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Solutions to 5 Common Cat Behavior Problems


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Many cat behaviors that you dislike are natural, instinctual behaviors for a cat. These include scratching, marking, jumping on counters, and digging. Not only are these undesirable behaviors frustrating, they are also difficult behaviors to break. As hard as you might try to "catch your cat in the act" while you're home, without the help of training aids and devices, you probably have little control over what your cat does or where she goes while you're away.

Training aids are more helpful than ever in safely and effectively deterring your cat from acting inappropriately - while you're home or away. From sprays to mats to pheromones, there are many varieties to choose from according to your training needs. Some of the questions you should ask yourself when selecting a training aid include:

  • Why might my pet be acting this way?
  • Where are my cat's problem areas?
  • Do I need a training aid all the time or just while I'm away?

Scratching
Scratching posts can help eliminate unwanted furniture scratching! Your cat 'scratches' on items for two reasons - the reason we think of most often is to sharpen her claws. But scratching also serves another purpose. When scratching on items such as furniture or scratching posts, your cat is also leaving his scent from the sweat glands on the pads of her paws and between the pads. The scent left behind says, 'I was here, and this is my territory.' Once his scent is on an object, he often returns to the object and applies his scent again.

As one of the many instinctual cat behaviors, scratching is unavoidable. However, there are many deterrents available to ensure that your cat scratches only on acceptable surfaces. No-Scratch! is a mild-scented, chemical-free spray that is applied once a week directly to the surface your cat scratches. No-Scratch! won't harm fabric or wood so your furniture is safe. Sticky Paws are double-sided strips that can be applied to any surface your cat scratches on. Cats dislike the tacky feel of the strips and avoid scratching on treated surfaces, protecting your furniture. When using a scratching deterrent as a training aid, make sure to also provide your cat with a place that is okay for her to scratch on such as a scratcher or a scent post. Encourage your cat to use the appropriate scratching post with praise, by playing with her on the post or by applying catnip to the post. This ensures that she still can act on her instincts without damaging your furniture.

Marking
Feliway can help reduce cat anxiety, and thus decrease marking. Territory marking is a normal, innate behavior that has nothing to do with your cat's sanitation. Most common in non-neutered males and multi-cat households, the spraying of urine on vertical surfaces like drapes and furniture is his way of identifying 'his' property or covering the scent of other cats. If your cat sees another cat, his natural response will be to mark his territory - your home.

No-Mark! is an all-natural spray designed to stop your cat's desire to urine mark indoors and will not affect any water-safe surfaces. Feliway is a product designed to help reduce anxiety in cats, and thus decrease marking. Feliway contains pheromones like those normally found on a cat's face and chin. Pheromones are chemicals that are used to communicate with other members of the same species. When Feliway is sprayed onto multiple vertical surfaces that your cat may spray, the cat receives this calming effect, and in many cases, spraying will be reduced.

Digging
Another common problem among cat owners is digging in plants. Not only is this messy to clean up after, but it may also be destroying your plants. There are spray deterrents available to help prevent these problems. Kitten and cat indoor/outdoor repellents are easy-to-use sprays to help train your cat not to dig in the lawn or house plants - simply spray on dug-up area. One option you may consider is SSSCAT Spray. When placed in a plant or near a plant, a harmless spray is automatically released towards the animal. The cat is surprised and runs away.

Jumping on forbidden surfaces/entering forbidden rooms
Scat Mats can be placed on areas such as furniture to keep your cat off! For many pet owners, there are set areas your cat is not allowed. There are areas your cat is not allowed to enter or surfaces that your cat is not allowed to jump on. As adamant as you might be about enforcing these rules, controlling those areas is difficult, especially when you're not home. Devices such as the Scat Mat or the X-Mat can be placed on forbidden surfaces to protect them whether you're home or away. These devices are safe and effective training aids that cause the correction to come from the "environment" rather than the owner. Products such as the Tattle Tale can help keep your cat off forbidden surfaces or out of forbidden rooms by detecting vibration and sounding an audible alarm, which scares away the cat and alerts you to the problem. These types of products allow you to use them at any time, home or away, to help you keep your cat only in areas he's allowed to occupy.

Eliminating outside the box
When improper elimination occurs, it can leave a stinky mess and stains. Before using a deterrent, it is important to take your cat to his veterinarian to eliminate the possibility of a medical problem. Once a medical problem is ruled out, a training aid can be used. No-Go! is a non-chemical, weekly spray that prevents your cat from urinating in the same spot on your carpets.

With a variety of training aids available, you're sure to find one to meet your specific needs, leaving you, and your cat, safe and content.

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