Solving Basic Cat Behavior Problems

Do you have a cat behavior problem?

Let's face it, if you share your home with a cat sooner or later you are going to encounter a behavior problem.

No matter how nice, or how much of a "good kitty" your cat is, there will be something, and possibly lots of things, that your cat insists on doing that will cause you to feel anything from mild irritation, to near blood boiling exasperation.

Do remember that what we as humans may regard as inappropriate or naughty conduct, will undoubtedly be viewed by your pet as perfectly natural behavior.

Are there things that we can do to change the situation into one where your cats' habits are at the least acceptable to you?

Yes - but compromise between what you view as ideal cat behavior and the feline mindset, is inevitable.

As we shall see using punishment as a means to train your cat is futile.

The Litter Box And Bad Cat Behavior

Your cat, who you thought to be well trained in using her litter box, suddenly decides to start going on the carpet, in the laundry basket, on your new rug, or even your bed!

It is unlikely that your pet has unexpectedly decided to have a "bad attitude".

bad cat behavior
Your cat may behave in ways that you find unacceptable sometimes, but it is unlikely that she is behaving that way just to upset you.

Could the reason for this bad behavior be a medical problem? If your cat has a urinary tract infection this can make the act of passing Urine painful for her.

Many cats will associate the pain with the litter box and stop using it.

Often a cat will look and act perfectly healthy when in fact they are sick, and only a visit to your veterinarian will determine if the cause of your cat behaving badly is a medical one.

Even after any infection has been treated and cleared, your cat may continue to insist on urinating on the carpet or whatever spot that she picked to use.

This is because cats are instinctively triggered to continue using an area that smells of their urine or feces.

Ordinary house cleaning products may get rid of the smell for you, but not for your cat! She will still smell it and therefore continue to use that spot.

You will need to use an enzyme cleaner to thoroughly soak the area and then allow to air dry.

If it is a carpet that has been badly soiled do not forget to also soak the underlay.

What if it is established that there is no medical reason for your cats sudden bad cat behavior?

Then you will need to do some detective work to discover the explanation. Has anything changed? Has a new pet been brought into the home? Is there a new baby in the house? A new partner?

Animals can suffer the Stress that change brings, just the same as humans can, and when stressed cats can act in strange ways.

Have you changed the type or brand of cat litter that you have been using?

Have you changed the type of air freshener, or room deodorizer to one with a different scent? (It is not a good idea to use a room deodorizer close to a litter tray.)

Have you recently had installed a new kitchen appliance, one that periodically makes a noise?

If your kitties' litter box is close to the appliance, it certainly could be the cause of the kitty behavior problem.

Your Cat May Not Like That Change

An obvious reason that should not be overlooked is, has her Litter Box been moved to a different spot in the house? You may have been rearranging the furniture and decided the litter tray would be better placed here rather than there.

Your cat may not agree.

Some non slip mats or rugs use a backing that has an odor, that may be unnoticeable to humans but to a cat is an open invitation to urinate.

Not much can be done here but to dump the rug.

Most cats have a preference of particular kinds of surfaces they like to do their toilet on.

This preference for a surface can change for no apparent reason, and a cat that has always used the litter tray will suddenly favor going on a soft fabric surface, in your bath, or sink, or on a wood floor.

What can be done to combat this cat behavior surface of choice problem? Make the place where your cat has been using unattractive by covering it with sheets of sticky paper laid sticky side up, or try strips of aluminum foil.

If your cat is going on a soft surface, try changing to a soft, sandy litter, and try laying a soft length of fabric under the litter box.

If your kitty is using a smooth surface, such as tiles, spread a thin layer of litter at one end of the box, and leave the other end bare.

Punishment And How Cats Behave

Do not punish your cat for going outside her box, or for any bad cat behavior. Punishment has absolutely no beneficial effect whatsoever.

Your cat simply will not understand if you try to punish her in any way for something she has done. Cats do not relate punishment to the "crime", they are far more likely to relate the punishment to you!

If you catch your cat when she is going where she should not, try clapping your hands loud, but not loud enough to scare her, the aim is to distract her. If possible take her to her litter box, if she uses it give her plenty of praise.

Praise is an excellent way of modifying cat behavior, animals do respond to it. Let your pet know that it is OK to do her toilet... in the right place.

Aggressive Cat Behavior

Bonkers is an adorable black cat with a beautiful glossy coat. Enter the room that she is in and sit down. She will take stock of you for a few moments and then prowl around the perimeter of the room and jump upon your lap.

angry cat
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Bad Cat Behavior
Cat behaving badly... Can you do anything about it?

You will be unable to resist stroking her, and she will eat up the petting purring like a buzz saw.

