Read these 71 Cat Behavior Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cat tips and hundreds of other topics.
Most cats do not like water, and that is precisely why using water to train a cat works. Obviously, you cannot use water to train a cat to do things like sit or roll over, but you can use a water bottle to discourage them from displaying any unwanted behavior. For instance, they tend to use furniture as scratching posts and they tend to jump up to places they do not belong such as kitchen tables or countertops. These are perfect examples of when it is appropriate to spray your cat with water.
To use this method, simply keep a clean water bottle filled with clean water. Whenever you pet displays this unwanted behavior spray him or her with a few squirts of water. Your pet should immediately stop doing the negative thing. After a few times or repeatedly being sprayed little kitty should learn to associate that behavior with something unpleasant and no longer do it.
On the other hand, some experts warn that using this method may backfire and instead teach the cat to associate the squirt bottle wit your presence since it cannot spray when you are not around. Thus, instead of stopping the unwanted behavior altogether, the cat may either just avoid doing it in your presence or avoid you altogether. These same experts say to try something else to make the behavior unpleasant such as putting foil over the areas of furniture the cat likes to scratch.
No matter which technique you choose, remember to always reward your kitty for displaying good behavior. Give him lots of praise and attention when he does something like use a littler pan instead of the floor or use a scratching post instead of a couch. Like children, pets love to receive praise and attention.
Despite the common misconception, cats are not showing affection when they rub against you with the back of their head and the rest of their body. It's just cat instinct to mark you with their scent; they are actually claiming you as their territory.
The only time a cat is truly showing affection is when they bump you with the front part of their head, known as head bonks, a cat behavior also called "bunting". He might rub along your chin and nose, engaging in the bunting behavior that began as a kitten when he'd rub around his mother's head seeking to nurse. Some cats get so carried away that they even drool.
The next time your cat jumps onto the bed and seems to butt you in the face with the top of his head, don't get irritated, realize the loving compliment your kitty just paid you.
Cats can be pretty funny creatures, but there is a method to the madness. First of all, cats sleep for the majority of the day (sometimes close to 20 hours) so, for the few hours that they are awake they have A LOT of excess energy to burn. Which is why, when you are sound asleep at 3:00am, your cat may suddenly decide it needs to run laps around your house at mach 10, stop suddenly and pretend like nothing happened, and then do the same thing again, but this time counter-clockwise. It is also why cats engage in a number of odd behaviors during the day. Another reason that cat's act "strange" is that they are practicing their predatory skills. An activity that may look very odd to you (like jumping from the floor to a 4ft high banister, stopping on a dime and then sitting there for a minute before jumping back down) may very well be your cat honing it's hunting and survival skills (this is also why they will make an obstacle course out of various parts of your house and run it a few times in a row before settling down to a nice cat nap). As to why cats sometimes knead, (when they look like they're running in place if they are de-clawed or when the pull at the carpet, a blanket or your tummy if they have claws) this is a vestige of when they were kittens and were still nursing. In order to get more milk from a mother cat kittens will knead the area around her teat while they are suckling. This helps the flow of milk to the teat and enables them to consume more. Once cats grow up they sometimes still do this just as a comfort activity, perhaps it reminds them of mom.
A cat is looking for companionship or attention when she gives a series of short mournful cries... ones that will tear at your heart strings. This is one of the more obvious cries for humans to understand.
Another reason your cat may be meowing is because he isn't sufficiently stimulated. Make sure you're engaging in daily interactive sessions.
Live with a cat for a while, and you come to understand the specific meanings of your pet's various meows, which in broader terms usually mean, "Hey, I want something."
In all of my years with cats, ONLY the cats who regarded the counter tops as 'uninteresting' would stay off of them. If you react when the cat jumps on the counter, they will learn to do that to get your attention. It's best to make them realize there is nothing up there they want to see. When you are preparing food, or cooking in the kitchen, allow you new cat to see what you are doing. Either place a chair nearby so their eyes are at counter top level, or just lift the cat up to see there is nothing they are interested in. If you are cooking something they like, throw tiny tidbits or kitty treats on the chair for them. This will teach them to stay on the chair to get what they want, and it will keep them out from under your feet.
However, there are those cats who are willful and must be trained to not jump on the counters. For those cats, you can use one of those motion activated holiday decorations that make a noise and move around. We had a Jack O Lantern that would jump around and moan and groan with flashing eyes. That would startle Kitty into not wanting to go up there. Your goal is to associate jumping on the counter with something unpleasant, so add the Spray Bottle technique to this.
