Cats + Behavior & Training

  • Socialization is the process during which the kitten becomes familiar with people, other animals, and many aspects of their environment. Kittens are primed for socialization when they are between two and seven weeks old. As soon as kittens have settled into their new home, they can begin gentle exposures to a wide range of stimuli that they may encounter as adults.

  • Many pets are sensitive to being restrained for grooming. With slow progress and positive rewards, your pet can learn to accept or even enjoy having their teeth cleaned.

  • Deaf cats are virtually no different from other cats except for their hearing. They are trainable using visual cues and hand signals, it just takes a lot of practice and patience. Deaf cats rely on their senses of touch and sight to help them negotiate their environment. Creating lookout areas for your cat can help her feel more secure. Deaf cats should never be allowed outside on their own.

  • Weight loss in cats can be caused by many conditions including inadequate intake to meet energy requirements, poor quality nutrition, and many different medical conditions. Testing for weight loss starts with a thorough history and physical exam. If the cause of weight loss is not clear, then screening tests including a CBC, biochemistry, T4 testing, urinalysis, and fecal tests are performed to further investigate. Based on the results of these tests, more specific diagnostic tests such as imaging, bile acids, or ACTH stimulation may be needed to determine the reason for the weight loss.

  • Caterwauling is cat vocalizations that sound like a cross between a yowl, a howl, and a whine. This disturbing noise may result from medical problems, physical needs, hormonal stimulations, or emotional insecurities. The response to caterwauling should focus on addressing the cat’s circumstances and filling his needs.

  • It can take a week to a year to introduce or reintroduce cats—you cannot rush the process. The cats must remain separated unless supervised. If there is steady progress but still specific contexts in which aggression continues, you likely need to consult a behavior professional who can recommend other strategies. Alternatively, the cats may need always to be supervised or separated to prevent conflict at high-risk times.  

  • Cats exhibit a wide range of behaviors that are quite normal yet may be considered undesirable by the people with whom they share their homes. Most of these behaviors develop to satisfy an innate need. Rather than trying to stop your cat from engaging in instinctual and naturally rewarding behaviors, it is essential to provide your cat with substitute behaviors and outlets that satisfy your cat’s needs.

  • Treats are a wonderful way to provide positive reinforcement to your cat during a training session. Choose low-calorie foods such as green beans, zucchini squash, and watermelon. Avoid foods that are potentially harmful, such as chocolate, garlic, onions, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and products that have xylitol. Limit high-calorie treats and keep treats within 10% of your cat's daily calorie intake. Keeping training sessions short and engaging while providing appropriate foods as treats can be a wonderful way to strengthen the human-animal bond.

  • The best way to train your pet is through the proper use of positive reinforcement and rewards while simultaneously avoiding punishment. The goal of training is to "learn" the proper task and/or behavior.

  • Cats are always going to lick but it is sometimes embarrassing when they lick their private parts. Licking after eliminating is normal; however, if your cat licks more frequently or you notice other signs such as discharge, swollen or red penis, vulva, or anus, pustules, discoloration of the skin, or you observe your cat straining to urinate, see your veterinarian for help. Appropriate medical therapy can reduce your cat’s discomfort.