To follow up on July’s post on odd dog behaviors, Patton Chapel Animal Clinic, located in Hoover, AL, wants to give some attention to our feline friends, who have their own history of special traits. With a much more introverted personality type, cats are already known to act strangely. However, there are certain behaviors that should give you pause as a cat owner.

Eliminating Outside the Litter Box

For the most part, cats are decently tidy companions who easily learn to use the litter box. Sometimes, however, cats will urinate or defecate outside of the litter box even after years of loyal use. This behavior can result from conflict between cats that share a home. Cats can also be turned off by a change in cat litter or the location of the litter box. Excessive urination could also be a factor to consider if your cat seems to be having accidents around the house. An increase in the frequency (pollakiuria) or volume (polyuria) of your cat’s urination habits could point to a number of problems including urinary tract infection, kidney stones, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or even kidney disease. If you have an older cat, another possibility could be feline cognitive dysfunction, which has symptoms similar to dementia in humans.

Feline Aggression

When cats become aggressive, it’s difficult to respond to the problem. Patton Chapel Animal Clinic can help determine if any underlying medical issues are to blame, such as arthritis or hyperthyroidism. If this is not the case, however, ways to control your cat’s behavior can also be addressed. Certain behavior modifications, such as physical punishment, are not recommended as they can worsen aggression in cats.

Refusing to Eat

Your cat refusing to eat can be a frustrating problem, especially when it’s just another case of a pet being finicky. If you have tried switching food and your cat doesn’t seem to have an appetite, there could be an underlying infection or intestinal problem to blame. Your cat could also have a dental problem that is causing pain in his mouth, making it difficult to eat. See Dr. Whitworth or Dr. Buird for possible causes.

Vocalizing at Night

Are your neighbors complaining that your cat is keeping them up all night? Yowling or vocalizing at night can be quite the neighborhood annoyance. Sometimes it is related to your cat garnering for attention or male sexual behavior, but it could also be caused by medical issues such as endocrine dysfunction or hypertension. In older cats, excessive vocalization could be a sign of cognitive dysfunction. See Dr. Whitworth or Dr. Buird to rule out possible health issues before assuming it is a behavioral problem.

Staring

Cats sometimes seem transfixed on objects, usually objects of prey. However, if your cat is 10 years or older, and is blankly staring at the wall or into space, he may be suffering from cognitive dysfunction. Usually this behavior will be combined with other cognitive dysfunction traits, such as night time vocalizing mentioned above. Visit Patton Chapel Animal Clinic for a solid diagnosis and to make sure no other underlying issues may be to blame.

Drinking Excess Water

Cats can be finicky about their water. They typically like it as fresh and clean as possible, even if that means it’s the “fresh” water in your toilet bowl. Cats are known to prefer only drinking from the kitchen faucet or other peculiar sources of fresh water. However, if your cat seems to be drinking excessively, more than their normal amount, see Dr. Whitworth or Dr. Buird. This behavior could be your cat’s way of telling you they have a problem. Diabetes, hyperthroidism, urinary tract disease, and kidney disease can all be related to excessive thirst in cats.

Excessive Hunger

On the other side of the coin, excessive hunger, also known as polyphagia, can point to parasitic infection or bigger health problems like diabetes or poor absorption of food stemming from a medical problem. Polypagia can either cause weight gain or loss. Hunger is known to increase as a cat ages, but see Dr. Whitworth or Dr. Buird if you feel like your cat is constantly yowling for food or can never be satisfied.

Head Tilting

If your cat is tilting his head to the side, seems off balance or is turning in circles, talk to Dr. Whitworth or Dr. Buird about vestibular disease. This disease can also affect dogs, as mentioned in July’s post. It can stem from a variety of different causes, such as injury, toxicity, nutritional deficiency, or parasites.

Hiding

Cats like to find quiet places to rest away from the busy places of the house, so it’s not abnormal to feel like your cat is always tucked in his special spot under the table or bed. However, an animal’s instinct is to seek out secluded places when they are experiencing pain. If you feel like your cat is seeking extra alone time or is hiding from you, it could indicate a health issue that needs to be addressed.

Licking or Chewing

Cats seem to always be bathing themselves, so licking is not an odd behavior. But if your cat is licking excessively in one spot or if you notice hair loss, it could be a sign of fleas or parasites. It could also be an indication of pain. For example, your cat could be licking painful joints that are swollen with arthritis. Excessive cat licking could also be related to allergies or compulsive disorder.

Some peculiar cat behaviors are actually serious medical problems that need to be addressed. If you see any of the problems listed above, or have questions about another odd cat behaviors, contact us. Patton Chapel Animal Clinic conveniently serves Hoover, Vestavia, and the Greater Birmingham area.