How Our Personalities Affect Our Cats’ Care and Well-Being

A new research study on personality type and cat ownership provides some interesting insights into how our personalities can impact our cats’ lives.

Researchers surveyed over 3,000 UK cat owners on their personality types based on the “Big Five Inventory”

  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness

They also asked the owners several questions about how they cared for their cats.  The findings show that our personality types play a big role in how we relate to our cats.

For example, owners identified as having high neuroticism were more likely to keep their cats indoors.  They were also more likely to report behavior problems such as anxiety and obesity in their cats.

In contrast, the researchers found that extroverted owners were more likely to let their cats have access to the outdoors.

Owners identified as agreeable reported greater overall satisfaction with their cats and were also more likely to identify their cats as being at a normal weight.

Conscientious owners tended to view their cats as more outgoing and less anxious, fearful, or aloof than other owner types.

The researchers note that these findings are similar to other studies on parental personality type and child rearing practices.  Not surprisingly, parents identified as “neurotic” are more likely to have overprotective caregiving styles that can cause stress in their children.

For more information on pet parenting styles, check out this article from Science Daily.

 

How to Encourage Good Scratching Habits in Cats

As more and more cat owners are realizing the risks and hazards of declawing and letting their cats roam outdoors, they are faced with the issue of unwanted cat scratching behavior in the house.

Why do cats scratch and how can you encourage appropriate scratching?  Here’s some great information from the American Association of Feline Practitioners!

Why do cats scratch?

Cats have claws to help them hunt, defend themselves, and mark their territory.  Scratching is a natural feline behavior that serves a variety of purposes:  keeping their nails healthy, marking objects in their territory, and good old-fashioned stretching!

Some cats may also scratch when they are anxious and stressed.

How to help your cat with scratching issues

The AAFP advises cat owners to trim their cats’ claws regularly.  You can also provide multiple appropriate scratching surfaces and interactive play toys for each cat in the home.

Cats that exhibit stress related scratching (often in multi-cat households) can especially benefit from their own space and scratching materials.

What’s the best scratching product?

Most cats like to stretch upwards and scratch on a vertical surface.  Make sure you get a post that is tall enough for your cat to stretch on.  Horizontal scratchers are also available if your cat uses the carpet.

Cats prefer rough surfaces to scratch on, like tree bark in the wild.  This is why your cat may be drawn to textured furniture upholstery and carpet.

Choose a scratching post made of a rough material like sisal, corrugated cardboard, or wood.

How to encourage your cat to scratch appropriately

Place scratching posts near your cat’s favorite sleeping areas, and also near furniture that your cat likes to scratch.

Encourage your cat to use scratching posts by gently placing her near the post when she scratches furniture or carpet.  Reward good scratching behavior with your cat’s favorite things (treats, play, brushing, etc.)

 

House Soiling an Indicator of Urinary Health Problems in Cats

A recent study of cats with a history of urinating outside of the litter box (called “periuria”) has shed some new light on the connection between feline health and litter box issues.

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery examined cats from multi-cat households that exhibited two types of periuria—spraying their urine and urinating outside of the box (called “latrining”).  These cats were compared to cats from the same households that did not exhibit periuria.

The results?  Both the spraying cats and the latrining cats were found to have more urinary (and other) health issues than the normal cats.

Common health problems identified included kidney disease, diabetes, bladder stones, and cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).

Of course, not all litter box problems in multi-cat households are due to medical conditions.  Behavioral problems and environmental stressors such as territoriality and dominance among cats can also be a factor.

The bottom line?  Cats with litter box issues should always be evaluated by a veterinarian to diagnose or rule out health problems.

If no health problems are found, there are lots of resources on litter box behavior that can help cat parents who are struggling with litter box issues in their house.  Check out this comprehensive article from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Feline Health Center.

 

 

What Kinds of Litter Do Cats Like Best?

Litter box issues, such as going outside of the box, are one of the most common cat behavior problems experienced by owners.  Sometimes these problems are solved with an easy fix, like adding extra boxes in a multi-cat household, cleaning the box more often, or placing the box in a quiet, isolated area.

Another major factor that contributes to litter box problems?  The type of litter you are using may be bothering your cat.  A recent study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior examined litter box filler preferences among a group of 18 cats.

The researchers gave the cats a choice of clay granules, silica granules, silica microgranules, and wood pellets.  The cats demonstrated a significant preference for clay and silica (both sizes) over the wood.

A second phase of the study gave 12 cats a choice between clay and silica.  The researchers found that the cats showed a significant preference for eliminating in the clay litter over the silica.

If your cat is not happy about that fancy new litter you bought, consider switching back to good old-fashioned clay and see if that makes a difference in your cat’s litter box habits!

Still having problems?  Check out this guide to solving litter box issues.

Owner Education Helps Prevent Undesirable Behaviors in Cats

Behavior5

Most cat owners will tell you that there are some fairly common cat behavior problems they would like to solve…things like scratching the furniture, jumping on kitchen counters, or scratching/biting while getting pets are just a few examples. What impact does a little education for new kitten owners have on feline behavior problems? As one Italian study found out, quite a lot.

Behavior3

Researchers studied a total of 91 kittens, divided into two groups. In the first group, owners were provided with advice from veterinarians on how to prevent undesirable behaviors in their cats, both at an initial visit, and then at a follow-up visit 10 months later. In the second group, owners had just one session with the vet.

Behavior2

Results showed that owners who got one educational visit reported significantly more problems than those who got two opportunities to talk to the vet about behavior issues (43.5% vs. 15.6%). Owners who got less education reported that their cats were more likely to climb on multiple pieces of furniture (and curtains), vocalize more, and disturb them more while in bed or watching TV than those who got more education.

Behavior4

The owners who got more advice reported that their cats were more likely to climb on only allowed pieces of furniture. The cats were also more likely to seek out physical contact when the owners returned home and were less likely to disturb them at other times. These cats were also more likely to accept petting on any part of the body.

Behavior1

The results indicate that early–and repeated–education of new cat owners by veterinarians (or others such as pet adoption counselors) on feline behavior issues can go a long way towards solving many of the most common behavior problems seen in cats. For more information on the study, click HERE.