How to Handle Common Cat Behavior Issues

There are some cat behavior issues that seem to be common to most cats. Here is a list of just some of these behaviors and what you can do about correcting them.

Not Using The Litter Box

Unfortunately this ‘bad behavior’ is the most often used excuse for taking cats to shelters. I believe that it is up to the owners to train their cat to use the litter box and if there is a problem, they need to find out what is causing it. Cats will continue to use an area where they can smell their own urine. A cat breeder friend told me that the first time the kitten uses the floor to pee on, get some tissues to mop it up and take the tissues and kitten to the litter box. The kitten will then associate the smell with the litter box. Do the same thing with adult cats. However if an adult cat is continually eliminating inappropriately, you need to check for a possible underlying medical or emotional problem.

Hissing At People

Cats and kittens hiss when they are frightened or defending their territory from another cat. They will also hiss when they have had enough petting as a way of telling us to stop. If a cat has been teased or ill treated, it might hiss at strangers as it feels threatened by them. Hissing is generally a warning to ‘back away, I’m angry’ action. Even if the cat is frightened, it will try to bluff its way out of the situation by trying to appear aggressive. As responsible cat owners, be aware of your cat’s body language so you know what the hiss means. And if you have children, I’d strongly suggest you teach them how to understand what the cat is doing when it hisses at them and more importantly, what they need to do when confronted with a hissing cat.

Spraying On Walls Or Doors

If your cat is spraying on vertical surfaces, it is marking its territory. This will happen more in multi-cat households. To get rid of this horrible and smelly behavior, have your cat neutered or spayed. Cats will also spray to attract a cat of the opposite sex for mating. Removing the urge to mate will greatly reduce the need to spray urine on your kitchen door or lounge furniture when you have guests!

Scratching Your Furniture And Carpets

Cats love to stretch and sharpen their claws. Unfortunately many of them do it on our furniture, carpets or curtains. Your cat needs a scratching post and you need to train it to use it. It is easiest if you can start this training while your cat is still a kitten. However, you can still train an adult cat, it will just take a little longer. I suggest purchasing some sturdy cat tree furniture with ledges at varying heights. If possible, buy something modular that you can add to over time. Make sure the base and trunk are covered by something hard-wearing such as sisal. Each time your cat starts scratching the furniture, you need to tell it ‘no’ in a firm voice, pick it up and take it to the scratching pole and physically put its claws on the pole if necessary. Try rubbing some catnip on the trunk to entice your cat to use it. With adult cats, patience is the key for this one.

Jumping On The Counter Or Desk

This is one of those annoying cat behavior problems that I blame on my children. My cats have never been allowed on the counters in the kitchen and they have never tried to jump up there. However my daughter liked having her cat on the desk with her while she was working on the computer. And I think the cat loved it too – it was the perfect place for extra strokes and petting and it was nice and warm with the computer or laptop working. It was left to me to change this once my daughter left home for work. It is not something that will take long to change – each time the cat jumps up you say ‘no’ in a firm voice and put the cat down on the floor again. If you notice her about to jump back up, put your hand out and say ‘no’ again. It only took a few days of doing this for her to stop jumping up and once I’d vacuumed the cat hair out of the keyboard, everything worked well again.

Kittens Or Cats Chewing Electrical Cords

This seems to be a popular past-time of kittens. They are extremely curious about their new environment and as they grow, they venture further into new areas. Electrical cords seem to be just the right size for the kittens to sharpen those baby teeth on. To save your kitten from a nasty shock, and your electrical equipment from being damaged, you need to protect them by wrapping them into a bundle with some packing tape or similar. You can also try putting them behind equipment but kittens in particular are very good at squeezing into small spaces. You could put some adhesive paper sticky side up or some alfoil in front of the cords as kittens and cats don’t like walking on them or even sprinkle some pepper on the floor to deter them from venturing too close.

This is not an exhaustive list of how to handle common cat behavior issues, there are many more that will be applicable to your cat. Never punish your cat for these behaviors. All you will do is to teach your cat to fear you. By using patience and rewards, you will soon find the bad behavior issues disappearing. Then there are those other cat behavior issues that we love, the cat rubbing against our leg or curling up in a lap or on our beds at night. Those are the sort of common cat behaviors we enjoy having.