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Weird Changes in Cat Behaviors That are Actually Worrisome

cat grunting on a yellow background with text saying weird changes in cat behaviors

Knowing your cat's personality and which behaviors are expected is the key to identifying behavior issues or changes. When you understand what actions are anticipated in your cat, you'll be able to better identify any changes that may be worrisome.

Aggressive Behavior Changes

aggressive behavior in cats

Some felines have a more powerful prey drive and act out rather aggressively towards toys, other pets, kids, or even you. This nasty behavior is natural and typical in a prey-driven cat, especially if it does not have an additional outlet to catch prey. However, if a cat that has generally not been aggressive instantly starts acting out, this may cause concern.

Pain and fear are the usual reasons a cat has behavior changes in the direction of aggression. Pain may come from recent surgery, a trauma-inducing accident such as a tail getting stuck on the door, old surgical procedures such as declawing or other amputations, or oral disease. A cat that is not generally prey-driven and is hissing, whacking, biting, and overall aggressive towards other pets and people is probably trying to tell you something. Some things that can cause a cat to be fearful include new pets in the family home, unfavorable encounters with people, new scents on you or your cat's items, negative veterinary or boarding visits, etc.

Aggressive behaviors can be dealt with by getting rid of the reason for the discomfort, using medicines and behavior supplements, and reassuring your feline. Punishment or discipline is not a good solution for aggressive behavior in cats.

Hostility with other Pets or People

Some felines are pricklier than others. If your cat has always been touchy about personal space, it's probably a character quirk. However, if your cat generally enjoys being petted and cuddled and is unexpectedly attacking and scratching? Something's amiss.

Aggressive behavior can be a feline's reaction to pain. It can also mean that your cat may be struggling with anxiety and stress, which are treatable. Once again, it's self-protection.

Changes in Eating Behavior

changes in eating behavior in cats

Many cat owners would fret if their cat stops eating, but a significant increase in appetite can also mean a sick cat.

Cats are creatures of routine. If your cat's speed of consumption or the quantity of food they eat changes considerably, there might be an issue.

This is especially true if your cat increases its consumption but is not gaining weight. In this case, you might want to ask your veterinarian about hyperthyroidism. This is a typical health issue in older cats and will make them feel not full and stop them from putting on weight. Owners with cats that have untreated hyperthyroidism say that their pet cat's appetites are ravenous.

Raised water consumption can also suggest an ill cat. While cats require plenty of fresh water, way too much can indicate kidney disease, diabetes, or thyroid problems.

On the flip side, if your pet cat begins to eat less or stops consuming entirely, it is a good indicator of being sick. A cat that eats less than usual may have dental diseases or is stressed out. Obviously, some felines are just picky eaters and like specific food flavors. However, if your cat is not eating and vomiting, is lethargic, and is decreasing in weight, you must have your vet inspect them.

Hairballs usually work themselves out of the body, but occasionally they, and other things, get stuck in the digestive system. Additionally, tumors may cause digestive issues and other illnesses, which may cause a cat to stop eating.

Playing Behavior Changes

Some cats are more spirited than others, and, like people, each has its own personality. However, when a customarily spirited cat doesn't wish to play like it used to, there may be a cause for concern. A cat that doesn't really feel well or is in discomfort might not want to leap around and chase after toys. A veterinary visit may be warranted if your cat does not return to its typical playful self after several days.

Hiding Behavior Changes

white cat hiding under an orange table

Cats that are not feeling well or are fearful are likely to hide, and some people even think that a cat that goes off by itself may notice that the end of its life is near. The driving force for this behavior is usually fear, and it often follows a stressful or traumatic event. Veterinary visits, strangers in the home, changes in your routine, and new pets may all cause your cat to hide. If the hiding is because of the things mentioned above, your cat will return to normal after a few days. However, if it results from a health problem or discomfort, they might need to be checked out by the veterinarian. Nutritional supplements and pheromones might aid with tension and fear; however, medicines might be required to deal with an ailment or discomfort.

Changes in Elimination Behavior

The top reason cats are given up, euthanized, and deserted is elimination issues. Behavior adjustments in your cat's urination and defecation practices are frequently related to anxiety or an absence of appropriate and clean litter options.

