COMMON CAT BEHAVIOR ISSUES

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There are some common issues that cat owners might experience. Some of the more common issues include excessive meowing, litter box problems and scratching furniture. All three of these behaviors can be easily corrected.

Some cats are more vocal than others. "Talking" is part genetic (some breeds like Siamese are more prone to it) and part learned behavior. You may have innocently reinforced this by talking back to your cat when it meows, playing with her, feeding her or even yelling at her. Like children, cats can view negative attention as better than none at all. There are several ways to correct this behavior. Do not reward your cat for meowing. Instead, give her attention when she is being quiet. Wait for a moment of silence before feeding her. If you give in at all during this corrective process, you will have to start all over again! Make sure the litterbox is kept clean and he/she has fresh water at all times. Another way to curb the “talking” is to make sure that all of your cat’s needs are met. Cats need attention and interaction so it’s important to allow time for playing with and petting your cat in your daily schedule. Provide your cat with stimulation such as cat toys, catnip and food cubes. Cats can also meow to express discomfort, pain or agitation. Females in heat will meow excessively to attract males. Unneutered males will yowl in conjunction with mating. Getting your pet spayed or neutered may cut down the vocalizations, if not eliminate them completely.

One of the more undesirable cat problems involves the litter box. Some cats are very particular about their litter box being clean. They can also be particular about the type of litter box. Some may not want to share their box. For this reason, having the same number of litter boxes as cats is recommended. If your cat goes somewhere other than their litter box, it is extremely important to clean that spot immediately with an odor removing cleaner because the smell will draw them back to that spot.

Another common problem that some cat owners experience is inappropriate scratching. Scratching is natural for cats for several reasons. Cats lose the sheath of their nail by scratching rough surfaces. Scratching also helps your cat release pent up energy or emotional stress. Although it’s natural for cats, it can wreak havoc on your furniture. The best way to curb this behavior is to redirect it to a proper scratching post. Once you find the right scratching post for your cat or kitten, it is important not to put the cat’s paws on the post for him/her. Cats don’t like to be handled this way. It may create a negative association with the post. Instead, get the cat interested by playing interactive games around the post. Your cat will begin to scratch the post as a way to relieve pent up excitement. Give her plenty of praise when she does. In the meantime, you need to make your furniture less appealing. You can do this several ways. Cover the furniture with aluminum foil or Sticky Paws, a transparent product that prevents your cat from scratching the surface. There are also repellant sprays you can put on your furniture, but they aren’t affective on all cats. When behavior modification doesn’t work, you can try a product known as Soft Paws. These colorful plastic caps can be glued on your cat’s claws. She can go through the motions of scratching and get enjoyment out of it without causing damage to your furniture. The caps will need to be replaced every three months after your cat’s claws are trimmed.

With any behavior problem, patience is key. It takes time for cats to learn behaviors. Often, it will take even more time to unlearn them. In order to make the changes permanent, you need to be very consistent and allow your cat time to adjust.