How to Curb 6 Annoying Cat Behaviors
We love our cats unconditionally, sometimes in spite of certain habits that leave us scratched up, bleary-eyed and without presentable furniture. As much as we love them, though, we sometimes wish we could eliminate their less appealing behavior — so we’ve identified six common "bad cat habits" and determined what causes them — and how you may be able to fix them.
Clawing at furniture, chewing on plastic, jumping onto counters and peeing outside the litterbox are complaints we often receive from frustrated cat owners. You might be surprised to learn that some of these behaviors can be easily corrected with training, though others might indicate an underlying medical problem that your veterinarian needs to check out — and at least one of them might be your fault not your cat’s. Read on for our analysis and advice, and let us know in the comments if you’ve had to address any of these issues!
Jumping Onto Tables and Counters
So what's a cat owner to do? Because climbing and exploring high spaces comes naturally to felines, you will need to replace the appeal of the counter with acceptable climbing surfaces that are more fun to your cat. Invest in a cat tree or window perch with fun toys and perhaps an exciting view of birds outside. We also recommend you cover your counters with aluminum foil (a sensation cats don't like). The idea is to make your kitty's new, cat-friendly perches more appealing than the boring old counter.
Clawing at Furniture
The approach to curbing this behavior is similar to the solution to the countertop problem: Redirect the behavior rather than trying to stop it completely. Cover your furniture with double-sided tape to discourage clawing and give your cat better options for scratching — like a fun horizontal or vertical scratching post. And, most importantly, reward her with treats and praise her for using it!
Peeing Outside the Litterbox
Friends may tell you that your cat is just being "spiteful" when she potties where she shouldn't, but chances are there is something more serious going on. Plenty of medical conditions can cause your cat not to use her litterbox, including kidney failure, bladder infection or other urinary tract problems, diabetes and arthritis. The best thing you can do as a responsible cat owner is to tell your vet what's going on and have her check it out.
Biting and Scratching During Play
Many people assume that jerking away when a cat scratches or bites will put a stop to the nipping and clawing, but it actually reinforces the behavior, because it's the response that live prey would give in the wild. The solution is pretty simple: Stop using your hands to wrestle with your cat and redirect that instinct toward feather or motorized toys. That way, your cat can still play in a way that's natural to her — and you don't have to bear the scars of it. If the aggression continues, talk to your veterinarian.
Chewing Plastic and Other Weird Things
Crying at Night
Once you have a clean bill of health from your veterinarian, there are a few things you can do. If your cat is sleeping all day, it's no wonder she has energy to burn at night! Tire her out during your waking hours with food puzzles, simulated hunts, active play and even walks on leash. Another tip: Don't give your cat attention when she wakes you. Keep in mind that yelling at her is still attention — negative attention, but attention all the same. So your best bet is to not react at all. For even more advice, check out Mikkel Becker's helpful article on this issue.