Sunday, January 17, 2010

Behavioral Problems and Cats -- what you need to know as caretaker


Cat Behavior Problems

Common behavior problems in cats include house soiling (eliminating outside the litter box), destroying furniture with their claws, or acting aggressively toward family, people or pets. There are some steps that can be taken with any normal cat that is misbehaving. No cat benefits from physical punishment and all cats benefit from additional interaction with the owner in the form of regular grooming and play sessions that involve aerobic activity such as chasing and jumping after toys.

House soiling

Urination or defecation outside of the litter box. May be due to an insufficient number of litter boxes, territorial reasons, insufficient frequency of cleaning of the litter box(es), dislike of the location of the litter box(es), personal preference for a particular elimination location (example, the bed) or surface (example, carpet), medical illness or psychological stress, exercise frustration, physical discomfort or personality conflicts with other members of the household.

Destructive behavior

Includes clawing and chewing behavior. Some clawing is simple claw maintenance to remove the older claw shell as the new claw grows underneath. Cats also claw to mark territory both with the scent of their pads and the sight of clawing. Cats may also chew objects. Cats are more likely to choose a plant than a couch or table to chew, although some cats do chew fabric. See library article Pica.

Their sense of investigation is another cause of inadvertent damage. The curious cat often knocks valuables off shelves, causing destruction.


Acting aggressively toward family, people or pets. For aggressive cats, first rule out any medical causes of chronic minor discomfort by asking your veterinarian to do a physical exam and diagnostic testingto rule out underlying illness. Avoid any form of physical punishment and initiate regular, gentle massage when the cat is relaxed. Finally, don't allow free choice of food. Instead, hand feed the first few kibbles of each meal while giving a mild body massage with the other hand to establish positive leadership, build the bond and re-establish a loving relationship.

Diagnosis of a behavior problem is based on a thorough behavioral history along with a physical examination and sometimes blood and urine tests to make certain that the pet is otherwise healthy. Please see your veterinarian if you believe that your cat has a behavior problem.

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