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Feline Friday: Ask Amy, Kitty Yowls & Litter-ary Woes

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kitten outside under shrub

Yowling youngsters yearn for luv...

My Seren-kitty has never been a touchy-feely lap snuggler. It wasn’t until she became a senior citizen cat that Seren deigned to snooze on a human, and a lot of that has to do with tormenting the Magical-Dawg. But when I still worked in a “real job” as a vet tech, more than once clients called with concern about the bizarre behavior of feline fur-kids.

Usually it was the girl kitties who began to rub-rub-rub and rollllllllllllllllllllll all over the floor, CRYING out like tortured souls and diggidy-pawing at windows. One frightened woman was sure her cat had caught “the rabies.” I can imagine all you cat-savvy folks nodding wisely–y’all know exactly what’s up. It’s that time of the season when girl kitties pick the lock with their rabies tags, shimmy out the window, and get all lovey-dovey with feline Romeos. . . . and I sell a boatload of kitten books as a result.

cat in litter box

"Fixing" cats often can "fix" hit-or-miss potty behavior.

Of course, the Romeo cats take the opportunity to baptize everything in sight to announce their macho status to the banshee-esque girls. Even if your fur-kids have had their gonads snipped, the love-in-the-air can prompt some serious litter-ary action.

“Going” outside the litter box is the top cat-behavior complaint of cat owners. Litter-box problems lose cats their homes and lives. But cats use urine and feces to “talk” to owners, even if humans misunderstand the stinky message. Cats have logical reasons for inappropriate behavior. Understanding the reasons they snub the box often reveals easy fixes that will keep your cat’s aim on target. Here are five common reasons cats miss the box, and how to improve their aim.

It may be tempting to have the cute-icity of a kindle of kittens on hand–anyone have a litter now? What are your challenges? Has it prompted more hissy fits between your adult cats? Litter box issues? Have you found ’em homes yet?

The yowls have other causes, too–especially for our golden oldie cats. The Ask Amy video mentions a couple of these issues but there’s lots more info in the Aging Cat book. What do you do about your adult cat-erwauling? Did a vet visit take care of the problem? Or are you still losing sleep? Hint: Ear plugs are your friend! What else can you add to the Ask Amy video advice?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant (dogs/cats), award winning author of 30+ pet care titles and thrillers, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

5 responses »

  1. Amy–Please tell me the best way to get my 10 week old kitten, Miss Callie Cat, to stop biting at my hands. I tell her no in a firm tone and give her a soft little bop on the nose. Miss Callie Cat was in poor health when I got her. She had “near pneumonia” at 6 weeks. Lots of medicine but now she’s a very active and cuddly little girl. Love your love for animals, Amy. I’m married to a man who is not an animal lover as I am so he merely tolerates my kitten or whatever pet I have at the time.


    • Hi Winona, Congrats on the new kitten! Those needle teeth really hurt–my sympathies. Thing is, the baby just doesn’t KNOW that the biting hurts and needs to be taught. Litter mates and mom-cat are the best teachers of bite inhibition but since she was so sick, you got her early and you have to be mom! Here’s a link to an article that should help a bunch:

      Also, my husband was not a “pet person” either–at first. *s* It generally takes the RIGHT pet to make an emotional connection so I hope your husband ends up smitten with the kitten. Thanks for asking–that’s a great topic for a future Ask Amy. *s* Meanwhile, lots more info in the book Complete Kitten Care (

  2. Oh dear. Yes, smelly problems indicate peeking order issues generally. Snipping the gonads won’t always fix the peeking order problems in a multi-cat household. Add dogs, and things can get really confused.

    One thing that can help is pheromones. A lot of vets and large pet stores sell pheromone dispensers for both dogs and cats, which can help excited animals ‘chill out’, we are currently using one right now with a beautiful black and white neutered male cat who has a bad case of nerves. Basically he’s scared of his own shadow, and the slightest noise, like dropping a paperback book on the floor, will have him hanging from the chandelier.

    With dogs training helps. Dogs are natural pack animals. They have the drive to please the pack leader, which had better be the human. Pecking order is important to dogs, but the pack leader determines it, and the pack obeys.

    Cats are different. While cats do work in groups (and there’s nothing funnier than seeing a couple of fixed males helping an fertile male and a female taking care of a litter of kittens), they don’t latch onto a human as ‘pack leader’ in the same way, even though every cat will have a favourite human. And they’ll never defer to a humans choice as to who is at the top of the pecking order.

    And that’s a problem. Because until the cats manage to work it out, you’ll continue to have smelly issues all around the house. Or until one of the cat who is part of the issue, is removed from the house.

    We had a beautiful Siamese cross, that one of our neighbours had to give up. He hadn’t been fixed (which was the problem). We had been considering breeding our year old Siamese queen, so we took him in, and kept him uncut. Two litters of beautiful kits later, we got him and her fixed.

    Problem was, he was low cat on the totem pole, and had picked up a nasty spraying habit. Being fixed didn’t change it. So I put a long ad up on Craigslist, explaining the situation, and that he was up to date on all his shots.

    Free beautiful kitty to loving home. Shiloh got himself a new home, and adapted pretty quickly. He just needed to get out of the situation he was in.

    I miss the little goof. But our house wasn’t good for him. His new place is.


  3. Amy,

    What a cute kitty at the top of this post!!


  4. Hi Jenny–thanks! That’s Basil. He was a kitten that lived in the next door apartment MANY years ago…heck, we’ve been in this house nearly 15 years now so he’d be older than my Seren-kitty. *s*


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