DON'T YELL AT KITTY OR SPANK HIM; that will only cause other more serious behavior problems.
When training a cat, you must remember that they are very curious. By short stepping that curiosity, you can easily train your pet to stay off the counters.
Unfortunately, declawed cats often behave aggressively. It's possible that they feel defenseless and resort to biting as a means of communication. According to veterinarian David Hammett, "A declawed cat frequently
resorts to biting when confronted with even minor threats. Biting
becomes an overcompensation for the insecurity of having no claws."
You may or may not be able to train your cat to bite less. First, she must feel as comfortable as possible - she's biting because she feels threatened. Second, you introduce something that makes her uncomfortable ONLY when she misbehaves. At the exact moment that she tries to bite, use a spray bottle to mist her (do not spray directly in her eyes). Alternatively, you can shake a can with a few coins in it or make another startling noise. Third, if she is biting when she interacts with you, and it is pleasurable for her (such as petting or playing), stop interacting with her immediately. These tactics will require a lot of patience and may never completely stop the biting behavior.
For future cats, please consider alternatives to declawing. There are many scratching posts available and it is easier to train a cat to use one than to teach a cat not to bite. You can also cut the claws or apply "Soft Paws" or another claw covering as needed to protect your furnishings.
Cats have a distinct motivation for all that they do; when you understand the 'why' of your cat's actions, you can adjust your reaction.
When your new Kitty jumps up somewhere she is not supposed to be, don't yell at her. Gently pick her up and put her down on the ground. If she continues to jump up onto the no-no area, look for the reason why she is doing it, then eliminate the reason.
Don't yell at her, that is critical. Just put her down on the floor each time she jumps up on the no-no area. If you react in a loud/obvious manner to Kitty when she jumps up on counters, she will learn to do this to get your attention.
Some cat owners are familiar with this cat behavior problem: you're petting Kitty, she seems to like it because she is purring and suddenly, CHOMP! Her teeth are lodged in the flesh of your hand.
The general consensus on this problem is that the cat becomes over stimulated during petting, and can't quite figure out how to tell you to stop. The best thing to do is DON'T PANIC. Slowly withdraw your hand, then move away from the cat. If the cat is in your lap, pull your hands away and allow it to retreat, or stand up and let the cat jump to the floor.
Learn how to recognize the signals that precede biting: wildly flicking tail, ears laid back, their pupils dilating, or their body tensing. When any of these are noticed, stop touching the animal and allow it to move away on its own.
When training a new pet, start with short time periods of petting then slowly increase the length of time. Always back away slowly when the cat shows signs of frustration.
Then there are some cats that prefer other methods of human interaction besides petting; for those animals try playing with them more and petting them less.
The best cheap kitty toys (other than homemade ones) are rabbit fur mice. I have yet to meet a cat that didn't just love a rabbit fur mouse.
Along those lines, you can give your cat a scrap of tanned, processed animal hide/fur to play with. I stress that it should be processed to prevent any bacterial infection from the 'raw' hide.
Sanitized bird/peacock feathers are also a favorite.
For no apparent reason, your Kitty walks up to you nips you. Of course you react with a loud 'OW!'
It is my experience that Kitty is trying to get your attention when she does this, and since you give such an obvious reaction, she will do it again and again.
To stop this, short step that 'nip' by picking her up and giving her affection when you see her approaching. Everytime you see her, greet her and talk to her. Take every opportunity to convince your cat that she has your attention, either with a vocal greeting or physical affection or playing with a toy.
Cats are similar to humans in that they will loose interest in toys after a while.
One way of keeping Kitty's toys fun and exciting is to pick up those he has lost interest in and put them away for a few weeks. Then trade out the toys in the closet for the ones he has in his toy box every other month or so. Be sure to make a big production with your kitty when you pull the toys out of the closet, show them to him, and play with him. This will make him feel special and provide you with many laughs as he rediscovers his 'lost' favorite toys.
This also works with young children.
To teach your kitty where she can & cannot put her paws, gently take a hold of her paw and remove it from the no-no area. Then put the paw where you want her to be. For instance, when my cats put their paws on the table during mealtime, I gently encompass the paw in my hand and put it back on their place mat in their chair. (See Keeping Kitty off the Table). Cats naturally don't like their paws to be held, so this is a gentle means of teaching them. Be persistent, and consistent, and they will learn what you want.
This will work with scratching on furniture, also.
