Behaviour consultations

To book a behaviour consultation you can contact me via info@happycats.london or fill out the form on my contact page.

On this page you’ll find more information about types of consultations and types of behaviour problems I regularly deal with.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to behaviour problems, even in cats that show the same behaviour. Solutions depend on your cat’s character and life experiences, as well as their home environment. My behaviour modification programme for your cat will always be tailored to your specific situation.

In many cases, most notably anxiety related problems, aggression and house soiling, the best way to deal with the problems is a home visit consultation so I can assess your cat’s behaviour in their home environment and fully analyse the situation. This will be followed by written recommendations and a support period.

However, I understand a home visit may not always work for you and I offer video consultations as well. These consultations are most suitable for more general questions, such as: how to introduce a new cat when you already have a cat or a dog, what to do if your cat is scratching furniture or other destructive behaviour, etc.

What type of consultation you want to book depends in part on your cat’s behaviour problem but also on what you feel happy with. Not everyone wants to invite someone over to their home and I understand that.

Click on one of the following links for more information about home consultations, video consultations or bespoke options as well as information about referral by your vet. Alternatively, you can scroll down and read about all options.

Click here for more information about types of behaviour problems.

Home consultations

A consultation in your home usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. We will discuss all aspects of the behavioural problem(s) you are experiencing and the consultation also gives me a chance to meet your cat and assess their home environment. I will take notes and may also take pictures in order to help me come up with the best plan to solve the behaviour problems. After the consultation you will receive an email with a detailed behaviour modification programme with advice and recommendations tailored to your specific situation.

Please note that I offer home visit consultations in London and most of South East / East England.

Why home consultations?
A home visit consultation helps me understand your cat in their own environment and also helps me identify:
* does the cat have enough places to sleep, hide and climb?
* where are the litter tray(s) and food and water bowls located?
* could anything about the feeding, toileting or sleeping arrangements be upsetting the cat?
* are there other things in the home that might be upsetting the cat?
* are there things outside that might be upsetting the cat?
* how do clients interact with the cat?
* how does the cat interact with or behave towards its owners?
* if there are multiple cats, how do they interact with one another?
Etc.

After the home consultation
Solving your cat’s problem behaviour and making sure they feel happy is not something I can fix within my visit. It will take time and dedication from you as the cat’s owner as well.
It is important to me that you feel confident you know how to implement my recommendations. It is equally important to me to receive feedback or discuss any parts of my advice or recommendations that you are struggling with.
We will get the best results if there is an open line of communication!

I offer support via WhatsApp and email for up to six weeks after the consultation. Most clients prefer WhatsApp as this easy, quick and enables us to send pictures to each other or video call if necessary.

If you feel you need extra guidance or help you can always contact me to arrange a video conference. A follow-up visit to your home is not usually needed.

Video consultations

Although home consultations are my preferred working method, I also offer video consultations. This is especially suitable for people who would like more general cat behaviour advice.
Some examples include:

* Buying or adopting a kitten, grown-up or senior cat
* Should we get a second cat?
* Introducing cats: advice before introductions have taken place
* Introducing cats and dogs: advice before introductions have taken place
* Destructive behaviour

Video consultations do not include follow-up support, although we can add this. See below for bespoke options.

Bespoke options

As I mentioned above, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to behaviour problems and you may want, or need, to book a more bespoke behaviour therapy plan.

For example, you may prefer to book weekly or fortnightly home or video consultations for a specific amount of time or on a ‘pay as we go’ basis. This can be especially useful if the problem behaviour has been ongoing for quite some time. Perhaps you’d like to book a second consultation after a month if you feel you need more guidance.

Alternatively, you may wish to book a video consultation with added support via WhatsApp or email, or you may wish to include a longer support period than 6 weeks.

Perhaps you’d like to receive a full report after the consultation, rather than only the behaviour modification plan. This report includes a detailed description of all possible diagnoses taken into consideration and the rationale (initiating and maintenance factors) behind the final diagnosis.

All of these options can be discussed and the fee will depend on the type of bespoke behaviour therapy plan we agree on.

Veterinary referral

It is always useful for me to have your vet’s details. I may need to consult with them or may want to ask them about your cat’s medical history. In addition, if I think medication is required I will need to consult your vet.

In some cases a veterinary referral is required. This is because there are many factors that can cause or contribute to the development of feline behaviour issues. These causes may include current, developing or previous medical conditions. Your vet can examine your cat(s) to rule out medical issues as a cause of the problem behaviour. Once your vet has established there is no medical reason for the cat’s behaviour issues they can refer you to a behaviourist.

Please click below to download my Veterinary Referral Form.

Types of behaviour problems

House soiling
Your cat is urinating and/or defecating outside the litter tray. Perhaps your cat uses the tray to defecate but urinates elsewhere.
You will need to see your vet first to rule out illness such as cystitis or kidney disease.
Only after your vet has declared your cat physically healthy can we look at other causes.

Urine spraying
Cats mark their territory and sometimes spray urine to do so. This behaviour is sometimes accompanied by inappropriate urination as well, but not necessarily.
If your cat has not been neutered then this is the first step to take. Talk to your vet about this as significant decrease in spraying after neutering is reported in around 90% of male cats and 95% of female cats.

If your cat has been neutered, take it to the vet to rule out an underlying disease such as cystitis.
Only after your vet has declared your cat physically healthy can we look at other causes.

Anxiety related problems
If your cat is suddenly hiding, fearful or nervous when it was a happy, outgoing cat before then take your cat to a vet first. Such a dramatic change in behaviour could be assign your cat is ill.

Sometimes cats become nervous or fearful after a change in their environment. Perhaps something changed in your family. Did someone move in or out of the home? Did you get a new pet? Did you have a baby or adopt a child? Did you move home? Etc.
These, and other, things can cause your cat to feel unsafe. In some cases I can help you via video consultation and in others a home visit consultation is best. This depends on your specific circumstances.

Stress related problems
Stress can cause cats to become physically ill or experience behaviour problems such as aggression, anxiety, over-grooming, etc. Long-term stress is bad for your cat’s physical health and mental wellbeing.

By identifying triggers we can come up with specific solutions. In some cases rehoming is the best option, however often changes can be made in the cat’s home to relieve stress. Some changes in your own or visitors’ behaviour towards the cat may be needed as well.

Aggression
Your cat may be aggressive to other cats, other animals in the home, or (certain) people. This can drive you to despair and is potentially harmful to the aggressive cat itself and other animals or people in your home.

It is important to get to the root of the problem. In some cases, though certainly not all, rehoming the cat might be the best solution. However, my goal is to work with you to create a better home environment for you as well as your aggressive cat.

Destructive behaviour
Your cat may scratch the sofa, bed, wallpaper, rugs, etc. This type of behaviour is natural: the cat is marking its territory and sharpening its claws. They can also do this if they want our attention.
In most cases I can help you rectify this behaviour with advice via video consultation.

Over-grooming
Over-grooming can be a sign of illness. This could be a skin disease, allergy, cystitis to name a few. It is therefore important to get your cat checked out by your vet before contacting me.
If there is no underlying physical cause for this behaviour over-grooming is often related to anxiety or stress.

PICA
This is a term used to describe the behaviour of eating non-edible things such as wool, plastic, rubber, leather, cellophane, etc.

Help improving an older cat’s life
Older cats may suffer from a range of physical issues, most notably arthritis or cognitive decline (similar to dementia in people). These issues can affect your cat’s behaviour as well. They might wake you up at night or become more vocal. Changes to your cat’s environment can help enrich your ageing cat’s quality of life.