Professional Help for Your Cat's Problems (2023)

Professional Help for Your Cat's Problems (1)

So many people claim to be cat whisperers and have the special talent that enables them to figure out an animal’s mind.True professionals in this field though, make their living based on a sound knowledge of the science of animal behavior. The problem is that in this unregulated field anyone can claim to be a cat expert, cat whisperer, cat therapist, cat psychologist, or cat counselor. Anyone can put up a website, make claims about their expertise and post testimonials but how do you know their expertise is valid? If you’re having a behavior problem with your pet and your family life is in crisis because of it, you may be enticed by claims of “guaranteed” results or lots of testimonials on the website (that may not be real), but a wrong choice may result in making the behavior problem worse.

Professional Help for Your Cat's Problems (2)

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(Video) My Guide to Help with Mischievous Cat Behavior!

Start at the Veterinary Clinic

If you feel you need professional help with a cat behavior problem, how do you go about choosing the right expert? The first place to start is at your veterinarian’s office. I know it doesn’t sound as glamorous as consulting with someone who claims to have some sort of special rapport with cats and ability to “whisper” to them, but many behavior problems can be the result of an underlying medical problem. This happens more often than you’d think.An examination by your veterinarian should be your first step. You’d be surprised how many times a litter box problem is due to a medical issue. I’ve seen lots of cases of aggression as well where the cause turned out to be medical such as periodontal disease, spinal pain, abscess, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, and so on. So don’t skip this step even if you’re convinced the problem is behavioral or your cat may needlessly suffer. If you’ve reached out to a behavior “expert” and that person hasn’t instructed you to visit the veterinarian before setting up a behavior consultation then you need to seek out someone else. A true behavior expert knows it’s important to rule out medical causes first.


When you visit your veterinarian, be as specific as possible about the behavior the cat has been displaying. Sometimes when the veterinarian asks how often the litter box is cleaned the client may be embarrassed and not tell the truth. That doesn’t help the cat and could seriously delay solving the problem. When the veterinarian asks questions give as honest and complete of an answer as you can.

Do Your Homework Before Choosing a Cat Behavior Expert

Behavior modification is a powerful tool and if done correctly, is an effective way to change unwanted behavior. Behavior modification is science-based and there’s no magicabout it. A trained, professional expert can explain to you how and why the process works and the science behind it. An ethical professional will not “guarantee” results because much of the success of a behavior plan depends on client compliance and the specifics of the individual case.A qualified professional also won’t give you a promise that allbehavior problems can be “fixed” in a short amount of time. Every case is unique. Your neighbor’s cat with the same behavior problem may take twice as long to correct as your cat’s issue.

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Look for Qualified Experts With a Track Record

The best way to protect yourself from the multitude of so-called experts is to ask your veterinarian for a referral to a qualified, certified behavior expert. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists are certified through the Animal Behavior Society. Veterinary Behaviorists are certified through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Certified Animal Behavior Consultants are certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. If the expert you’re considering is listed as certified on the website with no reference as to how he or she was certified, be sure you ask before setting up an appointment.


Anyone can put up a sign or a website and claim to be an expert so the best way to protect yourself is to choose someone who has proven they have documented experience in their field and legitimate credentials. Make sure that person is truly an expert in cat behavior and has a track recordinvolving more more than just shameless self-promotion or gimmicky products. Is the person you’ve chosen recognized by colleagues in the field as a professional? Your cat can’t speak for himself so he’s counting on you to find a qualified professional and not someone who is viewing the current popularity of animal behavior consulting as a ticket to fame and fortune. Those of us who have been in the business for many years know what’s really involved in dedicating our livesto animal welfare. If we were looking for the fast track to fame and fortune, this would not be the chosen career.

Don’t hesitate to ask the behavior professional you’re considering about their background. Is this someone who has demonstrated true expertise in their field or someone who has put up an impressive website and claims to be good with cats because they’ve had many cats in their lifetime? Iswebsite advertising misleading or does it accurately reflect factual information about the professional’s level of expertise? I have come across a few websites with false claims regarding testimonials, staffing, education and even licenses. It breaks my heart for the cats.

