A Truly Bad Cat, Or A Misunderstood Cat?
Sadly many cats get returned to the shelter because of the unrealistic expectations of the humans that adopt them.
Perhaps they expected the cat or kitten to be trouble free all the time.
Maybe they envisioned a cute ball of fur that keeps out of the way until the human wants to pick it up and stroke it.
Perhaps they thought they would be getting a pet that is never any problem, is never misbehaving, is never a naughty cat.
Life with cats is not like that.
There will be problems.
Although most cats are relatively well behaved most of the time, there are certain to be occasions when they are not.
We can only judge behavior by our own standards. If a cat scratches the decor and the furnishings, we call it bad behavior.
call the cat naughty for behaving in that way because scratching spoils
But how does the cat see it?
The cat certainly does not think themselves bad for scratching on the furniture. To the cat scratching is natural, instinctive behavior.
We cannot convince the cat that it is unacceptable to scratch. We can provide a place for the cat to scratch that is acceptable to both the cat and us – a Scratching Post.
It seems that the most often given reason for returning a cat to a shelter is inappropriate elimination.
In other words the cat is going outside the litter box.
Cats do not usually have a problem with using litter boxes, they are very clean animals.
To a cat the litter is very similar to the dirt (earth) outside where they would go if they were in the wild, or where an outside only cat would go.
If a cat does have a problem using the litter box it does not make it a bad cat. The problem could be that the cat is ill.
There could be something that makes using the box painful for the cat, a urinary tract infection for example.
If your cat has a clean bill of health from the veterinarian then there could be other problems, such as . . .
Location. The litter box in the wrong place may mean your cat won't use it. Wrong litter for your cat, too scented perhaps. Wrong litter box, too high sided for a kitten, an elderly cat or a cat with joint problems.
If you have many cats, do you have Enough Litter Boxes?
Believe it or not, some people expect a cat to use a dirty litter box and call the poor animal a bad cat when it refuses to do so.
Cats demand clean litter trays. If the restroom at your place of work was not clean wouldn't you complain? Of course you would and so will your cat.
More information here - Cat Urine Problems.
Is your cat's behavior aggressive?
Does your cat have an aggressively dominant personality? Does your cat attack you or other humans? Does your cat attack or bully your other pets.
Domestic cats can be aggressive for many reasons. It can be difficult to live with a belligerent feline, but with a little patience that aggression can be turned around and you can have a calm, loving pet. See - Cat Aggression.
Remember when your cat was a kitten? Do you remember how amusing it was to watch her antics, how delightful you found her mischievous behavior?
Why is it then that now your cat is a little older you find her mischievousness to be bad behavior?
Maybe you expect her to have learned which actions make her a good cat and which actions make her a bad cat. (Your cat can learn of course, with your help - cats learn mainly by praise and reward and not by punishment.)
But do you want a cat who is never playful, or even a bit impish? There is a difference of course in being playfully lively and swinging on the drapes, or peeing on the floor.
However, ask yourself if you would really like your cat to be oh-so-good, and lay in some out of the way place all the time without ever letting you know she was around.
A little mischief can give your pet personality. Besides, many felines spend so much of the day Sleeping there is little time for them to be a truly bad cat.
Does your cat beg for your food at meal times? Does your naughty cat jump on the kitchen counter? Read this page - Cat Behavioral Problems – for some helpful information.
If your cat is inside the home all the time then she is safe from the dangers of the outside world. However, she does not have the stimulation of the outside world either and that could be a problem.
Is she or he often home alone?
Most likely she will spend time taking cat naps, perhaps sit at the window and watch the world for a spell. Eat her kibble, take a drink, groom herself . . . and then what? Scratch at the decor, knock something off a shelf maybe, just for stimulation to stop herself from being bored out of her mind.
She doesn't want to be a bad cat, she is just fed up.
Does she have a condo she can climb to amuse herself?
When your cat is left by herself, does she have access to Interactive Cat Toys?
The kind of toys that she can play with on her own, like the tracks that have a ball trapped inside that a cat can bat around. Soft balls that she can flick and chase, a peek and play toy, hanging toys that she can bat at.
Try not to leave the same toys out for your cat day after day. Switch them around.
After a week of not having a particular toy it will be new to her when she plays with it again.
Just like children who don't have anything to interest them are likely to misbehave, so too is a cat that is bored likely to behave badly.
Home from work after a hard day, all you want to do is enjoy a meal, unwind and relax.
Can you find a little time to play with your cat? A play session benefits your cat in so many ways.
If your cat is indoors all day it will help burn some of that pent up energy and give her some stimulation. She will have less inclination for that bad cat behavior.
Playing also helps increase the bond between the two of you and helps keep your pet in trim.
How about a short playtime before you head off to work, is that possible? It could mean that while you are away kitty does more snoozing and less naughty cat stuff. Cats love to play with interactive toys.
Most cats crave attention to some degree. Some want very little, as long as they have the necessities, food and water etc. they are content just to be around the place.
Others like attention a lot.
Often the kind of attention they want is affection, petting or even a cuddle. They may desire a grooming session or perhaps a playtime.
Sometimes they just want your attention off of what you are doing and on to them.
And when a cat wants your attention she can do some crazy things to get it. Maybe she will just rub against your leg until she gets it. If that doesn't work . . .
If you are at your p.c. she may place herself in front of the screen. She may charge around the place like a mad thing. She may even use her claws on you.
It's easy to see this attention seeking as bad cat behavior.
What to do about it is the question.
If your cat does something that you do not like to get you to acknowledge her, or to stroke her, and you give her what she wants, then you have rewarded her bad cat tactics. And the next time she wants attention guess what she will do.
The answer is to ignore her.
If all she is doing to get you to notice her is rubbing against your legs, you may not mind that and you may be happy to give her attention. But if she is yowling or worse, you don't want to reward that. Ignore it if you can.
If her behavior can't be ignored, place her in another room, cut her off from you.
Sounds cruel but it may be the only way to show her she can't get what she wants by behaving badly. It takes patience, it takes consistency.
Reward her with your attention and fuss when she is behaving in a way that you want her to behave, after all she deserves it.
. . .would two cats, or more, behave any better?
It is often said that if you are going to adopt a cat, then adopt two as they will be company for each other when you are out of the house.
Yes, cats can be company for each other and two cats can be twice the joy for you. But getting another cat, or kitten, may not be an answer to bad cat behavior.
If you had a particularly naughty child, then producing a baby brother or sister for them is not likely to have the desired effect on their behavior. It's pretty much the same with cats.
Most cats can live quite peaceably in a multi-cat home when the social order has been sorted out.
However it is not as simple as bringing home a new cat or kitten, and expecting your old and new pets to get on with each other right from the get go. See Introducing a New Kitten.
Before two, or more, cats can live together in relative harmony a hierarchy has to be established. To do that may involve much squabbling and even Fighting Between the Cats.
This is not to say that more than one cat is not a good idea, but you may end up swapping the bad cat problems of a bored solitary feline, for the exasperating rowdiness of hierarchical disputes.
Perhaps there are situations where the best course of action is for the cat to be returned to the shelter.
A cat that constantly bites and scratches, and can't be trained out of it, in a home with young children would not be suitable.
But most cats can, with love and patience, be trained. ( Cat Training.) A bad cat? No, a cat with behavioral problems that just needs a bit of training.