After some time, when your stroking has become subconscious and your thoughts are elsewhere, seemingly out of the blue, Bonkers will bite at your hand!

Is Bonkers unbalanced? Is she a psychotic cat? No, it is quite normal cat behavior to have these mood swings. Not all cats will go so far as to bite when they have had enough petting, but plenty do.

If you experience this sort of Aggressive Cat Behavior from your pet, try to become aware of any signals that a bite or scratch is about to occur. As soon as you see kitties' ears go back, or her tail begin to twitch or even if she just becomes restless, then stop petting her.

Play Motivated Aggressive Cat Behavior

You are walking barefoot through your home. Suddenly your foot is pounced on and attacked by your sweet, gentle, pet cat that loves and adores you as much as you love and adore her.

What is the reason for this, what sort of behavior is it to bite the hand, or in this case the foot, that feeds you?

Cats are hunters by nature, and even though the domestic house cat has all her food provided for her, she instinctively practices her hunting skills.

Play motivated aggressive cat behavior is very often seen in young, indoor cats.

If your cat is the only feline in the home, then there is little else for her to practice her attack skills on but you.

Your hand dangling by the side of the bed as you snooze, looks to be the perfect mouse substitute to your cat, so, it's crouch, creep, pounce and "ouch!"

What can be done? Try redirecting the play aggression to a cat toy dragged along by a piece of string for example.

Never use your hand to "tease" your cat during play, you will only teach her that it is acceptable cat behavior to attack human flesh.

Health and Aggressive Cat Behavior

Sometimes a cat will act aggressively simply because they are sick. Nobody knows your cat as well as you, any sudden change in your cat's behavior should be checked by your veterinarian.

Fear, And Territorial Aggressive Cat Behavior

Cats are territorial, that is their nature. Your pet accepts what she is used to, if she is accustomed to seeing strangers of the human kind in her home she probably reacts without too much fuss.

calico cat
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But what if a strange cat should enter her territory, an event that she perceives as a threat?

You may call her violent reaction aggressive behavior, but in reality it is instinctive protective behavior.

Some cats do not take to being picked up, even by those humans who share their home with them, and may react aggressively.

This could be through something that happened during kittenhood, and if as a kitten your cat learned that violently aggressive action can end a perceived threat, then this will enforce her natural instinct.

Bad Cat Behavior Problem, Scratching Furniture

Scrrrraaatch! Walls, furniture, drapes, carpets!

Why do cats do this? Why must they scratch and scrape at things? If they must indulge in that sort of behavior why must they do it indoors, why can’t they confine their pesky scratching to when they are outside?

What can I do? I love my cat, no doubt about that, but I take pride in my home. I don’t want to have to live with gouge marks in the legs of my nice highly polished table, or carpeting that has been scratched threadbare.

Will she ever stop behaving in this way? Is punishing her really no use at all? Would a scratching post help? Would she even use it?

Your beloved cat ruining your home with her claws can be both infuriating and costly. However, all is not lost, there is hope. You can take action to improve her conduct and live in a scratch free home. Stop Your Cat Scratching Furniture.

The Bored Indoor Cat And Cat Behavioral Problems

Cats that are allowed the freedom to go outside the home have plenty to keep them stimulated.

They find opportunities to socialize with other cats, they patrol their territory, and wildlife gives them the chance to practice their hunting skills. Outdoor cats are not likely to become as bored as indoor cats are.

Many cat lovers keep their felines indoors, and there are many good reasons for doing so.

However, as most of us are away from the home during the working day, this means that kitty is left with no company. Kitty is likely to become bored.

Bored cats are not happy cats. Bored cats can become stressed and develop cat behavioural problems.

A cat left alone all day will probably spend a lot of that time catnapping, but not all of the time. When she is awake she needs something to keep her intYou cannot train a cat not to be bored. But training your cat not to do the things that you don't want her to do, such as scratching your furniture, should result in her doing those things less frequently - - even when you are not there.  
Help your cat to avoid boredom. Has she got a Cat Climbing Tree? A perch so that she can watch the world from the window? Hanging toys are good. A cat will find plenty of amusement from batting around a hanging toy, have several different toys and swap them around from time to time.

Some cat lovers find that leaving a radio softly playing, tuned to a talk station, helps when they leave their cats.

A TV playing a “cat entertainment” tape or DVD can keep some cats amused for an hour or so.

Begging For Your Food

What starts out as cute, your cat gently rubbing around your legs until you weaken and give her a little of what she is after, can soon turn into one of those downright annoying cat behavioral problems.