When your cat suddenly wants to excrete and/or urinate outside of their box, this is them trying to inform you something. They might not like the dimension of the box, the type of litter, how dirty the package is, the positioning of the box, or for other reasons. They may also tell you that they do not feel well and have a UTI or discomfort from stomach issues. Clinical reasons for elimination behavior changes need to constantly be dismissed before dealing with any environmental problem.

Many other things can cause elimination habit changes. In fact, experts do not entirely understand all the reasons behind them. However, suppose you notice abnormally big globs of clutter from urine, spots of blood in the litter box, no or tiny clumps of trash from urine, there may be an underlying problem. Male felines can become unable to pee, which causes a lethal problem in a short amount of time. If your cat is straining, crying, or defecating outside the box, you should not be reluctant to bring them right into the veterinarian.

Sleeping Behavior Changes

orange cat with stretched out forefeet

Cats that are not feeling well might sleep more than usual. There is, naturally, the primary opportunity that your pet cat is just careless and/or obese, but if a cat starts sleeping more than it used to, you need to set up a visit to your vet.

Grooming Behavior Changes

Brushing is a natural thing cats do. They typically brush themselves and others when they are relaxed or feel that their hair was somehow screwed up. Felines that stop grooming or significantly decrease self-grooming are often sick and should be checked by a veterinarian.

In some cases, cats who are gaining weight are incapable of getting to specific areas in the body. Therefore they are not able to brush themselves. This can be dealt with by urging your feline to shed the added weight.

Aching joints and muscles are additionally contributing factors in grooming. Felines with osteoarthritis or injuries might not be able to get to specific locations to the groom like they used to.

Vocalization Behavior Changes

grey tabby cat in the middle of a meow

Cats have different vocalization behaviors, so it doesn't mean that your cat is sick just because they're vocalizing. However, if you usually have a peaceful kitty who's now meowing a lot, it could be time for a veterinarian check.

Cats have several vocalizations and reasons for making them. Weeping and yowling are signs of distress, anxiety, or pain, and if your cat is making these noises, there is usually an issue. If your cat begins vocalizing extra in the evening, it may result from cognitive dysfunction. If they start pronouncing by hissing or roaring, it is most likely a result of pain or fear. Evaluate the circumstance and think about what changes could be causing the abnormal vocalizations. If you can not think of any factors for the sudden noises your cat makes, consider scheduling a visit with your vet to see if there is a clinical reason causing distress in your pet cat.

The opposite is also true. Take notice if your vocal cat becomes all of a sudden quiet. Constantly consider your cat's typical behavior, and if there are any modifications, it is best to call the veterinarian. 

Breath Is Not the Best

Eighty-five percent of cats have gum problems by the time they are 3 years old, and foul breath is one sign. Talk with your veterinarian at each visit regarding dental cleaning and what you can do to stop oral diseases at home. Dental diseases cause foul breath, but they can result in more severe problems like kidney, liver, and heart problems. While the dental condition is one of the most common causes of foul-smelling breath in felines, there might be other factors. A cat with diabetes mellitus might have a sweet-smelling breath and frequent thirst and urination. A cat with kidney disease can have breath that smells like ammonia because the kidneys can't filter waste items effectively.

Your Cat's Pupils Do Not Look Right

a closeup of a tabby cat's eyes

Pupil dimension changes visibly depending on the amount of light exposed to. Still, if the changes occur at random times or linger, it may signify an underlying clinical condition.

Dilated pupils, tightened pupils (when the students look like a slit), or one pupil that is dilated and the other is tightened can signify disease. Be on the hunt for other signs of cat disease connected to the eyes, including discharge, saggy eyes, or the 3rd eyelid, and more generalized signs and symptoms like lethargy or a reduced appetite. These can all be indicators of a sick cat. Because these modifications can generally occur throughout the day, it is necessary to consult your veterinarian if you observe a change lasting over a long period.

Last Words: Anything Drastically Different

You recognize your cat far better than anyone. A couple of behaviors can be tell-tale indicators of illness, but for the most part, you'll know something's off with your pet cat when their behavior changes dramatically.

Has your cat instantly begun scratching all your shoes? Meowing continuously? If the changes are enough for you to notice, it's time to reach out to the vet. Better safe than sorry!

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