  • As a last resort, try Soft Claws which are rubber tips that can be applied to the cat’s nails by a vet or groomer.  They last a few weeks before needing to be replaced.

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

Shedding is how a cat will replenish its fur and keep it in good condition. Cats in the wild generally shed their coats twice a year. In the spring to lose the heavy winter undercoat and in the fall in preparation for the “grow-in” of the next winters’ undercoat. Shedding in cats is affected by light availability. The year round artificial light inside our homes has altered the way that an indoor cat will shed. You may not see heavy shedding twice a year but rather a lighter more constant shedding all year long. 

Some helpful tips on how to control cat shedding are listed below:

  • Feed your cat a high-quality digestible protein and fewer carbohydrates.  Canned food is highly recommended over dry food for better nutrients and moisture content.  Keeping your cat hydrated will mean less hair falling out.
  • Adding omega-3 fatty acids to the cat’s diet is particularly helpful in keeping a cat’s skin and fur healthy. It will also help to reduce cat dander.  Cats that have healthy fur coats tend to shed less.  Omega fatty acids can be found in wet cat foods that contain salmon oil or flax oil.  You can also buy fish oil like Welactin to add to the food.
  • Regular brushing will remove loose fur which will help keep the excess fur from being ingested by the cat as well as off the furniture.  Check out these grooming tools: FURminator, brush, comb, and rake (removing mats and tangles).

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

What Type of Brush Is Best for My Cat? – Katie Finlay

Seven Steps to Stop Cat Shedding – Dr. Andrew Jones

Let’s Talk about SHEDDING – Cat Lady Fitness

A cat’s tail is an excellent way to gain additional insight into the current feelings of your kitty and it is easy to decipher with just a little observation. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great materials on this topic:

Additional Resources

If you are experiencing cat behavior problems that you have unsuccessfully tried to resolve, consider these additional resources: 

Get advice from a cat behavior consultant.  Many of them have great online resources offering a wide range of educational videos and tutorials to help you better understand your kitty and help correct unwanted behaviors.   

Here are some recommended books on feline behavior:   

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