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Cat Behaviour Problems:
The Most Common Problem And How To Deal With It
by: Paul Bicknell   

Cats make excellent pets and have recently overtaken dogs as Britain’s favourite pet. There
are many reasons for this shift but it may well be a reflection of the fact that our lifestyles
have become busier and more hectic so we no longer have the time to devote to more
demanding pets. Cats need less space, less food, don’t need to be walked twice a day and
are generally easier to care for. However they can be prone to behaviour problems which may
lead to extremely unpleasant ‘deposits’ around the home, ruined furniture and limbs covered
in bites and scratches. Here is some information regarding the most common cat behaviour
problem and some tips to help treat it…

Failure to use the litter box or house soiling is undoubtedly the most common cat behaviour
problem. Cats may stop using their litter box/tray or even have trouble learning to use it in the
first place. One thing to remember is that you should never punish the cat by ‘rubbing it’s nose
in it’. This method of correction has never worked and will only serve to make the cat even
more traumatised, thus adding to the problem.

The three main reasons for failing to use the litter box/tray are: -

1. Medical Problems such as:

· Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
· Bacterial Infections
· Tumours
· Kidney Disease
· Liver Disease


· Always take the cat to a reputable vet in the first instance in order to rule out the possibility
of any medical problems.
· If there is more than one cat in the household, all will need to be examined.

Once all medical problems have been ruled out, you can consider the following: -

2. Problems with the litter box/tray itself:

· Not emptied often enough
· Not clean
· Too many cats using the same box
· Overuse of deodorizers
· Changing the type or brand of the litter
· Changing the location
· Too near to ‘frightening’ domestic appliances e.g. the washing machine


· Change the litter at least once every 3 days or as often as daily for some cats
· Ensure deposits are removed on a daily basis
· Clean the box with an odourless disinfectant – there are many brands available designed
especially for litter boxes
· If there is more than one cat in the household, make sure, where possible, each has it’s own
litter box
· Introduce any new brand/type of litter a little at a time, mixing it with the old brand/type. Do
this until eventually you are using only the new brand. If this doesn’t work, you may have to
consider returning to the old brand/type.
· If the box has been moved put it back to where it was previously. If this is not possible, put
the box on the spot that the cat is choosing to use and then move it towards the desired new
location at a rate of one foot per day
· Move the box away from the ‘frightening’ noise or move the appliance that’s causing the
· Consider a covered litter box/tray. This gives the cat more privacy, which many prefer and it
also helps with odour control and prevents litter being kicked out of the box.

3. Stress/Trauma:

· New cats introduced to the household
· Visitors, especially large gatherings e.g. a party
· Workmen carrying out work in the household
· Moving house
· A change in routine e.g. new working hours
· Problems with other cats in the neighbourhood
· A new baby


· Try to give each cat it’s ‘own space’ within the household and introduce them gradually
spending a little more time together each day. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that if the
soiling continues to be persistent, then it may be advisable not to keep the second cat
· Remove the cat to another area of the house along with it’s bed, litter box, food and water
when visitors are present
· The above point can be used when workmen are in the house as well but if it is likely to be
for more than a couple of days or very noisy then you should consider placing the cat in a
cattery until the work is finished
· Tranquillisers prescribed by your vet may be effective or consider products like Feliway also
available from your vet as a spray or in a diffuser
· A new baby sometimes means the cat can become jealous. Give your cat plenty of attention
to reassure it that you still love him/her

Above all, remember that punishing the cat using pain or fear will completely destroy any
relationship you may have with him/her. At the very least, discipline in this way is likely to
escalate the problem and will very likely result in the cat leaving the household altogether to
escape the ‘abusive human behaviour’.

About The Author
Paul Bicknell recommends Solutions To Cat Behaviour Problems. See more at
Pet Behavior Articles - Feline Behavior