How To Better Understand Your Cat and Their Behaviors

Cats tend to be an independent type of pet, which is why many people prefer them over other types of pets. However, one might find that your feline friend doesn’t always do what he/she is expected to. At this point as an owner, you need to find a way to discipline your new cat that doesn’t involve hitting and screaming at them. If your cat is a kitten, the odds are they will pick up on what is allowed and what isn’t fairly quickly. However, with an adult cat, one might have to work with a few bad habits, but please remember to be patient while doing so.

In order to discipline your new cat or kitten, a cat owner will need to know what their body language and behavior are telling them. Below are some of the many characteristics as well as explanations as to why your cat may perform them. So, as an owner, you can better understand what your cat is trying to tell you through their body language.

Ears: A cat’s ears can say a lot about what they are feeling or trying to express to others, different ear positions mean different things.

  • Ears Forward: When the ears are forward and relaxed, then the cat is happy and listening to the sounds around them.
  • Ears Erect: This is when the cat is paying attention to something; they are alert to what is happening around them.
  • Flattened Ears: This can relay fear or the cat is anxious.
  • Ears Turned Back: The cat is either annoyed or aggravated, this is a warning to whoever has caused their mood.
  • Ears Completely Flat: This means fearful and aggressive, plus the cat is probably hissing and has their eyes narrowed.

Tail: A cat’s tail can also say a lot about their mood and what they are doing.

  • Straight Up: This is a happy and content cat.
  • Horizontally Behind: This means that the cat is relaxed, confident, and alert.
  • Straight and Quivering: The cat is happy
  • Straight with a Hook at the end: The cat is being friendly, but is not quite sure of the situation, person, or other animals.
  • Straight and fluffy: This means the cat is feeling fear and is threatened.
  • Swishing Tail: This can mean the cat is being playful or that they are annoyed.

Being Vocal: Your cat’s communication with you can mean a number of things and over time you will begin to discern them from each other.

  • Common Meow: this can mean they want to say hello, want their dinner, and such.
  • The call: This is when a female is in heat and looking for a male, kind of a howling sound
  • .The Chirr: This is when a female is calling her kittens or your cat may do it when they are being lovey with their owners, kind of a rolling sound.
  • Hissing: This is a warning sign that the cat is not happy and they are getting ready to attack.
  • Growling: Again, the cat wants to be left alone.Purring: The cat is happy and feels safe.

Additional Behaviors:Your cat might also display the below behaviors as well.

  • Kneading: This is when a cat presses their front paws against something. Kittens do them when nursing, and later on, cats will do this with their owners.
  • Curiosity: Cats are very curious. As a cat owner you have probably heard the saying that involves curiosity killing the cat. This is why they climb and explore everything that they can. This is an instinctive behavior that can often get the cat into a lot of trouble. This is why cat proofing is important so that the cat doesn’t harm themselves while exploring.
  • Clawing: When a cat is clawing a scratching post or the furniture, they are not doing it for no reason; they are actually getting the exercise that they need. When they claw, they are able to stretch their muscles. They can also be doing it to mark their territory as well.

Even though many of these behaviors may seem odd, your cat does have an actual reason for performing many of them. The best an owner can do is to try to understand them to some degree and make sure that your cat is kept healthy, happy, and safe. Cats, as with all other animals, have their own language. This language is mostly determined by their body and facial posturing. Patterns will develop, pay attention to cues, and repeated behaviors, they are trying to communicate.

We all dream of bringing our special feline into our family, but sometimes we have to realize that our feline friends have personalities and behaviors of their own. Not all cats, like humans, are alike but there is a common behavioral thread. Understanding these actions and behaviors is an important part of learning to discipline your cat. It helps to use the same words when disciplining your cat, don’t change it up all the time because you will end up confusing your cat in the long run.

Come Fluffy, Come!

Your cat is not like a dog. They are not always going to obey when they are called because they basically have a mind of their own. If you are screaming at your cat to come to you with the thought that such an action will shock them into coming right over, one will soon realize that such tactics will not work with a cat as they saunter off in the completely opposite direction. Just as humans do, they have completely individual personalities; it is possible to get your cat to come to you if you call them and reinforce your command with positive behavior. You can do this by offering them some sort of reward such as petting them, brushing them, or giving them a treat. Reinforcement of rewards is the only means to train a cat.

It’s Green and Leafy, it’s a Plant!

Most houseplants in your home are not harmful to your cat or cats, but some are. According to PET MD, below is a list of the harmful houseplants. Please be aware of the plants that are in your house within the reach of your feline friends.

Amaryllis
Autumn Crocus
Azaleas and Rhododendrons
Castor Bean
Chrysanthemum, Daisy, Mum
cyclamen
Daffodils, Narcissus
Dieffenbachia 
English Ivy
Hyacinth
Kalanchoe
Lily
Lily of the Valley
Marijuana
Oleander
Peace Lily
Pothos, Devil’s Ivy
Sago Palm
Spanish Thyme
Tulip
Yew

Cats are very curious and will try getting into everything. It is important to note that it is instinctive for cats to claw or dig as they do in the litter box. They will do the same to your houseplants so if you don’t want your cat or cats to destroy them you will need to go to the nearest crafts store and purchase plastic needlepoint mesh. After purchasing the mesh; cut it to fit the opening of the pot. Next, cut a spot for your plant. Finally, apply it over the dirt. This will keep your cat from clawing at the dirt in your plant. Chewing on plants is another matter entirely. All you need to do is spray the leaves and coat them with a cayenne spray or a bitter apple spray that you can get at most pet shops. The bad taste will keep your cat from chewing further.

