Behavior Problems And Their Solutions
you have a post that’s up to scratch
Cats, now the most popular pet
in North America and Europe, were once described as
asocial animals, but this is no longer regarded as true.
Although very different from dogs, cats also need
interaction and most importantly, your loving attention!
When you bring a new kitten or cat into your home you’ll
have to decide whether your pet will live strictly
indoors or will be allowed outside. There are advantages
and disadvantages in both cases. Free-roaming cats are
prone to more illnesses and have a much shorter life
expectancy, as they can be hit by cars, attacked by
other animals and exposed to internal and external
parasites such as fleas, worms and ear mites.
Conversely, if your cat never ventures outside you must
provide him or her with physical and mental stimulation,
including interaction with you, exercise, scratching
posts and a clean toilet area. Whatever decision you
make, following a few simple guidelines to direct your
cat’s behavior can ensure that harmony reigns in your
just comes naturally to cats. An instinctive
activity that begins when kittens are five weeks
old, scratching allows cats to leave chemical
and visual signals that, among other functions,
serve as “messages” to other cats and animals.
However, what’s entirely normal for your cat can
become a big problem for you if he starts
scratching your carpets and furniture. If this
happens, you can cover or remove the tempting
object or use plastic Nail Caps™ that are glued
to the cat’s claws. Unfortunately, these caps
must be cut and replaced every month and some
cats do not tolerate them. Therefore, an easier,
more practical solution is to provide kitty with
a special scratching place, usually a post, of
his own. As befits the feline reputation, you
may find that your kitten or cat may be slightly
picky about what kind of scratching post he or
she will agree to use.
commercially available scratching posts are equally
attractive to all cats.
Posts that some cats might find acceptable have
sisal, cardboard, wood or wood composite surfaces.
Some cat owners have found that making their own
posts, whether from soft logs, tree stumps or a
piece of 2 x 4 wood covered in sisal or another
material with a longitudinal weave does the trick.
The most important characteristics of a post are
that it be taller than the cat when he stands on his
hind legs, sturdy enough not to tip over and located
in a prominent, easily accessible area.
A board about 6-8 inches wide by 12-14 inches long
attached to a wall can also work well.
Whatever its construction, the scratching post or
board should not be changed as long as your cat is
still using it. The more scratched and awful
looking, the more your cat will love and use it
instead of your furniture!
Playtime helps keep
your cat healthy and happy
sure your kitten or cat has lots of opportunities for
interesting, challenging play that will satisfy his natural
instincts and provide him with much-needed activity. Find
toys that bounce or flutter—there are many available—that he
can pretend to “chase,” “hunt” and “capture.” Some cats love
to chase moving spots of light, whether they’re produced by
mirrors or flashlights. You can also attach a ball of
aluminum foil to a long string and tie it to your belt or
waist. As you move about, your cat will have a great time
interacting with you while trying to “catch” the ball. Just
be sure to make the string long enough that kitty doesn’t
accidentally catch your leg! You should try to have at least
one daily, 15-minute interactive play session with your cat,
especially if he is often left alone.
appreciate clean facilities, too!
are fastidious creatures, so providing your pet with a
clean, easily accessible toilet area will help minimize any
litter problems. Cats generally prefer unscented,
soft-textured fine litter. Some cats like to urinate in one
box and defecate in another so the ideal number of litter
boxes is one box per cat plus one. Therefore, a two-cat
household should have three litter boxes placed on different
floors or in different rooms. Don’t put litter boxes next to
noisy equipment such as furnaces or washing machines—cats
prefer quiet. Scoop out fecal matter (and urine if you use a
clumping litter) daily. Wash boxes with water and mild dish
soap once a week if you use non-clumping litter or once a
month if you use the clumping type. Do not use Lysol or
Pinesol type products to wash the litter box. Elimination
outside the box can occur for several different reasons,
various medical conditions being the most common. If you
suspect your cat might have such a condition, consult your
veterinarian for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Spraying, or urine marking, is a normal behavior in cats
with intact sexual organs, and as well in neutered male or
spayed female cats. In fact, as many as 10% of castrated
male and 5% of sterilized female adult cats spray regularly.
Spraying is often associated with the presence of other cats
(both inside and outside the home) or other stresses, such
as changes in the cat’s environment (a new roommate, pet or
baby, or perhaps a change in the amount of time the cat is
left alone), that can cause anxiety. Spraying may be the way
your cat communicates his anxiety. Treatment is
available—ask your veterinarian.