What is Abnormal Behaviour in Cats?



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Cats are adorable!  They are cuddly and affectionate.  Some of their antics are hilarious, who hasn’t seen some of those funny cat videos on the internet.  Watching them you can be forgiven for thinking that most of their behaviour is weird! 

Whilst some of their behaviour has us in stitches or is quite cute, there are some behaviours that are clearly abnormal. What is abnormal behaviour in cats and when does it start?

Cats are a lot more social than we generally think and require socialization from an early age.  If a cat doesn’t have appropriate socialization between three to sixteen weeks old it can develop some abnormal behaviours, as it won’t know how to behave with others.

Boredom and stress can also contribute to abnormal behaviour.  If the cat has a lack of stimulation in its environment it can become frustrating and start showing signs of abnormal behaviour.

Another common cause of abnormal behaviour in cats is medical issues.  A lot of abnormal behaviour in cats can come from the cat being in pain or being ill.  It’s important to always take your cat to a vet to have a thorough check when your cat starts displaying signs of abnormal behaviour.

My Own Cat Displayed Abnormal Behavior

My own cat started showing signs of aggression whenever he was petted or you walked by him too closely.  He had been run over by a car when he was young and had a metal plate in his hip.  It turned out that the bone was calcifying around the plate and he was suffering from severe arthritis.  The poor boy was in a lot of pain.  He had to have some of the bone removed, but afterward, the aggression subsided and he is now back to normal and being affectionate again.

It cannot be stressed enough that if your cat starts behaving abnormally, take it to the vet.  It may be ill or in pain and this can be remedied.  A video of the cat’s abnormal behaviour can be invaluable to your vet helping with the diagnosis.

What Is Abnormal Behaviour in Cats. An orange tabby cat chewing a black cable, with a white curtain and flowers in the background.

Abnormal Behaviour in Your Cat

Cat behaviour has many varieties on what can be classed as normal, and a lot of it will depend on the cat’s personality and age.  Some older cats have been known to become senile.  Some abnormal behaviours are:

  • Eating non-food things or Pica
  • Fabric chewing or sucking wool
  • Anxieties, phobias or unusual fears
  • OCD – obsessive-compulsive disorders

Pica in Cats

Pica is most often a type of compulsive behavior problem, the actual cause is unknown.  Quite often it can be a sign that there is a medical cause underlying the behavior.  Anemia, liver disease, thiamine deficiency, etc.  It is important to get your vet to thoroughly check your cat to make sure that there is no medical condition causing your cat to behave this way.

Fleas, skin disease, pain, deafness, senility, thyroid disease, and central nervous system diseases have all been known to cause Pica in cats.

Cats have been known to eat all sorts of things, such as:

  • Electrical Cords
  • String
  • Rubber bands
  • Cat litter
  • Needles and thread
  • Plastic, small toys
  • Houseplants
  • fabric

Fabric Chewing, Sucking Wool Cat Behavior

Oriental and Siamese breeds quite enjoy sucking on wool.  Some cats will suck on wool the way they would suckle as a kitten.  When a cat chews and ingests the wool or fabric this can sometimes cause blockages in their gut.

Enriching the cat’s environment can help reduce the boredom and stress for the cat.  As many abnormal behaviours can stem from that.  Have playtime with your cat, stimulate its mind, and help burn off excess energy, especially if it is an indoor cat.  It will need the opportunity to climb and explore, cat trees are very popular for this reason.

Give your cat a consistent routine.  Feeding at the same time every day, cleaning out the litter tray at the same time every day, playtime at the same time every day.  A routine will help a cat suffering from anxiety as it will feel secure knowing when things are going to happen, and this can also reduce some abnormal behaviours.

What Is Abnormal Behaviour in Cats. A grey cat with green eyes chewing the leaf from a  houseplant in a pink tub.

Anxiety, Phobias, Unusual Fears in Cats

Anxiety is the anticipation of future danger, and a phobia is an extreme reaction to a fear.  These are learned behaviours.  It may be that your cat experienced something that frightened it in the past and now associates smell sounds another person or animal with that fear.

With the right help from a vet, a plan to help overcome your pet’s problem can be developed and work can begin to help your cat overcome these.  Again, having the cats behaviour on video may allow you to see what triggers the behaviour and help the vet to come up with a plan for behaviour modification.

Help with Abnormal Behaviour in Cats

We are very lucky now that the medical profession for animals has come a long way.  Not only are they able to help with medical problems but they can also help with behavioural issues.  If your vet isn’t able to help you themselves then they will know a cat behaviourist to refer you to.  A good behaviourist will observe the behaviour looking for a trigger and come up with a plan to help your cat through its difficulties.

Never punish your cat for its abnormal behaviour, this will only add suffering to the cat, who is most likely already suffering, and make the poor cat afraid of you.  Seek professional help as soon as you can.  Good luck in helping your cat!

Before you go, you may find these articles helpful:

Why Does My Cat Eat My Hair

Why Cats Eat Plants

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