Common Behavioral Problems in Felines
1. My male cat is spraying, marking territory in the house.

  This is a common problem that is experienced by many cat owners who have not neutered their male cats.  This behavior goes back to the wild, where feline ancestor's began the tradition of marking their territories.  The best remedy for feline spraying is neutering the animal right away.  It's best to neuter before the animal begins this behavior, because sometimes neutering doesn't stop a problem that is already there.  Make sure that you purchase some bleach and urine neutralizers to clean the areas that the pet has marked, once the smell is removed, the cat may not feel the need to mark again.  If you have more than one cat, or more than one male in the house, make sure that all have been neutered and spayed.  Female cats can mark their scent to draw attraction to themselves when they are in heat, and their cries will drive you crazy if they do not get properly fixed.

2. Cat is scratching the furniture to pieces.

  This is another common problem with cat ownership, and immediately the words "declaw" pops into mind to stop the problem.   You do not have to declaw your pet in order to stop this behavior.  Yes, it is a quick solution but also one that can cause other pet behavior problems such as biting, aggressiveness and failure to use the litter box.
  A cat needs some scratching posts in the house, and you can draw their attention to the posts by simply using some catnip attractant spray on the scratching post.  Cats have a highly developed sense of smell, so purchasing a "pet away or cats away" type of spray to deter the animal and to draw the animals attention away from the spot they may be scratching.
Spraying the animal with water from a squirt gun may work for some cats, but others don't mind the water at all. There are new products called "scat mats" that can also be used to deter an animal from a location and teach them that going there is going to be an unpleasant experience.  Cats also do not like anything on their toes that is sticky, taping the area with double sided sticky tape will teach the animal that trying to scratch that location will be an unpleasant experience. If you see your pet scratching a location that they should not be, use a loud clap and firm "NO" to verbally teach them to get away, they soon learn that this is not what they are supposed to do. If the cat is scratching on a window sill to get up into the window, you can fix this by purchasing or making some type of window box or shelf for your cat to be able to view the outside.  Cats love watching birds outside and sun bathing to take in their vitamin D into their skin from the sun, this is perfectly normal behavior for them.

3. Cat refuses to use their litter box.

  This is a very common problem for cat owners that has many different meanings.
  If the cat was recently declawed, it may be doing this because the litter is too course and sharp for their sore tender toes, try using scoopable, fine grained litter instead of those rocks in the cheaper litter.  Some cats may feel intimidated or trapped by a litter box which has a hood, try removing the hood to see if the cat will accept the box.  If the box doesn't have a hood, try putting up privacy barriers around the box to see if the cat wants more privacy, perhaps the cat feels too vulnerable in open spaces.  Cats do not like dirty boxes, keep it cleaned daily or every two days, your cat will readily accept a clean box over a dirty one, remember they have very heightened senses when it comes to smell.
  If your using the cheap litter, try using the scoopable, cats love digging in sand, and may readily accept a box that has a "sand" type of feel over the rocks in the cheap litter.
The location of the box may be the problem, try placing it in another location to see if the cat will accept it. If the cat has had an ongoing issue with the litter box, try keeping the cat in a set room with the box for about a week and try retraining the cat in this confined location before you let the cat roam freely around the house.                                                                                                                
If you have recently added a new pet to your home when this problem began, it may be just an emotional reaction to the new animal and it will pass.  You should have at least one litter box per 2 cats, if you have more than 2 cats, then you should probably get more boxes set up.  Your cat may not like the smell of the other new pet, but over time will learn to accept this, give it at least a month to work through the emotional reaction to the new pet. If you are using one of those mechanical "cleans itself" type of boxes when this problem occurred, your cat may not be willing to accept this new contraption.   Go back to the "clean it yourself" type of box and see if the pet will accept that.  Place both boxes next to one another, eventually the cat may come to realize that the noisy "cleans itself" box is not going to harm the cat.                
If the cat is using a sink or bathtub to do their duties, this is not an uncommon problem, in fact in the wild, their ancestors used rivers and streams to make sure that their enemies didn't smell them, this is just a simple reaction of basic instinct in your pet, however, you need to distract this unwanted issue by making sure the pet is not allowed in those rooms and then is retrained to the litter box. If after you've covered the basics of cat psychology and the problem is still not fixed, it's best to talk it over with the vet, the cat may have an underlining physical problem that you may not be aware of which can be tested by your vet, and give you options to fix the issue.

4. Cats are fighting.

  Cats do romp around, chase one another, and play rough at times, this is normal behavior that was passed down from their ancestors, and their close relatives.  If a cat is screaming, fur is truly flying, with scratches and blood is being drawn, then you have a cat fight going on.  Male cats will fight over dominance issues in the home, especially if they are not 'fixed' cats.  A dominant neutered male will also fight over territory and position if a younger unfixed male is entered into your home environment.  It's always best to slowly introduce new pets into the home, but most importantly introduce pets that are fixed, or you may have spraying, biting, fighting, and other unwanted behavioral problems going on.  Confine the new animal in your home, and slowly introduce your other pets, this creates less confusion and less stress for all animals.
Use separate food dishes to avoid food hoarding related fighting issues.           
Give it time for the animals to work out their dominant order, they will overcome their problems with one another even if it is an unpleasant site to see at times.  If worse comes to worse give them both a time out from one another by confining them to separate spaces just to calm down.                        
A quick distraction that works is catnip.  Dump a bunch on the floor right by them and watch how two angry cats suddenly turn into playful kittens and enjoy the catnip.
Slapping your hands loudly and a firm "No" usually will distract them as well. Some male cats do not readily accept other males, but have no issues with female cats whatsoever being entered into the home environment. Don't have too many cats confined in a small home, overcrowding will cause fights and problems.

