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Cat Behavior Problems

Litter Pan Issues:

One of the most common issues cat owners have are litter pan issues. Cat urine can be very difficult to remove and once a cat has marked an area it is often difficult to convince them not to use it again. It's important to remember that cats, by nature are very clean animals and like all animals, become conditioned to use their litter pan as their bathroom. If your cat is not using the litter pan it is very often a result of some health or emotional issue. Your first course of action should be to take your cat to the vet to rule out any physical health issues. Cats can develop urinary tract infections which can be quite serious. If you have ruled out physical issues then the reason for your cat urinating outside the litter pan is stress related. Here are some tips that may help you deal with your cat's problem.

  •     Have your male cat neutered.This will reduce the instinct to mark territory.
  •     Make sure that your litter pan is kept clean. Cat's can be very fussy about this. Sometimes the odor of their pan is enough to put them off.
  •     Try a different type of litter. In nature, cat's generally choose sand or fine dirt as their litter area. Their nature is to cover their waste so material that makes this easier is preferred. I suggest fine clumping litter that simulates sand better than the coarse type of litter. You can also use more environmentally friendly litter such as those made from wood or corn fiber. I highly recommend Arm & Hammer Essentials which is made from ground corn fiber. I think it has less odor and clumps as well as clay litters.
  •     Make sure you have enough litter pans. If you have more than one cat you will most likely need more than one litter pan. Some cats are fussy about sharing. Most experts recommend a litter pan per cat I have three cats but they seem to be able to share the two pans I have made available. Fewer pans does mean, however, being more diligent in keeping them clean.
  •     Change the location of the pan if possible. It's important to remember that most of a cat's behavior is controlled by instinct. A cat can feel very vulnerable while using the litter pan and if they don't feel safe in it's current location they may choose another place.
  •     Change the type of litter pan. If you have an older cat a pan with tall sides may be difficult for it to enter. Also, some cat's don't like the hooded pans. They may feel trapped and vulnerable in them or feel there isn't enough room to move around.

Another thing to consider is that your cat may be experiencing some stress which will cause it to change it's habits. Visitors, moving, getting another pet can all cause stress.There is a product called Comfort Zone With Feliway For Cats & Kittens. 
You can get it as a spray or a plug in diffuser and it is carried by most pet supply stores or ordered online at PetSmart.com or 1-800-PetMeds.  It simulates a cat's natural calming pheromone. I used it when I got a puppy to calm my poor kitty who was quite upset about the new housemate. It seemed to work.  

If your cat does urinate outside the litter pan it is important to make sure that it is completely cleaned or your cat will choose this new place for future use. In order to really remove it you will need a product that includes enzymes that will break down the urine. Using just soap or carpet shampoos may mask the odor for you but your cat will be able to locate this spot and use it again. I have had a lot of success with Nature's Miracle Advance Just For Cats Stain & Odor Remover. They have several products for various surfaces, hardwood floors, carpet, etc. Make sure, however, that you get the product made for cat's since cat urine is quite different from other pets. I would also suggest getting a black light. Pet urine will glow under a black light making it much easier to find the places where your kitty has gone.

Scratching Issues:

The second most common behavior problem is having your pet cat ruin your new sofa, chair, or carpet by scratching on it. Scratching at a surface is one way a cat will mark it's territory. This is an instinctual behavior in cats so it is a behavior that you will probably not be to change. So, you will need to give your cat a surface that is o.k. for scratching and clawing. A scratching post is something you will need to invest in to save your furniture. Some cats prefer vertical surfaces while others like theirs horizontal. If your cat is clawing at a surface place the scratching post near that area. You can entice your cat to use the new surface by placing some catnip on the surface. Take your cat to the scratching post and chances are your cat will use it. When they do, reward them with encouragement or a treat. They should quickly learn that this new surface is o.k. to use and should start leaving your furniture alone


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