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Not all experts are certified and some non-certified behavior professionals are excellent at their job. Unfortunately, a vague list of testimonials isn’t a good way to make your decision. If you don’t have a direct referral from your veterinarian, another professional in the animal field, or someone else you trust, the safest route is to choose a veterinary behaviorist, certified cat behavior consultant or a certified applied animal behaviorist.

What to Expect During Your Cat Behavior Consultation

  • You should feel comfortable talking with the behavior expert and also be comfortable with the proposed behavior modification plan. In order for behavior modification to be successful, it must be a plan that fits your abilities, schedule and lifestyle. A qualified professional will work with you to establish a customized plan to fit you and your cat. There is no one-size-fits all behavior modification plan.
  • The behavior expert should provide an explanation of why the proposed behavior planis being chosen and the science behind it. Unless the behavior expert is a licensed veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist, no medical diagnosis should be made and no drug recommendations should be given.
  • Whether you’re doing an in-home consultation, in-clinic consultation or video consultation, you will need to fill out a detailed behavior and medical history questionnaire. Even if a question on the form doesn’t seem relevant, fill out the form to the best of your abilities to help the behavior professional put all pieces of the puzzle together. You may also be asked to provide pictures or videos to help the behavior professional get a more accurate idea of the behavior being displayed. If you do a virtual consultation, you may be asked to provide a video walk-through of the home setting and maybe even provide a basic floor plan sketch. When I do remote sessions I ask for a floor plan sketch that includes identifying locations of litter boxes, feeding stations, favorite napping areas, each cat’s preferred territory and places where any problems had occurred. I also request a video walk-through and any videos available that captured the behavior problem. Having the videos and the floor plan make a difference in helping me get a feel for what is going on in the home.

  • Many behavior professionals provide a written client report to make it easier for you to remember all the steps involved in the behavior plan. It’s also a good idea for you to take notes during the session or even record the consultation (ask the behavior professional for permission before recording).
  • There should be a scheduled follow-up with the behavior professional. Some experts may have an additional fee for follow-up appointments but you should be able to contact them with any questions or concerns.
  • The behavior expert may send a follow-up report to your cat’s veterinarian to place in the records. This report will also help the veterinarian to follow up on progress made when your cat returns for an exam.

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Your Responsibility

Remember to communicate with the behavior professional. I know it’s easy to get busy and forget to follow up on things but if the behaviorist asks for a follow-up call in a particular time-frame, put it on your calendar so you don’t skip it. This phone call or email is important so the behaviorist can make sure you are following the instructions correctly and the cat is responding well.

Compliance is important. The plan provided to you is given for a reason and it requires you to do the daily work needed to help your cat through the behavior problem. Behavior experts don’t have a magic wand that they can wave over your cat to instantly correct an unwanted behavior. Behavior modification requires consistent sessions of you working with your cat. The daily requirement isn’t time consuming but it is important to be consistent and follow through with the homework given to you. The cat can’t do the behavior work by himself; he needs you to guide him and create an environment where he can succeed.


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If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care.


What are 4 signs your cat is suffering? ›

Behaviour signs of a cat in pain

Lethargy. Decreased interest in positive things like playing, social interaction and exploring outside. Being withdrawn and hiding away. Appearing lame and experiencing increased sensitivity to touch in specific areas of their body.

What can I do about a problem cat? ›

If your cat's personality or behavior suddenly changes, a trip to the vet to make sure they aren't sick or in pain is the best way to get to the bottom of their behavior. Your vet can discuss supplements, medications, pheromones, special diets, and other things to help curb your cat's behavioral issues.