Cats have scent glands on the back of their head, the base of their tail (where it connects to the body), and in the pads of their front feet. When they rub against you, or anything else, they are placing their scent on you. They are marking you as their territory. The same is true for when they 'scratch' their front feet.
We love to spend that dollar or two to bring a new toy home for kitty. The colors and shapes just call our name and demand we take them home. However, most kitties have their own ideas what constitutes a great toy. Some of the toys my cats have found on their own include:
aluminum foil rolled up in a ball, a large paper shell pecan, plastic ring from a gallon milk jug, six inches of plastic beaded Christmas garland, an individual piece of plastic/artificial Christmas tree, styrofoam ball, packing peanuts, paper grocery sacks, children's plastic bead bracelet, and (of all things)a starlight peppermint in it's wrapper.
Cats are expressing their affection when they use a call that sounds like a high pitched meow mixed with their purring. Queens use it to call their young; males use it when approaching a female in heat; and altered cats will use it to call their masters when the cat is lonely.
For humans, use the tip of your tongue to "roll your R's" combined with a "high, low, high" vocalization with a sing song quality.
Cats are incredibly clean animals. A healthy cat will groom as frequently as possible during the day no matter how clean its living area is. The reason for this is part of their predatory nature, cats clean themselves to remove any scent on themselves so that no prey can smell them as they approach. This is vital for hunting and the cleanest cats make the best hunters (assuming they actually know how to hunt too). So, your cat is probably just trying to stay clean on the off chance some prey wanders around and she decides to stalk it (or more likely out of instinct). What you want to watch out for is if your cat starts to lick itself so much that it starts to lose fur in places on its body. This suggests a neurotic behavior, or an allergy or a skin disease, and, if your cat is licking to this extent, then you need to take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible as this can be symptomatic of a more serious condition.
Your new Kitty wants to sit on the sofa, but you don't want her to. Don't yell and scream at her, cats are easily offended, and never forget a grudge. Instead, create her own special chair or corner of the sofa. To do this, put a pillow down where you want her to sleep, then put a fuzzy blanket on the pillow, or one of your dirty shirts, or whatever it she likes to sleep on. It can be on a chair, a window sill, cubby hole in the book shelf, a perch on top of the entertainment center, etc. Then gently place her in the new 'bed' giving her love and positive reinforcement to be in 'her' spot. Whenever she jumps on furniture you don't want her to be on, gently pick her up and place her in her special spot. Be sure to wash the blanket as often as you do your own bedsheets. If you allow your pets to have their very own special place, you can train them to avoid other more valuable furniture.
Cats aren't quite as complicated as humans. Cats always have a specific motivation for all they do, and most of the time that motivation is based on the instinct to survive. When you understand their motivation, you can alter their behavior.
When training a cat, try to mimic natural behaviors or try to cooperate and compliment a cat's natrual instinct to do a specific task. It has always been more successful for me to train my cats to do what they naturally do, but in a manner that I can control. If they want to jump up; I give them a specific place where they can jump or climb. When they want to sleep, I give them their own 'nest'. If they want to be close to us during tv time, I give them their own chair and blanket. By subtly catering to my cats' natural behaviors, I can control them without a lot of corrective measures.
A Relaxation Response can be compared to smelling food and feeling hungry, or hearing a noise at night, and feeling fear. These are trained responses that happen automatically. Psycho-Cybernetics uses this automatic response to train your body to relax with a given trigger.
Research shows how interacting with animals can reduce your blood pressure and slow down your heart rate. We also discussed Paying the Cat Tax: taking time out of your busy day to spend one on one time with your kitty. We suggested this time be right as you enter your home after being gone all day at work.
If you Pay the Cat Tax everyday, in a short while, your mind and body will learn to relax at the site of your cat. You won`t have to force the relaxation, because your cat, in your subconscious, will become associated with rest. Spending time with your cat will become the trigger for your Relaxation Response.
After that you will be better able to proceed onto deeper relaxation and other stress management techniques will have more success.
For your cat or kitten, petting reduces his stress of being alone all day, reaffirms his importance to you, and creates the desire-to-please-you within your kitty. This will redirect your mind and body away from the stress of work and will reduce your Kitty's stress of missing you all day.
A cat's motivation for most of his behaviors and actions is based on self survival and species survival. Catering to this instinct will create a more harmonious relationship with you and your cat.
Toys should be designed to satisfy the need to hunt and kill food. A cat's enviroment should have places to run, jump, climb and hide. Kitty should have a safe and secure place to nap.
