Your Kneady Cat
We all love it when we are curled up on the couch or bed and your fur ball comes and lays next to or on top of you. He will probably be purring and kneading at some part of your body. You feel loved, you love knowing that he has developed this tremendous trust with you. But, when is it a sign that your cat is actually insecure, and needy? Here are some signs and solutions to a needy cat, or as I like to call it “kneady” cat.
When is it too soon to take a kitten from its birth mom and siblings?
I have recently read a few forums where a lot of cat moms and dads alike ask this very question. A kitten is very dependent on growth not only from its mommy’s milk, but also from learning instinctual traits from his siblings. A kitten between the ages of 5 to 10 weeks old is at a stage where they are learning play from hunting. At this stage they will play fight, practice hunting, all preparing for survival. When a kitten is taken away from his natural family at this stage there could be signs of behavioural issues later on. But, in some instances, a little kitten will be abandoned, so it is up to us to teach this little one the basic instincts to stay happy and content. He won’t necessarily need to learn survival instincts as he is hopefully safe, but it is in everybody’s best interest to ensure he practices what would be the typical behaviour that he would need if he were to be with his natural family.
Should you be in the situation where you are forced to raise a kitten between 5 and 10 weeks old, it is imperative to show and teach him certain aspects of life in a human’s home. If you’ve read my previous blog “Can you really train a Cat?”, you would have read on the ways to teach and train your kitty right from wrong. At this age, you need to be stern but also gentle so to ensure you don’t scare your little one, as this too could result in negative behaviour issues when he gets older. For example, if your kitten bites at your hand while playing, immediately distract him with another toy, or put him on the floor and say a stern NO! If you are persistent with this, then eventually over time he will learn that this is not allowed.
But, sometimes cats develop a needy behaviour, they just want to be around you, and they cannot handle the separation when you are not around.
The Lone Cat
Have you ever wondered what your cat/s get up to when you are not around? It would be awesome if we could all install cameras around our house to keep a close eye on our feline companions when we are not there. But, I can tell you, there is nothing going on that you don’t already know. Cats can sleep up to 20 hours a day, kittens more so than the adult cats, but this is what they do, often. But when your cat is needy, this natural behaviour could be quite a problem. He will be pining for your, or his litter mates. So how do you prevent this? First of all, when you leave the house, every time, don’t ever make a fuss. Don’t give your cat too much attention just before you are about to leave. Try to rather use positive reinforcements and distractions, like give him a treat, or feed him just before you walk out the door, or a toy that will keep him focused on this object as you leave. I can honestly say that my cats, all 5 of them, have never been needy, because the trick is to make sure they have all the comfort and security they need, from when they first come into your home, until they are used to the idea that you come and go, and nothing will threaten them during when you are not around.
Kneading and suckling
Most cats will knead when they lay with you, this is a sign of contentment in most cats. Sometimes it can be a sign of insecurity, and they are trying to get themselves into a relaxed state, similar to that of when they are nursing on the mommy cat. When a kitten is nursing they will knead on either side of the nipple in order to stimulate the milk flow. So why do they continue to do this when they are older? It is a sign of complete relaxation and trust. But sometimes it can be a sign that your cat is needing that extra bit of soothing from a stressful situation or environment. The best way to determine this is to watch when your cat does this. If it is for you to know if there is something taking place that is not in the norm, like a loud noise from your neighbours or you are taking your cat to the vet and they are kneading in the carry bag, for example, that it is abnormal. Anything that could make your cat feel insecure, they would purr and knead. But it is so rewarding when your kitty does this with you and there is absolutely no sign of stress or anxiety, they are just so happy to be with you. It is important to know your cats behaviour, whether your cat is the timid cat, or confident cat. Here you will immediately be able to determine when the kneading is common practice from contentment, or he is doing it to sooth.
The same applies when your kitty suckles. As I sit here, I have Scotch (my now 11-week old rescued kitten), and he suckling on the blanket I am under. He does this every day. The reason being is he was simply separated from his cat mommy too early. Sancho did the same thing, we also rescued him at 8 weeks, but he grew out of it. Some cats will suckle into adulthood; time will tell with Scotch. But for now, there is no need to stop this, as you want him to feel comforted. Some even say that when they do this they feel so secure and content in their surrounding that they feel it is safe enough to suckle. Remember, when a kitten is nursing this time is extremely risky, as the kittens focus on the task at hand, their attention is on nursing. So in my opinion, as much as it is because he was separated too young, I also believe it is because he feels safe and has built trust in his man made home and family.
Cats only ever meow when they are kittens to their birth mommy. When they are older, they will only meow to you, the human. They will never meow to each other. Cats communicate with each other through body language and scent. But, there are times where your cat will stand in the other room and meow at what seems to be nothing. I have noticed this with my boy Sancho. He does this often. And when I get up to respond to his calls, he will bump his head against my legs. So, it is apparent that he is just doing this to get my attention. If you want this to stop, simply don’t give your cat any attention when he does this. Just ignore him, as hard as this might be, this is the only solution. He will eventually learn that he gets nothing out of his vocalising and will stop. Some breeds, such as the Sphynx or Siamese cat are known to be very vocal. But you will know your cat, and if you do decide to get a cat based on breed, just know, if you choose these breeds they are vocal. But in general, cats will not meow unless they are trying to get something out of it like food or simply, attention.
So, in conclusion, get to know your cat, get to know when your cat is upset about something, insecure, or just trying to show you how much he loves you, and from there you can determine intervention needs, if any. But enjoy your cat, and learn from him, as there is so much we can get out of each other. We knead them, as much as they knead us!
I haven’t written a blog in a while, and there is a reason for that, yes you could say I’ve been just so busy having a full time job, I get home and have a furry and not so furry family to feed (hubby included). So time sometimes just feels non-existent to actually sit down and write something down.
I’ve also experienced “writers block”. But, alas, here I am, and this is a topic that I have been wanting to write about for ages. I am not a certified psychologist, and I have absolutely no experience in the field other than what I’ve read in books, and obviously through my own experiences with owning cats. So here are my ways that cats have affected me psychologically.
Over the years I have definitely noticed and realised that cats have a hierarchy system which has to be in place for a well balance both in their colonies or domestic environment. How I’ve realised this is because in both adventures I’ve had with cats (first Sasha and Dizi then Travis, Sancho and Scotch). Cats are territorial creatures, this we know, but how do you know that some of the unwanted behaviour is just purely acting out against the dominant cat/s? Here are some things to look out for in cats with territorial behaviour.