Frequently Asked Questions

“I just adopted a cat and she won’t come out of hiding. What should I do?”

Hiding is the most commonly encountered “problem” among new adopters of adult cats. It is normal for a cat to hide when introduced to a new environment. Usually, the cat will come out on his own after a day or two, but some cats can hide for as long as a month. Make sure the cat has access to food, water and a litter box, and give him time to feel “safe” in his new home. Never force the cat out from hiding, this will only add to his fears. Spend some time every day in the room where the cat is hiding, sit down on the floor, and speak slowly and softly. Let him get used to your voice and smell.

“Why is my cat spraying in the house?” “Why is my cat missing the litter box?”

If a cat is having litterbox problems, she must be seen by a veterinarian. Most litterbox issues are due to medical problems such as urinary tract infections, bladder infections, constipation, diarrhea, or cystitis. The cat may be having some pain or discomfort of which you are unaware. As a result, the cat may be avoiding the litterbox in order to have a more comfortable place to eliminate such as a bed, carpet or even the sink. Only a veterinarian can rule out medical problems. If a veterinarian rules out a medical problem, make sure the cat is spayed or neutered as spraying can be caused by a cat marking territory and/or seeking a mate. Also, make sure the litter box is kept clean. Never yell at the cat, hit or slap the cat, or rub the cat’s face in his urine. This will only add to the confusion and may actually intensify the behavior. Read the section “Unhappy Cats” for more information.

“Why does my cat sometimes vomit?”

Sometimes an otherwise healthy cat will make coughing sounds until she vomits a clumpy, fibrous mass of hair mixed with fluid. Usually, these are hairballs created in your cat’s stomach from the hair she ingests while grooming herself.

Brush your cat frequently to reduce the amount of loose hair on her coat. You can also buy hairball gel for your cat at any pet supply store that enables the cat to pass the hairball through elimination rather than vomiting.

A cat may vomit for reasons other than hairballs. If your cat is persistently retching or coughing, you should have your veterinarian examine her.

“My cats just started fighting with each other, what should I do?”

Cats are naturally territorial animals, and need time to adjust to a new cat in the home. Even cats that have lived together for years may suddenly experience problems. If cats are fighting, you should not let the fighting continue—but should never punish the cats. Read the section “Unhappy Cats” for more information. Confine the cats to separate locations (giving each cat a “safe” place) with all their necessary items and speak to a behavorist, or slowly reintroduce them as discussed in the beginning of this brochure. Most cats will work it out.

“Should I declaw my cat to get her to stop scratching the furniture?”

No. Declawing is the surgical removal of the first joint of the cat's paw. It is an unnatural and sometimes painful way of dealing with unwanted behavior; and one that can itself lead to stress–related behavior problems.

Cats scratch in order to maintain their nails, to stretch and exercise, and to mark their territory. This natural behavior just needs to be directed toward an appropriate scratching post. There are many good scratching outlets for a cat, as well as ways to make the furniture or rugs “unattractive” for scratching purposes such as hanging aluminum foil, citrus sprays, a strategically placed cat tree, or even draping a cloth over the target area.