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4 reasons why your cat may be cranky

4 reasons why your cat may be cranky

There are many reasons why some cats are cranky; their temperament can be influenced by their upbringing or they are simply born that way. However, even the sweetest, most affectionate cats can suddenly become bad-tempered and behave out of character. According to veterinarian Dr Katrina Warren, the problem can generally be solved, but you’ll need to look for underlying issues.

1. Pain/medical reasons

Changes in a cat’s behaviour can often be explained by a health problem. Pain can cause cats to behave very differently, and it’s easy to mistake a problem as behavioural, when in fact it is medical. Should you observe a significant change in your cat’s behaviour, then a visit to the vet is the best place to start. Watch out for changes in eating, drinking or litter-box habits. Also hiding and avoiding being touched. Be sure to report all changes to your vet. There are many cat health problems that can be readily treated to ease symptoms and pain for your cat.

2. Living in a multi-cat household

It pays to remember that cats don’t like to share or queue. Sharing of ‘resources’ such as litter trays and food bowls can cause stress and anxiety for many cats. It’s always a good idea to provide each cat with their own litter box, food, water bowls and bed as a minimum. One litter box for each cat plus a spare is even better, as are multiple sleeping spots and extra scratching posts. A lack of space to hide from or avoid other cats, competition for territory and lack of individual attention can also add to household friction. If your cat is feeling anxious, offering it an elevated place to sit, such as a climbing tree, can be helpful.

3. Change in situation

Moving to a new house, the arrival of a new baby, new pets and other types of change can seriously impact cat behaviour. Cats are creatures of habit and tend to be territorial, so a change in routine may cause them to react in a number of ways, including withdrawal or aggression. Try to keep your cat’s environment as calm as possible and make sure there are places where they feel safe. Sometimes confining them to a single room with a litter box, bedding and home comforts can help them to settle.

4. Personality

Some cats simply do not like being touched and handled. These are often cats that received limited socialisation with humans when they were kittens. These cats do best in a quiet household without children and need understanding and patience to help build their confidence. 

Dos and Don’ts
  • DON’T use your hands as toys. Dangling your fingers in front of a cat may be a convenient way to attract their attention and initiate play, but it sends a message to them it is OK to chase your fingers and bite your hands. Stalking behaviour is normal as that is how cats hunt their prey but you do not want your hand to be their catch!
  • DO use toys, such as a bauble you can toss or feathers and string attached to a wand. This keeps your hands safe and is a fun way to offer interactive play.
Did you know?

Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats. It is how they remove the outer sheaths of their claws and it is not something we can stop them doing. Provide them with a sturdy scratching post that allows them to stretch out. Teach them how to use it by playing games that encourage them to claw at the post until they get the hang of it.

Written by Dr Katrina Warren. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.