Correcting your cat’s bad behaviour
Do you want to teach your cat to pee in the litter box or prevent scratching and biting? We will help you get started!
Correcting your cat’s bad behaviour: where to begin
If your cat is exhibiting bad behaviour, it is important to find out how the behaviour is being caused. There is always a reason behind a cat’s behaviour. We also need to keep in mind that cats are originally wild animals; nature is ruled by very different laws. There is no way for a cat to know, for example, that the condition of the couch or table matters. It is also important to note that cats are quite solitary animals and aren’t always keen on housemates, or – as they tend to see it – intruders. This is why they usually need more time to adapt to a new family than dogs, who are used to living in packs.
Reasons for a cat to pee outside the litter box
If your cat is often peeing outside the litter box, you need to find out why it is doing this. Did it start when you moved the litter box? Tried a new type of litter? Added another cat to the household? Forgot to clean the litter box? These are all very common reasons for a cat to start avoiding its litter box. There may be a medical reason too, such as a bladder infection. Keep an eye out for pain symptoms. A lot of mewing while peeing can be a sign of bladder infection. When in doubt, always visit a vet. Medical causes are especially likely if a potty-trained cat suddenly starts peeing outside the litter box. Ageing can play a role as well. A lot of senior cats suffer from arthrosis which makes it difficult to step into the litter box. A litter box with a low entry will prove a good solution.
Correcting a spraying cat
Spraying is a frequently occurring problem with cats. It is a misconception that only male cats can exhibit spraying behaviour. A cat can have several reasons for spraying. The most frequent reason is to define its territory. They spread their scent with their urine which tells other cats to keep out. As a result, spraying is a much more frequent problem when cats share a home with other cats or when a lot of other cats are in the area. But all a cat really needs to start spraying is a piece of clothing of yours that smells of another cat or someone visiting your home. Some cats are more sensitive than others.
Finally, changes in a cat’s living environment may cause persistent stress which may lead to spraying behaviour. For example, the arrival of a baby, a new partner or a relocation. Learn how to correct a cat’s spraying behaviour.
Scratching or biting
We’ve all been through it: you just bought a new couch or leather chair and within a day your cat is using it to sharpen its nails. There are many potential reasons for such behaviour. It may be to spread its scent; cats also demarcate their territory by scratching. But there may be another cause, for example the lack of a scratching post. A cat needs to sharpen its nails. If there is nowhere to do it, your couch or chair will become its scratching post. Scratching or biting can also be an invitation to play. For example, when it grabs hold of your legs as you walk by. Read more about why cats scratch and bite and how to correct them.
How to correct the bad behaviour of a cat?
To us humans, getting angry and punishment may seem like a sensible solution when correcting bad behaviour in a cat. And yet you will see that it doesn’t always work and can often cause the opposite effect. Your cat grows anxious, stress-levels increase and the bond with the human is broken. It is better to reward your cat when it does something you approve of. Or have it associate the bad behaviour with something negative. But not linked to you! For example, you can startle your cat when it’s sharpening its nails on a valuable rug by throwing your keys on the floor, but make sure the cat doesn’t notice you did it. Or cover the kitchen counter (or another place it isn’t supposed to go) with tin foil. Cats don’t like it and will prefer to stay away. Another option: spreading a scent cats don’t like in places you don’t want them to go. Lemon, for example.