An estimated 12 million cats live in the UK, and most live quite happily at home with their human families and other cats. However, things go wrong now and then, and unwanted behaviour creeps in.
In this article, we look at the two most common problems, and I will try and offer some practical advice.
Indoor Urination and Defecation
Cats are naturally very clean, and, once trained to use a litter tray or to go outside, they don’t tend to relapse without a trigger. Here are some causes and solutions for a cat starting to soil in inappropriate areas:
- Dislike of a new litter material – return to the previous brand.
- Physical discomfort when using the litter tray – a vet check for UTIs is essential.
- Mental discomfort when using the litter tray – if you moved the tray, return it. If the cat dislikes the tray position, you need to address why. The change might be due to increased footfall through the area, the removal of physical barriers, and the introduction of a noisy household appliance.
- Refusing to relieve themselves outside usually indicates something in the outside environment has upset them. Consider introducing an indoor litter tray.
- Introduction of a new cat – there should ideally be one litter tray per cat as some cats don’t like to share. Also, occasionally a new cat may try to control the litter area.
- Soiling the owner’s bed usually indicates a cat is seeking safety and comfort in the area where the owner’s smell is the strongest. Assess all the previous issues to see where this anxiety might come from, and consider whether this might be a marking problem (see below).
- Soiling in inappropriate areas – block access.
Indoor Urine Marking
Outside, whether neutered or not, male and female cats use urine for olfactory messages to other cats. If a cat feels comfortable indoors, it has no reason to mark inappropriately. When owners have a problem with indoor marking, they must address their cat’s insecurities.
If the cat is marking in general:
- Clean the areas with a mild bio-detergent and surgical spirit to remove all scent
- Ensure no unwanted cats enter the home.
- Consider the cat-calming Feliway Diffuser. This product reassures and calms felines, via artificial pheromones.
An upset cat causes most unwanted behaviour, and owners should always approach the problem sympathetically and patiently.
Thank you for reading ‘Feline (Not-So) Groovy… Cat Behaviour Problems‘, the next cat article looks at aggression towards humans and other cats. If you would like to read more pet articles, click here.