Playing with your cat will mimic the pride's cooperative effort in hunting and killing. Spending quiet time with your cat will mimic the affectionate bonding at the end of a hard day. 'Sharing' food (ie feeding them at the same time every day) will mimic the feast at the end of a hunt.
Understand that you are a part of your cat's pride/den/family, and the more you mimic feline behaviors, the more your cat will bond with you, and try very hard to please you.
You are in the middle of a good night's sleep when Kitty decides that he wants some kind of attention: affection, playing, scratching, or any number of other things. Fight the tempatation to sling him across the room; cats are nocturnal animals and he may not understand that you need to sleep at night.
You could train yourself to pet your cat in your sleep, my husband and I have- in a manner of speaking-or you could try this:
When your cat disturbs your sleep, grab him and pull him under the covers. Leave his head out for fresh air, but hold him tightly under the covers. Hold him for at least 30 seconds to a full minute, until he squirms and cries. Then slowly release the hold you have on him, so he can 'escape'. Be sure to snatch after him like you are trying to capture him again.
After about one week of this, he should learn that disturbing your sleep will end in his 'capture.'
Only do this with bedtime behaviors that you don't like or want. If your kitty sleeps at your feet quietly, or curls up beside you to nap, don't associate this good behavior with the corrective measure of trapping him.
I have often been told that when my cat chews on electrical wires, I should rub Bitter Apple or Tabasco sauce on the wires to stop him. I quickly discovered that he liked these treatments. As a last resort (and also to help "repair" the damaged wires), I wrapped the wires in black electrical tape; to my surprise, my cat soon stopped the unwanted behavior. Why? Well, it seems that he did not like the taste of the tape, or how the glue felt in his mouth. You can get black electrical tape anywhere (some stores even carry various colors), and it`s inexpensive. You don`t need to wrap every single centimeter of your wires; leaving a little space between wraps will give you the same result.
The only cat I've ever known who does not like a rabbit fur mouse, is the cartoon character, Garfield.
My cats played with their mice so long, they would get soggy, and the fur would separate from the wooden form underneath. Oh boy! The little scrap of fur was even more fun by itself!
Of all the toy tips I could offer, this one is guarunteed! A Rabbit Fur Mouse is a must for any kitty.
A cat is giving a defensive call when they 'growl;' a quiet, low pitched, tone deep in the throat. They may or may not include a 'rumbling, rattling' quality to the growl.
The cat 'scream,' a high pitched, frantic call, is usually used when they are fighting, or a cry of intense pain.
These are the sounds that resemble a baby crying or children shouting and playing.
Never use Corrective Measures if you don't actually catch Kitty in the act of misbehaving. Using a Corrective Measure after the fact will not stop the unwanted behavior, because Kitty doesn't associate the Corrective Measure with the unwanted behavior problem. Kitty will just be confused & stressed out if corrected after the fact, and will just cause further cat behavior problems.
Are you frustrated with the cat for clawing your furniture or carpets? Here are a few facts and "how to" hints that might help:
1. Clawing has a dual purpose for the cat. It's just cat instinct to work their claws and mark their territory. Once a cat claws something their scent is left on that object, so they will come back and claw it again.
2. If you buy a carpet or sisal covered scratching post or cat tree, rub it with catnip and Kitty might find it is better than your carpet or furniture.
3. You can trim a cat's nails, which will lessen the damage they can cause without having to declaw them. Special cat claw trimmers are available at your local pet supply store. When trimming, do not cut too close to the pink part of the claws, or you could seriously hurt your cat.
4. Every time you catch the cat clawing something they shouldn't, spray them with a water bottle you should already have handy (use regular tap water). This method, used consistently, should minimize the number of times they claw and help to eliminate the unwanted behavior.
More about cat vocalizations - Some cats vocalize more than others (e.g. Siamese), but all do it to get your attention. It can be cute, but it also can turn into a problem, especially if it occurs at night or early in the morning when everyone is trying to sleep.
The meowing may be a sign that the cat is in discomfort or has a medical problem. Cats meow as a form of communication, as well. However, most cats meow simply because they are bored and want some human interaction. The solution is to provide the cat with an entertaining environment with more cat toys and possibly another cat to play with.
One Last Tip: It is not wise to pay attention to the constant crying, as this will only encourage the cat to continue and will create an ongoing cat behavior problem. After all, all she wants is your attention.
Indoor kitties love to sit in a window and watch the creatures outdoors.
A simple way to entertain your indoor kitty is to put an outdoor bird feeder near your kitty's favorite window. A bird bath is another good idea.
Don't put these too close to the window, or the birds won't come when they notice the cat all the time. However, the best kitty entertainment is watching the birds retreat enmasse when they see him, so the feeder can't be too far from the window either. It may take a couple of tries to find the right distance.
This way you can feed your outdoor feathered friends, and entertain your indoor furry friends at the same time.
PS. Birds are natural bug eaters, so attracting birds to your yard will help control the insect pests, also.
We came up with these ideas because we wanted to recycle our cat's old toys.
Our four cats have a basketful of toys, but what they love best is to run after a piece of string with a sisal mouse attached. A simple knot in the end of the string does the trick, too.
Another way to recycle old toys was to mount chewed, unattractive toys on flexible metal rods - great for swatting.
Last but not least, you can always build your cat a house made out of a cardboard box. Turn it over, cut in a door and voila.
I am a firm believer in understanding a behavior, before I try to alter it. If your kitten is biting, understand why-first-before you try to stop her. If it is just play time, I don't try to correct it unless it continues for more than three weeks. After that, when the kitten bites, gently grab their bottom jaw so that you are 'biting back.' Don't let go until the kitten is beginning to panic. This is one way to gently let them know you are the boss, and biting is not a good thing to do to you.
One of my cats' favorite toys is a laser pointer, or a small, narrow beam flashlight. They will chase the laser point until they pant.
A flashlight is a good subsitute, but the highly focused beam of a laser pointer provides a much more interesting target for the cat. But be sure not to point the laser light directly into your cat's eyes, which could be harmful to their eyes.
Once your new older cat is accustomed to you, you can start the process of holding him. First sit in the floor with him and gently pull him into your lap. Don't fight him! If he struggles to get away, let him go. Try this a couple of times a day. Eventually, he will learn that you aren't trying to 'capture' him. The next step is to hold the cat so he is in control. To do that: with one hand hold his back feet, then hold his front feet with the other hand. When you have him secure in your arms, slowly let go of his paws and allow him to 'stand' on your hands. This will allow your cat to feel in control, while you are holding him. With practice, you can allow him to stand on one forearm, while petting him with the other hand.
Approach a cat slowly, and do not grab it. Ideally, let it approach you. Begin your contact with a gentle stroking, then when the cat is used to your touch, pick it up.
1. Hold the cat with one hand under its chest and the other under its hindquaters. Let the sternum rest in the hand.
2. Lift the cat gently, drawing it toward your chest. Give full support to its hindquaters.
Guru's note: This is a good start to holding a cat for carrying a cat. Eventually, you need to put the cat's front feet in one hand and the back feet in the other, and allow the cat to 'stand' in your hands.
To keep Kitty from digging in your house plants, purchase inexpensive river stones or collect attractive stones and cover the dirt in the top of the planter. The rocks won't hurt the plant, and will allow water and fertilzer through to the soil.
Guru's Note: I would suggest you use stones/rocks no smaller than a golf ball, or Kitty could have just as much fun digging up small stones as he does the plant.
Children have a box to keep their toys in, your cat or kitten should have a place for their cat toys too. It helps you keep track of their cat toys & to check for safety hazards, and provides another fun game for your pet.
Periodically, once a day may drive you nuts, you should collect Kitty's toys into one place. This helps the tidy appearance of your home, but it also give Kitty something to do: drag another cat toy out of the box.
By gathering the cat toys up, you can inspect them for safety hazards such as loose strings Kitty could accidently swallow.
Any type of container will do for a 'toy box.' When choosing a 'toy box' for kittens, consider making it shallow, so it is easier for your kitten to pull things out. For an adult cat, the size of the box is not as important, and don't be surprised if your cat plays inside the toy box as much as the toys in the box, just like children. You can think of the toy box as "cat entertainment".
Most cats love to be held, and there is more than one way to show your cat affection.
When holding a kitten, cradle it and support it's entire body.
You can rest the cat's paws in the crook of your arm.
You can put the cat's front feet on your shoulder, and support it's hindquarters with your hands.
With un-altered females, a 'chirping' type of cat vocalization is a signal she's in heat (ovulating and ready for a mate.) They may also howl mournfully, if they are isolated from males.
Another possible reason for a cat's rapid clacking of it's teeth, is if it's excited by the prospect of a kill - I've heard this clicking sound when my cat has her eyes on a bird which has wandered close to the window.
