Why Does My Cat...?

Drawing the Battle Lines on Feline Behavior

A kitten under a couch
Jodie Griggs / Getty Images

My husband and I have shared our home with over 30 cats over the years we've been together. There was never a time in our lives when we had fewer than two fuzzy felines to adore. We're back down to two again and these old guys have been with us so long we are blessed with few behavior problems. It hasn't always been this peaceful, though, and we've drawn the battle lines on more than one occasion.

Bubba loves to wake Asa with soft paw-pats on the nose. He's very gentle and keeps his claws retracted, but he learned this only after being scared by a few loud "ouches". Have you ever been awakened with a cat claw to the nose? "Ouch!" is right! This one was a relatively easy lesson, because it came so naturally, but along the line we've learned that a loud "no!" is one of the best means of discouraging undesirable behavior. Another good trick for discouraging bad behavior is the old "pennies in a can" tactic. You simply empty an aluminum soda can, drop half a dozen pennies in and put some kind of lid on it. When kitty is naughty, give the can a couple of shakes. Most cats hate the noise and will forever associate it with their behavior. We've never subscribed to the practice of hitting an animal, nor even the mildly physical punishment of spraying with water, although a few experts still suggest the latter.

Clawing & Scratching Furniture

Tired of hearing your cat turn your velvet furniture into lace? Do your curtains look like something in the Adams Family house? Have you been considering declawing as a desperate measure? Don't! Imagine spending the rest of your life minus the first joint of each finger, because that would be your cat's sentence with "declawing".

There are a number of alternatives, starting with trimming kitty's claws. A How To article on this Guide Site gives you step-by-step instructions for accomplishing this.

A scratching post alternative can be built at home with instructions from Cats International If you have any second doubts about the declawing issue, read "Declawing and Humane Alternatives."

Spraying & Marking with Urine

Is spraying and marking a problem in your household? A few years ago we had a problem with Bubba. We attributed his errant behavior to a sibling rivalry with Arthur (now deceased). Unfortunately, we found out (almost too late) that he had a serious urinary disorder. It was only after an emergency rush to our veterinarian and a week's stay there for Bubba, that we were able to put two-and-two together. So, the very first thing you should do if your cat starts spraying/marking in the houseĀ is to eliminate a medical problem. You'll save yourself a lot of grief, and you may save your cat's life. There are a number of other causes for this behavior. I've covered most of them in an article, He Peed WHERE? - Cats Urinating outside the Litterbox

Solutions for other undesirable behaviors can be found in the Cats Subjects section on Behavioral Issues.