I offer a home behavioural service for cats where I come to your own home and see your cat in its natural environment. This is where your cat will feel most at ease and I can see the layout of your cat’s resources (food, water, litter trays etc). Our consultation will last around an hour and we will develop a tailor made modification program for you and your cat to implement.
I always ask for your cat to have a full clinical examination by your Veterinary Surgeon to rule out any medical conditions. I ask if your cat is suffering from elimination issues that a fresh urine sample from your cat is taken with you to your consultation to rule out any infection or abnormalities. I will contact you and your veterinary surgeon throughout this process.
Please hand in the Veterinary Referral Form from the ‘downloads’ page to your Vet at the beginning of your consultation. This form will then be passed onto myself, and a consultation can be arranged.
Cats tend to be solitary creatures by nature, unlike dogs. They are territorial and in general are solitary animals, but due to their flexible social organisation, they can sometimes tolerate other cats within their territory.
High Resource Value
What is a resource?
A resource is something that the cat depends on to improve their quality of life e.g. food, resting areas.
High value resources often include food, water, resting areas and toileting areas. Each cat is different, so some cats may not be too bothered where it is fed. Because of this it is advisable to treat your cats as individuals.
Litter Trays/ Toileting Areas
If your cat uses a litter tray this is considered one of cats’ most important resources. Cats develop a strong preference to toileting areas and litter type. Cats feel most vulnerable when toileting, so location plays a HUGE part here.
There is the simple ‘rule’ of one litter tray per cat, plus an extra one. This is especially important in multi-cat households, as this will help prevent any one cat guarding his/her chosen tray. The actions from a cat that is guarding litter trays could lead to litter tray aversions and then manifest themselves in the form of house soiling in inappropriate places.
You need to provide appropriate sites for the litter trays, this means low level traffic areas. Cats prefer quiet and private places, as do we! Placing the litter tray in a busy kitchen or even by a door way is a big no no! Possible locations include, under the stairs, in a downstairs loo, behind furniture. They should also be placed away from food and water sources, cat flaps, windows, noisy washing machines and places of entry and exit.
There should ideally be a litter tray on each level of your house. This is very important if your cat is an indoor only cat, if you cat is unwell, or unwilling to go outside e.g. it’s raining! Your cat will gain a preference to litter type from a young age. You need to keep to the same litter substrate throughout his/her life. Do not simply buy whatever is on offer- this could lead you to problems. If you cat is elderly then low sided trays should be provided, this accommodates easy access and less chances of missing this tray!
Many cats dislike hooded/covered trays, as these hold smells in. Cat s are extremely clean creatures and do not like to soil in dirty areas/ trays so regular cleaning is a must.
Your house is your cats ‘core territory’. He/she feel safest here. Cats like high areas to explore rest and view their territory from. Providing them with high and comfy places for example- the back of the sofa by the window, the airing cupboard, on top of wardrobes. Cats sometimes like dark, warm places to hide, under beds, the airing cupboard again. Again cats are a t risk when they are sleeping, so providing somewhere safe and secure will help put them at ease.
Food and Water
The first and most important rule is not to place food and water bowls together! In the wild cats do not drag their kill to a water source- this means a high risk of other predators coming and stealing their kill.
Again cats are very private eaters, so if you have a multi-cat household do not place all the food bowls together, food bowls need to be in low traffic level areas again, or up on worktops out of the way. In multi-cat household it is sometimes necessary to feed cats at different times to prevent food guarding and possessiveness.
Ideally water bowls should be ceramic or metal, low and wide and place away from food, this could mean in a different room.
It is necessary for cats to scratch! Providing them with the opportunity will rescue your furniture! Scratching is a form of communication to signify boundaries, it also simply allows your cat to have a nice big stretch and sharpen his/her claws and I feel is also a stress release.
Scratching posts should ideally be placed by doorways, the stairs and high stress areas- remember scratching serves as a marker for territory! Have as many posts as possible- you may need one of different levels of your house and the post should ideally be taller than your cat at full stretch. Watch your cat to see if it scratches horizontally, vertically or both- take this into consideration when purchasing scratching posts.
When you purchase a new scratching post rub a cloth all over your cat, paying particular attention to the scent glands over their cheeks, and then rub this over the scratching post. This will indicate to your cat that this object is safe as it will smell like them.
Toys and Play
Toys and play are really important not only for indoor only cats but for cats who have access to the outdoors. Not only is a form of exercise, stimulation and enrichment for your cat, but also provides times for you to interact with your cat and improve your relationship. There are many types of toys, get a variety, but your cat may choose a preference! Mouse like toys, toys on strings will provide and windup toys give your cat an outlet to perform natural hunting behaviours. You must ensure your cat has the opportunity to ‘kill’ the toy, if never given this chance this can turn into redirected aggression due to frustration.
You can also buy puzzle games for cats- this is also a way of feeding your cat, but providing it with mental stimulation. These are brilliant for indoor cats, or when your cat is left whilst you are at work. Again there are many types, and they range in difficulty, so have a look on the internet to find the perfect one for your cat.