An important part of paying attention to your cat’s communication has to do with the type of affection you offer. If you’re petting your cat, be mindful of whether he’s enjoying it or whether he’s just tolerating it. Some cats like long strokes down the back, some are sensitive about having the base of their tails touched and some only like to be petted on the back of the head. Additionally, don’t insist your cat stay on your lap or try to hold him in your arms when he is clearly giving you the message that he’s not comfortable. Allow your cat the option to stay close or remain at a distance. If you pet him in a way he enjoys and don’t restrain him when he attempts to come close, he’ll want to be in your lap more often.
8. Respect the Need for Claws
A big issue for many cat guardians is the worry that the cat will scratch the furniture. As a result, many cats get declawed when all that was really needed was some humane training and the availability of a good quality scratching post. Being able to scratch is a vital part of being a cat and it goes beyond just conditioning the claws. Scratching serves as an emotional outlet, a very effective method for stretching and a way to leave an olfactory and visual mark. Purchase a tall, sturdy, sisal-covered scratching post and place it where your cat enjoys scratching. Don’t put your cat through the painful and permanent declawing procedure. Let him retain the wonderful joy that comes from being able to scratch. A cat’s paws were meant to have claws.
If you’re worried about the cat scratching you or another family member, this is where effective, force-free training comes into play. Cats prefer to retreat when they feel threatened. If a cat parent puts a cat into a situation where the kitty feels he has no choice, that’s when he may use his claws in defense. If you read tip #7 above and you pay attention to what your cat is saying, you’ll notice he gives several warning signs when he feels threatened or in fear. Another issue I see in my house calls when comes to cats who scratch people is that very often, family members have used their hands when playing with the cat. This method teaches the cat that biting and scratching flesh is an acceptable form of communication.
9. Introduce Change Gradually
Cats don’t like abrupt change whether it relates to food, litter, new pets, new family members, housing or even schedule disruptions. Your cat will be much less stressed if you prepare him for upcoming changes. New pet introductions should be done carefully and gradually. Ease him through changes in food or litter by doing a slow transition over the course of several days. Making a move? Don’t just drop your cat into the new environment without first letting him get comfortable in one room. Remember, your cat didn’t get the memo that major shifts were about to happen so be gentle and patient as you walk him through any changes.
Need More Information?
For more specifics on cat behavior and training, refer to the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Books are available through our website, at your favorite bookstore and through online book sites, such as Amazon.
If you have a question about your cat’s behavior or health, contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a medical diagnosis nor is it a replacement for your cat’s regular veterinary care. This article is for general information purposes only.