Dealing With Cat Behavior Problems


Usually when we talk about cat behavior problems we aren’t talking about bad cats.

We are talking about legitimate behaviors that are mis-directed. If you can find what is causing the problem, then you can find the solution in most cases.

Not Using the Litter Box

One category of problem cat behavior is house soiling. This is where your cat chooses to go to the bathroom (poop or urinate) in places other than his litter box.

Sometimes you’ll discover the accidents just outside the litterbox – like they just missed the mark. Other times you’ll find the accidents far away from the litter box.

What is the cause? There are quite a few possible reasons for this – and solutions to the problem. We’ll start with the easy ones first.

Feeling Threatened and Privacy Please

Some cats are particular about where they go to the bathroom. They may not like the litter box itself, or where you put it.

If it’s a covered litterbox and you have multiple cats – a particular cat could be scared that the other cats will sneak up on her while she is at her most vulnerable. Solution? An uncovered litterbox. It will give her vision on all sides while she’s doing her business.

Is the litter box in a high traffic area? Some cats value their privacy and don’t like being disturbed while they’re going about their business. Try moving the litterbox to another (more secluded) location and see if that helps.

Keep it Clean

Keep the litterboxes clean. Many cats will choose not to use a box that is overflowing with kitty waste. Imagine having to walk and do your business in a filthy bathroom – that’s what a cat is having to do. Try and clean it at least every other day – especially if more than one cat is using the box.

Many experts recommend having one litter box available for each cat in your household – plus one. For example – if you have 2 cats, you’ll need 3 litterboxes. If you have 3 cats, you’ll need 4 boxes.

Not all Kitty Litter is Created Equal

Some cats are particular about the type of litter they’ll use. If you’re using scented litter – switch to unscented. If you’re using large grains of litter, switch to a finer grain of litter.

You might even try switching brands of litter – there may be something about a particular brand’s ingredients that your finicky cat just doesn’t like.

Special Needs Cats

Elderly, overweight, or handicapped cats may have difficulty getting in and out of a deep litter box. Try a shallow pan instead. It doesn’t have to be made specifically for cats – any shallow plastic container will usually work. This could be a solution for little bitty kittens having problems too.

Underlying Medical Conditions

If you make the previous mentioned changes and they don’t work – then your cat may have an underlying medical condition that won’t allow her to do her business in the proper place.

There could be internal problems such as a urinary tract infection – look for bloody urine in the litter box and other places. One of my cats decided to pee his bloody urine in the bathtub – which let me know he had a problem and made it easy for me to clean up.

So don’t hesitate to take your kitty cat to the vet. If you notice bloody urine, bloody stools, diarrhea, or straining to urinate – it could be the sign of a real illness.

Cat Spraying

Cat spraying is another real problem for cat owners. That strong smell of urine is hard to get rid of and a hard habit for your cat to overcome, but there are solutions.

Spay and Neuter

First of all, you should get your cat fixed. A neutered male cat is much less likely to spray than an unneutered one. And, though less common, female cats can spray too.

Cats spray to mark their territory. An unfixed cat produces pretty powerful reproductive hormones that drive him to mark his territory. If any threat to his territory arises – from a cat within his household or even a cat that he smells outside the house – then he will feel the need to spray.

So fixing a cat (male or female) goes a long way towards solving the problem. But even fixed cats (especially if they were fixed later in life) can still spray. Although it’s much less frequent.

Cat Spray Prevention

How do you prevent a cat from spraying? You can spray Feliway in the areas where he/she has sprayed to hopefully prevent them from spraying there in the future.

You can also place cat repellent around the perimeter of your house to hopefully prevent the neighborhood cats from hanging out there.

Cleaning Cat Urine

Cleaning cat urine can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know where the smell is coming from. Let’s face it – you’re not always around when your cat decides to spray.

In this situation, you can use a special light that will help you locate cat urine stains. When you find the culprit, use a good odor neutralizer cleanser such as Nature’s Miracle to get rid of the odor.

Cat Scratching

Cat Scratching is another problem that all cat owners have to deal with (unless you have a declawed cat). All cats have the need to stretch and exercise their paws and claws.

If they’re outside they will do it on trees, fences, and other similar surfaces. In addition, this also helps to mark their territory.

Provide Good Outlets for Their Behavior

So you need to provide your cat with a variety of surfaces to accomplish this task. Don’t just provide one sisal scratching post and expect the problem to disappear.

Sometimes cats like to scratch corrugated cardboard scratchers that lie flat so they can stand on top. Sometimes they like to lean into a nice, tall, sturdy sisal scratcher (it provides the same function as a tree). And other times they like to scratch into a carpeted surface.

You might try sprinkling a little catnip on these items for more of an attraction factor. Some cats like it; some don’t.

Protecting Your Furniture

Unfortunately, even if you do provide them with plenty of good scratching devices – they will still choose to scratch your prized possessions. Sofas, chairs, and carpets don’t stand a chance against a strong cat with sharp claws. But there is hope if you are persistent.

You need to break them of this habit. Spray your valued possessions every day with special cat deterrent spray (you can find these sprays in most department and pet stores). You can also buy double-sided tape to place on surfaces that your cat seems most drawn to.

Over time, hopefully, you will find that your cat will lose interest in your valued items – they smell bad (cat repellent spray) or have a tacky surface (double-side tape). And like I said earlier, at the same time you should provide them with plenty of alternative surfaces to scratch so they will have their legitimate scratching needs met.