Cat Behavior Tips

If you are dealing with a pet behavior problem, consider first consulting with your veterinarian. Many problems may be due to a treatable medical condition. For example, a housetrained pet may begin urinating in the house due to a urinary tract infection rather than a behavior problem. Your veterinarian will be able to rule out any physical cause of the problem. There are also many local animal behaviorists and trainers who have the experience and expertise to help address your pet’s behavior problem.

Cat Litter Box Issues

Inappropriate elimination is one of the most common behavioral issues seen in cats and can lead to a cat being surrendered to a shelter or exiled to an outdoor life if left unresolved.

  • If urination is the problem, have your veterinarian test the cat for a urinary tract infection (UTI). If one is present, medicate the cat per veterinarian instructions and have the cat retested after the dosing is done. Some forms of UTI are more resistant and may require trying several different antibiotics to cure the infection.
  • If feces is the issue, ask your veterinarian to express the anal glands. They can become clogged and this can cause issues with pooping outside the box. If this was the issue, try switching to a cat food with more fiber in it.
  • Clean the area real well. You can purchase odor eliminating products at most pet stores. You may also use enzymatic cleansers or regular cleaners to clean the area and then spray the area with regular Lysol spray. Cleaners containing ammonia should be avoided when cleaning areas soiled by cats.
  • If the inappropriate elimination started after changing the brand of litter you use, go back to using the previous litter.
  • Do not add any citrus smell to a litter box. Cats do not like the smell of citrus. Many cats dislike any heavily scented cat litters. Unscented litters should be supplied in most cases. You may want to experiment with several different litters to determine which type your cat prefers.
  • Try moving the litter box to the area the cat eliminated, or place tin foil or double-sided tape over the area, or block access to the area by shutting a door.
  • If the cat has not been spayed/neutered, get this done. All cats in the home should be spay/neutered to eliminate inter-cat relationship problems.
  • Some cats do not squat when urinating. A high-topped or enclosed litter box will eliminate the problem.
  • The standard rule is to have one more litter box than the number of cats in the home. They should be placed in multiple quiet places throughout the home and on each floor. In multiple-cat households, there may be some aggression occurring among the cats that you are unaware of as the symptoms may be subtle and difficult to interpret. A cat could be fearful of being attacked trying to get to a litter box, hence the reason for multiple locations and multiple floor locations.
  • All cats should have access to multiple food and water bowels, litter boxes, and perches located throughout the home.
  • Some cats are distressed when stray cats show up outside the house. Removing attractants such as bird feeders may help.
  • Some cats just prefer a clean litter box. Scoop the box daily if possible. Scoopable litter may make this task easier. Regular non-clumping litter will need to be replaced every 1-2 weeks based upon usage and number of boxes. Scoopable litter boxes will need the litter replaced as well, just not as often and again, dependent upon which litter you use. Some brands clump better than others.
  • Make sure the litter box is large enough for the cat to stand inside it easily. If you have kittens or an older cat with painful joint issues, provide litter boxes with lower sides so it is easier for them to get in and out of.
  • Feliway is a pheromone which affects behavior and calms cats. You can purchase this as a plugin diffuser, spray, or a collar.
  • Make sure the cat can mark its territory by providing scratching posts.
  • If none of the above suggestions help, ask your veterinarian about medications such as Clomicalm or Reconcile. They have been effective in nervous cats. However, if there is an inter-cat relationship issue, this may not be as helpful.