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What Are Different Cat Behaviors to Worry About?

a brown tabby cat eating grass
Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

Many cat owners are used to erratic cat behavior, whether it be the 3AM zoomies or the furious digging in the cat box. Sometimes a seemingly innocuous quirk could be a sign of an underlying illness. Since our feline friends are predators and tend to hide sickness, there are some weird cat behaviors that should be immediate red flags for cat owners.

As a compassionate veterinarian in Colorado Springs, our staff at Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic excels in cat communication of all types. There are certain nuances to differentiating standard, abnormal, and alarming behaviors in felines. Today we will break down the differences so you can identify potential behaviors that signal cat health problems. If your cat is no longer using her litter box, has a loss of appetite, is vomiting or is trying to hide from you, then you should have your cat seen immediately.

Understanding Cat Behavior

One of the ways to simplify the process of spotting odd changes in your cat’s behavior is to first understand common behavioral patterns. Cats share consistencies in how they communicate with their owners. As you learn more about these trends, you will be able to identify a normal act from one that requires medical attention.

Common Cat Behavior

Common ways that cats express their feelings include:

  • A twitching/active tail is a sign of agitation or disapproval.
  • Kneading with their paws often is a way to show affection.
  • Purring is a signal of relaxation and affection, but in some cases can also reflect pain.
  • Attempting to bury food is a survival instinct to try and hide it from larger predators.
  • Exposing their bellies is a sign of trust. 
  • A slowly swaying or upward tail signals calm or curiosity.
  • The nighttime zoomies show they are ready to hunt and play. In the wild, prey species such as mice are nocturnal. Hence, why our feline friends get the urge to hunt at night.

Abnormal Cat Behavior

Since cats are very independent pets, it can be hard to notice when their usual behaviors shift into something more serious. If you’ve studied your cat and come to the conclusion something seems off, it may be time for you to find a cat veterinarian and schedule an appointment. Some behaviors to watch out for include:

  • Using the bathroom in places absent of a litter box. This could indicate a number of issues like a urinary tract infection or incontinence. 
  • Lack of using the litter box. Any sudden change in bathroom habits is always a cause for concern. In the case of a complete absence of elimination, it could be a sign of a blockage or other internal issue.
  • Radical changes in typical personality or behavior. When cats are in pain they act differently. Hiding is a common example of a strange behavior that may point to a sudden onset illness in cats.
  • Sudden aggression or territorial tendencies. Again, these types of anomalies can be linked to stress or pain.
  • Lack of appetite. Similar to not using the litter box or going outside the litter box, this could be a sign of digestive problems. Vomiting can also be a sign of something amiss.

Fluent in Feline Care and Communication | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

If you notice any of these strange cat behaviors, it could be a sign of a sudden illness in your feline friend. These require immediate vet attention, especially if your cat’s behavior problems persist. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, the health of your pets is our number one priority. You and your pets are part of our family, so the sooner you bring your cat in if they are acting odd, the better. Schedule an appointment for your cat as soon as possible for a thorough diagnosis if they are exhibiting any of these abnormal behaviors.

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