Cat Behavioral Modification
A cat’s lifestyle naturally consists of regularity, territorial definition, low population density, and a hierarchy in which one reproductively active male is dominant. Many pet loving homes inadvertently depart from these conditions. This leads to social unbalance, confusion, and stress. Within the feline household, cats respond accordingly and a wide range of behavioral problems are the ultimate result.
Drugs called Psychotropic Medications may be prescribed by your vet. They consist of anti-anxiety medications like Prozac and Paxil, hormone treatments such as Ovaban and Estrogen, and mild tranquilizers including Valium. Most of these are used as a last resort in treating psychological behavioral problems. These drugs help:
* reduce aggressive problems in cats that bite and scratch their owners,
* stop territorial marking behaviors including urine spraying, and
* reduce fear and anxiety during adjustment periods, for example, new pet in home, moving to new home, ongoing construction, and holiday guests.
They also help reduce:
* destruction of the home e.g. clawing furniture
* wool chewing, wool sucking, and
* other compulsive behaviors, including over grooming
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Give all the love, patience and understanding these problems require and work together with your vet to restore harmony.
Complementary therapy is useful to modify stressful behavior. Bach Flower Essences are dilute preparations of flowers and tree buds that act primarily on the state of mind and are effective to treat emotions associated with fear, panic, stress and tension. They have a claming, stabilizing effect, and are given by mouth several times a day. For example, Rescue Remedy is popular. It is a composite of five flower essences. Two to three drops in the mouth, food or water three times daily decreases anxiety and is often effective. Flower essences are also very safe, even if accidentally overdosed.
Despite our best efforts, many of these problems can not be prevented and require treatment. A variety of treatments are available. Most problems are best handled most effectively through a combination of physical (termed behavioral redirection) and medical intervention. Always check with your vet for specific recommendations. This summary is geared to simplify some of the most common methods available to modify undesirable feline behaviors.
Make a sudden unusual loud noise to interrupt the behavior – blow a whistle or a horn, shake a shake can or click a clicker. You could squirt the cat with a water filled squirt gun or spritz the cat with a water filled spritzer. This is effective to treat aggression towards a person, as well as to prevent cats from physically injuring themselves, for example, if your cat was chewing a poisonous plant. It is also helpful for compulsive problems like over grooming as well as for cats that chew and claw your furniture.
Obnoxious stimuli are strong odors, like perfume that cats dislike.