What is the #1 behavioral complaint from cat owners? ›

House soiling or feline inappropriate elimination, is the most common behavioral complaint of cat owners. The problem may be urine and/or stool deposited outside of the litter box, or marking behaviors. When cats urinate on vertical surfaces, it is known as spraying or marking.

How do you deal with behavioral issues with cats? ›

Posted in:
  1. Preventing Undesirable Cat Behavior. ...
  2. Behavior issues in cats. ...
  3. Expose your kitten to a lot of different experiences. ...
  4. Enrich your kitten's life with plenty of play. ...
  5. Teach your kitten to scratch in appropriate places. ...
  6. Keep the litter box very clean. ...
  7. Teach your kitten how to play nicely. ...
  8. Teach your cat a few basic cues.
Aug 2, 2018

How do you know when a cat is nearing end of life? ›

Physical Symptoms – Certain physical symptoms can also signal that a cat is near the end of their life. Loss of appetite, weight loss, and poor coat condition are all common signs of illness in cats, as well as difficulty breathing or laboured breathing.

What's the average lifespan of a house cat? ›

The average cat lifespan is between 13-17 years. Some lucky felines have been known to live 20 years or more—the world record holder for oldest cat on record, adorably named Creme Puff, lived to be a whopping 38 years old.

What is the most common behavior problem in cats? ›

The most common feline behavior problems are associated with elimination. Some of these are related to the litter box, while others reflect social conflicts and involve anxiety or aggression. Much feline aggression is subtle and passive, so its real frequency may be greatly underestimated.

What are the most common problems with cats? ›

They most commonly suffer from dental issues, followed by trauma, skin problems, digestive problems and parasitic infestations such as fleas - as you can see in our infographic below. While some issues affect any cat, such as heart murmurs or obesity, some breeds are at risk of certain conditions.

How do you know if a cat has mental illness? ›

Excessive meowing, restlessness, pacing, destructive behavior, aggression, improper elimination, and compulsive grooming are just a few of the behaviors that cats with anxiety may exhibit. Cats can develop anxiety due to environmental stressors, a lack of stimulation, or previous traumatic events.

What mental illness can cats have? ›

Like people, cats can suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Can cats be autistic? ›

While cats cannot have autism, there are certain behaviors that may be similar to those seen in humans with autism. Some signs of an autistic cat include: Avoiding eye contact: Cats that avoid eye contact or seem disinterested in their owner's presence may exhibit a behavior similar to that seen in humans with autism.

Why is my cat misbehaving so badly? ›

A cat can be aggressive for many reasons, including pain or illness, fear, stress, or overstimulation. If your cat is lashing out, check in with your vet first, particularly if the aggression is a new behavior. The cause can be medical, so your vet will first look for a health issue.

Can cats be trained out of bad behavior? ›

Positive reinforcement is the most effective method of training, and is key to ingraining positive behaviors in your cat. Positive reinforcement focuses on rewarding your pet for good behavior, rather than punishing bad behavior.

How do you deal with a disobedient cat? ›

In fact, removing your attention from your cat may be one of the most effective methods for getting your point across and stopping negative behaviors such as biting, chewing and pouncing. Redirecting her attention to something else is a great way of reinforcing good behaviors and stopping bad behaviors.

What is the meatloaf position in cats? ›

Pay particular attention if your cat settles down in a so-called meatloaf position, where her nose is on the floor and her front paws are out of her body. This position often describes a cat in pain. If your cat replaces her bread loaf position with this one, it is a time to visit your vet.

Did my cat know he was being put to sleep? ›

They will only feel a needle prick, but some felines may be more sensitive to this than others. If your vet injects the euthanasia drug directly from a needle and syringe, again they may react slightly to the needle prick but will not experience any pain when the drug is being injected.

What is the last stage in a cat life cycle? ›

The Task Force has designated four age-related life stages (Table 1): the kitten stage, from birth up to 1 year; young adult, from 1 year through 6 years; mature adult, from 7 to 10 years; and senior, aged over 10 years.

