Basic Guidelines For Cat Behavior Problems
There are many factors that you have to consider when you have a problem with your cat. Ask yourself a few questions.
- Is it a kitten or a full grown cat? Certain behavior problems may be outgrown.
- How long has the cat been in your home? If the cat has recently been introduced to your household, there may be a certain adjustment period.
- Is the problem behavior new or has it been going on for some time? If it’s new, try to identify anything different that’s been going on, such as a change in schedule or the cat’s diet.
- Could there be a medical reason for the problem? It’s generally a good idea to take a cat to the veterinarian for a checkup if you start noticing any new problems. The first thing you want to do is rule out any medical cause.
Now let’s look at some of the more common behavior problems that cat owners must deal with.
Litter Box Problems
Most litter box problems involve the cat not using the litter box properly. In some cases she may pee or defecate right next to the litter box. Sometimes, cat may simply ignore the litter box. This is an especially annoying and unsanitary problem for cat owners. Here are a few possible solutions.
- Try different types of litter. There are several different varieties of litter, such as clumping litter, clay, pine pellets and litter made from recycled paper. There are also litters with various scents. While you may have your own preferences due to the ease of cleaning up the litter box or odor, you have to consider what the cat prefers. Sometimes changing litters can alleviate litter box problems.
- Are multiple cats sharing a litter box? Sometimes a litter box problem is caused when more than one cat uses the same litter box. There may be issues of territoriality or bullying. Getting a second litter box and placing it in a different location can sometimes solve this type of issue.
- Change the Location. Try moving the litter box to a different location.
- Try Cat Attract -There are products such as Cat Attract and others that are designed to make litter more appealing to cats.
- Let the Cat go Outdoors -This is not an ideal solution for everyone. Depending on where you live, it may not be safe to let your cat out. However, some cats prefer the outdoors to litter boxes so this can, in some cases, solve this type of problem.
- Check For Urinary Infection -If other solutions don’t work, you should have your cat checked to make sure she doesn’t have a urinary infection or other medical problem.
Aggression in Cats
Aggression may not be the most common cat behavior problem, but it’s certainly the most serious and potentially disturbing. Despite their relatively small size, domestic cats, like their larger cousins, have sharp claws and teeth, giving them the ability to inflict serious harm on humans and other animals. Destroying property is another matter, one that we will deal with in the next section.
As with other problems, you have to consider when the behavior started, how severe it is and if it can be connected with any obvious causes. If, for example, you have recently adopted a full grown cat and she is aggressive, this could be the result of traumatic experiences at the shelter, in a former home or on the street. On the other hand, a cat you’ve had for a long time who suddenly becomes aggressive has a problem you will have to try to identify. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
- Does the cat get enough exercise? One reason cats become aggressive is that they need more physical activity. Start playing with the cat more. You can buy cat toys or simply use a string or a ball that she can chase. As mentioned, some cats do better as outdoor cats and, if circumstances permit it, you may have a better behaved animal if she is allowed some outdoor exercise.
- Is the cat neutered? Male cats that have not been neutered or “fixed” are the most likely cats to show aggression. Some owners are not prepared for this, as an animal who may have been very gentle as a kitten suddenly becomes aggressive. Getting your cat neutered is usually a good idea for various reasons, unless you are involved in cat breeding.
- Watch for signs. Is your cat being aggressive in certain specific situations? Some cats don’t like to be touched in a certain way, or at certain times. You may find, for example, that it’s not a good idea to try to pet your cat while she’s on a high place such as a shelf. This can bring out the predatory or territorial instinct.
- Is the cat in pain? Aggression can be a response to pain. if the cat has an injury or illness, it may be causing her to lash out in pain. That’s why you should take your cat to the vet if you can’t identify the cause of aggression.
Destructive to Property
While it’s better to have your cat ripping apart your furniture, drapes or carpets than your skin, it’s still a problem. Cats being destructive is a very common behavior problem, and one that can be difficult to fix. That’s because cats are natural predators who are in a somewhat unnatural environment in a home. That doesn’t mean, however, that you simply have to choose between your cat and your belongings.
- Protect your furniture. If your cat is scratching up your couch or favorite armchair, you could put something like plastic or another protective material over the furniture.
- Get a scratch post. Giving a cat something acceptable to scratch can help the problem. Place the scratching post near the item you don’t want him to scratch and, hopefully, she will eventually get the message. If you have a large house, you may need multiple scratching posts. Sometimes larger scratching posts and climbing trees sold at pet shops and on pet related websites provide cats with enough exercise and entertainment that they don’t feel the need to attack your furniture, drapes or carpets.
- Should you declaw your cat? Declawing is a painful procedure for cats and expensive for the owner. More importantly, it takes away the cat’s main weapons for self-defense. A declawed cat should never be allowed to go outside. It can even make it harder for the cat to jump, as it uses its clawed for gripping and balance. In general, delclawing is an extreme solution and should only be done as a last resort. In most cases, there are simpler, cheaper and more humane ways to curb a cat’s destructive tendencies.
- Trim your cat’s claws. While declawing is a painful and extreme measure, trimming is actually good for your cat. You can do this yourself or bring your cat to a specialist. This may not prevent the cat from scratching furniture, but it will at least minimize the damage done.
Overly Active at Night
Cats are naturally nocturnal, which can pose a problem for humans who are trying to sleep through the night. If your cat sleeps most of the day and just starts to get active when you are ready for bed, it can be disturbing, especially if you have to get up early in the morning. While you can’t change a cat’s basic nature, you can do a few things to curb excessive nighttime antics.
- Play with your cat at night. Scheduling a play session before you retire for the evening can help your cat get some needed exercise. This may prevent her from going wild in the middle of the night. It’s also important that cats get enough exercise throughout the day. Being overly energetic at night is, like aggression, another possible symptom of lack of exercise.
- Make feeding time later. If you normally feed your cat her last meal of the day in the afternoon or early evening, try making it later. Giving her a large meal might encourage her to sleep more at night.
- Get a companion for your cat. Getting a second cat may seem like a strange solution if one cat is already keeping you awake at night. However, two cats can play together -during the day, as well as at night. This can help them use up some of their energy.
Cats Constantly Meowing
A certain amount of meowing is natural for cats. This is how they express themselves. If, however, she’s meowing all day and night, it can be a real nuisance. There can be a number of reasons for this.
- Meowing for food. Cats are often vocal when they are hungry. Don’t make the mistake of giving your cat extra food whenever she meows. This will only teach her that this is an effective method to get fed. You may experiment with changing feeding times. Don’t however, let your cat train you into feeding her every time she meows.
- Seeking attention. Meowing can be your cat’s way of letting you know she wants attention or wants to play. As mentioned, make sure your cat is getting enough play and exercise.
- Medical problem. Excessive meowing can be a symptom of pain or illness. This is another time when you should take your cat to the vet to find out what’s going on.
Cat behavior problems come in many varieties. In the majority of cases, they can be solved with some creativity and by identifying the source of the problem. You should always look for clues regarding the origin of any behavior issues. Since cats can’t talk to you, they may express anxiety, frustration or resentment by acting out in certain ways. In other cases, there may be an undiagnosed medical issue. Once you find out why your cat is exhibiting the unwanted behavior, you can come up with a strategy to change it.