The reasons why getting expert cat advice early helps solve cat issues quicker.
I am an accredited cat behaviourist. My daily work involves investigating cat issues and working alongside cat owners and veterinary practices to get the best results.
GETTING THE TIMINGS RIGHT
One of the major issues with solving cat behaviour cases is the time that cat owners take between realising there’s a problem and getting a behaviourist involved. Once a particular behavioural issue has been occurring for a certain period of time, it may turn into a habit (far more difficult to break), or may have evolved and could be happening for different reasons than those that prompted the original trigger!
Unfortunately, many cat owners’ first port of call is often social media and forums, where a wealth of free advice is available from well-meaning cat owners. They might also get general (but environmentally uninformed) vet advice, which means they waste valuable time before seeking a proper professional diagnosis.
Cat owners may feel that the cost of getting a feline behaviourist involved is an expense they would rather defer for as long as possible. But in reality, amateur and unspecific advice has the cat owner going in all directions while the issue escalates and compounds with others. In this scenario, the very real cost of the continued issue (e.g. carpets or furniture ruined by constant peeing outside of the litter tray) can far outweigh that of obtaining professional help earlier on in the process.
Your vet may give you basic advice that they have read online, or may have taken from another behaviourist’s report on file. This however can only ever be basic and general advice without seeing your cat in its environment, or understanding the nature of the territory itself. There are many areas to cover that a vet couldn’t possibly be aware of without doing a home visit. For example:
- What may be upsetting the cat inside the home?
- What may be outside?
- How does a multi cat family interact at home?
- How do their clients interact with the cats at home?
- What has been supplied for the cat in way of feline furniture?
- Where are the cat’s feeding stations, litter trays, sleeping areas etc situated?
- What kind of toys do the clients have for their cats?
Your vet may be pulling advice from another report on the same issue. However, there are many unique variables in each case and it’s very unlikely that a report from another cat case is going to solve your particular problems. Most vet training is very generalised and concentrates on the medical and not the behavioural side. Therefore, if the issue is behaviour and not medical, a certified cat behaviour specialist should be sought.
It’s the same as a human seeking advice online for symptoms they are experiencing, without consulting a professional GP or specialist for a proper diagnosis.
I admire all cat owners that take on what is sometimes a multitude of behaviour issues and tackle them with love and genuine concern in their hearts, rather than giving in and sending the cat to a rescue centre. However, for behaviourists to get the very best results, we need to be consulted early and not a year down the line, or even later! Yes, some clients leave calling in a professional for years!
Cats have a language that they communicate to us and we must listen, so if your cat is behaving differently to normal, ask your vet to refer you to an accredited cat behaviourist without delay.
After leaving issues to continue for a long period of time, cat owners often expect a behaviourist to waltz in, wave a magic wand, and everything will be ok. Wrong. The longer issues are left undiagnosed the harder they are to correct. First things first –WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS?
With behavioural issues, you’re much more likely to get positive results if a cat behaviourist is consulted straight away. The longer you leave it, the worse it will be.
CAT BEHAVIOUR ISSUES
Issues a behaviourist can deal with quickly and effectively are:
- Feline territorial aggression
- Feline re-directed aggression
- Feline OCD (excessive grooming, etc)
- Feline predatory aggression
- Fouling around the home
- Feline spraying/marking
- Furniture damage
- Feline obesity
- Problems arising from confinement/indoor cat problems
- Inter-cat relations/Multi-cat household tensions
- Feline separation anxiety
- Confidence building with shy anxious rescue cats
- Low-stress mobile cat grooming & grooming behaviour training (Anita specialises in working with aggressive, elderly or phobic cats).
If you wish further advice on booking a home visit cat behaviour consultation please email firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anita Kelsey holds a first class honours degree in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service dedicated strictly to the diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems in cats. She is also a qualified cat groomer and specialises in grooming aggressive or phobic cats. Anita writes for Your Cat Magazine and is on their experts panel answering readers questions on cat grooming. She also advises on feline behaviour for the CFBA (Canine and Feline Behaviour) magazine as well as being a full member. Anita, a strong advocate of a vegan lifestyle, is based in Notting Hill, London but consults all over the UK as well as international requests. She lives with her husband, a music producer, and two Norwegian Forest cats, Kiki and Zaza.
Her debut booked, pictured left, is published by John Blake and is called Claws, Confessions Of A Cat Groomer.
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