How old is a 15 year old cat? ›

76 years

At what age are cats considered seniors? ›

You'll be the proud owner of a senior cat by the time it hit about 11 years old. If a cat lives beyond 15 years of age, it'd be a "super-senior". When caring for older cats, it sometimes helps to think of their age in human terms.

What are Behavioural signs of pain in cats? ›

Behaviour sufficient for painPresence in low level painPresence in high level pain
Hunched up postureFrequentFrequent
Shifting of weightFrequentFrequent
Licking a particular body regionFrequentFrequent
Lower head postureFrequentFrequent
19 more rows
Feb 24, 2016

What is not normal cat behavior? ›

Some red flag behaviors include: Excessive self-grooming (hyperesthesia, psychogenic alopecia) Accidents and other litter box problems. Changes in eating and drinking.

What are 3 common cat behavior? ›

For example, the most common cat behaviors include purring, grooming, kneading, and climbing. But each cat will engage in these activities differently. Pay attention to your cat's behavior and determine what is “normal” for your cat so you can be aware of unusual behavior that may require a trip to the vet.

How do cats show anxiety? ›

Cat anxiety symptoms include:

Hiding, pacing, crouching defensively. New aggressive or overly clingy behavior. Meowing way more than usual. Coat changes from not grooming or bald patches from over-grooming.

What cats have the worst health problems? ›

Bengals, which have a leopard-like appearance, are prone to heart disease in the form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a common diagnosis in cats. Other cat breeds that have common health problems include Ragdoll, British Shorthair, Ragamuffin, and Siamese.

What is dysthymia in cats? ›

The cat is hyperactive and hypervigilant. Aggressive behaviour: Aggressive behaviours in cats are reported in dysthymia. The cat looks fierce, the pupils are dilated and the eyes appear to change colour, after which the cat attacks suddenly and bites viciously.

What is feline OCD? ›

Commonly abbreviated as OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder is a behavioral disorder that causes a cat to engage in certain "rituals" for seemingly no good reason. These are generally abnormal, repetitive, and exaggerated behaviors that do not seem to serve a practical purpose.

What is schizophrenia in cats? ›

However, there are no studies or research that proves cats have schizophrenia; we simply cannot get inside their minds enough to know. But, there is an unexplained disorder in cats called feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) that can mimic a lot of the signs of schizophrenia.

What of cats are autistic? ›

Cats can't have autism, but they can be diagnosed with other conditions, and like humans and other animals, some cats have special needs. Some special-needs cats have mental impairments which may result from birth defects, illness, or accidents. Some cats even have Down syndrome-type symptoms.

What is a neurotic cat? ›

Neuroticism. Cats that fall into this category are commonly described as high-strung or anxious. Highly neurotic felines are shy, insecure, and cautious of new things and people.

What is a bipolar cat? ›

Bipolarity as we know it is defined by radical and sudden changes in behavior. In cats, the term used by specialists is a condition called Dysthymia. It causes sudden changes in mood in animals. It seems that this type of bipolar disorder is more common in certain breeds of cats like the Abyssinians for example.

What is Pandora syndrome in cats? ›

Cats with Pandora syndrome are typically anxious cats whose anxiety is easily triggered and that take longer to recover from stressful events. They have a history of chronic concurrent (possibly transient) illnesses in various body systems and unremarkable test results.

Does my cat have Asperger's? ›

Cats with autism often exhibit repetitive behaviors like pacing or spinning, excessive vocalization and having trouble adapting to change. They may also display signs of anxiety including hiding, avoiding human contact and being extremely sensitive to external stimuli.

Can cats be bipolar? ›

While having a bipolar cat is uncommon, felines can experience mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Your cat may even develop anxiety or depression as a result of you suffering from the condition. Cats can sense when their pet parents are nervous or sad.

How do I know if my elderly cat is suffering? ›

One of the most common pain-associated behavior changes we see in aging cats is a decrease in grooming and self-care. Cats are, by nature, extremely finicky about keeping themselves clean. Watch any conscious cat for longer than a few minutes, and you are likely to see her cleaning some part of her body.

