Feline Behavioral Problems

Feline behavioral problemsYou may be experiencing one or more of these frustrating feline behavioral problems:  inappropriate elimination, aggression and/or destruction or scratching of furniture.  The following includes information to help you understand and advise how to correct these problems.


Inappropriate Elimination Behavior


This is the most common feline behavioral problem of cat owners.  There are several things you can do to stop this behavior:


Rule out any medical problems such as urinary tract diseases that cause discomfort, large volume or frequency of urination, to explain house soiling.  Also rule out conditions that cause pain or stiffness that may prevent your cat from comfortably entering litter box.


Important history such as home environment, litter box type, litter, frequency of cleaning boxes, and placement of box is needed.  Was litter box moved to new location or type of litter changed? You may need to scoop litter daily and clean box more often.  When there are other cats in the household the general rule is equal number of boxes to cats, sometimes you may need to add an additional box.


Make sure litter box is easily accessible – no disturbances like loud noises or another cat (or dog) preventing access.  These are negative triggers that may make your cat not want to go near his box. Have there been any household changes?  Is the cat using the litter box at all?  What type of surfaces are soiled?


Your cat may have a preference of litter types, clumping litter as opposed to non-clumping litter.  You can try one type of litter in each litter box to figure out which is preferred.  Most cats need deeper litter in order to bury defecation.  You may need to try different types of litter boxes, one with a cover and one without.  


If your cat usually soils one spot, try blocking access, or try to change the area by putting food, water, cat bed, or furniture on the spot. Under the direction of a veterinarian the use of Feliway, an appeasing pheromone to calm the cat may work. Try different locations of litter box to find cat’s preference.  Even try putting a litter box on the spot soiling occurs, then if cat uses this box, move it several inches daily to its desired location. 


Sometimes confinement may be needed.  Place in a small room with cat bed, food, water and litter box.  When he uses the litter box, immediately reinforce with favorite treats.  Slowly allow less confinement when you can monitor the cat to retrain litter box usage. 


For more information on this feline behavioral problem go to: https://www.communityanimalhosp.com/pet-resources/articles.html and search “Cat Behavior Problems, House Soiling – Synopsis”.


Aggressive Behavior


Territorial aggression is usually toward other cats in households or even outside cats that may wander into your yard.  The addition of a new cat or removal of a cat from the house (for surgery or boarding or trip to the vet) then brought back can trigger a combination of territorial or fear-based aggression.  This is due to unfamiliar smells and acting in an unfamiliar way.



To introduce a new cat, keep him in a separate room or large crate (such as a dog crate) with food, water, cat bed and litter box.  Crating allows for cats to see and smell each other and get used to each other faster.  Slowly allow cats to interact together during supervised times gradually allowing more time out together. 


For more information on this feline behavioral problem go to:

https://www.communityanimalhosp.com/pet-resources/articles.html and search “Treating Aggression Towards Other Household Cats”.  For information on aggression towards family members search “Play and Predatory Aggression in Cats”.


Scratching Behavior


Cat scratching is a normal behavior that serves to shorten and condition claws, but mostly to mark territory visually and with scent of foot pads.  Sometimes excessive scratching is due to stress, anxiety or conflicts. 


Cats need outlets for their scratching and marking behaviors.  Scratching posts should be placed in prominent areas or near a favorite sleeping spot.  The post needs to be tall enough for the cat to stand on hind legs and stretch out front paws.  Some may prefer a two sided post that allows two sides to be scratched at once.  Some cats prefer horizontal scratching posts.


The best location for a scratching post, which may not be practical, is where the cat has already scratched or may scratch (like in front of the sofa)!  Once he is using the post it is ok to move to less obtrusive location.  Make the new area appealing with perches, toys and/or food and water bowls.  It may be helpful to gently rub cat’s paws on the post then rewarding with a treat.


If scratching furniture continues it may due to stress or anxiety.  This could be due to changes in household, new cat, moving, or change of family routine. If it is always in the same place block access to that location or consider partial confinement with scratching post, toys and litter box especially when you are not home to supervise.  Placement of more posts may be needed.


For more information on this feline behavioral problem go to:  https://www.communityanimalhosp.com/pet-resources/articles.html and search “Cat Behavior Problems – Scratching Behavior”.


Remember cats need attention from you.  While they are not the social animals dogs are – they still need to be played with, petted, and given stimulation.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.