Pediatric Behavior Problems in Cats

Treatment

 

Any behavioral problems in kittens aside from those that might stem from a serious neurological problem (which is unlikely) can be treated at home. Medication should not be necessary, except in rare cases of extreme anxiety. Specific measures that should be undertaken depend on the behavior exhibited by your kitten.

 

If aggressive play directed towards people is an issue, the most effective treatment is to acquire an additional kitten for your kitten to play with. Do not hit, kick, or snap the kitten on the nose, as this often elicits more aggressive behavior. Trimming the claws can help reduce damage to people and objects. If your kitten is exhibiting aggressive behavior toward other cats in the household, it might help to take a more proactive role with your kitten. Daily interactive play, using stimulating toys or objects that move, is advised. Toys on strings can entice the kitten to play peacefully.

 

If your kitten is exhibiting fearful and defensive behaviors, it should be exposed to people gradually, and generally kept in a calm environment. Most importantly, let your kitten make the advances -- avoid scaring it by attempting to hold it if it does not want to be held, or continuing to hold it if it is uncomfortable. If fearful or defensive behaviors are a result of early trauma, the stimulus responsible for eliciting the fearful behavior should be identified.

 

Modification of handling techniques, such as punishment methods, is imperative. Your veterinarian can recommend behavior modification techniques that will not harm the kitten, or cause further psychological damage.

 

Living and Management

 

Make any necessary environmental changes, as recommended by your veterinarian. A healthy diet is also a good plan for ensuring normal development and behavior.

 

A check-in with your veterinarian to report improvement, or lack thereof, can be conducted over the phone, or during subsequent visits.

 

Prevention

 

Behavioral problems can be prevented. Kittens should be exposed to positive experiences with people when they are between the ages of three to seven weeks, and owners with children should prohibit roughhousing with kittens. Avoid punishing your kitten, as this can lead to fear, anxiety, and defensive aggressive behavior. Consult your veterinarian for proper training and handling techniques for young cats if you are in doubt.

 

Image via Shutterstock

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