In our last blog post, 3 Common Dog Behavior Problems (And How to Fix Them), we gave you some tips for minimizing your dog's bad behavior. In today's post, we'll be turning our attention to our furry feline friends.
So, if you're a cat owner, this post is for you! Keep reading to learn about 3 of the most common cat behavior problems and our top tips for preventing them.
Litter Box Avoidance
Litter box avoidance can be a messy and frustrating problem, but understanding the reasons behind the behavior can help cat owners prevent it.
According to PetMD, at least 10% of all cats develop an elimination problem. If your cat has this issue, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical causes. Possible health problems that may cause your cat to eliminate outside their litter box include urinary tract infections (UTIs), incontinence, kidney disease, and cognitive decline.
If medical reasons have been ruled out, it's time to assess your cat's indoor environment. Cats can be very sensitive to their surroundings, and they may be avoiding their litter box because they've developed an aversion to it.
If your cat's litter box is in a busy area, try moving it to a quiet, low-traffic area of the house. This can help your cat feel more comfortable when using it.
If you live in a multi-cat household, make sure to provide a litter box for each of your cats. Many cats don't like to share their litter boxes, and will refuse to eliminate where other cats have been. It's also important to make sure litter boxes are kept as clean as possible to encourage their use.
You can also experiment with changing the type of litter. Most cats prefer unscented litter that has a fine consistency. But some cats favor shredded paper, sawdust, pellets, or other materials.
If you are still experiencing problems after following these steps, the litter box itself may be the problem. This is often the case with litter boxes that are too cramped or feature high sides that can make your cat feel trapped.
If all else fails, consider contacting an animal behavior specialist to help you identify the reasons behind your cat's litter box avoidance.
Aggression is a common cat behavior problem that can be a big cause of concern for pet owners. According to the ASPCA, there are 10 distinct types of aggression in cats:
- Aggression between cats
- Fearful or defensive aggression
- Territorial aggression
- Play aggression
- Redirected aggression
- Petting-induced aggression
- Pain-induced and irritable aggression
- Maternal aggression
- Idiopathic aggression
- Predatory aggression
It's important to understand that feline aggression is a complex behavioral problem that has many potential underlying causes. For a detailed explanation of each type of aggression, please read the ASPCA's full article on the topic.
Signs of aggression include defensive or offensive body language such as a rigid stance, upright ears, and a stiff tail. Aggressive cats may also display behavior such as hissing, growling, scratching, biting, or swatting.
If your cat is showing signs of aggression, take them to your veterinarian for a checkup to rule out any underlying medical causes. If the cause is not physical, we recommend working with a trained animal behavior specialist who will help you identify the reasons for your cat's behavior and suggest ways to minimize and prevent it.
When living with an aggressive cat, make sure to give them enough space and avoid situations that may trigger aggression.
Fearfulness is another common cat behavior problem that can be difficult to deal with. Fearful cats will often hide, try to make themselves appear smaller, or become immobile. Other signs of fear include aggression, irritability, and soiling inside the house.
If your cat is fearful, please visit your veterinarian to rule out any underlying causes. The next step in helping your cat overcome fearfulness is to identify the triggers that bring about the behavior.
Some of the most common fear triggers for cats include loud noises, unfamiliar environments, and being around people or pets they are unaccustomed to. In some cases, a traumatic experience can trigger an extreme fear response that impacts a cat's behavior over the long term.
Consulting with an animal behavior specialist is recommended if your cat is showing extreme signs of fearfulness. If your cat's fears are mild, it's often possible to minimize and prevent fearful behavior by identifying triggers and taking steps to prevent them.
Desensitization can be a helpful method for reducing mild fearfulness in cats. This involves identifying your cat's fear stimulus and slowly introducing them to it so their reaction changes over time. If you'd like to find out more about desensitization, this article from the Animal Humane Society is an excellent resource.
Our final recommendation for dealing with fearfulness in cats is to experiment with natural anti-anxiety remedies such as herbs, aromatherapy oils, or supplements. PetMD's article, How to Calm Down a Cat: 5 Herbs for Cat Stress Relief, is a great place to start when researching natural fear-reducing remedies.
If your cat displays behavioral problems, please remember to take them to your veterinarian for a checkup to rule out underlying health issues. Most cats respond well to behavior modification, but it's important to practice consistency and experiment with different techniques to find out what works best for your pet.