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Understanding your cat's behaviour

Every cat is unique, but there are signs you can look out for that may suggest there's something not quite right with your cat. As cat owner, it's a good idea to keep a close eye on your cat's behaviour, as any changes could be a sign that they're upset, bored, sick or injured, stressed or frightened. Here's what to look out for and how to keep your cat happy.

Signs your cat may have a problem

If your cat is stressed or afraid, you might notice them:

  • Grooming themselves a lot more than usual
  • Hiding
  • Sleeping in a hunched up position
  • Changing their feeding and/or toileting habits
  • Spraying indoors

If your cat is in pain or frightened, you might also notice them:

  • Adopting new, unwanted habits, such as aggression
  • Disappearing or avoiding people

If any of these symptoms become an on-going problem, speak to a vet or clinical animal behaviourist.

How to keep your cat happy

Here are some ways you can help keep your cat happy and reduce the risk of them developing problematic behaviour.

  • Make sure they can reach everything they need - cats can scare easily, so make sure they can reach everything they need (such as their bed, water, litter or outdoors) without passing things or other animals that may frighten them.
  • Give them some hiding places - if your cat is scared with no place to escape and hide, they may become aggressive. Make sure they have constant access to safe hiding places where they can escape if they feel afraid.
  • Keep them active - cats sleep for many hours of the day, but when they're awake they need opportunities to exercise. If they don't go outside, provide suitable indoor activities to keep them active.
  • Give them a scratching post - cats naturally use objects to scratch, mark territory, strengthen muscles and sharpen their claws. Make sure they have sturdy scratching posts that are tall enough for them to use fully stretched (this is particularly important for indoor cats).
  • Give them toys - play is a good way for your cat to be active and have fun. Provide safe toys and regular opportunities for them to play alone and with people. Puzzle feeders or hiding dried food are both good ways to entertain your cat at meal times.
  • Kindness is key! Never shout at or punish your cat, as they're very unlikely to understand and can become more nervous or scared.

Have a watch of our video and learn how to make a fun new toy for your cat!

Preventing your cat from hunting wildlife

A cat's natural instinct is to hunt its prey, but there's a real concern that domestic cats are impacting the welfare of local wildlife. To help prevent your cat bringing home unwanted surprises, and to protect local wildlife, we recommend:

  • Keeping them inside at dusk and dawn when wildlife is most active, at least an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise.
  • Keeping them inside after bad weather such as rain, to allow birds to come out and feed.
  • Attaching a bell to a quick-release safety collar.

To find out more about how to keep your cat healthy and happy, have a read of our guide on how to take care of your cat.

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