Cat Owner's Guide

Deterring your cat's bad behaviour

Sometimes, bad behaviour from cats is often mistaken by humans as misbehaving. However, they all happen for a reason. It could be due to stress, anxiety from changes in environment, or health problems. Owners must know that these undesirable behaviours can be corrected and are solvable.

Below are some common examples of bad behaviour:

Destructive chewing

Chewing on furniture and electrical wires not only cause damage property but can also be dangerous to cats. There are many reasons why cats chew. It could be teething, exploration, curiosity, boredom or possibility of vitamin deficiency.

Ways to curb chewing

  • Bring your cat to a vet and do a check if there are any health issues that may be the cause. Give your cat supplements or feed them quality pet food.
  • Cover the exposed electrical wires or cords with hollow tubing or cord protectors.
  • Bitter apple spray (or other discouraging scents) is safe, non toxic and works on all kinds of surface to prevent the cats from biting into them. Cats do not like the taste of it.
  • To prevent cats from chewing on plants that may be toxic to them, replace them with cat-friendly plants such as lemongrass and cat nip. Alternatively, you may want to spray your other plants with bitter apple spray. Some examples of plants that are dangerous to cats, Poison Ivy, Mistletoe, Poinsettia, Easter Lily and Cactus.
  • You can find a range of chewing toys for cats at any pet shops. If there is a budget, you can always give them plastic drinking straws to chew. The straws allow them to sink their teeth in while providing fun time for them to play with (they also love the sound the straw makes).

Compulsive disorder

Cats may also be affected by stress which will lead to disorders such as excessive licking, hair chewing, wool sucking, fabric pulling and rippling skin disorder. If left untreated, this behaviour can be destructive to a cat. Excessiveness can be measured from the duration, frequency and intensity of the behaviour.

For all compulsive disorders, it is not advisable to confine your pet. Instead, reduce environmental stress by regulating your cat's schedule and fix a daily routine of household events, such as feeding, play, exercise, and social time. On top of that, avoid unpredictable events as much as possible.

For repetitive meowing that resembles calling, a call to attract a mate, spaying and neutering will help.

For fabric chewing and sucking, keep the fabrics out of your cat's reach or spray the surface with apple spray which will discourage them from chewing on it.

Your vet may prescribe some behaviour-modification drugs, and will instruct you on how to use them. It is important to follow directions carefully, to avoid accidental overdose.

Aggression

Rough play is natural among kittens but it can become a problem when your cat starts to hiss, growl, scratch and bite (other pets or you). Aggression in cats is dangerous. Their sharp teeth and pointy claws can inflict bites and scratches that may become inflamed infections for human beings.

Play-aggressive cats crouch, hide and pounce at any moving target, either people or other cats. Unknown to many people, play aggression is sometimes encouraged by pet owners themselves. It may seem harmless to play with your cat using your bare hands but it attracts them into thinking it is a moving prey and will prompt them to attack you with bites or scratches. When that happens, do not scold or physically punish the cat as it may reinforce this behaviour or make your cat fear you. Use toys instead of hands to play with them. Place a bell at their collar so you'll know where the cat is before any surprise attacks.

Urinating outside of litter box

If your cat has always been urinating in the litter box, a change in behaviour indicates a problem which could either be from stress or medical reasons. First, always check to make sure there is no health issue at risk. Bring your cat to the vet for a check-up. If there is pain or discomfort while urination, cats will associate them with the litter box and choose to eliminate elsewhere instead.

If it is not a medical condition, there are other possible causes:

  • Stress from a new environment and changes in routine. While moving, try to place your cat in a private area where there is not much noise or disturbance. At the new place, give your cat his own sleeping area surrounded by his favourite toys. Spend some quality time together to assure him that nothing much has changed.
  • A dirty litter box is uninviting and it is also a reason for them to start eliminating elsewhere. Make it a habit to clean the litter box by removing the clumps daily and changing the litter once every few days. To make cleaning easier, line the litter box with plastic bags special made for litter trays.
  • Placing the litter box too near their food can also be a cause for this behaviour. Some cats do not like to eliminate near to where they eat. Also, it is advisable to have the litter box placed at quiet and secluded areas, as cats feel vulnerable if their private moments are displayed too openly.
  • The type or consistency of litter makes a difference. There are various litters available: newspaper pallet, clay, clumping, wheat. Every cat has his own preference, pay close attention and you'll find out which one your cat likes eventually. If there is a need to change, place the new litter on top of the previous one and gradually remove the old litter.
  • The type of litter box used may also discourage your cat from using it. Certain cats prefer a private hooded tray while other likes the option of being able to pee "elevator" style (standing up) or jump out of the tray once business is done. You can get a tray that comes with a lid or hood cover from any pet stores.