My Cat's Personality Has Changed
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There are so many factors which influence a cat's personality. Many of these most cutely affect them when they are young. This is the reason we see some kittens be shy and fearful, while others are curious and adventurous. But nothing is written stone. As cats develop and age physically, their experiences shape their personality. While it is rewarding to witness their personality develop and find out who they are, it can be worrying if their personality changes all of a sudden.
AnimalWised looks at the reasons for these sudden behavioral changes in cats in this article on my cat's personality has changed. We explain when this need to be addressed and what we can do if something is wrong.
A cat's personality
Many of us believe that a cat's breed will define their character and personality. While it is true that certain breeds share genetic traits which influence their behavior, it is only one of the factors which determine the cat they will become. More important is their early experiences, particularly during their socialization period. This is the time when they learn how they need to interact with their environment and those within it.
There are some defining traits of cats, but these are often misrepresented. While dogs are thought of as obedient and craving human attention, cats are seen as independent and aloof. Cats are actually social animals and need affection from their family to maintain their well-being, although some are more social than others.
After we adopt a cat, we should provide them with their basic needs which includes mental stimulation and socialization. If these needs are well met, we can see how they will develop and form a bond. Since not all cats are the same, we will get to experience their behaviors and idiosyncrasies as we share our lives. It is one of the most rewarding aspects of adopting a cat.
When a cat changes their personality suddenly, it can cause great confusion for their guardians. This is because the reasons are varied as to why they are behaving differently. Some of these causes are psychological, but there may also be a physical problem behind them.
If your cat's mood has changed so much their personality is different, we need to work out why. This can be seen if they suddenly become aggressive, depressed, sluggish, anxious or even engage in behaviors such as marking or scratching. However, it is also possible a cat's personality will change in seemingly positive ways. For example, they may become more affectionate or want to give more attention.
The main reasons why a cat's personality changes suddenly are:
- It is mating season
- They have been neutered
- They have an illness or disease
- There is a death in the family
- You have moved recently
- Their routine has changed
- They are deprived affection
- They are bored
- They are lonely
Below, we look at these different reasons why a cat may be acting differently in more detail.
1. It is mating season
Unsterilized females will develop something known as the heat period in cats. It is a necessary period for mating since the female alerts the male she is ready to be fertilized, affording wild cats the survival of their species. Females alert males in various ways, affecting their general behavior in the process.
Physically, the female's genitals become swollen and they emit pheromones which males pick up on. Behaviorally, they will rub themselves against the ground, become more affectionate and meow loudly as they call out to males.
Male cats don't go through heat, but if they are unsterilized and cannot mate, they will have their own problems. They will become more nervous, try to escape, spray to mark their territory and may even become aggressive out of frustration. For both male and female cats, the mating season can make them appear as if their personality has changed completely.
There are many cats which need a home whether due to abandonment or other circumstance. For this reason alone, we need to spay and neuter our cats to reduce the overpopulation and give more cats the chance of a good home.
Sterilization will also prevent the serious personality and behavioral changes which accompany mating season and the heat period. Neutering will also provide other benefits, both physical and emotional to improve the welfare and well-being of your cat.
2. They have been neutered
We recommend spaying and neutering your cats, but it is true they will likely undergo personality changes to some degree. Fortunately, these changes are mostly for the positive.
Immediately after being neutered, the cat may seem dazed and maybe a little confused. Some cats change very little, however. After this time, they will usually be more docile and have a relaxed temperament. This is because their sexual drive has been removed and they should feel less frustration.
If a cat has sexually matured fully before they are neutered, it is possible they will carry out certain behaviors such as mounting. This is normal. In general, the cat should become more sedate. If you notice any negative side effects of neutering a cat, speak to you veterinarian.
3. They have an illness or disease
While we may associate illness with more visceral symptoms, a sudden change in personality can be the first sign there is something physically wrong with our cat. It doesn't necessarily mean the illness has appeared all of a sudden. Unfortunately, many diseases in cats begin symptomless. It may be that the first we notice there is a problem is when the cat appears tired, irritable or something other behavioral change.
