Tuesday, 29 December 2015

'Why is my cat making that noise?' and other behaviour FAQs

In the most recent Facebook Q and A, Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow tackled your questions on feeding habits, bedtime routines and grooming. Read some of her answers here.

Question: My cat always sleeps in my bed, but recently she’s been using bed time as play time. She’s always been really cuddly and can’t wait to get under the covers but for the last few weeks, she’s been knocking my glasses onto the floor and searching for ‘other toys’ like jewellery. Is there any way to get her to stop these little acts of naughtiness?

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has been up to mischief at night time! Cats are naturally crepuscular – meaning they are more active during dawn and dusk. Try giving her several short interactive play sessions during the day using a fishing rod toy (store safely out of reach after use) to use up that excess energy. Give her some special ‘night time’ toys such as soft little ball that are quiet to bat, but also glow in the dark to keep her entertained.

Tortie cat sleeping
Photo by Ella Mullins via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: How can I stop my cats deciding that they want their breakfast between 1.30 and 2.00am, no matter how late I give them their tea? They are then quite happy to wait until 18.00-19.00 for their evening meal!

Answer: I think many owners will identify with this problem! You’d think that the dark mornings would have made more of a difference! Try providing your cat with feeding enrichment toys at night. These are things that provide food in other ways compared to a standard food bowl and require them to use their brain! Start off simply with a cardboard egg box and put a portion of your cat’s daily allowance of dry food in there (if they are fed dry food) and show your cat how to ‘paw’ out the biscuits with your fingers.  You can check out more of our boredom busters on YouTube.

Cat looking hungry
Photo by Kevin N Murphy via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My 18 year old keeps drinking lots of water and is very unbalanced when she walks or shakes. Please help!

Answer:  Cats are more likely to develop certain conditions when they are older and it’s worth taking your cat to the vets more regularly in their senior years to keep an eye on their health. Many practices offer ‘senior cat’ health clinics. Drinking more water, being unbalanced and shaking are all symptoms of possible various medical issues. Contact your vet without delay.

Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A session: CP Vet Vanessa Howie will be answering veterinary questions on 31 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!


  1. Question: Our cat used to be quite happy going out, though he was bullied by other older cats. Recently we found him in the garage cornered by on of the other cats, he subsequently had to go to the vet as he had been bitten and it was swollen requiring antibiotics. Now, although he makes noises requesting to go out, he won;t venture further than the end of the conservatory and even then only if he is accompanied by my husband or myself. As soon as we go back in he follows and won't be let out on his own. Is there anything we can do?

    1. If your cat is being bullied by neighbourhood cats you are not alone, this is a very common problem. Cats are naturally very territorial and where there are lots of cats in a small area, there can often be conflict. Conflict between cats in a neighbourhood can result in behaviours that are obviously related to conflict, such as wounds from fighting, or urine spraying in areas where territories overlap. However, some cats respond to the close proximity of other cats by becoming very nervous or frightened. This may result in them being unwilling to venture outside. Being stuck inside can have other effects on their behaviour, such as toileting indoors, being more clingy, or showing more aggression. Cats that are frightened in this way may also develop abnormal behaviours such as overgrooming or over-eating.
      It is very difficult to discourage another cat from coming into your garden: cats' territories do not necessarily conform to our garden or house boundaries and a cat will want to patrol round areas that he perceives as his own territory. If the other cats are coming into your garage, could you ensure the garage door is always closed so they cannot get in? If you know the owner of the other cat/s, it may be possible to arrange a 'time-share' system whereby your cats are allowed out at different times of day and hence do not meet each other.
      Sometimes cats are wary of going out through a cat flap because it is very open and exposed on the outside and they feel vulnerable to attack. Providing your cat with some 'cover' such as some plant pots, just outside the door may be enough to help them to get outside safely.
      If your cat is very fearful, and another cat is coming into your house, it may be best to temporarily close off your cat-flap to prevent them coming in. This will make your cat feel much more secure within the house. In this case, you will need to make sure that your cat has lots to do inside - enriching the environment with toys, climbing frames, hiding places and puzzle feeders will make staying inside more fun.
      Hope this helps.

  2. My vet said I should only worm or de-flea my cat by letting them do it and, not buy over the counter treatments, This is a lot more expensive. My pension is limited so, please advise me. thank you.

    1. We'd always recommend following the advice of your vet. The new, safe and most effective flea control products will be available from veterinary surgeries where advice on their use
      is provided. If you are concerned about the cost, mention this to your vet too and they may be able to advise on a cost-effective solution.

  3. how do i kno wether my cat loves me or not?

    1. It is important to remember that a cat’s emotions are not human-based, so understanding their species-specific needs can enhance our own relationship with them and reassure us that our cats like us! Cats express “love” in their own particular way which differs from other species. They are naturally a solitary animal and have not evolved to seek companionship or affection from others. However, many cats have learned to love the company of people and will often show affection by rubbing up against us for a fuss and a stroke and to place their scent on us. If your cat chooses to engage with you it is probably safe to say that he is fond of you! The more you understand your cat’s needs and learn about their natural behaviour the more likely it is that you will have a mutually beneficial relationship. For more information have a look at our Essential Guides called Cats and People http://www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documents/cat-care-leaflets-2013/EG14_Cats_and_people.pdf and Understanding your Cat’s Behaviour http://www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documents/cat-care-leaflets-2013/EG09_Understanding_your_cat's_behaviour.pdf