- Puppy World
- Health & Nutrition
- Breed Center
- Contact Us Now
Here's expert advice on what to do when your kitty takes a walk on the wild side.
What can you do when the "inner beast" transforms your pet from a fond feline into a cantankerous kitty? Stress, normal feline playfulness or simply the desire for attention can result in common kitty boo-boos: avoiding the litter box, fighting with other pets, spraying to mark territory, climbing the curtains and meowing excessively.
Animal behavior consultant Sophia Yin, DVM, M.S., offers some tips that can help bring your cat's behavior back to the norm of a civilized feline.
If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, and an exam by the veterinarian doesn't indicate a health problem, take a look at the litter box. "Keeping litter boxes super clean and cleaning the inappropriately soiled areas of the house can dramatically reduce the problem in up to 71 percent of cats," Dr. Yin says.
Also consider the number of litter boxes and where they're located. "Have one litter box for each cat, plus one extra," Dr. Yin says. Place litter boxes throughout the house, preferably in quiet, private places.
When you have two or more cats who don't get along – and express their dislike by hissing or even full-on assaults – the secret to harmony is to make sure their experiences together are good.
"I advise owners to feed them only when they're with each other," Dr. Yin says. "They may have to be 10 feet away from each other or separated by some type of barrier so they feel comfortable, but they learn that good things happen when they're together and only when they're together." Gradually move food dishes closer until the cats can eat peacefully in each other's company.
Cats often spray urine around the house because they're stressed over the presence of another cat. If you've noticed stray or neighbor cats coming onto your property, try to block the smell and sight of those cats by keeping doors and windows closed or pulling shades down. To keep strange cats away, consider installing an electronic scarecrow that sprays water at the intruder or a mesh cat fence to keep other cats out of sight.
To your cat, new curtains are Mount Everest and are meant to be climbed. Redirect her penchant for climbing by providing her with a tall climbing post of her own. Reward her when you see her using the post. If you catch her on the curtains, Dr. Yin says to gently remove her and place her on the post. You may have to tie up your curtains for a while until the cat learns what's appropriate.
If your cat wakes you up at 5 a.m. with constant meowing, you may have reinforced the behavior at some point. Now she's waking you up earlier because she's learned that you respond to her ear-splitting voice. Teach her that no matter how long or loudly she meows, you won't respond until she's quiet. "Just get earplugs," Dr. Yin says.
Rachel Leibrock's cats, Sophie and Trixie, didn't get along at all. Trixie was so aggressive toward the other cat that eventually Sophie wouldn't leave Leibrock's bedroom.
A veterinary exam confirmed that neither cat had a health problem that was triggering Trixie's aggression. That's when Leibrock turned to Sophia Yin, DVM, M.S., for help.
"I had Rachel keep the cats separated except when they were eating," Dr. Yin says. "She had to feed Sophie in the hallway and Trixie in the living room. Every day she moved the food closer and closer until they ate side by side. It took about a month. Now, a year later, the cats get along fine."
Another success story Dr. Yin remembers is the case of the crying cat. "One of my students had roommates who let her cat into the room whenever he meowed," Dr. Yin says. "My student was never able to retrain her roommates, but she did retrain her cat by ignoring him completely until he was quiet. Then she rewarded his good behavior by giving him attention."