Ouch! My Cat Bit Me!

Biting is not a fun thing when your cat/cats have sharp little teeth. Often cats tend to bite or nip when they are playing around and in reality, it is quite a painful shock when those teeth connect with your skin. In order to get your cat to stop this painful behavior. The next time he/she decides to take a playful nip at whatever skin is handy you can choose to do one of two things, either hiss at him/her like another cat would do or scream in pain. Either one of these reactions is sure to get your cat’s attention and make him/her stop. It is important to note if you don’t play with your kitten or kittens with your hands then they are less likely to bite. They will not see your skin as a toy or prey.

Keep Your Cat from Electrocution

Cats are curious and some love to chew on things, especially what they are not supposed to be chewing on. For this reason, it is very important to cat-proof your house. Part of cat proofing involves keeping electrical cords out of reach of your cat because they will invariably end up chewing on them. If it is not possible to have your cords shortened, there is another method that you can try to keep them from chewing on cords that have electrical current running through them. Try coating the cord with some different mixtures such as cayenne pepper, hot sauce, nail-biting polish, or orange peel. You can also try organizing your electrical cords into tubes. This will keep them out of reach from your cat and help keep them safe from any electrical jolts.

Climbing the Walls, Nope, Just the Curtains

Cats love to climb and if there are curtains around…yes they will be climbing the drapes. This might be a great time to consider blinds. If redecorating isn’t in your future then there are a few ways to keep your cat from literally climbing the curtains. If your cat has a habit of climbing up the curtains, as a cat owner one might look into a rod that will fall when pressure is put on it, a few times of the curtains falling down might just scare your cat out of climbing them in the first place. As a cat owner one would want to make a knot if you have a cord on your curtains so that your cat cannot end up choking themselves on it. If the cord is in a loop, you will need to cut it so that your cat doesn’t get stuck and end up hanging themselves. Hopefully, you can get your cat out of the habit of climbing your curtains before they end up ruining them altogether.

Jumping on Kitchen Counters

It is simply not safe for your curious little cat to be jumping up on counters and tables while in the kitchen. Not to mention that it is entirely unsanitary as well for them to go from doing their duty in their litter box and then walking around on the counters that food is prepared on; it is not a good idea. As a concerned cat owner one does not want their cat to become accustomed to jumping onto counters in the kitchen because eventually, they are going to jump up onto a hot stove and seriously injure themselves. There are different ways to go about training a cat that the kitchen is an off-limits area for jumping and exploring. The first method is to simply pick them up whenever they jump onto a kitchen counter top or table and tell them No! In a firm voice, and then to put them back onto the floor. Another idea is to stack items that won’t necessarily hurt your cat but will make a loud noise near the edge of the counter, so when they fall down they will frighten your cat when they try to jump up. If neither of these ideas work try using a spray bottle full of water, but try these first before resorting to more drastic means. Just remember that you are looking out for both the safety and health of your cat as well as yourself.

Scratching up the Furniture!

Anytime that a cat owner decides to take a pet into their home they are taking the chance of having them destroying precious belongings, including their furniture. What needs to be remembered, no matter how hard it might be at the moment, is that cats do have a reason for what they do. For many, their cats have a problem with clawing up the furniture, and for this reason, they have their cat declawed.

In my opinion, this is an option but might not always be the best one. It is possible to train your cat to use a scratching post for their stretching and scratching needs. This can be done quite easily by making the scratching post seem enticing. Some people choose to rub scents such as catnip or dressing it up with a toy or two to make it more appealing. Another thing to keep in mind that your cat’s scratching post needs to be strategically placed in an area where they can use it whenever they want to.

One of the keys to getting a scratching post that your cat will like is to make sure it is tall enough and sturdy enough. The great thing is that there is a variety of scratching posts available to fit every cat’s preferences. Also, make sure that your cat is disciplined whenever they are caught scratching the furniture and praise them when they are using the scratching post. The cat will soon catch on that they will be petted and praised when they are behaving appropriately.

Adding Another Cat to the Mix

Not all cats respond to change at first. Some will adapt right away whereas others require a little bit of time in order to make the change. Adding a new cat to the mix can be a stressful situation for any of the existing cats. This needs to be realized in advance in order to make the transition a little easier. Many cat owners find that the easiest way to accomplish this is to put the new cat into their own area for a few days so they can become used to their surroundings without being bombarded by other cats that have seniority in the home.

Make sure time is spent with both the new cat and the other cats. Make sure that the new cat has access to food, water, and a litter box in the room they are in. After a bit, begin to leave the door open to the room that the new cat is in. Eventually, the existing cats are going to become curious and check out the new cat. When this happens make sure that you as the pet owner go in as well to make sure nothing bad happens.

Pay attention to each cat and give them equal amounts of attention, this way neither cat will feel like you are fonder of one over the other which is extremely important. After a while the cats will work out the dynamics of their relationship, just make sure to continue showing an equal amount of affection for each cat.

Keeping a cat from eating a poisonous plant, scratching furniture,climbing drapes, jumping on counters,adjusting to a new cat or kitten in the family, or just keeping them safe and healthy a cat owner needs to be aware of these behaviors and signs.

Their body language is also an important indicator and will be helpful in training. Cats are curious and mysterious creatures and being aware of their body language and behavior is important to knowing how they are going to react and behave. Cats, just as any other animal, are individuals; as such, each one will communicate in their own language.