Cats have different personalities and temperaments. If they are not exposed to positive social interaction at a young age, they can develop behaviour problems in adulthood. These problems can manifest in different ways including aggression, biting, scratching, and urinating. If these behaviours are not corrected, it can negatively affect your cat’s relationship with you and her interaction with other cats. Identifying the cause of bad behaviour is the first step in fixing the problem.
1. Cat litter box problems
If your cat starts to urinate outside of the litter box, it’s a sign of a possible urinary problem. It’s also possible that something in the house is stressing your cat. To determine the cause of the problem, rule out possible reasons why your four-legged friend is not using the litter box.
- Are there medical signs causing pain during urination? If yes, it’s best to visit the vet for proper diagnosis and medication.
- Are there sudden changes that cause stress to your cat? As habitual creatures, even the smallest changes at home can cause stress.
- Is her litter box too small? Is it clean? Check and make adjustments to the litter box setup.
How to Address the problem?
- If you have a reason to believe that your cat has urinary problems, have your cat checked by the vet to determine if urinary tract disease or other health issues are causing your cat to avoid the litter box.
- Keep the litter box clean at all times. Some cats don’t like clumping litter in their box. It’s best practice to clean the litter box once daily.
- If you have multiple cats, make sure to have one litter box per cat. If they take turns using one litter box, one cat may decide not to wait in line and just urinate elsewhere.
- Choose the location of the litter box wisely. Look for an area where it is quiet and away from foot traffic and human activity.
- If you notice signs that she is about to eliminate waste, gently pick her up into the litter tray. Do not forget to offer treats as soon as she urinates in the litter tray
2. Bites and scratches whilst petting
Fear is often the result of poor socialisation as a kitten. As soon as she sees a big hand reaching out to her, she may be quick to defend herself through biting or scratching. Aside from that, some felines have ‘petting-induced’ aggression which means they cannot tolerate any physical contact.
How to address the problem?
Let her identify when it is playtime or not. In most cases, they tend to bite or scratch your hand thinking its playtime. The best thing to do is to avoid using your bare feet or hand when playing with a kitten or cat. Use scarves, feathers, wands, and other interactive toys.
As for cats with petting-induced aggression, observe your cat’s body language. Learn when she is in the mood for any activities you have in mind to avoid being bitten or scratched.
Scratching is a natural behaviour in cats. Typically, cats scratch on furniture to work off excess energy, mark their territory, or to remove worn and frayed outer claws. It’s not a behavioural problem per se so it does not require drastic behavioural correction. Your cat just needs some behaviour modification.
How to address the problem?
- Buy scratching posts for your cat. Put some catnip on the post to entice your cat to use the scratching post.
- Trim your cat’s claws. This may be challenging at first but it’s a skill that you can learn. Ask your vet the proper way to trim worn out claws.
4. Meowing and yowling
A cat meowing for over long periods of time is often due to some medical issues, especially with senior cats. If this is the case, it may be time to set an appointment with your vet. On the other hand, if she is intentionally keeping you awake, she may be trying to tell you something.
A female cat in heat will become more affectionate and vocal to alert potential mate. A male cat, on the other hand, will meow when they hear or smell a female cat in heat. In this case, meowing and yowling are normal mating behaviours in cats. Throughout the cat’s breeding season, which runs for eight months, the meowing repeats every 18-24 days.
How to address the problem?
- Make sure that your cat is getting plenty of exercises to burn some energy.
- Give your cat 15 minutes of dedicated playtime before your bedtime.
- Get your cat a furry companion to play with.
- To cope with a female cat in heat or a male cat responding to one, have your cat spayed or neutered.
Another method is remote correction, which is a form of correcting unwanted cat behaviour by letting the environment do the work. Associating certain behaviours with an unpleasant experience may result in avoidance of such behaviours in the future.
This is a general guide on getting rid of cat behaviour problems through aversive tastes, smells, sounds or textures.
Consider placing these ingredients on things that are off-limits to your cats:
- Aloe gel
- Bitter apple
- Citrus products
- Cayenne pepper
Consider placing these substances on objects that are off-limits to your cats:
- Eucalyptus oil
Consider placing these materials on areas that are off-limits to your cats:
- Aluminium foil
- Sticky paper
- Plastic carpet runner
Note that this is not the best method if you have an overly sensitive cat. This is used simply to startle the cat as a warning and not to terrify her.
- A can with pebbles in
- Ringing bell
Following these steps can potentially correct bad behaviours and turn your feline friend into a well-behaved and well-adjusted cat. It’s always better and much easier to prevent behavioural problems than to correct them. When your cat exhibits unusual behaviour, always check what’s causing it so that you can address the issue before it becomes a big problem. When in doubt, consult an experienced behaviourist.