How do you know if your cat is crying for help? ›

Signs Of Obvious Distress

Cats are typically very stoic animals, so if your cat suddenly seems to be in distress, it is a cause for concern. Howling, crying, hiding, and otherwise acting in a way that is out of character for your pet should alert you that something may be seriously wrong.

How do you know if your cat is in pain or suffering? ›

Cats who are painful may withdraw from their usual family interactions, may become less engaged in their surroundings, and may start hiding. You may notice decreased eating and/or drinking. You may also notice changes in sleeping patterns. Some may sleep more, while others may sleep less.

How do you know if a cat needs help? ›

Cats that have a warm, dry home are more likely to be clean and well groomed, while disheveled fur or marks on the face are signs of a hard life. Meowing or following: Does the cat anxiously follow you or other people around. Does it meow as though it needs something?

What is the #1 cause of death for senior cats? ›

Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior cats. Cancer is really a blanket term for uncontrolled cell growth, which means there are many different forms this can take – many different kinds of cancer that can attack your pet.

What age is considered elderly cat? ›

In recent years, feline ages and life-stages have been redefined, cats are considered to be elderly once they reach 11 years with senior cats defined as those aged between 11-14 years and super-senior cats 15 years and upwards.

How do cats act at end of life? ›

They may eat less, groom themselves less, and behave differently than normal. Some cats may become irritable and growl or hiss when interacting with other animals or humans. They may also seem anxious or restless.

What sound does a cat make when in pain? ›

A yowl or howl (they sound like loud, drawn-out meows) tells you your cat is in some kind of distress—stuck in a closet, looking for you or in pain. Find your cat if they're making this noise.

What do cats want when they cry? ›

Despite what some people think, cats don't like being alone a lot. Cats often meow to initiate play, petting, or to get you to talk to them. If you want to cut down on attention-seeking meows, stop responding when it happens. Only give them attention when they are quiet.

What do cats do when they cry? ›

Can cats cry tears? The short answer is yes, cats' tear ducts function the same way humans' tear ducts do, but they don't cry emotional tears from sadness or pain. While cats do “cry out in the sense that they may vocalize (meow, yowl, etc.)

Where your cat sleeps on your bed and what it means? ›

If your cat sleeps on your bed, he may choose a position that lets him see out your bedroom door more easily. If he's curled up in a ball under your bed or in a quiet corner, then he may be hiding. Cats who sleep under the covers might love being close to you, or they might be hiding to feel safer.

What pain meds can cats have? ›

Only two NSAIDs are FDA-approved for cats: meloxicam (sold under several brand and generic names) and robenacoxib (sold under the brand name ONSIOR). Meloxicam is approved for cats as a one-time-only injection to control pain and inflammation after spaying, neutering, and orthopedic surgery.

Do cats sleep if they are in pain? ›

Cats who are in pain may sleep more or less than usual, too. Cats in pain may also seek out warmer places to rest, such as a sunny spot or heating pad. Cats will hardly ever sleep on the floor; they prefer elevated resting spots. If you notice your cat laying in lower places, this can be a warning sign too.

How do cats lay when sick? ›

Sick cats often lie quietly in a hunched position. They might neglect grooming. They may be purring, which cats do not only when they're happy, but also when they're sick or in pain. A cat with breathing difficulties may refuse to lie on his side and may keep his head raised.


1. 8 Signs Your Cat Might Be Stressed And How to Help
2. Cat Dental Disease: Feline Stomatitis Remedies
(Veterinary Secrets)
3. How to help your cat deal with hot weather
(Helpful Vancouver Vet)
4. How to Tell if Your Cat is Stressed (Cat Stress 101)
(The Purring Journal)
5. How To Tell Your Cat Not to Do Something
(Jaw-Dropping Facts)
6. Everyday Cat Stress
(Jackson Galaxy)


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