Cats are free spirits. When you decide to adopt a cat, it means accepting their behaviors, whether instinctual or personality driven. Some instinctual traits are scratching, nocturnal activity, and a desire to “hunt”. I have seen personality traits such as teasing, toilet paper shredding, curtain climbing, and playing “fetch”. Some traits are pleasant, others are not. As you are getting to know your cat, you’ll see what type of personality she has. If she starts doing something that you don’t like, you can train her with persistence.
I have known many cat owners throughout the years, and some treat their cats better than they treat humans, and others, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be a cat at their house. If you really want to get the most out of having a cat, or any other pet, you need to immerse yourself in them. This means having them be part of your life, accepting their bad points along with the good. Adopting a cat means having fur in your house, cleaning a cat box, vacuuming more often, and living with an occasional dug out house plant or knocked over vase. Sometimes your cat might have a fur ball, or feel ill and vomit, or have diarrhea. They are live beings, they have all of the things we have (OK, except for the fur balls).
Locking your cat in a small room when you aren’t home is basically leaving her in jail, especially if she is an only cat. In my opinion, you should not have a cat if you feel compelled to do this to her. Most people, if they lock them in a room during the work day, will lock them in there at night too. How would you like to spend your life in a small room, 16 hours a day?
If your cat misbehaves when you aren’t home, there may be reasons for her actions. Is she an only cat? Are you gone a lot? Does she have toys and scratching posts and things to keep her mind busy? Solitary cats get very bored and lonely, and usually misbehave more frequently than cats who have other cat companions. Give her toys, hide treats for her everyday, get her a cat tree, or a bed perched by the window. If your cat is doing something you don’t like, send your question to Cat Chat, we can probably help.
Hitting or “punishing” your cat is useless and will make your cat avoid you. Cats do not respond to harsh treatment in a positive way. Look at how they are in the wild. They basically sleep around all day with each other and deal with occasional conflicts started by a cat who is challenging the “king” cat. They do not learn through hitting, they learn through warnings. The best way to train your cat is using a spray bottle, it really works!
Fur balls that your cat vomits are identified by the blob of fur-looking mass in liquid that does not fall apart, it stays together. Regular vomit looks like any other vomit, and does not stay together. Does your cat have hairballs often? If so, you can curtail this by giving her a hairball ointment such as Petromalt. Brush her daily to remove loose fur. Remember, long haired cats have this problem, short haired cats usually don’t. If your cat is vomiting frequently, and it is not fur balls, she should probably see a veterinarian, and ask them about the proper diet for your cat. She may have special needs.
Peeing and “marking” are two different things. Peeing is what cats do when their bladder is full. Marking is done when a cat wants to tell another cat “This is my property”. You can tell the difference between the two by the position of the cat. Peeing is denoted by a normal squatting position over a hole dug in the dirt. Marking is denoted when your cat is standing, tail straight up and flickering, and the urine comes straight out from their behind and hits the wall (or object) about 10 to 12 inches from the ground.
Marking is done by BOTH male and female cats, although males do it more regularly. You can curtail this behavior by having your cats spayed and neutered at 6 months of age. If you wait longer than that, it is more likely they will develop the marking instinct. Cats who are allowed to go outside will develop this instinct, males more so. Usually, they will limit their spraying to the outdoors, but may spray inside especially if there has been a visit inside the house from a stray cat in the neighborhood. Cats will also spray when you are introducing a new cat into the household, although kittens are not very provoking. To avoid marking, keep your cat indoors. I never had a problem with this until my four cats were allowed to go in and out, and I had two males and two females. They still never did it inside the house until we had an un-neutered visitor. Keep your house clean, and you will keep this potential problem at bay.
If your cat is peeing on the floor, or around the house, she may have a urinary infection, especially if she is doing this frequently and/or you see blood in the urine. Take her to the vet to determine if she is healthy. Antibiotic pills will cure it and you will be much happier, as will she. Other causes of peeing are soiled spots on the carpet, dirty cat boxes, or poor potty training. Clean soiled spots on the carpet with an enzyme cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle, and keep her away from the spot until it’s thoroughly dry. To fix poor potty training, she must be locked in a small room (the only time this is OK) with her cat box when you are not home and at night for a few days so she will know what she is supposed to do. Cleaning the cat box is important. Some cats require a cat box cleaning daily in order for them to go in it. Others are more forgiving and will let you get by with three to four day cleaning intervals. Again, keeping your house clean will help avoid this problem provided her peeing is not a health issue.
If your cat pees on your bed or any other “personal” lounging area, she is basically telling you she is really mad at you. So many times people have asked me, “Why does my cat pee on my bed the day I get home from vacation”? The answer is she is mad, she was lonely all the time you were gone. If you have a visitor, she might pee on the bed they are sleeping in. I’m telling you it is how they tell us not to leave them alone. Be sure to give her LOADS of affection when you return, don’t let her out of your sight and take the few minutes to really show her you missed her. To be safe, curtail this by placing a shower curtain liner on the bed, with an old comforter or blanket over the plastic (important, cats like to pee on plastic) before you leave. It will save you from having to strip the entire bed before you can retire from your long day of travel.
Scratching and climbing are things cats just have to do. To learn what you can do about your cat scratching, see our cat training page to see how to train him to stop scratching something forbidden. If your cat is an indoor cat only, you can apply Soft Claws® to his nails and he won’t be able to damage your furniture, as pictured left. Also, there are things you can do for your cat to help her to not damage the furniture and be more interested in scratching elsewhere. See our page that’s all about scratching. Declawing is inhumane to your cat. It is the same as removing the last digit on each finger. Many times the cat has nerve damage, which causes him to have pain when he walks. That pain can cause him to walk with more weight on his back feet, causing his front legs to become somewhat atrophied. This can cause further health problems for your pet, so don’t take the chance. Take him how he is and learn to adjust his behavior. You can, with a little persistence and lots of love!