Pediatric Behavioral Problems in Cats

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Pediatric Behavioral Problems in Cats

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If your kitten shows undesirable behavior between the day of birth and puberty, he would be categorized as having a behavioral problem. You need to address it early so that it is easier to change the behavior. Preventative measures are essential, as kittens are vulnerable to environmental and physiological influences. The most common problems are due to fearfulness, play, elimination (defecating or urinating in the house), or defensive aggression. While behavioral issues are not breed specific, genetic factors might play a role, as it is believed that the influence of parents increases the chances of the kitten being more fearful.

Types and symptoms

Play related issues may include increased roughness, like more biting and fully extended claws. Fearful, defensive behavior might include fleeing, hiding and aggression. Such behavior is characterized by flattening of the ears, hissing and dilated pupils. Last, but not the least, your kitty has elimination problems if he has trouble using the

litter box

and ends up relieving himself all over the house.

Causes

While a lot of the behavioral problems are typical to all cats, there are certain causes which can worsen the behavioral issues. A lot of them have to do with the way the kitten is treated by the people around him and also by the general environment that he is a part of. For instance, your cat might be over-aggressive if he does not have anyone else to play with. A hand-reared, orphaned kitten that has not had the chance to play with another cat will lack in the social skills that he would have picked up during aggression play with his litter mates. Similarly, defensive behavior might be the consequence of rough handling, which is generally related to the kind of correction techniques used by pet owners (shocking, spanking, yelling, hitting or chasing the kitten).

Diagnosis

The vet will make the diagnosis based on a historical examination of the cat’s past behavior, since a physical exam is unlikely to reveal something out of the ordinary. You can examine some of the behaviors by examining the reactions of your cat to different stimuli. Urinalysis is a very reliable test as highly frightened kittens tend to have elevated blood glucose levels. If the vet suspects a serious issue with the nervous system, you will need more diagnostic tests.

Prevention

You can prevent behavioral problems in kitties. For starters, they should be exposed only to positive experiences between the ages of 3 and 7 weeks. Pet owners who have children must prohibit their children from roughhousing with the kitten. Don’t punish your kitten, as this can cause anxiety, fear and angry, defensive behavior. Consult with the vet for proper handling and training techniques for young cats if you are not sure.

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