Ask the expert..Sep-Oct 10


Q. Please do advice about behavioural abnormalities in cats.
– Ashimi Das, Guwahati
A: Dr KG Umesh: Cats make good pets because their needs are simple and they like the security of their own home, from which they can explore their own territory and hunt. In a few respects, cats are fussy – they can be fussy about their food and even more so about getting wet. Cats are known to be solitary hunters when their way of life allows it and therefore, hunting is a normal, instinctive behaviour in cats. A comprehensive history including behavioural assessment, history and diagnostic tests are required to identify what is really a behavioural problem in cats. For example, a cat who is urinating inappropriately could have urinary tract problem or may have joint problem that makes the cat difficult to use the litter box. Cats who are deprived of social interaction with humans or other kittens during socialization period may not be able to develop normal social relationships and may demonstrate behavioural problems. These problems include rejection of or aggression toward humans (especially children), aggression toward other cats, failure to mate successfully, and rejection. Cats who begin eliminating outside the litter box on a regular basis after being trained may do so for many reasons including illness, anxiety, an aversion to the type or location of the box or litter, or a preference for another location or litter. Intact males who show urine-marking (spraying) behaviour may require neutering. An owner who appreciates the natural, instinctive behaviour of their cat such as his body language or when he is showing sexual behaviour is much better equipped to react appropriately in any situation. Proper socialization, handling, good care and understanding normal cat behaviour will prevent many of these behavioural problems.