Difficult Cat Behaviors
Your feline companion can bring you hours of joy, purring, curling up on your lap, or playing sweetly with a feather wand. The next minute, she's attacking your ankles, giving little "love" nips, or refusing to use the litterbox! The following links can give you expert insight and advice for a broad range of behaviors.
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) This site provides a comprehensive directory for a variety of cat behaviors, with insight and guidance for minimizing each of them.
"Compulsive Behavior in Cats" This link to the highly-regarded ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist site provides insight into the common compulsive behaviors of wool sucking or fabric eating, excessive licking, and hair chewing and pulling.
"Nighttime Activity in Cats" Provides invaluable insight into the root cause of feline nighttime activity, and what to do and not to do if it keeps you up.
LITTER BOX AVOIDANCE
One of the most frustrating situations that can happen in a household is for a cat to stop using the litter box. Using a litter box is a very instinctual activity, so avoidance is a very strong signal to you that something is definitely wrong. An angry response, rubbing a nose in the offending excrement, taking your cat to the site and scolding, or punishment of any other kind does not work and may serve to heighten the stress level of your cat. He or she will only become afraid of you and maybe even develop more aversion to the litter box.
The following links reflect a wealth of learning and information that may help you identify and remedy your situation.
"Resolving Litterbox Problems" (.pdf) This is a 10-step process that covers many of the root causes and offers great ideas to overcome them in a quick two-page format.
"Litterbox Problems" Covers the issue thoroughly from all angles offering great insight and guidance.
"Feline Behavior Problems: House Soiling" This link to the world-acclaimed Cornell Veterinary Medical School offers many of the same insights as the ASPCA, along with a list of cleaners and deodorizers at the end.
"The Litter Box from Your Cat's Point of View" Offers an interesting perspective on this matter.
The rest of these links may offer additional information to help you:
Scratching for a cat is a very natural habit. It serves to sharpen claws, provides a wonderful and invigorating full-body stretch, and is as natural as chasing a mouse. But, oh, what damage it can cause if not directed appropriately!
Here are some links that will help educate you on the topic and give you ideas and even products to help you and your cat work it out.
"Indoor Cat Initiative: Scratching" This link provides a basic discussion about why cats scratch and a few suggestions for redirection, trimming nails, etc.
"Scratching and Declawing" Provides valuable guidance on how fundamental the instinct for cats to scratch is and what declawing brings to the table.
"Scatching and Declawing" Offers remedies to address the problem, and even guidance on building your own scratching post.
"PurrFect Post" This is a link to a veterinarian developed, “cat approved” sisal-based (very durable material) scratching post manufacturer.
"Excessive Licking" This link provides insight into cat obsessive licking through the case of Samantha, the "Cat Who Licked Too Much," as presented by Dr. Amy Marder, VP Behavioral Medicine, ASPCA.
Aggression in cats is a serious problem and the second most common feline behavioral problem seen by animal behaviorists. Cat aggression rarely gets the public attention that dog aggression does, but is nevertheless an important behavior to address.
"Aggression in Cats" This link provides insight into the aggressive cat, how to interpret cat body language, and types of aggression.
"Aggression Toward People" Provides a comprehensive analysis of instinctual roots of cat aggression and how play therapy can help; and how to get your cat to accept new friends.
"Aggression Toward Other Cats" Provides insight into aggressive behavior among cats, including aggressive feelings re-directed toward cats, social aggression between cats sharing a house, the issue of turf, and scent marking.
"Understanding Cat Aggression Toward People" (.pdf) Provides further insight into why a cat can be so gentle and sweet one minute, and turn aggressive the next.
"How to Cure a Kitten's Biting and Aggressive Attacking" Specifically addresses aggression, biting, and scratching in kittens and how to nip it in the bud.
Some cats respond to what they perceive as a threat by running and hiding. Although this behavior is not necessarily problematic in itself, an overly fearful or anxious cat may exhibit other behaviors as well that may need to be addressed.
"Shy Cats" This link provides helpful insight into fearful behavior and what it means, and what you can do to help your cat.
"Shy or Fearful Cats" Provides additional insight into the fearful cat and how we can help.
"Get Informed: Discover the Truth About Feral Cats" There are fearful housecats, then there are ferals. The nationally recognized organization Alley Cat Allies offers guidance about the feral cat and how to recognize the traits. For further information about feral cats, click here to go the the Feral Cats section of our Directory.
Despite our best efforts to address and resolve behavioral problems, sometimes circumstances lead to considering that a new home may be the best option for your cat.
"How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets" (.pdf) This comprehensive 16-page guide developed by the world-famous Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah helps you to consider all options and how to go about finding a new home for your cat, if that is what you decide is best.
"Alternatives to Surrendering Your Cat" (.pdf) Before making the final decision to rehome your cat, consider the discussion in this link and its practical alternatives to surrender.
"If You Are and Owner Looking to Rehome Your Cat" Provides added insight for the rehoming of a purebred cat.
"Rehoming Your Cat" Asks some tough questions about rehoming, but gives a very useful guide to creating an adoption contract between private parties.