Our cat may also become aggressive or show other problematic behaviors. When they are in pain, it is understandable they will not be able to resume their normal activities. A change in behavior or personality is one of the main signs of pain in cats. Since they cannot communicate to us through the same language, we need to look out for any changes and consult a veterinarian if we think an illness may be the cause.
4. There is a death in the family
Some people still think cats don't bond with their human families, but it is not true. Not only do they enjoy our company, but they can be serious affected by the death of a family member. This can occur with their feline kin as much as it can with their human family.
Cats are creatures of routine. Even if it can take a while for two cats to get along, once they do, they are family. They will groom each other, snuggle together, play together and look out for each other. The same can happen with human family. When a family member is lost, we often see the cat go through a period of mourning. Personality changes can occur and we may even hear them cry out for their lost friend.
5. You have moved recently
Since cats require a certain level of routine to feel secure, any change to said routine can result in stress. There are few major upsets to a cat's routine than moving home. If you notice your cat's personality has changed suddenly, then look at their circumstance.
Not all cats will take as long to adjust. But if you notice your cat is becoming anxious, confused or even aggressive, it is likely due to the move. If they don't settle in soon, you will need to find ways to make them feel more comfortable. Use positive reinforcement to help the cat feel secure in the environment and be generous with your affection.
6. Their routine has changed
Although a big change such as moving home can lead your cat to change their personality all of a sudden, even small changes can affect them. If you have changed their meal times, started to have an erratic schedule or even changed their type of food, the cat may respond by feeling insecure. You may also make small improvements which make the cat feel more comfortable, resulting in a more calm character.
7. There is a new pet or family member
Many cats are sensitive to the presence of a new animal in the home, especially if they are unsterilized. This is because cats are territorial animals and may feel threatened when another cat enters. Neutered cats may still feel similarly, but usually not to the same degree.
The cat may also feel like their security is threatened if the other cat takes their food, plays with their toys or sleeps in their bed. A change in the cat's personality may result.
When a new human family member joins the group, this can also cause problems. One of the main reasons is that the cat may not receive the same amount of attention. There may be areas of the home to which they are denied access and their routine is generally disrupted.
Fortunately, our guide to helping a cat and baby get along will help if your cat's personality changes for this reason.
8. They are deprived affection
Some cats are more affectionate than others, but they all need to receive it from time to time from their family. If we do not give them affection for any reason, they will be emotionally deprived. Such deprivation can have a serious affect on their character and they may become sullen and irritable. Cats also do not like to be ignored, especially from someone with whom they have built a bond of trust.
They are bored
Our lives can change in various ways, but often we don't take our cat into account. Too many cat guardians make big decisions and neglect to factor their cat into the outcome. If we have become more busy, have lost interest in being at home or neglect our cat for any reason, they can become bored.
Cats need environmental enrichment and cognitive stimulation to be happy. If they do not have enough activities and distractions, the repercussions can range from an apathetic attitude to even property destruction. If a cat does not have any companions, these problems can be exacerbated. We need to find ways to reduce the boredom and keep them engaged. We also need to ensure we interact with them more.
Our article on 10 games to entertain your cat at home will help you spend time with your cat productively and help them get back to their old selves.
They are lonely
Finally, we may see a change of personality in our cat because they are lonely. If we are unable to spend time with them, they can become frustrated and it can negatively affect your bond. Loneliness has a serious detrimental effect on cats. If we cannot spend as much time with them as we would like, they need to find other ways to have companionship. This may be inviting a friend to cat-sit or even to adopt a new cat into the family.
Now that we have looked at some of the reasons why your cat personality has changed, we can look at what a happy cat looks like. We can do this with our video on the 15 best cat personality traits which you can see below:
If you want to read similar articles to My Cat's Personality Has Changed, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.