How do you change a bad cat’s behavior?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

To change a cat’s bad behavior, it’s important to understand why the behavior is occurring in the first place. Cats can exhibit various undesirable behaviors such as scratching furniture, jumping on counters, marking territory, or being aggressive. Here are some strategies to address these behaviors:

1. Put deterrents in place: Identify areas or objects that your cat is targeting and use deterrents to discourage them. For example, use double-sided tape on furniture or place aluminum foil on counters to make them less appealing.

2. Offer alternatives in high places: Cats love to climb and be in elevated positions. Provide them with tall cat trees or shelves where they can perch and observe their surroundings. This will redirect their desire to climb and jump onto appropriate surfaces.

3. Make counters less tempting: Keep counters clear of food and use deterrents like motion-activated sprays or noise devices to discourage your cat from jumping on them. Alternatively, provide a designated area with a comfortable bed or scratching post nearby where they can observe the kitchen action.

4. Keep them away from cooking: Cats are naturally curious, but it’s important to keep them away from potentially dangerous situations. Use baby gates or closed doors to restrict access to the kitchen when cooking to prevent accidents and keep your cat safe.

5. Claw maintenance: Provide appropriate scratching posts or boards and regularly trim your cat’s nails. This will help redirect their scratching behavior and prevent damage to furniture. Reward your cat with treats or praise when they use the appropriate scratching surfaces.

6. Marking their turf: If your cat is marking territory inappropriately, it may be due to stress or insecurity. Provide multiple litter boxes in different areas of the house and use pheromone sprays or diffusers to create a calming environment. Clean any soiled areas thoroughly to eliminate the scent.

7. A form of exercise: Many behavioral issues can stem from boredom or pent-up energy. Engage your cat in interactive play sessions using toys that simulate hunting behavior. This will help them expend energy and reduce the likelihood of destructive behaviors.

8. Entertainment: Provide mental stimulation for your cat by offering puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, or rotating their toys regularly. This will keep them engaged and prevent boredom-related behaviors.

Remember, changing a cat’s behavior takes time and consistency. Be patient and provide positive reinforcement when your cat exhibits desired behaviors. If the issues persist or worsen, consulting with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist can provide additional guidance tailored to your cat’s specific needs.