To train your kitty to use a scratching post, try putting it right in front of the furniture he scratches the most. Rub the post down with catnip. Once Kitty is using the Post instead of the Furniture, you can slowly move it to it's permanent location.
Many cats enjoy scratching and stretching after a nap or after they've eaten. Because scratching is also an emotional outlet, many cats will want to use the post when their owner comes home or as they anxiously await dinner.
Sometimes kitties will hide to overcome a stressful situation, and sometimes they end up hiding because the space they were investigating got closed up. Some favorite hiding places include:
Open dresser drawers, closets-on the upper shelves and in the dark lower recesses, lower kitchen cabinets, under the head board of water beds, under the bed and other furniture, on top of tall furniture, washers, dryers; we even found one cat who managed to find his way underneath the built-in dishwasher and got stuck.
Don't like the "mess" made by catnip leaves? Try buying a small place-mat-size rug and only sprinkle the catnip leaves on the rug. Your cat will enjoy his catnip in style and will eventually associate "play time" with the rug (which incidentally should be taken up after an hour of play and put away until next time.)
If you roll the rug up with catnip inside, the rug will begin to smell like catnip and your cat will enjoy the rug without the mess of loose leaves.
Cats have a natural curiosity about plants and living things. Some of the natural toys my cats have loved include: green corn shuck/husks, raw green beans, the outer leaves of a head of lettuce, the stalks and leaves of cauliflower and broccli. Yes, they would play with them, and even eat them.
If you don't buy organic produce, be sure to wash the greens to remove any possible pesticides before giving them to your cat.
Multiple Cat households are familiar with occasional, or unfortunately, frequent fights between their pets. Most of the time, I don't take too serious of action when these happen. Cats are territorial and an occasional spat is expected. However, when the behavior becomes the norm, you can take steps to correct this. The following is a list of things that I do, along with some ideas from Friskies Cat food:
Identify the aggressor and the victim, then separate them when not supervised. Give the agressor corrective measures, while giving the victim rewards. Corrective measures could include: confining the aggressor in a less attractive space, place a collar and bell on him, squirts with a water sprayer during aggression. Rewards could include: allowing the victim to roam freely while the aggressor is confined, both edible and affection type rewards.
To help lessen the defensive posturing, take steps to make the cats smell similar to each other. Rub talcum powder on each cat or spritz cologne on your hands and when it is dry pet both cats (don't put the cologne directly on the cat-their noses are much more sensitive than humans); use the same grooming tools on both cats to transfer their scents to one another.
Gradually increase the time of supervised interaction using corrective measures for aggression, and rewards for good behavior.
Many of the cat toys sold at pet stores are categorized by those that have catnip in them and those that do not. The ones that have the catnip in them frequently are more expensive than those that do not.
Try buying a bag of catnip leaves and non-catnip kitty toys, place them in a resealable bag with the catnip and then store them there for a week. You can use the bag of catnip over and over again to give that wonderful scent to any toy you choose without the higher prices you would have paid for a similar toy with the catnip smell.
You've cleaned his previous markings, and the markings of other cats. You've applied a citrus scented solution to further deter your kitty's marking behavior.
Now you need to use Corrective Measures when you see him marking something. A water pistol, a loud noise, or a firm 'NO' when you actually see him marking something is a last resort to stopping this behavior. You must eliminate the 'trigger' to his marking, or it will do no good to correct him.
Never use Corrective Measures, if you don't actually catch him in the act of marking. This will not stop the unwanted behavior, because he doesn't associate the Corrective Measure with the unwanted behavior.
You will find those more tips on Corrective Measures in Answers for Common Problems: General Training and Correcting a Bad Kitty.
Bury citrus rinds in the soil of your house plants to keep cats from digging. Orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime rinds are all unpopular with felines.
You can do this for your outdoor garden as well to prevent the neighborhood cats from treating your garden as the litter box.
Be aware that the rinds will break down into the soil (composting) so you will need to replace them from time to time.
To stop outdoor cats from marking your belongings, you must first clean them with more than plain soap and water. You will need to use an enzymatic cleaner or one of the formulas from Litter Box Blues:Odor Removers.
Next treat the area with a citrus scented solution. Cats don't like the smell of lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits or tangerines. You can use a potpourri oil, fruit rinds/peels, or even citrus scented cleaners.
This citrus scented solution must be re-applied after rain, and/or the scent disipates.
