Some free cat obedience and training tips, especially around the subjects of the litterbox, scratching, and spraying
Free cat obedience tips: litterbox, scratching, and spraying
The most common behavioral problems among cats are improper litter box use, spraying, and scratching. In most cases, a cat’s behavioral problem is their way of letting you know something is wrong.
How do I get my cat to use his/her litter box?
Cleanliness is the main reason that cats do not use their litter boxes. Be sure to clean the litter box once a day. If you have multiple cats, make sure you have enough litter boxes to go around. A small amount of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water will remove the lingering smell of urine, but do not use harsh cleaners such as ammonia. This will only worsen the smell to your cat.
Also, be sure to find a litter that your cat likes. With the wide assortment available, it may take a few tries to find the right one. Generally speaking, most cats prefer the scoop-able variety, which is about the consistency of sand. Another thing to consider is the fragrance. While it may be more pleasant for the owner, most cats do not like the highly scented litters.
There are a few things to keep in mind when training a kitten to use the litter box. First of all, do not let your kitten have free roam of the house when you are away. Your kitten should always be supervised when exploring. Also, keep a regular feeding schedule for the kitten. You will find that a kitten general needs to use the litter box shortly after eating. Keep the litter box in a room with nonporous flooring such as tile, linoleum, or cement. Place the litter box at one end of the room and separate the kitten’s bed and food on the other side. Remember to give your kitten plenty of privacy when choosing where to place its litter box.
Improper usage of the litter box may also be a sign that your cat is not in the best of health. Your cat may have a urinary tract infection, worms, or another health problem. It could also mean that your cat is not able to properly digest its current food. Talk to your veterinarian immediately if you think a health issue may be to blame.
Finally, your cat may be reacting to a stressful situation by not using its litter box. Ask yourself if anything has changed lately. Has a new person or animal been introduced into your household? Has one left? Has your work scheduled changed, leaving you with less time for your cat? Have you recently moved into a new home or apartment? Any change in your life that impacts how you interact with your cat could be causing its stress; not using its litter box may be its way of letting you know.
Why does my cat spray and how do I prevent him/her from doing so?
Spraying among cats is caused by insecurity in their territory. Both male and female cats can spray, even though it is popular belief that only males spray. Cats spray to mark their territory and to display their insecure emotions. The best solution is to get your cat neutered or spayed. If they are already neutered or spayed, it is up to you to find the trigger that is aggravating them.
If your cat is spraying windows or doors, it is most likely an outside source provoking them. Be sure that the windows are kept shut and the door is used as little as possible. This will prevent many of the outside odors from entering your home. Use a familiar scent, such as your perfume or aftershave, to disguise any remaining outside scents around the area they spray.
Many people who move into new homes find that their cats may suddenly begin spraying. In this instance, it is most likely the scent of a cat or dog that previously resided in your new home. Make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned, including carpets and walls. Again, if they are spraying in one area, you may want to disguise any provoking scents with one that is familiar to them.
If you have more than one animal in your house, one of the others may be provoking your cat to defend its territory. If you have a new roommate, your cat may feel threatened by the unfamiliar person. In any case, the main action you can take to stop your cat from spraying is to help it feel comfortable in its own territory.
How do I stop my cat from scratching my furniture?
Cats scratch in order to keep their claws in good condition. Scratching does this by removing the old layers of nail. You can help by keeping your cat’s nails trimmed. Be sure to ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the correct procedure and invest in the proper clippers before trimming. If you are not comfortable with this, you may take your cat to a professional to have their nails trimmed.
With that in mind, cats tend to shy away from fabrics that snag their claws. Try draping a piece of loose netting, toile, or any other type of wide woven fabric over the piece of furniture that they are scratching. Other materials that cats generally do not like are aluminum foil and two-sided tape.
To further prevent your cat from scratching your furniture, provide it with a scratching post of its own. Train your cat to use the scratching post, as opposed to your couch, by making it an enjoyable experience. Place a treat on the post for them to discover. Attach a favorite toy for them to play with. Confine them with the post for a while so that they can thoroughly investigate it. Do whatever it takes to get your cat interested in the scratching post, but do not simply place the scratching post in a room and expect them to know what it is for.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with your cat’s behavioral problems is that you need to work with their learning style. Cats do not learn through punishment or reprimands. Instead, reward your cat for its good behavior. A cat will repeat actions that bring them rewards. Praise your cat for using the litter box. Give it a treat for using the scratching post. Establish an environment where bad behavior is not rewarded.
Although, dealing with behavioral problems may be frustrating and require patience, the end result is always worth it. And remember, if your cat continues to have behavioral problems seek out the help of your veterinarian.