Common Cat Behavior Problems
Pet cats sometimes have (what we humans consider) behavior problems, such as sudden aggression, scratching furniture, spraying urine, and refusing to use the litter box. Such actions make perfect sense—to a cat. Your job is to try to find out whether the behavior is caused by illness or stress, or just a case of a cat following his instincts. You will then, with patience, be able to solve or minimize the problem.
The 1st one of the most common cat behavior problems is aggression. Aggression is a negative word: It is loaded with value judgment. When the word aggressive is used to describe something or someone, it predisposes the listener to dislike and distrust that thing or person. For animals, however, aggression is a natural, normal, healthy, appropriate behavior or reaction.
In cats, aggressiveness can be about self-protection or defense, or it can be offensive—often for the very same reasons. It can also be about play or sex. Cats are small and vulnerable creatures, and if they did not have aggression as part of their arsenal, it is doubtful whether they would have survived for so many millennia.
- If your cat bites or scratches when you’re playing with him, stop play immediately.
- He is probably becoming overexcited or does not want you touching a sensitive area, such as his belly. Don’t use your hands as “toys” when playing with him, since it will encourage him to bite or scratch them.
- Rough play may trigger aggression, so make sure your children play gently and know when to leave him alone.
- Any pet dogs must be trained not to tease your cat, to avoid a backlash.
- If your cat likes to ambush ankles or jump on shoulders, anticipate this and throw your cat a toy to play with instead.
- Should your cat become aggressive for no obvious reason, he may be lashing out because he is in pain, so take him to the vet.
- Long-term aggression may result from your cat not having been socialized properly as a kitten. He may always remain wary of humans, but be patient and you may eventually gain his trust.
- In general, cats are much more docile after neutering.
The 2nd one of the most common cat behavior problems is chewing and scratching. Cats need to scratch. But that doesn’t mean you have to let kitty use a chair as a scratching post or rip out your upholstery.
1-The first step is to get a good scratching post. Put it next to the favored scratching spot, where kitty has already left her scent and visual markers.
2-Now, cover up the favored scratching spot, perhaps with an old shower curtain or a plastic tablecloth, so it’s smooth and no longer fun to scratch.
3-If your cat is scratching chair or table legs, you can put socks over each leg of the chair. Some cats are discouraged by double-sided tape applied to furniture, although others actually enjoy the feel of it.
4-Kitty will gain no satisfaction from scratching in an inappropriate place, and this will stop that behavior.
5-Meanwhile, be sure to praise her every time she uses her new scratching post. Eventually, you can remove the protective cover from your furniture.
6-Make sure to keep your cat’s claws well trimmed. If your cat really fusses about clipping, you can use a nail grinder—something many cat and dog owners prefer. As with clipping, be careful not to hit the quick, or blood vessel, inside the nail.
7-If these measures aren’t helping, ask your veterinarian or a local groomer about nail caps. These are plastic caps that glue on right over the nail. Each cap goes over each claw, rather like wearing false nails. Usually you don’t need more than one set. However, you don’t want to end the scratching entirely, since it’s a normal and healthy cat behavior.
8-Be sure kitty has an alternate place to scratch and finds satisfaction there when the caps are removed.
The 3rd one of the most common cat behavior problems is spraying. Like scratching, spraying marks territory too, but this behavior usually disappears once a cat is neutered.
It may recur if your cat becomes stressed by a change in his environment, such as the arrival of a baby or another pet.
- To combat indoor spraying, distract your cat the moment you see him raise his tail to spray. Push his tail down or throw him a toy.
- If there is an area he sprays repeatedly, cleanse it thoroughly and place his food bowls there to deter further spraying.
- You can also line sprayed areas with aluminum foil, because cats dislike the sound of their urine hitting it.
(4) Litter box problems
The 4th one of the most common cat behavior problems is the litter box problems. If your cat experiences pain when relieving himself, he may associate his discomfort with the litter box and go elsewhere. So when he relieves himself outside the box, seek a vet’s advice. An all-clear from the vet will mean that the problem is probably something you are doing.
If waste is not removed from the box frequently, your cat may find the box’s odor overpowering. Similarly, adding a cover to the box, to shield the smell from you, may make the smell inside too much for him. Switching to a new type of litter can also cause problems, since your cat may find its texture unpleasant.
(5) Rough Play
The 5th one of the most common cat behavior problems is rough play.
- The responsibility for being bitten or scratched during play with kittens and cats almost always falls on the humans. Never encourage rough play by swatting the cat with your hands or using hands, feet, or other body parts as toys.
- Instead, watch how cats play with other cats and encourage the chase, pounce, and bite behaviors you see by using toys that keep your hands well away from the cat.
- Interaction should be fun, aerobic, intellectual, challenging, and safe for everyone. If that’s not the case, you’re playing too roughly with your cat, and your cat is responding the only way she knows how.
- While we’re talking about bites, you should also watch for the “I’ve had enough” bite when you’re petting your kitty. Cats love petting but eventually get to a point where they want you to stop.
- They give you signals to stop, but if you don’t notice and heed those signals and keep petting beyond a cat’s level of tolerance, you’ll get bitten. It will be a mild bite but will state unequivocally, “I told you to stop and I meant it!”
(6) Ankle Attacks
The 6th one of the most common cat behavior problems is ankle attacks. Kittens are especially fond of running out from a hiding place and jumping at or biting your ankle. Adult cats sometimes do this, too.
