Common Behavioural Problems in Cats and How to Fix Them
- by Rufus and Coco
Every cat parent knows that cats are extremely independent and self-sufficient and that, in most cases, they aren’t even people pleasers as their canine counterparts.
But while this makes cats somewhat easier to care for, it can also be a disadvantage as your pet might develop unwanted behaviours and due to this species’ well-known (and loved) stubbornness, you might have a hard time teaching them otherwise.
Here are a few of these behavioural problems in cats and how to tackle them.
5 Common Behavioural Issues in Cats and Ways to Fix Them
This is perhaps the most common behavioural problem that cats can exhibit. It is usually caused by a dirty litter box, although there are situations where a cat might pee or poo in the wrong place to try and get their owners’ attention - especially if they are sick.
If you do not like handling your cat’s litter, you can simply opt for our Elasticised Litter Tray Liners and dispose of the entire waste all at the same time.
Bear in mind that cats find it not only uncomfortable and unpleasant to use a dirty litter box, but they can also develop urinary infections if their nether regions come in contact with wet and soiled litter.
And don’t forget, inappropriate elimination is more common in geriatric cats and dogs as they are known to be more forgetful than younger adults.
Scratching your furniture
It is essential for cats to sharpen their claws as this can help them survive outdoors. On top of that, doing so gives their paws a little massage, so it makes them feel good.
The problem is that when they spend all their time indoors, they end up scratching furniture and more - whether that be your couch or your carpets. Some studies suggest that providing your cat with plenty of scratching fun opportunities deters them from returning to your furniture.
Getting a cat tree or sisal toys, along with spending more time with your cat in general, can lead to a positive outcome. You can also use positive reinforcement when your cat stops scratching your furniture as if responding to a command.
Keeping your cat’s nails well-trimmed can also improve the situation. And if your pet likes to play more aggressively, it also saves you from getting some nasty marks, too. Our Safety Nail Clippers & File can get the job done easily and conveniently.
Aggression toward other animals or people
Aggression can be quite challenging to manage in cats because, unlike dogs, they’re not as domesticated. You can’t teach a cat to do tricks if they don’t really want to. This species is known for being extremely independent, so the only thing you can do is to try to handle the problem as gently as possible.
Do not use physical punishment. Cats don’t understand aggression from humans as a form of punishment, and they’re going to consider you the enemy or just not trust you ever again. Instead, try to look for alternatives, such as finding out what’s causing your cat’s anxiety and aggression in their living space.
Scared pets are more likely to act in a violent manner, especially if they’ve recently changed their environment. Talk to your vet about medications and supplements for aggression. These days, there are even pheromone diffusers you can get that might work for your cat.
A bored cat has a higher likelihood of acting and reacting in an aggressive manner, especially when approached suddenly. Make sure you play with your cat for at least 30 minutes every day - try our Laser Mouse Toy for some variety.
Cats love to groom their bodies and actually feel uncomfortable when they’re dirty or when they have no opportunity to clean themselves. Lack of grooming can be a sign of disease, as the pet would express no interest in this activity if they are experiencing pain or discomfort.
But excessive grooming can be an expression of stress and anxiety, and unfortunately, it can lead to some health complications. As you probably know, cats’ tongues aren’t soft, so they can inflict some amount of damage to their skin if they groom to the point of exhaustion.
According to veterinarian Rebecca Martin, there are a number of ways to treat over-grooming by focusing on treating the primary cause, but if nothing seems to work, a cat might be suffering from psychogenic alopecia.
Apparently, this issue is more common in cats that have poor diets, so make sure you’re giving your pet only high-quality, species-appropriate kibble and wet food - and treat her every now and then to some Reel Fish Crunchers, since they’re packed in protein, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.
If your cat seems to be meowing a lot, especially at night, there could be several things at the root of this problem. One of them is that your cat isn’t getting enough mental and physical stimulation during the day, so they will be awake during the night and keep you awake, too.
The other possibility would be that your cat could be in heat - and if you haven’t yet neutered or spayed your cat, you probably know that howling from the top of their lungs is a symptom of this.
Some cats are more talkative than others, and you should be aware of this. For example, Siamese cats meow a lot more compared to other breeds and also need more attention.
Excessive vocalisation can be a sign of cognitive dysfunction if your cat is a senior, along with hiding from people and other pets or getting scared of things they might have interacted with for all their life.
There are plenty of other potentially problematic behaviours that you might need to manage if you are a cat owner - and they range from excessive chewing to urinary marking.
Being patient and ensuring that your cat feels safe and calm in their environment is key to curbing these unwanted behaviours. Consult a veterinarian or a pet behaviourist if nothing seems to work, as they can give you the tools to solve the issues.
Behavioural problems of geriatric dogs and cats, K. A. Houpt & B. Beaver, 1981: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6977925/
Unwanted Scratching Behaviour in Cats: Influence of Management Strategies and Cat and Owner Characteristics: Alissa Cisneros et al, 2022: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9559527/
Overgrooming in cats - why, when and what to do?, Rebecca Martin BVSc CertSAM MRCVS, 2020: https://vethelpdirect.com/vetblog/2020/11/14/overgrooming-in-cats-why-when-and-what-to-do/Underlying medical conditions in cats with presumptive psychogenic alopecia, Stephen E. Waisglass et al, 2006: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16740071/