A cat that you have rewarded for begging at mealtimes will be a cat that consistently begs for your food. It is a habit that would be wise not to encourage in the first place.

You know that food for humans is not good for cats. But you reason that you are only giving her a small piece and it will do no harm. But she will be back next meal time, and the next.

Apart from the fact that your food does her no good, the begging has become insistent. She meows, she cries, she growls, she jumps up. She gets on your nerves. Also your cat behaving like that is embarrassing when you have guests.

Can anything be done?

If you don't do this already, feed your cat just before you eat. Better yet, play with your cat before you feed her.

Play using a chase toy, such as a wand and feather, get your cat just a little fatigued. Then feed her. It is quite likely she will then want to sleep, which leaves you to enjoy your meal in peace.

Alright, it didn't work that time.

Your cat is awake and begging. Just say “No.” That's it, just firmly say no. Don't make a fuss, don't get angry, don't give in. Do not reward her by giving her too much attention. If your cat gets attention from you, that could be as much of a reward for the begging as it would be if she got some of your food.

If she jumps up, place her back on the floor. If she keeps jumping up, put her outside the room. Whatever she does, do not give in to her demands for your food.

Will this behavioral training work by next week? No. It is going to take time and patience. But eventually your cat will learn to behave when you are eating and learn that your food is not her food.

Misbehaving catCat behavioral problems can be rectified with behavior training.

Cat On The Counter

Cat in Sink

Cats love counter tops don't they. Seems like almost every cat will jump up on the kitchen counter unless trained not to do so.

Cats on kitchen counters is not a good idea.  It's not a hygienic idea, it's not a safe idea. 

Cats are clean animals, but . . . they are animals, so should not be on any surface that food is prepared on.

Kitchen counters are not at all safe for cats. Cats are curious, they are apt to investigate anything, a steaming kettle, a hot stove, a sharp knife . . .

So how do you keep a cat off the counter? Perhaps not the easiest of cat behavioral problems to change if your cat has developed the habit, but training and patience can produce wonderful results.

You can, if possible, make your kitchen off limits for your cat. This of course is only possible if your kitchen has a door, but many kitchens are of open plan design, you can't shut kitty out.

Will your cat protest if you keep her out of your kitchen? You bet she will. After all until now your kitchen has been part of her territory. Be firm, be patient, take her out each time she goes into the kitchen, reward and praise her when she stays out.

If you can not keep her out of your kitchen, she will have to learn not to jump up on the counter.

What's the attraction with the counter? The most obvious attraction is . . .food.

The counter is where the your food is prepared. Ahh, the smell of it, how tempting for a cat.

Ensuring that no food is left on the counter, and all spills and waste are cleared away, means there is less temptation for your cat.

Do you dish out your cat's food on the kitchen counter? If so, it is likely your feline friend jumps up while you are dishing it out. Take the can to your cat's dish rather than serving out your cat's food into the dish on the counter.

Going up in the world. You know how cats love to sit up high. Okay, a kitchen worktop is not the highest of places, but it is better than floor level.

Does your feline have a cat perch or kitty condo that she can look down on the world from?

If your cat has a perch that is higher than your kitchen counter, it is possible that she will make it her favorite spot and leave your worktop alone.

Some folks find that fixing aluminum foil along their counter top discourages their cat. Cats do not like the feel of aluminum foil or the sound that it makes when they walk on it. Obviously you will not want the foil as a permanent fixture, just have it there long enough that your cat decides the counter is no longer a nice place to jump onto.

Many cats, but by no means all, do not like the smell of citrus fruit. There are cat repellent citrus spays available. Try spraying around your worktop and see if kitty stays away. Alternatively try a dish of orange or lemon peel left out on the counter.

Then there is the old stand by, the water squirt bottle, useful in solving many cat behavioral problems.

You use the water bottle to gently squirt your cat, at the time she jumps on the counter, as a disincentive.

If you are able to be a bit crafty and not let your cat see that it is you that is squirting her, she will not associate the water with you. Your cat will associate the unpleasant experience with the act of jumping on the counter. But . . . isn't that a punishment? We are told never to punish a cat for behaving badly.

What about the squirt bottle, isn't that a punishment?

 Well, not really. Yes it does seem somewhat contradictory to give the advice to never punish a cat, but at the same time recommend the use of a squirt bottle for solving cat behavioral problems.

The water squirt is not recommended as an instrument for punishing your cat, it is recommended as a Cat Training aid.

You do not squirt your cat for being a bad kitty and jumping on the counter. You use it to gently squirt your cat, at the time she jumps on the counter, as a disincentive.

More Cat Behavior Problems 

Cat Chewing

Healthy Cat Treats

> Cat Behavior.