Decoding Biased Cat Behavior Myths

by admin

 

Cats are one of the most popular but often misunderstood pets. This is in part due to many common myths and stereotypes about cats. It’s time to separate fact from fiction by dispelling four common myths about cats.

Myth: Cats cannot be trained

There is a common misconception that cats cannot be trained or that they are more difficult to train than dogs. Both statements are false and can be harmful if the cat owner believes them. When owners feel that their cats cannot be trained, they also feel that their cats’ behavior problems cannot be solved. This can often have fatal consequences for cats, including euthanasia and abandonment.
The truth is that many cat behavior problems can be solved and are easy to train. Cats can be taught basic behaviors (aiming, paying attention), positive breeding behaviors (trimming nails, brushing teeth, and handling), and fun tricks (rolling over, overtaking).
When training cats, focus on the good and the meaning, and instead of telling the animal what not to do, focus on and build on positive behaviors. Positive training methods accelerate learning, allowing animals to better understand what we are asking them to do, rather than telling them no over and over again. Not only do these methods help ensure that the training is fun for both the teacher and the learner, but they also create motivated learners and encourage creativity and strengthen human-animal bonds.

Using something the cat dislikes (e.g. spraying water, shocking, yelling or hitting) to stop the behavior is not recommended. This doesn’t teach the cat the behavior you want (the cat will learn to wait until it’s not there before engaging in the behavior), doesn’t communicate effectively with your cat what it wants, can increase fear and anxiety, and can Cause cat to fear you and harm the human-animal bond.

Many people see this and take it as an invitation to rub their cat’s tummy, but in most cases that’s not what the cat is conveying to you when you expose its tummy.
Cats sometimes roll onto their backs to show defensiveness. When a cat feels unable to escape, it will roll onto its back to better use its claws and teeth against a predator. A cat’s abdomen is a very vulnerable area as it contains many vital organs. Don’t take it personally if your cat scratches or bites you when rubbing its stomach.
A cat lying on its back and exposing its tummy in a familiar place like home can also often signal that it feels comfortable and safe in its surroundings. The cat is so comfortable lying on its back exposing its vital organs rather than observing predators.

In addition, cats can lie on their backs when they want to play. This is the time to bring out their favorite catnip stick or kicker. Avoid playing with your cat with your hands and feet as we want to teach them proper play and that your hands and feet are never toys that can be attacked.
The best approach when you see your cat showing his tummy is to keep your hands clean. If you pet your cat while her tummy is exposed, avoid petting her stomach, shoulders, head, and chin, but only pet her a few times. Observe your cat’s body language and give him space at first sight of excitement or over-excitement and stop petting. Common signs of hyperarousal include twitching of the tail, skin, ears, back of hair, skin twitching, hair standing on the body or tail, and a static appearance.

Myth: Cats don’t need to be socialized

Contrary to popular belief, properly socializing and training kittens is just as important as it is with puppies.
Kittens have a socialization phase in the first weeks of life, which is between the 2nd and 7th week of life. During this time they learn what is safe and what is unsafe in their environment. Some certified cat behavior consultants, veterinary clinics, and animal shelters offer cat socialization classes, often referred to as babysitting.

Poor socialization can cause them to hide from visitors, fear other pets, be slow to adapt to new surroundings, and feel fearful and aggressive when dealing with vet visits. These cats are more likely to become stressed and/or frightened and begin to urinate outside of the box, which can damage human-animal bonds and abandon their cat owners.
However, cats that are well socialized and have had positive experiences with a variety of people, unfamiliar cats, environments, and handling procedures are more likely to be open, sociable, and have better coping skills, resulting in stronger human-animal bonds and fewer behavioral problems. These cats are also more likely to receive annual veterinary care since owners will not be afraid to take their cats to the vet.

Myth: Cats act out of defiance

Unlike humans, cats don’t act out of defiance. Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to an animal or object. We usually interpret the feelings of animals based on what we see as human body language and not a cat’s body language.
We do this of course because we want to bond with our cats and this can help bond with the animals but it can also be harmful.

For example, if the owner thinks their cat(s) will still use the toilet outside of the litter box, they will likely address the problem negatively, which will escalate the problem and damage their relationship with their cat.
By addressing the root cause (stress, anxiety, anxiety, medical issue), owners will approach the problem with empathy and get the cat the help they need to resolve the problem.

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