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The Most Common Bad Cat Habits & How to Deal!

As any parent of a cat can attest, there is nothing quite like the love of a feline.  A relationship with a cat is unlike any other, good and bad.  And as any parent of a cat with behavioral issues can tell you, the bad can be BAD.

Cats are not as easily “trainable” as dogs and communicate differently than their canine counterparts, too.  This does not mean you’re helpless, don’t worry!

 

We have the most common (read: the most commonly frustrating) bad cat habits PLUS how to keep your hair, your sanity, AND your healthy relationship with your feline friend.

BAD HABIT #1:  MISSING or REFUSING the LITTER BOX

This is a very common problem faced by cat parents.  Many are left scratching their heads with one hand, and holding another empty bottle of “Urine-B-Gon” or “Spray-Away” that did not perform the wonders promised on the label, in the other hand.  Cats commonly stop using the litter box due to a trauma (such as declawing) or as a way of acting out.  If your cat has suddenly stopped using the litter box, a check-up at the vet is the first step to rule out any medical issues, such as a bladder or urinary infection.

With a clean bill of health, begin to look for any recent changes, such as a new member of the household.  A cat may be reacting negatively to the new cat or puppy brought to the family.  Multi-cat families should be sure to have at least 1 litter box available per cat to ensure no one is ever “waiting in line” to use the facilities.  Offering multiple litter boxes also helps eliminate territorial behaviors between cats.

Litter box placement is extremely important for a happy cat.  Privacy is a coveted thing with cats, especially when it comes to using the litter box.  Boxes should be in a quiet room that is not frequented by the family or the dog, such as a laundry room or basement, but is still convenient and centrally located to where your cat spends most of his time.

But if you’ve met all of the proper placement criteria and there isn’t anything new in the home, it could be the litter.  Perhaps the box is not scooped as often as it should be (once a day is recommended), or the type of litter used could be irritating to your cat.  Some scented litters can be too strong for the sensitive noses of our felines and turn them away from using the box.  If you are going to experiment with new litters, remember to always leave one box with the old litter available to use in case the cat does not prefer the new litter offered.

Not sure where to start when it comes to different cat litters?  We got ya covered there, too!  Head on over to our blog here to decode the different cat litters available today.

BAD HABIT #2:  INAPPROPRIATE SCRATCHING

With nearly all experts across the board in agreement about the inhumane practice of declawing a cat, many people are concerned about how to protect their furniture and belongings while sharing living quarters with a clawed feline.  There is very little reason to worry.  Cat parents have been enacting these practical techniques for years with great success.

The key is convincing your cat that the couch is not his very own tree trunk, and then offer him a tree trunk that’s better than the couch….so to speak.  Cats scratch their claws for various reasons:  to file their nails, to mark their scent, and to reach a full body stretch.  All of these are crucial parts of being feline day in and day out.  Knowing that, you can offer your cat scratching posts that are more suited to these 3 things than the couch.  Sisal rope is a favorite of cats and is very durable, making it a great scratching surface.  Plus, it is relatively inexpensive and can be used in countless ways to entertain and engage your cat.

Offer your cat different types of surfaces to scratch such as posts, ramps, or corners.  Place these near the couch (or other unapproved scratching area) and redirect his scratching to the correct place whenever needed.

BAD HABIT #3:  OVEREATING

This may seem like a silly habit to pick a fight over, but there is no habit that is more detrimental to a cat’s health than overeating.  Cats are prone to obesity, paid in big part to the fact that cats are generally allowed to free-feed at all times of the day.  This leads to boredom eating and can quickly turn into a health issue.  Obesity can cause heart disease, joint and bone issues, diabetes, changes in grooming behaviors, skin conditions, and more.

The best solution to overeating to is never free-feed.  Cats are better suited for more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day.  If your cat is currently allowed to eat freely, transitioning him to scheduled meals is not as hard as you may think. Remember to talk to your vet before making any dietary or feeding routine changes.

BAD HABIT #4:  COUNTER SURFING

Training a cat to NOT jump is like training a dog not to run – it’s just in their nature and something they LOVE to do.  Cats have the natural instinct to want to be at a higher elevation.  This is how they hunt in the wild and also how they stay safe and hidden for grooming and sleeping.  In their domesticated life, the higher vantage point makes for a great napping place and gives them a better view of everything going on around them.  Plus, there’s usually fun things to knock on the floor.

The hardest part of training a cat to stay off of counters, tables and other elevated platforms in the house is that cats are smart.  Yes, you know that, but we mean they are TOO smart because they quickly figure out that they can be on the forbidden area uninterrupted when you are not home, or not paying attention.  That is why planting traps is the best option.

For example, line the counter with double-sided tape or aluminum foil.  Place this right where your cat would jump on to the surface so it cannot be avoided.  The sticky tape or the loud noise of the foil will deter your cat from trying again.  Just remember to reapply!

A TIP:  POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT WORKS BEST!

With any bad habit that you are facing with your cat, remember that positive reinforcement will work better and faster than any other method.  Reward your cat for the behavior you want and ignore or redirect the negative behavior.  Yelling or other negative actions will only cause your cat to fear you.  He will not connect your lashing out to the behavior you are trying to discourage.  Try determining WHY your cat may have a particular bad habit and you may find a quick, easy solution to break the habit in no time!