The most common behavioral problem experienced by cat owners tends to be inappropriate elimination. This is a frustrating problem but in our experience, at least 90% of it is caused by poor litter box setups and conditions/health issues/family issues. Cats DO NOT eliminate outside their boxes in order to “get back” at their owners. There is always a reason.
First, the most important thing that needs to be done is a thorough vet exam, including a urine sample to check for infections. Once this is ruled out, a careful examination of the litter box set up is in order. Cats also have issues due to stressors such as fighting in the household, a new baby, a new pet, inter-cat aggression, etc. For a thorough discussion of these issues as well as good suggestions on how to address them, please visit Cats International.
Most cats can be trained to scratch appropriate posts and trees with few problems. The most common reasons for inappropriate scratching are:
- The post is too short/unstable. A good scratching post should be at least 3 feet tall and have some kind of sisal fiber covering. Carpeting encourages scratching on carpeting, which just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Floor to ceiling cat trees can be found for a variety of prices on eBay. Cat trees with perches can be hammered together or purchased.
- The cat’s nails are not trimmed. Nails should be trimmed every 10 days or so. If you are afraid to trim nails have your vet or groomer show you how to do it. It is very simple and can be done when the cat is sleepy or relaxed.
If you are introducing a new cat to your household where there are resident animals, it is extraordinarily important that you make the transition as slowly and patiently as possible. Throwing Fluffy out into the middle of the house where there are 5 other cats and 3 dogs is not going to make anyone any friends. A new cat should be put in a room by itself with a litter box and food/water with the DOOR CLOSED for several days. Some cats will want to come out quickly and meet everyone. Others will want to be in there for a couple weeks before venturing out. It can take cats several MONTHS to get used to each other and it is to be expected that there will be a lot of hissing, slapping, and sometimes screaming and chasing as the cats get used to each other. If you have a situation where there is a great deal of severe fighting going on between your cats to a point where there is blood, fur all over or one of them is hiding continuously, you may have a bad mix of personalities in your household. The only real fix for this problem is to keep each cat in a separate area of the house.
Remember that cats are agile creatures and some breeds are a lot more active than others. You can expect most cats, especially breeds like Siamese, Orientals, Abys and Sphynx, to be in/on everything most of the time. However, you can train cats to stay off of areas like counter tops. Some of the best deterrents work when you are not there. We highly recommend the “Scat Mat”. It is a clear plastic strip with a battery pack that can be placed on a counter top and turned on. When a cat jumps up, it gets a mild static electricity charge to the feet that surprises the cat and deters it. Another good product is called “Ssscat” and is a motion detector on top of a can of compressed air. When a cat jumps up next to it the motion detector goes off and the cat gets a shot of air in the face. Both of these products are completely harmless to the cat but work very well. Ssscat can be found at many pet stores including Petsmart and Petco (online as well). Many online stores carry “Scat Mats” at competing prices.