While most of our beloved cats are purr-fect companions, some of them have a few habits that are unacceptable – for example, scratching the furniture, urinating outside of the litter box, or bothering us while we sleep. And, while these are perfectly normal feline behaviors, they are considered bad habits by those of us who cohabitate with them! Fortunately, by taking a few steps, these issues can be resolved or (better yet) completely avoided!
About 10 percent of cats occasionally urinate outside of their litter box. In fact, inappropriate elimination accounts for about 2/3rd of all reported cat behavior problems! There are many reasons a cat may “go” outside of the litter box and in order to resolve the problem, you first have to figure out why it’s happening.
Excluding any medical reasons (which you should always rule out first), there are a few major reasons your cat will stop using the litter box:
This means your cat dislikes either the litter, the litter box, or the location where the box is located. The most common form of aversion is when cats avoid the box because of dirty litter. Bear in mind that a cat’s sense of smell is many, many times stronger than yours and keep that box clean! Scoop a minimum of once a day, completely change the litter weekly, and scrub the box with soap and water monthly. If you are fastidious about cleaning the box, your cat may be avoiding it because he or she doesn’t like the type of litter you use.
If you notice your feline friend fails to cover his feces, perches on the side instead of climbing in, or quickly jumps out of the box and runs away, that’s a good indication that he dislikes the litter. And while it makes the box more pleasant for us, many kitties are absolutely nauseated by the smell of highly scented cat litters, so try switching to unscented litter if your cat is avoiding the box. See this guide for a more in-depth look at litter box issues and how to solve them.
Are you positive your cat is urinating inappropriately or is he or she actually marking? The two are actually very different behaviors! If you’re finding urine on vertical surfaces, chances are your cat is marking or “spraying.” If your cat is not spayed or neutered and has reached maturity, he or she is likely doing this as a sexually motivated behavior and having your cat fixed with almost always stop the behavior. However, some altered pets will also mark urine to communicate, mark their territory, or express stress or anxiety.
Typical causes of feline stress are overcrowding, moving, changes in routine, new people, and new pets. Help your cat cope with stressful situations by giving him lots of vertical space, like cat trees and wall shelves and use Feliway Plug-ins throughout your home. Check out this guide for more information about feline stress.
SCRATCHING THE FURNITURE
Scratching is normal, necessary behavior for all cats! It helps them shed the layers of their claws, mark their territory, and get an important full-body stretch! They don’t see a difference between a scratching post and your expensive couch – unless you teach them!
Not all cats are alike, and not all cat scratchers are alike. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different kinds of cat scratchers on the market, and then wondered what was the best? Well, that all depends on your cat!
Does she like to scratch your rugs? Then she prefers a horizontal surface and would do well with a scratching pad.
Does your furry friend dig his nails into the arm of your sofa? Then a vertical scratching post is more appropriate for him – the taller the better!
Scratching posts should be super sturdy and tall enough for your cat to stand up, dig his nails in, and really get a good stretch. And they should be placed somewhere your cat will spend a lot of time. Think about it – that’s why they so often choose to tear up our furniture instead of cheap flimsy scratchers tucked away in a corner!
Consider a tall, high-quality scratching post like the Ultimate Scratching Post and put it near the couch your best feline friend is using now. Then use a throw to cover that couch so he can’t scratch there anymore. Your cat will be using the scratching post in no time! Check out this guide on scratching behavior to explore this issue in much greater detail!
BOTHERING YOU WHILE YOU SLEEP
Cats tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, but some cats seem to get the crazies right when their humans are going to bed, or even in the middle of the night! If you’ve ever been sleeping peacefully and awoke to the sound of kitty breaking things in the other room, here are some suggestions on how to break this bad cat habit, which, is most likely the result of a single-cat household where kitty has been insufficiently stimulated during the day, while his humans were away at work:
• Try feeding kitty just before bedtime to take advantage of that after-meal drowsiness
• Play with your cat during the day or when you get home from work. Interactive toys, like wand toys are best. On days that you’re short on time, set up battery-operated toys.
• Put kitty in her own “room” at bedtime, with a litter box, toys, and water.
• Consider getting a second kitty, so they can play together during the day.
Does your cat have any of these bad cat habits? Let us know by posting a comment below.
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