Most cats enjoy being held, but only on their own terms.
Usually, a cat does not like being held for more than a short time.
Stroking a cat while you hold it, will reassure it. Once it starts to struggle, carefully put it down and lovingly scratch it or pet it as it leaves. This will demonstrate to the animal that you are in control, but that you appreciate the cat's 'claustrophobia.'
If you hold a cat against its will, it will bite and/or scratch anything to secure its freedom.
Some cats prefer to scratch/claw a textured surface that is on the ground.
Try purchasing a 'fire log' with the bark intact, and place it near one of Kitty's favorite scratching places. The log must be stablized, so that it won't move when Kitty scratches it. You could put it up against the wall, or even mount it to a board.
Cats are curious. If you eliminate the curiosity, you can control their reactions. Take your new pet around the house showing them the tops of armoires, entertainment stands and appliances. Make sure you let them smell everything really well. Once the curiosity is elminated, they won't jump on these places. If they do jump up on a counter, there is something that has grabbed their interest. Eliminate the source of their interest, and they won't jump up there anymore.
Cats mark their territory by 'spraying' their urine on objects: car tires, bushes, lawn furniture, house doors, gates, rocks, electrical poles... etc. In some cases, they will use their solid waste as a territorial marker, also.
Cats will continue to mark their territory, as long as they can smell their own urine or any other cat's urine on an object. It is the same with the solid waste odors, also.
The feline sense of smell is much more sensitive than humans, so simple soap and water will not remove the micororganisms of urine/feces that the cats can smell. To remove that odor you must use an enzymatic cleaner or one of the other formulas found in Litter Box Blues: Odor Removers.
To stop Kitty`s bad behaviour in the house, start by picking Kitty up and confining him for 15 minutes. This could be in the bathroom, a closet, or even outside. When Kitty returns, if the bad behaviour continues, confine Kitty in his Time Out place 30 minutes.
It is the consistency and duration that will change Kitty`s heart in doing bad things while in the house.
Follow this with Postive Reinforcement for Good Behaviors such as treats, kind words and affection.
One of our readers suggested a unique scratching pad idea: have couch arm covers made of carpet that extend to the floor and cover your kitty's favorite scratching spot. Rub this down with catnip, and once Kitty is accustomed to using this piece of carpet, you can move it to a scratching post.
You have determined that your cat/kitten is just playing when he bites you, now what can you do to stop this unwanted behavior.
One method is to allow the kitten to bite your finger, then gently, but firmly, press down on his tongue. This is very effective in teaching your kitten that you will 'bite back', so he shouldn't bite you at all.
The best toys for cats are usually the homemade variety. Lots of feathers usually do the trick. But remember to NOT pick up feathers from the outdoors. Craft stores as well as pet supply stores carry sanitized feathers. They are safe for your cat as long as you remember to not let your cat eat them.
Some older cats will feel the need to test you. They will bite, and even attack your hand to see how well you trust them. DON'T PANIC! If the cat is not drawing blood, they may be testing you. Try to leave your hand in place until the cat withdraws, then slowly pull your hand back. If a cat's ears are laid back, they hiss or growl, then the cat is angry or afraid and you should slowly back away. Jerking your hand back will seem like an attack to the cat.
If your cat has been fixed, she will not be able to reproduce, and should not be going into heat. When a female is spayed, they remove all the reproductive organs, uterus, everything...
Maybe there's been some sort of change in your home that's causing some stress for your cat? It doesn't take much change to upset a cat's routine. You might want to give your kitty a little more attention to assure her that she is loved.
If you still think she's in heat, you may want to talk to your vet about it.
An old trick of detering outdoor cats from digging or marking in your garden is to sprinkle moth balls throughout the garden.
GURU NOTE: This is not recommended for organic gardeners, or people with a allergies or asthma, or a hyper sensitivity to moth balls.
Kitty lost his favorite toy, and you bought/found him a new one.
Instead of just giving it to him, try putting it in a sack/bag and put all of it in the floor. Let Kitty dig through the bag and find the toy on his own.
You can do this with his current toys also. If you use a plastic bag, cut several holes in it first so that kitty will not suffocate, and then be sure to put it away when kitty is done playing.
A circumstance where the student taught the master...
I rescued a stray female ready to have kittens. After all the kittens were in good homes, we kept the runt. Since we raised him indoors with lots of human interaction, he loves to be held, loves to play with water, and has no fear of humans. Consequentially, his mother will watch him and she's learning. She is becoming more affectionate; she's investigating water, and she does not run and hide everytime the door bell rings. She would have learned all these things naturally, but it would have taken years instead of months.
