I grew up with cats. First there was Charlie a tabby, then Tinker the black cat, and finally Pickle the long-haired tabby. The first two I observed and played with. But Pickle was different. He had a few issues, including hating being groomed, which for a long-haired cat is a bit of a problem. We played a lot, but I also did clicker training with him. We did some fun tricks, and he learnt how to tolerate being brushed and having mats clipped out if any developed. He was a very special boy, and we were very close. Pickle showed me what's possible with cats, and how capable they are, and how sensitive they are to their environment, to changes, and to the behaviour and emotions of people. The picture on the right is Pickle doing a wave for a food treat.

In my feline consultations, I aim to fully understand why a behaviour started, and find the positive changes that can happen in order to help the cat (or cats) live a much happier and stress-free life. 

I promote reward-based and ethical training, and as a behaviourist I consider all aspects of a pet's life from their food, living area, mental and physical exercise, and importantly their emotions and personality.

Feline Behaviour Consultations

Phone Consultations

Whatever issue you're having, Sarah will help you work out why it's happening, and will help you find solutions to the problems.

Issues include: aggression, conflict between cats, toileting accidents, marking, scratching the furniture, biting/ scratching people, fearful, unable to be groomed, excessive meowing etc.

After the initial phone consultation, further advice and support will be offered via email conversations. Sometimes changes can take a while, so Sarah will help you through the journey.

Additional phone consultations can be booked if necessary.

The costs are:

  • Initial phone consultation: £40 for 1 hour
  • Additional phone consultations: £20 for 30 minutes

If your cat has had a sudden change in behaviour, or it involves aggression, please have a chat with your vet first to make sure there isn't an underlying health issue.

For more information, and to book your consultation, please contact Sarah on 07805 855069 or by emailing her on:


Zoom training session

If you have a new kitten and want to learn about clicker training, or have an active older cat who would love to learn some new skills, then you can book a zoom training session.

Clicker training can also be used for cooperative care - such as grooming and vet inspections.

The benefit of doing this remotely, is that your cat can fully relax and concentrate without having someone new invading their safe space!

The cost for these special sessions is:

  • £30 for a 40 minute zoom

You will need to do some training preparation before your first zoom appointment, so that your cat is happy to take the treats you have prepared and is used to hearing the marker you will be using (either a specific word or a clicker). Sarah will let you know about this when you contact her.

For more information, and to book your training session, please contact Sarah.

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Cat Behaviour

Cats are sensitive creatures, and it doesn't take much to upset their equilibrium. When that happens, the first indicator is often the development of a behaviour problem. Generally, if changes are made to their environment and routines, the behaviour issues will reduce by themselves without needing to do anything directly. For example, if your cat is suddenly attacking your feet, rather than telling them off for that, if you find the reason they are doing it, and change something, they will no longer have a need to attack your feet.

A quick guide to cat behaviour; and how to improve problem behaviours...


If a cat is feeling poorly, or is in pain, then their behaviour will change. Before any other considerations about why they are suddenly being ‘naughty’, it’s best to seek veterinary advice. No amount of training or environmental changes will help if your cat is suffering with a physical condition. Once they have the all clear, then it’s time to make some changes. That said…


Change things slowly

Whatever changes you make to a cat’s life, whether intentional or not, it needs to be done slowly. Cats are sensitive, and are creatures of habit. To suddenly change furniture, layouts or routines can be unsettling. Do things gradually, and give them time to adjust. Use catnip to help them know what is a cat-only area. Use covers they have previously laid on to go on the new sofa, to avoid them marking it. Moving house is obviously a terrible time for a cat, as all they were used to and comfortable with has been instantly taken away – it will take them a while to adjust.


Introducing a new cat

I could write a book about this, but as this is a quick guide to feline behaviour, here are the basics…

  • Try to match the cats on paper before letting your heart rule the decision making.
  • Have separate areas in the house initially, so there can be slow introductions.
  • Kittens can be kept in a large dog crate if necessary until the resident cat has learnt to accept them (especially if separate rooms aren’t an option).
  • Scent exchange is really important – stroke one cat, then go fuss the other one, and keep doing that regularly so they can smell who else is in the house. Stroke them with covers you can leave with the other one as well.
  • Gradual exposure is best at first, being careful not to prolong an encounter beyond what either cat can cope with.
  • Use treats to keep both (or all) cats interested in you rather than each other, with the added bonus that everyone is staying calm.
  • Avoid any potential confrontations, conflicts, chasing or cornering.
  • Gradually let them spend more time together, and allowing them in each other’s rooms/ spaces. Be on the alert for signs that things aren’t going well – observing their body language is key to this.
  • Cats can very easily become stressed, and make it clear that the new one isn’t welcome. If this is the case, then you may have to consider rehoming.


Outdoor access

Cat-flaps are great, but can let strange cats in unless you have a microchip activated cat-flap (that only let’s your cat come and go). Make sure they aren’t going to get a surprise when exiting or entering – if you have a dog who’s going to lie in wait, use a barrier so they can enter without being ambushed. If you have an indoor cat, or a cat who’s liable to roam and you have to restrict outside access, consider building an external cat pen. This secure area means they can enjoy being outside, but their exploration is limited to the size of the pen. There needs to be multiple levels within it, and plenty of choice of where to rest and watch the world go by. Some cats can be trained to be walked in a harness, so they can have a walk in the garden, or in a safe and secure place elsewhere. However, some cats become very distressed about this so care must be taken or they may break free and run off.


Litter trays

Every cat has slightly different preferences for type of tray, location, and the substrate used. Many cats dislike scented cat litter, and where some prefer covered trays so they can toilet in private, others won’t enter them and require an open tray. Although you may wish to put litter trays in places that are convenient for you, if your cat won’t use it there, and instead has accidents elsewhere then it’s far better to play the trays where they will actually get used. For multi cat households, it’s important to have more than one tray, especially where there is any friction between the cats. Even if your cat is generally goes outside to toilet, there will be times of the year when they might not be so keen – so it’s advisable to always have a tray on standby. A cat having accidents near a tray they have previously used successfully is usually a sign of stress, rather than the tray or litter itself.



Cats tend to mark things when they feel stressed, or if they feel their territory needs protecting. It can also be a sign they are not coping with change.


Places to sleep

Cats love comfort, and need security. They will usually gravitate to places where both these things are available. Some cats may prefer open beds, and some prefer igloo-type beds. Some love beds hung off radiators, some want to be on their owner’s bed, some have their own unique places to sleep. Choice is really important – although they might not use all the options you provide, that’s up to them.


High places

Cats generally feel more secure when they are high up, especially if there are any dogs around, or other cats they might not get on with, or if they’re worried about visitors entering the house. Spaces can be cleared on top of furniture such as wardrobes and cabinets. Some breeds of cats have a strong desire to explore, climb and jump – particularly Bengals. These cats need lots of shelves with carpet on them (so they are non-slip) placed around the room, allowing them to move around without having to go to ground level.


Cat trees/ play towers

These are valuable to a cat for so many reasons, including a place to sleep, to scratch, to observe, to feel safe, to play, to be high up and are cat-only pieces of furniture that retain their scent (so it shouldn’t be cleaned with fabric cleaner unless it becomes soiled). Several may be required for multi cat households so it doesn’t cause conflict.


Scratch posts

Cats scratch to help shed old bits of claw, to sharpen them to help them climb, to mark their territory, to release stress, and just as a fun thing to do if they’re feeling playful and active. They will scratch both vertically and horizontally, so it’s important to offer both types, in several locations. If your cat is scratching items of furniture, place a suitable scratch post nearby, and apply catnip to help them focus on this instead of the sofa etc.



Cats prefer not to drink next to their food, so it’s best to have their water bowl away from their food bowl. Some cats prefer running water, and there are fountains that help with this. Water needs to be regularly refreshed. The type of dish used is important – find the material and size that works for your cat.


Escape routes

Nervous cats need to feel they are able to move away from visitors, dogs, or other cats if they want to. If they feel trapped, then it will increase their stress, and will make any behavioural issues much worse. Don’t approach a cat who has no escape route, as they are likely to lash out.


Training for cooperative care

There are many things we have to do to cats to ensure they are healthy, including grooming, application of flea and worm treatment, and trips to the vets for vaccinations. All these things can be taught with positive reinforcement, meaning your cat is a willing participant in these procedures rather than having to be grabbed, restrained, and creating many problems for future handling experiences. It’s also possible to teach a cat to willingly enter a cat carrier. Although the training takes a while, the benefits far outweigh this extra investment of time.


Calming pheromones

Cats are very sensitive to changes, stress, and the moods and behaviour of others. When they are struggling, Feliway (or similar products) can help them. This pheromone diffuses around their house, helping them to know that it’s an area where the calm-cats hang out.


Play therapy

Many cats benefit from an increase in playtime. Although we play with kittens, usually this important aspect of their care is forgotten once they’re older. But play can help to counteract any stress they are under, can increase their confidence, gets their ‘happy hormones’ flowing, and provides an outlet for a cats need to jump/ chase/ grab/ pounce etc.



Apart from cooperative care, reward-based training also allows cats to be trained to do tricks. This might be as simple as give a paw, or to complete a cat version of an agility course. Although some cats would think this is a terrible idea, others, especially Bengals who are usually very active and clever, love this extra interaction and the chance to earn tasty treats. Like play, it can help counteract any stress a cat is under, and can also be used to improve specific behavioural issues.


Training your visitors

If your cat is nervous around other people, instruct your visitors to not approach your cat, and not to stare at them or try to stroke them. If your cat wishes to approach them, that’s great, but it should be on their terms.

Avoid ‘quick fix’ punishments

Although it can be tempting to punish a cat for being ‘naughty’, this will actually increase your cat’s stress levels and anxiety, and can escalate issues rather than reduce them. With suitable changes to the environment, food, play and use of reward-based training, punishment becomes unnecessary.


Body language

Cats are usually pretty clear about how they’re feeling. As long as they are listened to and their thoughts and feelings respected, plus having their needs met, then many behaviour issues can quickly be improved. Get good at observing your cat’s body language – this is even more important in multi cat households.


© Sarah Crockford 2024