It’s a fun game for kitty but a really obnoxious behavior. The cat can hurt someone when she is older and bigger and could cause an older person to fall.
Never encourage kitty to bite by responding to an ankle attack with a game. This is another time when clicker training comes in handy. You can teach kitty to go to her mat or some other appropriate place instead of attacking your ankle.
(7) Marking Territory
The 7th one of the most common cat behavior problems is marking territory. When searching for the cause of a litter box problem, the most basic distinction is between marking and just urinating and defecating outside the box. Cats are most likely to mark if they live in a multi-cat household, if they can see other cats or other furry animals through the windows, and if they are male—although females may also mark.
Feces are rarely used in marking, although it isn’t unheard of, and cats will mark territory with feces in the great outdoors. You may notice that some cats cover their poop and others leave it uncovered. When it’s uncovered, it’s a statement that Big Bad Kitty was here.
When urine marking, cats tend to back up to a vertical surface and spray urine at it. The male cat’s penis faces the rear, so this is pretty easy for him to do. If your cat is spraying, you will see urine on the vertical surface as well as on the floor just below the marked spot. (If you can’t see the urine, a black light can help you locate it.) If the cat is just urinating outside the box, you are more likely to find larger puddles on the floor.
Intact males who have reached sexual maturity and females in heat will mark territory. Having your pet spayed or neutered before sexual maturity is the best thing you can do to prevent this. If you wait until after sexual maturity, the spraying will likely have become a fixed behavior, and it will be more difficult to resolve the issue. Male cats who are not neutered will mark. There’s no avoiding it.
1-Neutering usually helps. (Spaying female markers is less likely to help with that problem, but it’s still an excellent idea to spay females.)
2-Cats who live in a multi cat household are more likely to mark because each wants to stake out their territory. (It’s my house, and this mark says so! No, it’s my house!) If stray cats are coming around, your cat will also feel the need to mark. Usually, kitty will mark around windows and doors to try to tell those outside cats to stay away from her territory. When you ask a cat to stop marking, you are asking your cat to stop doing something that comes naturally. This is always difficult to accomplish.
3-If she is spraying because she sees intruders outside the window, blocking off the view is helpful.
4-If the problem is a multi cat household, you may need to partition off the house to keep the cats separated so the two who are instigating marking behavior don’t see each other and so have no need to make a territorial exclamation point.
5-If these measures (and some I will discuss under “House Soiling”) fail to clear up the problem, then drugs may be helpful. The two most commonly used are buspirone and fluoxetine. Sometimes, using drugs while making environmental changes speeds up the relearning process. Once the behavior has been extinguished, the cat can be weaned off the drugs.
6-Cat-appeasing pheromones like Feliway may also reduce marking. If you’re using the spray, make sure it has dried before the cat returns to the area, though. If it is still damp, it may actually increase marking behavior.
The 8th one of the most common cat behavior problems is overgrooming. Often, when a cat feels stressed, she will take her frustrations out on herself, either by excessive licking or overgrooming. Some cats will overgroom to the point of creating bald patches or open sores on their skin.
Your cat may go along just fine and have no problem with your coming and going on a daily basis, but then something, such as a change in work schedule, a vacation, or a divorce, could trigger separation anxiety.
(9) Separation Anxiety
The 9th one of the most common cat behavior problems is separation anxiety.
Causes of Separation Anxiety.
- Cats that were orphaned could be more prone to separation anxiety. Too- early weaning may also be a agent.
- It is my view that supplying confidence-building interaction with your kitty and a cat-friendly surroundings play crucial roles too.
- If your cat doesn’t have additional pursuits and no methods to construct confidence without being connected to you in the hip, there is a fantastic prospect of separation Anxiety.
- I think lots of cat parents strengthen the separation stress through rewarding the kitty to get clingy, needy behavior, but do not offer appropriate socialization.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Cats
- When the kitty parent leaves, the kitty could meow exceedingly.
- Elimination beyond the litter box may also happen.
- The cat could urinate or defecate about your kitty parent’s bed or on clothes belonging to this absent family member. It’s simple to misread this cat behavior as hatred, but it is really a means for the kitty to self-soothe by mixing his own odor with yours and also to convey his concern over your absence. The cat might also be attempting to help you to find your way home.
- Other indications of separation anxiety could consist of excessive grooming, eating too quickly, or not eating at all when the kitty parent is away.
Solutions of Separation Anxiety.
Before confirming that your furry friend gets separation anxiety, it is very important that he be examined by your vet. His behaviour could have an underlying medical issues. As soon as your cat is diagnosed with separation anxiety, behaviour modification methods may be utilized to decrease his stress and boost stimulation in your absence.
1- Boost the environmental enrichment. If you’d like your cat to sense satisfied, joyful, and protected whenever you aren’t around, then the surroundings where he resides must make him feel like that.
Use environmental enrichment to spruce up his indoor environment. Incorporate puzzle boxes, puzzle feeders, elevated areas, playtime, hideaways, and much more to inspire him to find out strategies to activate and fulfill his prey drive.The more enriched and secure the environment is, the better your kitty will sense when he’s by himself.
2- For enrichment to make effectively, though, don’t just leave the puzzle feeders and other toys on the home floor right before you leave. You should incorporate these activities and toys into your kitty’s life when you’re home. Make them a portion of his daily program so he’s totally convenient with them and even looks forward to their appearance. That way, you’ll have a much better chance of success when you set them out before you walk out the door for work.
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