Cats make wonderful and loyal pets. Most cats are playful, loving, and have wonderful personalities. They are also independent. This can pose a problem for some cat owners. Misbehavior in cats is very common. How they misbehave is dependent on the cat’s personality. Some common misbehaviors in cats are scratching or clawing the furniture (or other unacceptable objects), urinating or defecating anywhere other than the litter box, and chewing and destroying cords, drapery, or anything else they can get ahold of.
The first step to training a cat is understanding that they learn from experience. Cats do not speak English, they cannot understand what you mean when you tell them to “stop tearing up my duvet”. If an experience they have encountered produces a pleasant reaction, the behavior will continue. If it produces an unpleasant reaction, they be more likely to avoid doing it again. Chewing on furniture is a pleasant experience for a cat, so they will continue doing so, whereas sticking their face in a candle flame is not so pleasant. You get the idea.
Cats are very smart, and very determined. This makes discipline and training more difficult for us. Catching a cat in the act of urinating on the carpet is difficult, and in some cases impossible. Although punishing the cat hours after the misbehavior had occurred is not likely to provide you with good results, if any. If you can catch the cat in the act of misbehaving, the cat will simply make it a point to misbehave when you’re not looking.
So how do we stop this destructive behavior? With cats, punishment doesn’t work. Instead, reward furiously when they behave well. Make the places where kitty is most likely to misbehave less appealing to them. For example, provide your cat with a good, sturdy scratching post. You can find these at any pet store. Some even have toys dangling from them and other fun activities for your cat to enjoy. You can also make your own scratching post. Covering the scratching post with catnip also makes it more appealing.
If your cat still has the habit of using your furniture instead of the scratching post, make scratching the furniture an unpleasant experience. Most cats don’t enjoy getting their claws snagged when they scratch, so draping some netting or an afghan with holes in it (that you don’t mind getting torn up, of course) over the furniture can help discourage clawing it. You can also try aluminum foil or double sided tape just in the areas the cat scratches most, such as the arms of the couch. Eventually the cat will learn that scratching the furniture is no longer pleasant for them, but the scratching post is. Remember to praise your cat for using the scratching post. Give him treats and lots of attention.
There are several reasons why cats may choose not to use the litter box. There could be something wrong with your cat’s health that he may associate with the litter box. Urinary or digestive disorders are sometimes to blame for kitty’s avoidance of the litter box. To rule out health issues, it’s best to take your cat to get checked out before trying anything else. Eliminating the health problem may eliminate the litter box problem.
It could be that your cat is using the floor or bed as his toilet because his litter box is dirty. Cats are very clean creatures, and their senses are much more sharp than our own. What may not be offensive to us may be disgusting to kitty. Make sure to keep the litter clean and fresh. Suddenly changing the brand or kind of litter you use may discourage kitty from using the litter box. Cats are creatures of habit, and they may not like the new litter as much as you do. If you must change your cat’s litter, place a different litter pan next to the old one filled with the new litter. Place a bit of feces or a clump of urine into the box to show kitty what it is. If kitty is using the new litter just as much, or more than the old litter, you can safely remove the old litter.
Stress may also be a factor in your cat’s potty problem. Cats are very intelligent, and very sensitive. A cat who is stressed out may urinate on things other than the litter box because stress effects the bladder. There are many reasons kitty could be stressed out. Maybe an addition to the household, or a removal of an individual or another pet from the household. Also, consider getting kitty checked for health problems.