“My 14 year old Siamese cat, Millie, used to be good about going in the litter tray but now she wees and poos outside the tray.” Sarah – frustrated owner…

“My 12 year old cat, Tiger is leaving yellow puddles in the house, I’ve tried everything!” Robert…

Some changes in behaviour, or ‘bad’ behaviours, may really be a cover up for an underlying medical problem.  Some owners might assume that this cat is plotting revenge, but a quick check in the kitty manual of revenge reveals that cats may mark their territory, but they don’t poo or wee on property to make people mad. Imagine if they did! Then the ultimate payback would be for fighting felines to leave their smelly surprises on a rival housemate’s food bowls or favourite toys.

No, revenge doesn’t even make the list here, although a stress-related behaviour problem, or a less than super-clean litter tray, might.

But in Millie’s case, it could also be as simple as arthritis. She is too painful and weak to climb into her box. A ramp leading to her box or lower edges, as well as a veterinary examination and possibly medications may solve her problem.

If your cat is not arthritic but suddenly starts leaving yellow puddles in the house or is making the litter try overflow, he could have a number of other medical problems. These include diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, thyroid hormone imbalance or a urinary tract infection… The list goes on! Blood and urine tests may be needed to diagnose these diseases, and many of these diseases can be managed if not cured. Maybe Tiger needs a checkup?

Some older cats will lose vision just like older people. They may be less active and not jump as much. Animals can be very good at coping with vision loss. Sometimes they use another pet as a ‘seeing-eye’ pet! This may be a reason to miss the litter tray.

There are lots diseases with related odd behaviours. Cats that cry to be fed but then won’t eat – they may have dental disease or another oral problem. Others that suddenly gobble up all their food and then ask for more – this is often a sign of an overactive thyroid gland.

In short, a good deal of behaviour problems may be related to… Well, any medical condition really! But if you see a sudden behaviour change or a behaviour you can’t explain, don’t assume your kitty is just behaving badly. Instead, consider a visit to the vet.

Dr Isabelle Resch received her membership examinations is Animal Behaviour in 2016, and is very happy to help people with any behaviour problems. Please call if you would like to make an appointment to see her.