By: Amanda Caron, Cat Behavior Consultant / Owner of Frisky Feline Behavior Counseling
Most cat owners can relate to the
anticipation of wanting to go home to cuddle up with your cat after a long day. But what do you do when you come
home to find your faithful feline companion left you with an unexpected surprise - A couch arm completely shredded, a poop in your favorite
ficus plant or fur from the last cat showdown scattered across your kitchen floor?
As that initial wave of emotions hits you, you might struggle to understand how things went wrong and even more so what you will do now to avoid it happening again.
With the tips below you can gain a new perspective on your cat’s behavior and be ready to conquer some of the most challenging behaviors before they even start.
The “Scoop” on House Soiling
Litter box behaviors often don’t make sense to us but make perfect sense to your cat. When you find out of box
eliminations the first thing to do is make sure your cat’s health is not the cause for these behaviors. If health is not a factor, the next thing is to ensure that your litter box is scooped every single day and cleaned regularly. Cleanliness is among the top reasons cats choose an
alternative location to do their business. If you do not provide them a clean place to go - they will find a suitable place that fits their needs. In addition, if you have a
complex litter box setup (liners, additives, automatic”) consider adding an additional basic” litter box set up to offer your cat different options and plentiful opportunities to want to head back to the litter box.
Relationship Status: “It’s Complicated “
Like humans, cat relationships are influenced by many things including their history,
environment, resources, routines, health and how they are introduced. When cats are not getting along, start investigating. Where are problems occurring? At what time? What is actually happening? This information can give you valuable insights on how to help your cats get along. Issues around the litter box might mean an adjustment to your set up is due - tensions near meal time might mean it’s time to separate your cats for feedings. One of the best ways to reduce tensions between cats is to separate their primary resources because when resources are grouped together it leaves the perfect opportunity for blocking and bullying.
Me-Ouch! No Bite!
Ankle biting is a common behavior often seen when a cat is on the hunt for whatever their closest “prey” might be. From feet walking swiftly down the hall or the toes
shuffling at the end of a bed - your cat’s behavior is likely a result of needing more
opportunities to “hunt”. Take this opportunity as a note from your cat that they need some one on one play time - so grab a wand toy and introduce regular play into your cat’s daily routine!
Scratch Here, Not There
If your cat has started scratching at the corners of the couch or the edge of the rug, it’s time to consider if your cat’s scratching post meets their preferences. When trying to find the right scratcher, use what your cat’s behavior is telling you about what is important to them. For example, if you find they scratch vertically on the couch legs, a tall sturdy scratcher may be better than a floor based scratch pad. Conversely, If your
cat is sinking their claws into the rug - you might find that a scratch board is a great option over the tall scratch post. If you have multiple scratching opportunities and your cat still prefers the couch, consider placing the scratching post/pad near where they are scratching to help make the transition easier for your cat.
MUST LOVE SLEEP Midnight zoomies, meowing, and stepping on your head - are just a few of the ways your cat might wake you from a restful night’s sleep. While we’re half awake and desperate to go back to sleep, it is important not to reach for the food bowl as a quick solution as you are more likely to create a new routine for kitty VS stopping the behavior. Instead explore with changes to your cat’s routine BEFORE bed time such as playtime followed by a small meal or leaving a food puzzle out to find when they start getting bored or hungry. Cats are incredibly amazing creatures who, like many animals, communicate through their behavior. Once we are able to understand that behavior is how cat’s speak, - we must learn how to listen. It is only then, that they learn we can speak their language too!
Amanda Caron is a professional cat behavior consultant and the owner of Frisky Feline Behavior Counseling LLC located in the heart of Bristol, CT. She is recognized as a Shelter Behavior Affiliate through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and is a proud member of organizations such as The Pet Professional Guild and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. She specializes in cat behavior modification and training, offering both in-home and virtual cat behavior support both locally and nationwide. If you're looking for professional and compassionate help for your cat’s behavior, call 860-387-9637 or check out www.friskyfelinebehaviors.com to learn more.