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Step Two: Provide Options & Remove Problems

April 10, 2013

This is part of a multi-step series on how to change unwanted cat behaviors. Click here to learn more.

Once you’ve determined what’s causing your cat’s behavior, you can start to address it. Keep in mind that some behaviors may be rooted in several factors, and not all behaviors will be rooted in the same factor. So again, be flexible, be patient, and be creative.

Photo courtesy tess/

The other day we learned there can be several roots to your cat’s behavioral problems. Here are some ways to address each of them. Need more advice? Leave a note in the comments, and perhaps we can come up with a solution together!

If it’s a medical condition, follow your veterinarian’s advice and recommendations. Find other ways that you can make your cat comfortable in the meantime, too. Even though your cat may be confused or in pain, you can find ways to make her life easier and continue to work on your bond.

If it’s an instinctual problem, try to address it from your cat’s point of view. For example:

Problem: Your cat attacks your feet while you sleep. Solution: Set aside some time each night to play with your cat in constructive ways. This should satisfy his instincts and wear him out so he sleeps through the night.

Problem: Your cat scratches your favorite couch. Solution: Invest in a good scratching post, and encourage your cat to use it.

Problem: Your only cat is very clingy, demanding, and craves your attention. Solution: Consider adopting another cat to keep him company. Even if they don’t become best friends, they’ll keep one another occupied and curious. Here are some more solutions for clingy cats.

If it’s a territorial problem, try to find a way to reduce the stress in your cat’s life. For example:

– Make changes slowly in your home. If you bring home a new piece of furniture, consider covering it in a blanket that smells like you or your cat for a few days so it doesn’t seem so foreign. If preparing for a new family member (like a new cat or baby), allow your cat to investigate all of the new family members’ items before the new family member arrives.

– Always try to consider your cat’s feelings. If your cat is scared by loud noises, find ways to accommodate them. If it’s the 4th of July or loud construction, consider providing your cat with a safe, dark, quiet room to retreat to. If noises like heavy footsteps on stairs terrifies your cat, consider walking down them more gingerly.

If it’s a personality problem, try to find ways to help your cat express herself in a healthier way. For example:

– Praise her and give her a treat whenever you see her behaving nicely around your other cats. If she behaves improperly, some suggest blowing a quick, small puff of air into her face immediately after the bad behavior. That act is supposed to simulate a hiss, which your cat should connect to the behavior.

Photo courtesy bradleygee.

– If your cat is uncommonly shy, try engaging her more often with soft voices and playtime. Often cats forget their fears when they’re playing. This will help establish a bond between you, which may help increase her confidence. Here are some other ways to encourage your CH cat.

And sometimes, the easiest way to manage an unwanted behavior is to eliminate whatever is causing the problem. Sometimes that means doing your part by literally removing the object or desire.

For example, if your cat has a fetish of licking plastic bags (like CG!), simply make sure he never has access to them. If you have a cat who likes to tip over your wastebasket (CG again!), either remove the wastebasket, don’t allow your cat in the room with the wastebasket, buy a new one with a lid that he can’t get into, or place the wastebasket in a cabinet or alternative location that he can’t reach.

Other situations can be a bit more complicated. Let’s say your cat likes walking on the counter. (I know this is a behavior few of our CH cats may engage in, but stick with me!) First determine why your cat is jumping up there. Is he trying to get to something? If so, consider moving it to a place he cannot reach. Is it to be closer to you? If so, ignore his presence and only give him praise and attention once he’s on the floor again. If he simply enjoys climbing, consider investing in a nice cat tree or perch that he can enjoy instead.

Basically the solution here is to get creative. Sometimes no matter what we try, our cats are still going to be cats and they’ll be curious about the strangest things. That’s our cue to come up with a solution that works for both us and our cat.

Introduction: Unwanted Cat Behaviors? Here Are Steps You Can Take

Step One: Determine The Root Of The Problem

Step Three: Ignoring & Encouraging Behaviors

Bonus: More Solutions for Demanding Cats

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine permalink
    September 14, 2015 6:41 pm

    Our cat, Oscar (Mayer), is an Egyptian Mau and very talented with his paws. Due to his curious nature and odd ability, he manages to open cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and bathroom and remove anything that he can hold onto. His favorite things are plastic bags and pot holders. On occasion I’ve opened a drawer and all the potholders were missing, only to find them in the adjacent cabinet. I’m not sure how to keep him from doing this since he only plays this way when he’s alone.

  2. Dave permalink
    August 4, 2018 12:08 pm

    I came across your site while searching for information about aggression in cats (my partner and I have an aggressive-and-getting-more-aggressive cat). My comment/question is in regards to multiple times you have spoken to the fact that disciplining a cat is counterproductive since cats don’t connect the discipline with the behavior.

    However, in this post you state: ‘blowing a quick, small puff of air into her face immediately after the bad behavior. That act is supposed to simulate a hiss, which your cat should connect to the behavior’

    So, which is it? Will a cat connect an immediate discipline with their behavior, or not? Or does it depend on the form of discipline? A puff of air vs a spray of water from a bottle? You also speak to the ‘intelligence’ of cats. I wonder then, how is it that an intelligent creature can connect a reward for good behavior, but not a punishment with bad behavior? e.g. ‘every time I’m good I get a treat. I’m going to keep doing that to get more treats. Every time I hiss and scratch I get sprayed with water! I wonder why that is?’ Would this be selective intelligence?

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