The most frequent complaints about cat behavior problems involve litter box issues, destructive scratching and aggression. Cat behavior problems can be quite frustrating, but with time, patience and some work, they can be corrected.
But what if your cat actually has a behavioral disorder?
Veterinarians at Pet MD say that there are certain behaviors that can persist or develop over time that may indicate an underlying behavioral disorder. They have determined that there are seven signs of cat behavioral disorders.
1. Fear of Loud Noises
Most cats do not like sudden and loud noises and will react by running away or hiding. But cats that shake uncontrollably, become destructive or excrete inappropriately when exposed to loud noises such as garbage trucks, fireworks or a thunderstorm likely have a phobic disorder that may lead to severe anxiety.
2. Nervous or Fearful Behaviors
Some cats are less social than others or may have a more reserved personality. These cats may not react well to guests in the home and may stay hidden during the visit by a stranger. However, if the cat’s reaction is more sever and includes nervous behaviors such as quivering, they may be experiencing anxiety. An anxious cat may also be startled by their own image in a mirror or their shadow on a wall.
3. Compulsive or Repetitive Behaviors
One of the more common compulsive behaviors in cats is repetitive licking. An anxious cat may lick a spot on their body so much that the fur is removed. In extreme cases, they may lick until there is a raw spot.
Cats with behavioral disorders have been known to repeatedly chase or attack their own tail, all the while growling at it as if it were a threat.
These may be signs of an obsessive compulsive disorder. Other signs of this disorder include spinning, fly biting, or fixation with lights and shadows.
4. Panic When Left Alone
Although more common in dogs, cats too can suffer from separation anxiety. Cats that show signs of stress when their owner leaves the home may be suffering from this disorder. Stress based behaviors may include destruction to the home or items in it, the inability to self-soothe, the repeated tendency of causing self-harm and urinating or defecating outside of the litter box – usually on an item of clothing or in the middle of the owners bed.
5. Frenzied Behavior
Although many cat owners expect their cats to be playful and energetic, sometimes a cat can get over zealous resulting in harm to the owner, other animals or themselves. The cat’s inability to listen to their owner when ordered to "stop" is often a symptom of hyperactivity.
Other signs of this behavioral disorder include incessant vocalization, non-aggressively attacking people, furniture, the air, and an inability to remain calm.
6. Spraying or Marking
As mentioned above, a cat urinating or defecating outside of their litter box is another common symptom of anxiety. If any physical illness has been ruled out and the cat has a litter box appropriate for its size and personality in a good location and the right litter is being used, then a cat going outside of their litter box is exhibiting signs of anxiety.
7. Aggression towards People and Other Animals
The intensity of aggression in cats can vary from one situation to another, but repeated expressions of extreme aggression towards people or other animals are cause for alarm. Intense and usually unprovoked scratching, growling, hissing, and attacking indicate a behavioral aggression problem.
Is therapy the answer?
Mild symptoms of a cat behavioral disorder may be overcome with the use of herbal and homeopathic remedies like Zylkene, Feliway, Spirit Essences, Rescue Remedy and the like. Some people have stated that music such as Noah’s Harp by Susan Raimond helps their anxious cat stay calm.
In extreme cases where the behaviors are severe, you should seek professional help either from a veterinarian or a cat behaviorist specialist.