Unwanted behaviours in cats - Ignorant owners at the core of the issue

Last changed: 23 May 2023
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Julia Alm Baker and Linnéa Nordlund, Veterinary Nursing programme


Cats are one of the most common pets in the world. Despite their popularity, cat owners often lack adequate knowledge regarding the natural behaviour and needs of cats. Insufficient knowledge can cause unsatisfactory welfare and an environment where cats are unable to fulfil their natural needs, which can result in unwanted behaviour. The aim of this literary study was to describe the most common unwanted behaviours in pet cats. The results showed that these were scratching, urinating in unwanted places, urine marking and aggression. Main underlying reasons were found to be insufficient knowledge from the cat owners, resulting in inadequate social and physical environments for the cats. For example, not allowing cats to perform natural hunt and play behaviour, not offering designated scratch posts or enough litter boxes. Stress, anxiety, and social discomfort within the home was also an important part of the problem. Cat owners tend to seek help for problems that are directly affecting themselves, while stress and anxiety of the cats was generally not considered to be a cause to seek professional help. When examining cats with unwanted behaviour, it is vital to first rule out any medical reasons before investigating the cat's environmental and social situation. A deeper understanding of unwanted behaviours in cats paves the way for animal healthcare personnel to provide better guidance and advice to cat owners experiencing these issues and improve the welfare of the cats.


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