Hanford Veterinary Hospital Blog
Kitty King Kong: Combating Destructive Cat Behavior
Most cat lovers can admit that the feline species is a whole lot in a little package. They have a lot of very endearing qualities (making biscuits on your lap, anyone?), but goodness knows cats can be challenging as well.
Hanford Veterinary Hospital knows that the cat-human bond relies on the ability to peacefully coexist, and we would like to help cat owners combat destructive cat behavior.
Scratch on This
A cat who scratches up your home is one that you likely don’t have an ideal relationship with. Destructive cat behavior like this can be quite frustrating. Back in the day declawing these kitties was the norm, but as we learn more about how this procedure affects the feline species, it is rarely (if ever) the best solution.
Instead, be sure to keep your cat happy by:
- Trimming their claws every 1-2 weeks
- Providing appropriate scratching areas in your home
- Placing secure scratching surfaces that are long enough for your cat to stretch
- Experimenting with different surfaces (try sisal rope, carpet, wood, upholstery)
- Thinking about location for scratching surfaces (most cats like to stretch after sleeping)
- Using pheromones like Feliway to discourage scratching to mark in unwanted locations
- Providing interactive and stimulating play on a daily basis
In some situations silicone claw caps can also be helpful in preventing inadvertent damage when your cat zooms across the couch (or your lap!).
Litter Box Woes
There may be nothing worse than a cat who doesn’t use the litter box appropriately. Most times, though, refusal to use the litter box has an underlying behavioral or medical reason. It’s your cat’s way of calling out for help.
Set your kitty up for success by:
- Having the right number of litter boxes (one per cat plus one)
- Being sure there is a litter box on each floor of your home that your cat has access to
- Providing boxes in easy to access, private locations that are not noisy or scary (laundry rooms are not usually the best place)
- Being consistent with litter brand and style (most cats prefer unscented clumping)
- Keeping litter deep enough to bury waste but not too deep to be comfortable to walk in (a couple of inches deep is ideal for most cats)
- Scooping the box at least daily (you don’t like a dirty bathroom, either)
- Disinfecting the box weekly
- Avoiding boxes with lids that trap odor and prevent your cat from posturing comfortably
- Taking into account issues such as arthritis, vision loss, or small stature when choosing a box
If your cat is having problems using the litter box despite making this effort, it is time to call us. Various medical issues can lead to litter box problems as well as stress and anxiety. Destructive cat behavior often has a medical root.
Other Destructive Cat Behavior
Other destructive cat behavior such as chewing on plants or other household items is often rooted in curiosity or boredom. Take the time to enrich your cat’s environment and provide stimulating activities. Be sure to:
- Select interactive or puzzle-type toys
- Rotate toys
- Consider a bowl free feeding system
- Provide vertical space
- Put a bird feeder outside of the window or invest in a fish tank
- Consider a catio
Cats can be such enjoyable companions. Don’t let destructive habits stand in the way of that! A little understanding of cat behavior and some effort to make their environment suited for feline tastes can help you to cohabitate successfully.