If the neighborhood cats are using your gardens as a litter box, you don't necessarily need to worry about your plants if it is solid waste. Just add some vegetable kitchen scraps to the 'litter box' area and compost it all into the soil. The composting prevents the strays in my neighborhood from using that area again.
If the area smells of urine, then you will need to flush it with water frequently to dilute the ammonia in the urine.
You will find more tips on preventing the Urine problem in Answers to Common Problems: Spraying/marking Territory.
Cats don't like the smell of citrus fruit, so it is an excellent deterrent for gardens and plants.
Citrus scented potpourri or cleaners can be another means of keeping cats out of your outdoor garden or indoor plants.
Just apply the citrus scented solution to something in the garden; such as a large rock, or around the foundation of your house for flower beds or the pots for indoor plants.
Be aware that you will need to re-apply this occasionaly since the scent will wash off with water.
To stop your cat from digging in your house plants, you can cut a strip of 'chicken wire' to fit around the top of the pot, up to the base of the plant. Use duct tape or florists tape to attach the wire to the outside of the pot.
You can also cover the top of your pots with aluminum foil just up to the base of the plant to help deter Kitty from digging in the pot. Guru Note: this may not work for all cats. Some cats enjoy playing with aluminum foil.
When a cat hisses, its whole face and head pull back from its mouth: the whiskers, ears, everything pulls back away from the mouth.
Hissing is one of the first warning calls of a cat to tell their 'opponent' to back off.
When a cat hisses at you, slowly move away from the cat-do not turn your back to it.
The difference between a cat spraying or marking and eliminating fluid waste is based on the position of the body.
To spray or mark their territory, cats back up to the object, and remain standing to release the urine. They are also known to wiggle their tale while doing this.
Cats will squat very low to urinate, and they will then scratch and cover it up.
Cats with Urinary Infection will try to squat to urinate, but then will rise up as the urine leaves the body, since it is causing physical pain and discomfort.
Cats do not stand up to urinate, even with UI. If a cat is standing up while releasing urine, that is a marking behavior.
You may think that it is cute when you play with your cat and it is "killing its prey", which is just part of it's cat instincts, but those cat bites can become very serious.
It's best to train your cat to confine his biting to more appropriate times such playing with toys, and not human hands. Although you understand your cats behavior, human visitors to your home may not. You can avoid a nasty situation by training your cat to not bite humans.
Your Kitty wants to be a part of the family, and mealtime is especially attractive: everyone is together, the smell of food, and everything is not quite out of Kitty's reach.
Instead of locking my cats out during mealtime, I pulled a couple of chairs out from the table,& put paper place mats on them. As we eat, we give small pieces of each dish to the cat on their paper place mat. This allows the cat to see what is going on at the table, allows them to smell the food you are eating, and eliminates all curiosity about mealtime. Most of the time, they will lose interest and go back to their napping.
While many people assume that cats purr when they feel pleasure, cats actually use purring to display a wide range of emotions. Cats aren't the only felines that express their feelings by purring, bobcats and mountain lions purr as well. Interestingly, cats that roar, such as lions, cannot purr, and cats that purr cannot roar. So, what is all the purring about?
Purring is a cat's most efficient way of communicating. In addition to the reasons listed above, cats also purr when they are ill, in pain or near death. Kittens are able to purr soon after birth, and continue to purr for a variety of reasons for the remainder of their life.
Cats are often considered mysterious creatures whose behavior is difficult to understand. However, if you understand cat communication, you begin to see that their actions are completely in compliance with how they experience the world.
Many people wonder why their cat licks them. This is a natural part of their behavior and can convey a number of different messages. Licking is a part of cats' grooming and bonding behavior. Licking helps to remove dirt and debris from the surface of the coat.
Cats will often lick each other, especially around those hard-to-reach areas that they have difficulty cleaning themselves. This action helps to bond individual cats into their family group and also distributes their scent to the group so they can tell each other from unfamiliar cats.
Being licked by your cat means that he or she feels you are a part of the family and that you must be cared for and scented just like other family members. This is high praise indeed in the world of cat communication.
Licking is also sometimes a way for the cat to calm itself. You may want to discourage your cat from excessive licking by spraying a bit of lemon water on your skin to provide a bad taste. You can also distract your cat by giving him a cat treat or providing some playtime to divert the animal's attention.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|