Attention all cat lovers! Did you know that over 42 million households in the United States own at least one cat, with an average of 2 cats per household? You're part of a huge cohort of cat lovers who love having these furry creatures living rent-free in their homes.
That being said, you aren’t the only one struggling to manage behavior issues. Maybe your cats have been fighting a lot lately, your new kitten has taken to scratching up your furniture, or your anxious cat has been keeping you up all night. Sure, you could try to handle these issues alone, but you don’t have to. Let’s talk about 5 signs that you might need some extra help from a cat coach.
Benefits of Working with a Cat Behavior Coach
We’ve all heard of dog trainers, but many people don’t realize that cat coaches exist too. We tend to take the behavioral needs of dogs more seriously, but cats’ needs are every bit as important. The benefits of working with a cat behavior coach include:
1. Individualized advice and solutions
You might be able to find some answers by researching online, but the internet doesn’t know your cat’s personality or your unique situation. Cat behavior coaches have the ability to provide advice that is tailored to your specific needs, offering more targeted support.
2. Big-picture thinking
When behavioral struggles crop up, we often try to change what we’re doing with our animals. However, environmental factors are often at play, and cat coaches can help you to “zoom out” and implement environmental interventions to set your cat up for success.
3. Professional training and experience
When it comes to cat training, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Cat coaches come with a wealth of knowledge and experience that allows them to sift through these muddy waters to find the strategies that work. That’s why it’s important to look for cat coaches who are certified by the Animal Behavior Institute (ABI), the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), the Animal Behavior College (ABC), or another credible organization.
5 Signs That You Need Help From a Cat Behavior Coach
So, when is it time to get help from a cat coach? That’s easy: as soon as you notice any concerning behaviors, you should start looking for outside help. Trying to solve things on your own could result in stress and anxiety for both you and your kitty, and you might even end up missing important signs of health issues. So, if you notice any of these signs, consult with your vet to rule out injury or illness, then consider enlisting the help of a cat behaviorist.
1. Cat fights are the norm in your house
If you have more than one cat, you’ve probably noticed some light roughhousing between your kitties. Sometimes feelings get hurt, so you might hear the occasional disgruntled meow or hiss when somebody crosses a boundary. However, these aggressive signs should not be the norm.
Some signs of cat aggression include growling, swatting, biting, and shrieking. If you notice that these signs have become a regular occurrence in your house, and you’ve ruled out an injury or illness as the cause, it’s time to enlist the help of a cat coach to restore peace and harmony.
2. Your cat isn't using the litter box
According to ASPCA, 10 percent of cats have litter box struggles at some point in their lives. Often, the solution is simple, but you might be struggling to speak your cat’s language.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything – including a visit to the vet to rule out health issues – and your cat still doesn’t want to use their litter box, there could be a deeper issue at play. For instance, your kitty could be experiencing environmental stress, or a traumatic event could have triggered a negative litter box association. A cat coach can help you to decipher what your cat’s trying to tell you, bridging your language barrier and saving your carpets.
3. You're about to add a new member to the family
In a survey of 2,492 cat owners, 73.3% of them noted that conflict started when they first introduced a new cat. Many pet parents don’t know how to facilitate a proper introduction, and this can have disastrous behavioral and health consequences.
Cats are creatures of habit, and any change to their environment is stressful. So, if you’re thinking of adding a new cat, dog, or even a human baby to the picture, consider working with a cat coach to ensure a smooth transition.
4. Your cat has developed habits that you can't shake
Is your cat the light of your life? Yes. But do they also have the ability to annoy you to no end? Also yes. You might have noticed that your cat has picked up some annoying habits, like running sprints around the house at 3 A.M., sharpening their claws on your brand new couch, knocking over every glass of water in sight, or stealing food off the counter (AKA counter surfing).
Oftentimes, annoying behaviors stem from unmet needs, and a cat coach can help you to understand where these behaviors are coming from and to develop a plan to once again sleep through the night.
5. You want to deepen your relationship with your cat
At the end of the day, cat coaches are in the business of forging stronger relationships between cats and their humans. By learning how to speak your cat’s language, you can better anticipate and meet their needs, getting ahead of behavior issues before they even have a chance to come up.
What to Expect From a Cat Behavior Coach
So, you’ve decided that you need help from a cat behavior coach… Now what? Cat Lovers’ Academy (CLA) has you covered. Jessica Bartlett, cat behavior expert and founder of CLA, offers virtual behavior consulting services that you can access from anywhere. After conducting an in-depth behavioral assessment with you and your kitty, Jessica will provide you with flexible online meetings, written summaries and resources after each session, homework and guidance, and email support between sessions.
No matter what behaviors you’re struggling with, Jessica will be with you every step of the way. Check out Cat Lovers’ Academy to learn more about Jessica (and meet her kitty family), take a look at her free purr-fessional resources, and access her cat behavior consulting services.