Is it possible to fix behavior issues in a cat?

Cat behavior issues can be very sneaky and often manifest in ways that we don't necessarily recognize as problematic. To change these behaviors, they need to be pinpointed accurately. It's crucial to catch these issues quickly because once the behavior becomes imprinted in their brain, it can be challenging to reverse.

Dr. Brittany Bueter
Hebron Animal Hospital

What are some signs and symptoms of behavior problems in cats?

Many cats show their stress and anxiety through changes in litter box habits, such as urinating or having bowel movements outside of the litter box. They may also engage in barbering, where they chew or pull out their hair, particularly on their arms, tail, or belly. Over-grooming, where they constantly clean themselves without taking a break, is another common sign.

When should I take my cat to the vet for behavior issues?

You should consult a vet when you notice anything out of the ordinary for your cat. For instance, if a typically quiet cat becomes very vocal, or a vocal cat suddenly becomes quiet and reclusive, these can be signs of behavior changes. Other indicators include barbering or any other deviation from their usual routine. The sooner you get it checked out, the better.

How would a vet diagnose behavior problems in a cat?

Diagnosis often relies heavily on the cat's history, as reported by the owner. This includes changes like increased hiding, excessive affection, increased vocalization, or inappropriate elimination. A physical exam helps identify if there are any areas of pain or deficiencies, such as vision changes, high blood pressure headaches, or bladder pain from a UTI. Combining this information with the history helps determine the underlying issue.

What are some possible health concerns arising from cat behavior problems?

Cats can develop a condition called Pandora syndrome, where stress or behavioral changes cause inflammation in the bladder wall. This leads to inappropriate urination in multiple places, which can be uncomfortable for the cat and strain the human-animal bond. Other issues include barbering, where the main concern is hair loss unless it leads to skin sores.

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