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Looking After Rescue Cats With Behaviour Issues

By: Jane Pullen - Updated: 17 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Looking After Rescue Cats With Behaviour Issues

Adopting cats from rescue centres can be a tremendously rewarding experience. From time to time, however, some cats may have behaviour issues or personality traits that present additional challenges. Ultimately, if a cat is too difficult to look after, the rescue organisation will accept the cat back into its care. This drastic solution can often be avoided with a little extra understanding and attention. Understanding the different behaviour issues is an important part of dealing with them.

Many of the negative behaviour issues that a rescue cat exhibits stem from fear and uncertainty. This can manifest itself in aggression or timidity, failure to integrate with other animals, destructive actions such as scratching or forgetting his house training routines. While these different issues can be very distressing and stressful for a family who is adopting a rescue cat, many of these traits are relatively simple to deal with. Making a new cat feel safe and secure in his new home is part of the way to build up his confidence and to reduce his fear. When the cat starts to feel happy and secure in his new home, owners often find that many of the negative traits disperse, leaving them with a loving and loyal pet.

Steps to Deal with Bad Behaviour

Many of the basic negative traits can be addressed quite easily. These include:
  • Cats that haven't been neutered often try to dominate other cats and sometimes they will even try to dominate dogs. The easiest way to deal with this is to ensure that a cat is neutered.
  • The new cat is upsetting the 'pecking order'. This might mean that the new cat is trying to usurp the position of an older cat. There are many ways of dealing with this including ensuring that the new cat gets fed last and making sure that he is not getting any special attention.
  • A very timid cat may continually hide away from other animals and humans. It is important to make him feel safe and secure. One way to do this is to restrict him to a single room which is 'his'. Let him get confident of his surroundings before gradually reintroducing him to the rest of the house and other animals.
  • Some rescue cats break their house training and fail to use their litter tray or go outside. However tempting it may be, owners should resist shouting at the cat. This can increase his level of fear and make him hide each time he goes to the toilet – which can sometime mean that he will use the back of cupboards or other surprising places. Make sure that a litter tray is clean and if the cat goes outside ensure that he is not getting bullied by other cats. Ultimately it may be necessary to introduce a new house training program.
  • The failure to integrate can often be a fear based trait. The rescue cat may be fearful of his new surroundings and existing pets will sense this and in turn become fearful. Owners can help to address this by giving extra reassurance to all the animals in the household and trying to maintain a calm and relaxing atmosphere.

The rescue centre will also be able to offer help and advice. They will have a lot of experience of dealing with the challenges of adopted pets and can often help to address any remaining behaviour issues.

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