The cat family is made up of many different animals that have successfully survived in the wild and have evolved over time. The cats that we have as pets today (domestic cats) are those that have been bred from other cats that were domesticated way back, as long as 10,000 years ago. Back then people encouraged cats to stay because they were very useful to keep mice away from their food stores.
Domestic cats have traditionally been kept outside and it is only relatively recently that they have found a place inside our homes. One of the reasons for this is that cats needed to have the freedom to relieve themselves outdoors since there wasn’t a practical way for them to do this indoors. With the invention and introduction of cat litter in the 1940s it became more acceptable and practical to keep a cat as an “indoors only” cat.
Domestic cats was not readily available until after 1947 when it was invented by Ed Lowe in the USA. Ed Lowe invented cat litter because his neighbor ran out of the ashes and sand that everybody used outside.
Other than the lack of toilet facilities for our fascinating felines, there are lots of reasons for not allowing your cat to roam around outside. These include the danger that your cat may be hit by traffic or harmed by other animals. Depending on the size of a person’s living space cats may happily live indoors and receive all the stimulation and company that they need. When mainly kept indoors these cats are referred to as house cats.
Domestic cats come in all different shapes, sizes and breeds. Each breed can be officially determined by their size, colour and markings. As a pet lover you will know that different breeds of cat come with different needs and behaviors but these are not the only idiosyncrasies that you will have to deal with. Each cat has their own personality which means that even in the same breed cats may behave differently from others. Some breeds will need to be very active, have their own outside lives and act like wild cats, hunting and prowling. Other breeds of cats will be happy to play with their owners and sleep and do not need to go outside at all, sometime referred as gentle cats.
Whatever breed you have it is important that you are able to recognize that your cat is showing you signs and what they mean. If you think your cat is behaving badly you need to understand why that is and what you can do to change this behavior and make it more appropriate for, say, house-guests.
One of the most common needs that cats have is to scratch the furniture. While it is clearly a source of relief and comfort for them it can be a problem for you. The reason cats often instinctively scratch the furniture is that it is a handy (for them) way to wear out the ends of their claws and naturally sharpen them on wood.
Scratching posts are a great way to divert your cat’s attention away from your delicate furnishings. Scratching posts are relatively cheap and will help your cat to be less destructive to the furniture around your home. Many of them already come with catnip ingrained but otherwise you can encourage them to use the post by putting catnip on them and hanging toys from them.
Remember to be strategic about where in your home you place the scratching post. You should put it in areas of your home that you have noticed they frequent as part of their daily routine so they will come across it naturally. In the meanwhile, to save your furniture from any more damage, try to cover the areas that your cat has been scratching until they have become accustomed to the scratching posts
We all know how cats like to stretch out after a good nap. Taller posts that allow them to have a good stretch and so they are more favored by our furry pals. These cat posts are going to see some serious scratching action and will need to be really sturdy so look out for good build quality!
If, even after introducing the cat posts, your cat insists on scratching up your furniture you may need to train it. This sounds harder than it actually is. Over time they will come to understand that their scratching your furniture is displeasing to you if you clap your hands to startle it when this happens. Alternatively, say if you don’t want to wake a sleeping baby by clapping, you could gently squirt the cat with water.
Remember not to do this too often as it could make your cat nervous of you. With a range of creative cat scratches on the market you will have no problem finding one, or more, that is appealing to your cat and appropriate for your home.
As you’re probably already aware, if you’re a cat owner, they meow for all sorts of reasons. Cats may meow to be fed or let in or out of the house. They also meow to greet you, to ask you for attention, to demand caresses or to hear you talk back to it. Cats love their independence but they can also get lonely and although they can be temperamental they do love attention.
Some cats meow frequently while others are relatively quiet, it really depends upon their personality. The only time to be genuinely concerned about your cat’s meowing is if it meows excessively and/or loudly. Particularly if your cat is elderly this could be a sign of serious distress and you should see advice from your vet.
If your cat knows how to use the litter box and still sprays around the house it is likely that it is using urine to mark the house as a form of communication. To avoid disputes between cats in the wild, they leave messages through urine. By leaving urine behind as a message one cat informs another that it is present and has marked territory. From the scent of the urine, other cats can tell how long ago it was in the area. Over time the other cats will get to know when the cat visits the area so they can avoid that time. If you have other cats in your home then your cats will mark use urine to mark their territory. This is instinctive and your cat should phase it out relatively quickly, especially if it is the only animal in the household. If your cat sprays excessively it could be that it is very anxious about the other pets it shares living space with. One suggestion from the cat expert Jackson Galaxy is that you give your cats plenty of extra surfaces inside, using Cat trees and shelves.
Of course it will not be practical for everyone to create such ideal living spaces for their cats. However you should see a real difference to their behavior by just making sure that your cats have somewhere they can go to have their own space and get away from each other. This can reduce their stress levels and stop them from spraying your house. Jackson Galaxy also suggests that excessive spray may be caused by your cat being nervous of a person in the house. In this case, once you have identified the person, he or she should make some effort to work on their relationship with the cat to prevent it from misbehaving. As well as for marking territory, cats also use urine to avoid confrontations but it will not put cat owners in a good mood to find their home and furnishings covered in cat urine.
While there is plenty of advice available for cat owners this article gives you some basic advice on why it is important to understand cat behavior if you are going to have one as a house cat.