Pet Behavior

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     Cats scratching and playing too crazy 

I have had a couple inquiries about our nutritional product that is an herbal calming agent for cats that are playing rough with owners and other cats in the household and even scratching, biting and attacking them.

First question I ask is, "How old is your cat?" One was a kitten still. The other young but not a kitten. I will start with the first. Kittens are innately playful and crazy. Part of why we love them, right? They jump, and pounce and climb up our legs and curtains and basically play to learn how to be a cat. Cats in the wild hunt for their food and part of this behavior is the beginnings of expressing their hunting instinct. They usually have super sharp little claws and can scratch a person quite easily due to this.

So what to do here? Make sure that you have plenty of toys for the kitten to play with and that you take the time to entertain them or they will entertain themselves with things you may not like. Get them a scratching post, preferably one they can climb. Reward them with treats and affection when they use the correct toys and scratching post. Gently redirect their attention to such things when they use the wrong ones. Yelling only makes them afraid of you, not the articles you don't want them to mess with. Same with squirting them with water. If they get it is you doing the squirting, once you are gone, back at it they go.

The young adult cat had a new behavior of becoming aggressive towards the other cat and owners after a diet change. I have an older cat who did this after I started feeding him salmon. Such things as food or other allergies can kick in hormones that can also make the pet aggressive. With my cat I stopped feeding the salmon and the aggressiveness went away. I adviced a return to the prior diet to this owner and suspect the same will occur.

So the real thing is this; is the cat just being a cat and needs to be trained on the appropiate ways to do this or has something changed that might have started this behavior? Could be food or new pet or any change that can cause a cat "stress" and make them act out. Also, medical problems can cause bad behavior. Certainly pain can make any pet strike out. Especially in an older cat, if a new unwanted behavior starts in, then get a thorough exam done with possibly lab work and x-rays. In one study at least 95% of a certain behavioral problem in cats proved to have an underlying medical cause. I think the rest did too, we just aren't good enough at finding it yet.

If there is no medical cause, then OBSERVE the pet and see what triggers the behavior and try to keep that from occuring. If that isn't possible, and they get too riled up, then carefully seperate them from other pets and people and let them "chill out". They aren't that different than kids. Sometimes a "time out" helps. I have one cat who gets ornery when he is tired so I put him where it is quiet and gently pet him until he relaxes and then he sleeps and is fine.

Moral of the story: long term drugging or even giving of herbal calming supplements probably isn't the best way to handle behavioral issues. Find the underlying cause and handle that. Short term use of herbals can help when training or retraining, but shouldn't be a life long solution. And NEVER use pyschotropic drugs such as antidepressants or antipsychotics in pets. They have very serious to deadly side effects, many of which cannot be determined in a non-speaking patient.

If you need something temporarily, here is what we offer: Liquid Nutri Calm for Dogs and Cats

I hope that helps anyone having such issues.

Recommended viewing: Psychiatry - Labeling Kids with Bogus 'Mental Disorders' A great little video that can save kids lives.

Until next time,

Dr. Jan

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