5. Cat is jumping on counter tops and sinks.

  Cats are curious by nature, they love to see what is going on at all times.  Cats of course, like dogs, love people food so if there is something on the counter to eat, or something that smell that smells good, they will want to jump up to see what is there.  This is where you go back to the basics of training and conditioning your pet.  Using firm "No's" and loud noises with your hands.  Removing the cat from the location if it will not move on it's own and telling it loudly "Get down".  Scat mats and water mists can be used, double sided sticky tape, making the area an unpleasant experience for them will teach them to stay away.                                                                                             
A cat in the sink is very common, cats love running water, and drinking from running water, this is an inherited behavior from their ancestor's.  If you have a cat  that loves the sink, try picking up a motorized "Kitty fountain" or even just a regular fountain purchased in stores, watch how fast kitty loves drinking from that, as opposed to their water dish. 

6. Cat doesn't like other people in our home, and tends to get aggressive.

  Cats are fickle creatures.  Some cats love to socialize, where others tend to like perhaps just one person in your home.  If you have a cat that doesn't like outsiders in your home, then it's best to confine the cat to an area where it will not be stressed when you have company over.                                     Some cats are very loyal towards their owners, even to the point that they get jealous over other cats sharing a bed at night. This is all normal behavior, and  cats all have very different personalities from one another just as people do.  Don't force your cat to think like you do, because he/she will not come to that level of understanding, but rather try to understand them and accept them for the type of pet they are.  If you have one cat that loves people and one that does not, let the one that loves people be around people, and confine the other one so that it is not stressed when you have company.

7. My cat is very aggressive with my children, I don't trust it.

  This is a difficult one which could be a result of numerous things.  Do you truly know what goes on with your pet and your children when you are not home.  If a cat has been taunted, teased, and abused by your children in some way, a distrust will take place and the animal will become aggressive with your children in an effort to defend itself.  If a cat is left alone and is the only family pet, it may become aggressive for attention and/or to express their anger and feelings about being alone in the home all day long and being abandoned.  Perhaps another feline friend to play with may fix the problem.        Kittens that are taught to play rough, scratch, bite, and kick by their owners who play with them, will no doubt become adult cats that continue the same behavior. Remember that behaviors are learned and reinforced by the owners and caretakers of the animal.  Once you have reinforced this aggressive behavior, and you no longer like it, it's a matter of having to now reinforce positive behavior to undo what has been done.  Continuing to harm an aggressive cat will just keep reinforcing aggressive behavior.  Instead of using hands to play with an aggressive cat, use cat toys instead, teach the cat that this is where they need to exert their energies.                                                 
Firm "No's and loud claps of your hands" will help to stop a current situation, but most importantly you need to teach your children that they cannot hurt animals, and even small, aggressive behavior of your children can make a good pet  become a bad pet eventually.  If your children are too young to understand how to treat an animal with kindness, love and respect, then they should not be given any pets until they are old enough to deal with it correctly. To a child, putting a cat into a dryer, box, freezer, sock may seem like fun, to a pet cat, this is not fun at all, it causes a great deal of stress to the animal and a great deal of distrust and future aggressive behavior.

8. My cat claws at me and tries to get my food when I am eating.

Again, another reinforced behavior.  If you have ever fed your cat "people food", then this is why this behavior continues.  Your cat cannot understand why one day you drop plate of tuna casserole on the floor for him to consume, yet you're not sharing your chicken drummies with him today.  If you do not feed a cat "people food" then the cat never knows what "people food" is.  Once you've reinforced the "people food" behavior, then you are stuck with either having to make a decision to share your food, or stop the behavior by no longer feeding your pet "people food".                                             
Cats should be confined while people are eating if the cat is trying to swipe your food and acting aggressive around your plate while your eating. A cat does not understand why one day when you open the fridge you allow him to stay there and get a bite of ham, but on another day you tell him to go away because he has already been reinforced that standing by the fridge means "food". Only you can change the behavior which has already been reinforced by you by stopping the behavior and changing how you deal with the pet when it comes to food issues.                                                                            
A cat which is fed his ample amount of cat food and water should not have to be aggressive with your food or have a desire to swipe your food or act like he/she is starving.  Keep the food dish filled and watch how the cats eat.  They do not eat their entire daily intact at one setting but rather they eat their amount over the course of a day, in small amounts several times a day.            
If you choose to share your "People food" with your pet, then teach them that if they remain still and patient that they will be rewarded for remaining still and allowing you to eat.  If they choose to act aggressive, then don't reinforce the behavior by rewarding them with food. Definitely use a firm "NO" when they act inappropriately.

If you have a behavior going on that is not related to any of the common issues
listed on this page, then please take the time to research the problem before you decide to get rid of an animal that can be turned around if you understand that many common negative behaviors can be overcome.

                                                        
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