Inevitably, in the life of every pet owner, there are unexpected behavioral problems here and there that need dealing with. It pays to be understanding and patient with your cat, as many times the issue is fully fixable and just a matter of understanding pet behavior. Here is some of the most common problems owners report having with their cats, and suggestions on how to handle them.
Soiling outside the litter box.
This is something that many cats will do when the litter box is not kept clean. Like us, they want to relieve themselves in a clean environment. If you have a multiple cat household like I do, buy more than one litter box, use scoopable cat litter and strain it frequently to keep it clean as possible. I have one robotic cat box that automatically cleans a few minutes after one of the cats leaves it. It does a great job but it must be kept clean or it will malfunction. The bottom line is, keep the litter box clean.
Whererever the cat has soiled outside the box, make sure the area is cleaned thoroughly with appropriate cleaner. You can buy cat repellant sprays at the pet store that work pretty well. If you don’t have any, spray the fully cleaned area with potent perfume, cats usually hate perfume and will avoid the area totally to avoid the smell.
Throwing up on the carpet.
If you think your cat is sick, ask the doctor by phone if the symptoms are worth bringing in kitty for a checkup. Cats barf, it happens. They get hairballs from cleaning themselves, or they eat too fast and hurl it back up afterwards. If I see blood in the vomit, that is when I know to call the vet and bring kitty in, especially if he isn’t eating. Don’t delay if that happens. But for everyday barfing up hairballs or overeating, those I prevent as much as I can through their diet. I buy dry food that is for “Sensitive systems” or “Hairball management”. Ask a vet other tips on supplementing kitty’s nutrition so he won’t feel the need to hurl so much. Surely there are more ways to prevent this, but watching my cats’ diets has cut down on their needing to vomit, considerably.
You bring home a new cat, and the new cat doesn’t like it.
Cats are territorial, and it takes some adjustment for everyone when a new pet is added in. Cats naturally react with hissing, maybe growling and swatting one another when really mad. I introduced a new cat into my household a year ago and he instantly got along with one of my cats but hates the other one. But, they have learned to tolerate each other, and I bet when I’m not looking they may actually be buddies deep down. How I acclimated them to each other is, at first I used a cat pheromone spray called Feliway in the room, which is a natural calming medium for some cats. It calmed my more hyper cat down somewhat. Also, a spray bottle filled with water works great if they swat at or get nasty with each other. One good squirt of water and cats will scatter. Basically, you are re-training them to live with each other. By rewarding good behavior and quickly, calmly responding to unwanted behavior, they learn to mellow out and co-exist.
After 30 plus years of cat ownership, I know nearly all cats can get along eventually. I grew up with cats and we always listened to hissing and mayhem when introducing new ones. If they get really nasty, put one in the bathroom, and let them sniff each other under the door. Gradually put the two cats together more and more until they are more tolerant of one another. Even now in my household, there is a hiss here or there, or a swat, but nothing catastrophic. Make sure to pet both cats when you bring a new cat in, so the they both see that you “approve” of them. Be patient and don’t lose your temper, as anger will make everything worse, not better. Don’t stir fear into the picture, stay calm and let them go through their meow fest until they calm down. They will, trust me.
Kitty likes to sharpen his claws on your couch and other things he shouldn’t touch.
Buy a scratching post, and a cardboard cat scratcher (found in pet stores). Put dried catnip on the scratching post to attract the kitty and he’ll be climbing all over it in no time. The cardboard cat scratcher comes already infused with catnip, and absolutely no cat will refuse that thing when they smell it. Put your fingers on the post as they are looking at it, and pretend to scratch. I know, it sounds dumb, but it works. Cats mimic their mothers when they show them to hunt, so they can mimic you, the human parent, as you “scratch” at the post. Praise them profusely when they do what you do and start to scratch. If you can afford it, get a kitty condo or cat tree. There are some great ones on online auctions, brand new. I bought a huge one for half of what it would cost at the pet store chains, online. It was easy to put together, and my cats live on it. If you get one, again, put catnip on it to show them how interesting it is. My cats live on theirs. It keeps them off the couch, and gives them something to watch birds from (I put mine next to a large window).
Your cat likes to jump up on tops of things he shouldn’t, such as shelves or the TV.
If the space is small, get a semi-tacky thick roll of painters’ tape (it’s sticky but not overly so) or double sided sticky tape. Put strips of it on top of the items you know he will jump on. When he jumps up on it, believe me, he will not want to do it again. My one cat loved jumping on top of my stereo speakers, but when I did this, he stopped doing it forever after one encounter with the tape. The idea is to make the environment unpleasant to the kitty, and that should do the trick quickly. For larger spaces like a chair seat, buy a Purr Pad at the pet store, which gives a mild shock when kitty jumps on the area. It comes in different sizes and doesn’t hurt the kitty, just shows him that the place he jumped on isn’t for him. Or, tape some balloons on the surface of a place the kitty wants to frequent. One claw touching those balloons and he won’t be going there again.
These are some tips my family and I have used for years to train our cats. Some cats are more mischievous than others, but that is part of their charm. Cats are a joy to watch, just watch a kitten play, it is fun to see such unbridled energy and excitement. Just show them what behaviors you expect of them, since they won’t know until you guide their way. Do it with love, and patience. And they will reward you with unconditional love for life.