Cat Behaviour: Understanding and Dealing with Common Issues

Welcome to the fascinating world of cat behaviour! Cats, with their enchanting personalities, can sometimes exhibit behaviour issues that leave us wondering how to best address them. Curl up in a warm spot while we explore the most common behaviour issues in cats, understand the reasons behind these behaviours, and provide practical solutions to help you navigate through any feline conundrum. Get ready to embark on a journey of understanding and harmony with your whiskered companion!

Grey cat sitting on keyboard.

Common Behavioural Issues in Cats

Cats, as independent creatures, have their own unique behavioural quirks. Some of the most prevalent behavioural issues include scratching furniture, spraying, aggression and inappropriate elimination. These behaviours can be frustrating, but by understanding the underlying causes, we can work towards resolving them effectively.

Unveiling the Reasons and Solutions

Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats, serving several purposes such as claw maintenance and territory marking. To redirect their scratching instincts, provide sturdy and appropriate scratching posts or boards, and make them enticing by incorporating catnip or treats. Encourage your cat to use these designated areas by using positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise and treats, whenever they scratch the appropriate surfaces. Additionally, ensure your cat’s claws are regularly trimmed to minimise damage to furniture.

Spraying, or marking with urine, is often related to territorial issues or stress. Neutering or spaying your cat can significantly reduce this behaviour, as it helps decrease their hormone-driven urge to mark territory. Creating a calm and enriched environment with hiding spots, vertical spaces, and interactive toys can also alleviate spraying behaviour. Additionally, pheromone diffusers that release calming scents can help reduce stress and prevent marking.

Aggression can stem from fear, territorial disputes, or redirected aggression. Identifying the triggers and addressing them through behaviour modification techniques is crucial. Gradual desensitisation and counterconditioning, under the guidance of a professional animal behaviourist, can help manage aggressive behaviour effectively. It’s essential to provide a safe and secure environment for your cat and ensure they have space to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed.

Inappropriate elimination, where a cat urinates or defecates outside the litter box, can be caused by medical issues or stress. It’s essential to rule out any underlying health problems by consulting with a veterinarian. Once medical issues are ruled out, assess the litter box setup, cleanliness, and location to ensure they meet your cat’s preferences. Consider providing multiple litter boxes in different areas of the house, using a litter type your cat finds comfortable, and ensuring the litter boxes are cleaned regularly.

Training and Modifying Cat Behaviour

Training and modifying cat behaviour requires patience, consistency and positive reinforcement techniques. Cats respond best to rewards for desired behaviours rather than punishment for undesired behaviours. Reward your cat with treats, praise or playtime when they display appropriate behaviour. This positive reinforcement strengthens the connection between the desired behaviour and the reward, encouraging them to repeat the behaviour.

Clicker training can be a valuable tool in modifying cat behaviour. By using a clicker device to mark desired behaviours, you can effectively communicate with your cat and reinforce positive actions. Pairing the clicker sound with rewards helps your cat associate the clicker with positive outcomes, making it easier to shape their behaviour.

In addition to training, mental stimulation is crucial for your cat’s overall well-being. Interactive play sessions, puzzle toys, and environmental enrichment can help redirect their energy and prevent behavioural problems. Engaging your cat in regular play sessions not only provides exercise but also stimulates their natural hunting instincts.

Tabby cat holding base of scratching post.

The Importance of Addressing Behavioural Issues

Addressing behavioural issues in cats is vital for their overall health and happiness. Unresolved behavioural problems can lead to chronic stress, anxiety and even physical health issues. By taking the time to understand the reasons behind these behaviours and implementing appropriate solutions, we can create a harmonious living environment that promotes our cat’s well-being and fosters a deep and loving bond between us.

A Happier and Healthier Feline Companion

Understanding and dealing with common behavioural issues in cats is an ongoing journey that requires empathy, patience and a commitment to providing the best care for our feline friends. By uncovering the reasons behind these behaviours and implementing positive training techniques, we can create a loving and enriched environment that addresses their needs and ensures their happiness. Remember, every cat is unique, so be patient and adaptable in your approach. With time and effort, you’ll be well on your way to having a harmonious relationship with your feline companion.

Keep Learning!

Come to the Cat Lovers Festival in Sydney, 26 & 27 August 2023, at Sydney Showground, for educational and entertaining talks, on communication and other hot topics, from:

– Best-selling author and America’s Official ‘Cat Daddy’ Jackson Galaxy (live via satellite) who passionately believes environmental enrichment, aka Catifiction, and playing with your cat are the most important things you can do for your cat’s wellbeing. 

– Vet and animal-behaviour expert Dr Katrina Warren, who’ll bring her enormous knowledge to solve the most common cat problems. 

– Internet superstars CATMANTOO & his cat Didga, on why teaching a cat is easier than you think; and how to use a harness and leash for outdoor cat adventures. 

See the full WHISKAS® Stage timetable of furbulous Festival talks here.  

Comments are closed.