House Cat Behavior Problems

Angry looking cat

Sharing your life with a feline can be quite an adventure, but house cat behavior problems can sink that relationship faster than the Titanic. Gather tips right here to help you solve conflicts and nip problem behaviors in the bud.

Think Like a Cat

Cats are some of the most fascinating as well as frustrating creatures in the world. Just when you think you've got yours all figured out, she makes a sharp left turn and you've lost the trail again, as anyone working his/her way through house cat behavior problems knows only too well.

In order to understand cats, we first have to acknowledge that humans and felines do not think alike. What may appear to abhorrent behavior to us may be perfectly acceptable in the feline world. Since we're the ones who invited these cats to share our lives and our homes, it's up to us to find a way to make things work.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind about what makes cats tick:

  • Cats are hunters: Even the laziest cat still has some hunting instincts deep inside of her. This is what drives her to snoop through your closet and "capture" your shoe or shred your new living room drapes to sharpen her claws.
  • Cats are territorial: You might be under the impression that your home belongs to you, but your cat definitely has other ideas. From the day she moves in, the house becomes her territory and she will stake her claim in any way necessary to advertise the fact. This includes urine spraying and behaving quite aggressively toward newcomers.
  • Cats are typically loners: Although some cats are willing to share your home with other felines and pets, it's an uneasy truce in most cases. Naturally, this leads to scuffles, both minor and major.
  • Cats are creatures of habit: Cats don't like change -- period. It stresses them out and causes them to act out in a variety of ways, from hiding under furniture to a sudden refusal to use the litter box.

When Things Go Wrong

When feline behavior problems arise, you need to become a detective in order to figure out where things went wrong.

Health

By their very nature, cats are extremely stoic. They do not like to show weakness of any kind because it invites territorial intrusions and other aggressions from fellow felines. This means that a sick cat will do her best to hide her illness until it can't be concealed any longer.

  • Quick tip: Hidden health problems are often the cause of sudden behavior changes. If your cat is behaving totally out of character, schedule a complete checkup with your veterinarian.

Changes

As mentioned, cats are not great fans of change. Even changes that seem insignificant to us can really freak out our felines. Does your new refrigerator sound slightly different? It's probably no big deal to you, but your cat views it as a foreign intruder in her territory. If her litter box happens to be located next to it, your cat might decide to handle her personal business elsewhere. See the connection?Quick tip: Household changes, large or small, can all spark unexpected behavior problems. As soon as a behavioral change occurs, think about every single change that might have taken place in recent weeks.

Specific House Cat Behavior Problems

Let's learn how to trouble shoot some of the most common behavior problems in cats.

Litter Box Problems

Refusal to use the litter box is probably the number one complaint among cat lovers. Here are some things you should consider as you try to solve the problem.

  • Could your cat have a urinary tract infection or kidney stones? Both of these conditions can be quite painful. Just one or two bad incidents can cause your cat to associate her litter box with pain, so she's going to seek other places to relieve herself. Once she has, her scent will draw her back to these areas again and again.

Solutions: See your vet and clean soiled areas with an enzymatic cleaner.

  • How clean is the litter? Some cats are incredibly picky about the condition of their box and simply will not use one that has been soiled.

Solutions: Scoop as often as necessary, and provide one litter box per cat in your household.

  • What type of litter do you use? Cat's have definite texture preferences and will choose greener pastures to do their business if they don't like the material in their box.

Solutions: If you changed litters right before the problem began, change back. If your cat simply won't accept the litter you started her with, try a litter with a different texture from the one you're currently using.

Inappropriate Clawing

It can be very difficult to live with a cat that's tearing up your home.

Solutions:

  • Provide your cat with a scratching post.
  • Temporarily apply double stick tape to furniture, doorways and anywhere else you want to make off limits.
  • Use static "scat mats" to keep your pet off furniture and out of rooms you don't want her to be in.
  • Trim your cat's nails.
  • Apply Soft Paws covers to her nail tips.

Annoying Heat Behavior

Yowling, biting, trying to escape from the house and urine spraying are all common complaints that go along with cat heat behavior. It doesn't matter if your cat is male or female, both sexes can behave just as annoyingly when romance is in the air.

Solution: Have your cat spayed or neutered. This simple surgery will end most, if not all, of the offending behaviors and probably lengthen your cat's life as well.

More Behavior Problems?

If your pet displays other house cat behavior problems not addressed here, visit our Cat Expert for advice.

House Cat Behavior Problems