5 Bad Habits House Cats Have and How to Solve Them

Cats are cute, cuddly and adorable, but they can also be little, hairy balls of terror if left to their own devices.

When a cat adopts a bad habit, it can cause stress and problems for everyone in the household, including other pets, and it does not go away until and unless addressed properly. As the person responsible for the cat, it is your job to keep the cat from taking on these bad habits. As with human children, bad behavior in cats is a direct response to a problem the cat is experiencing with itself or its environment.

It is up to you to prevent these bad habits from forming in the first place. If a bad habit does form, then eliminate it as soon as possible. Most bad habits house cats develop have a solution, and with a little awareness and a lot of diligence, is quickly achieved. Consistency in your cat’s routine and environment and in your approach to both good and bad kitty habits is key to solving bad habits when they start and preventing new bad habits from forming.

1. Scratching

When a cat is scratching your furniture, curtains or doors and molding, it is not trying to upset you or even get your attention, but rather attempting one of the following:

  • Play
  • Work off excess energy
  • Remove stray claw bits fraying off
  • Mark its territory

To prevent incessant scratching of your personal belongings and home fixtures, give your cat some appropriate personal belongings and home fixtures of its own, namely cat scratching posts. To get your cat to start using its posts rather than inappropriately scratching your home and furniture, dab some catnip onto them. You can also keep your cats’ claws regularly trimmed. Your veterinarian can teach you how to do it quickly and easily. Finally, if the problem persists, then purchase some nail caps, also known as claw caps. These are small, colorful vinyl sleeves you fit over your cat’s claws to keep it from causing damage when it scratches.

2. Litter Box Problems

When your cat no longer uses its litter box, there can be a number of reasons, all of which are addressable. Get your cat checked out by its veterinarian, first and foremost. Your cat could have crystals in its urine, urinary tract disease or bladder stones. If your cat is clear of any medical problems, then make sure to always keep your cat’s litter box clean.

Related Article: How to Make the Most of an Apartment Patio or Balcony

A general rule is if there is only one cat in the house, clean the litter box once per day, minimum. If there is more than one cat in the house, then clean it at least twice. Even more importantly for households with more than one cat is having a minimum of one litter box for each cat in the home. No cat waits its turn to use the litter box if it is already in use when needed. Your cat may also prefer one type of litter box or litter over another, such as a covered or uncovered box or scented or unscented litter.

3. Aggression

Aggression from your cat toward other cats or other animals in the home is simply unacceptable behavior and intolerable. There are any number of reasons a cat could act aggressively, such as feeling overcrowded, a sense of maternal protection, poor socialization skills, being sick or even for play, albeit inappropriate play. If your cat is acting aggressively, then first discuss it with your vet, in case the cat is sick or in pain. Once you rule out physiological causes for the bad behavior, consider your cat’s reproductive health.

Male cats become aggressive when unneutered. If even one cat in the home is intact, then it can influence the behavior of every other cat in the home. Therefore, neuter your male cats and spay your females to solve this predilection. Your cat may also become aggressive in response to a perceived lack of resources, like litter boxes, water and food bowls, beds, perches and toys. Make sure there are enough of these spread out throughout the home.

Related Article: How to Fix Common Home Wear and Tear Problems

Whatever you do, never hit your cat, as this can cause it to act even more aggressively thereafter. However, if your cats are fighting, then you do need to break it up. Some ways to do this are by squirting them with water, tossing a soft object at them or making a loud noise. Never try to physically separate two cats embroiled in combat. If you try all these methods and are still at a loss, then seek the guidance of a veterinary behaviorist.

4. Overzealous Play

Cats are eminently playful, but sometimes this play can get out of control. When a cat gets too excited from play, he or she can start scratching or biting. While this is not necessarily aggressive behavior, it is still problematic. Playful swats, kicks and pounces can quickly escalate and leave scratches and bites that can become infected. To remedy this problem, make sure your cat has enough toys to play with and make time to play with your cat every day.

5. Excessive Meowing

One of the most common reasons for a cat to meow excessively, in the case of a female cat at least, is if she is in heat. The best way to stop a female cat from going into heat is, of course, to spay her. Choosing not to do this means you could get a repeat of this behavior every 18 to 24 days for the whole eight-month span of a cat’s typical breeding season.

However, if it is a spayed cat meowing excessively, then another problem is likely present, such as fleas, a dirty litter box or an empty water bowl. In this case, try to figure out what your cat is meowing about and fix it. Hopefully, this puts an end to the meowing. Whatever the reason your cat is meowing, never punish the cat for making these sounds and never ignore these cries. If you do, then you could be setting the stage for worse habits to crop up as a consequence.

Related Article: Five Mistakes to Avoid on Move-in Day

It might also interest you: