The best way to avoid cat behavior problems is through prevention, avoidance and love. If you set up your cat’s environment properly and make its life as stress-free as possible, odds are your feline friend will behave just fine.The following are ten great ways for you to prevent your cat from ever developing cat behavior problems. Take some time now to go over each one carefully, so you can begin applying them to your cat right away.
Schedule a yearly visit to your veterinarian
Every cat should make at least one trip to the veterinarian each year, to receive an overall examination, and to be administered the proper immunizations. In addition, your veterinarian should be allowed to become as familiar as possible with your cat, to allow him or her the ability to compare your pet’s appearance and behavior over time. This is the number one step in preventing cat behavior problems.When visiting the veterinarian, carry your cat in a sturdy cat carrier. Doing so will protect her from other pets in the waiting room, and help keep her calm. Of all the individuals involved in your cat’s life, the veterinarian is, next to you, the most important. He or she may spot a serious medical problem before it has a chance to adversely affect your cat’s health or to lead into cat behavior problems. The veterinarian can also give you sound advice on behavior, and even on areas such as diet, breeding, training, or pet selection.
Never hit or abuse your cat in any way
Though this may sound obvious to all who read it, cat abuse remains one of the major causes of cat behavior problems today. Smacking or kicking a cat in an effort to get him to stop some undesirable behavior will result not only in a permanent breakdown of the cat/owner relationship, but cause serious or fatal injury to the pet as well, whose small body cannot possibly hold up to being struck by a human being ten times his size. Cats react poorly to physical or verbal abuse. Yelling and screaming doesn’t work well on cats, who will become extremely stressed, and in all likelihood exhibit additional cat behavior problems as a result. Why abuse such a small creature? Use your mind and your heart, instead of your foot ….. and you will not have to deal with unwanted cat behavior problems !
Learn as much as possible on cat behavior problems
As a cat owner, you should attempt to learn as much as you can about your favorite animal. Take a trip to your local bookstore or on the web and take a look at just how many cat-related books and magazines are offered. Topics range far and wide, and include information on breeds, behavior, new trends, diet, medicine, toys, and a host of other important categories. You can learn what the experts have to say about your specific breed of cat, learn about a new breed, or even find out how to teach your cat tricks. By staying as informed as possible about all things cat, you will be better prepared to deal with any potential cat behavior problems that might pop up in your own feline friend’s life. Plus, you might learn something new about him !
Teach your cat a new behavior once each month
Cats have always been masterful thinkers; all predators have to be, if they are to survive. Your cat is no different. She can easily learn new behaviors, if you have the patience to teach her. By teaching her one new behavior each month, you will help expand her mind and learn to think, instead of just react to her environment. Ultimately, this will enhance good behavior and reduce the risk of developing cat behavior problems.
It can be something as simple as finding a treat inside of a box filled with newspaper, or learning that a ringing bell means dinner is served. You can teach her to sit on command, use a cat door, or even wave at you. To learn how to teach her some easy tricks, go to your library or bookstore and select a trick training book for cats. Remember that she doesn’t have to learn anything; it is all optional, and meant to expand her mind.
Keep your cat’s home environment as interesting and safe as possible
Providing your cat with a fun, secure home life will go a long way in stimulating her mind, prolonging her life, and preventing cat behavior problems. First, always have a number of fun toys available for her, including stuffed mice, teasers, catnip-filled yarn balls, and wind-up or battery-powered toys. Old reliable, homemade toys such as crumpled balls of newspaper or ping pong balls also work well. Be sure toinitiate regular play sessions with her, to stimulate her mind and body, and to help strengthen the bond between you both.
Provide your cat with at least two scratching posts, to satisfy her need to scratch, sharpen her claws, and stretch her body out after napping. Also, consider purchasing a carpeted, multi-tiered “kitty condo” or jungle gym, which will provide your cat with hours of fun, exercise, and a feeling of security. Be sure to remove all potentially toxic substances from your cat’s domain, to preserve her health. Cleaners, solvents, motor oil, anti-freeze, toxic plants, and any other poisonous materials should be safely stored away in a lockable cupboard, or placed out of reach.
Avoid allowing your cat outdoors
By owning a cat, you change her relationship with nature. She no longer must hunt to live. Instead, you feed her. She need not breed, nor worry about shelter from the elements. She eliminates in a box, instead of a pile of dirt in the woods. Why is it perfectly acceptable to change those aspects of the feline lifestyle, while at the same time abhor another adaptation of domesticity, namely keeping the cat indoors? Her “nature” has already been corrupted; why be adamant about this one point ? And why expose yourself to potential unwanted cat behavior problems ?
Many cat owners simply do not want to define the cat as a domestic creature, and cannot let go of the idea of the cat being a wild, mystical “visitor” to the world of humans. Whether this is the case, I am not sure, but I do know that cats are not as invincible as they would like to believe.
As long as a cat is raised from kitten hood indoors, he will accept it as his own, and be happy with it. Cat behavior problems arise when an outdoor cat is suddenly thrust into a small home, with much fewer stimuli, relatively speaking. Even this pet can over time, however, come to accept his smaller domain, provided the owner supplies him with enough mental stimulation.
Outdoor cats live fewer years than indoor cats. They contract deadly diseases at an alarming rate, and get injured in cat fights. They also get hit and killed by cars, killed by dogs or coyotes, or “adopted” by other cat lovers. Also, unneutered cats breed prolifically, and create unwanted kittens that get euthanized for lack of a home. Outdoor cats also become far less sociable than their indoor counterparts, and tend not to tolerate other pets. In general, they are proned to cat behavior problems.
My advice is to keep him inside from kitten hood on, making sure that his home is as mentally challenging as possible. If you simply cannot agree with this, create an enclosed outdoor area for your cat to play in once each day, or teach him to walk on a leash and harness. Either option will allow him access to the outdoors in a controlled, safe manner, and prevent disease, injury or death as well as potential cat behavior problems.
Neuter your cat
If you are not a professional breeder, then you have no reason to avoid having your cat neutered. Castration for the male or spay for the female are both simple surgeries that cost little, improve the cat’s demeanor and reduce cat behavior problems. The drive to mate will be removed, and the territorial instinct minimized. Plus, the chance of unwanted kittens being produced will be eliminated. Spraying, fecal marking, fighting, excess scratching, roaming and dominance issues will all be dramatically reduced or ended. You will be left with a happy, personable pet who will live longer, and be less likely to contract numerous forms of cancer.
Minimize abrupt changes in your cat’s life
Cats love routine; they get very comfortable with having you come home at the same time each day, and with seeing the same goings-on through the living room window. Your cat will grow accustomed to the furniture, the carpet, the smell of your bedspread, and even the brand of air freshener you use. When you abruptly change things, he might react adversely to it, often develop cat behavior problems.Yup ! There are that sensitive !!
The trick to keeping your cat happy in his environment is to either keep things the same, or else change them gradually enough so that the cat doesn’t notice. For instance, if you need to change the type of food he is eating, do so over a two or three week period, slowly reducing the amount of the old food, while replacing it with the new.
Changing litter may just be the biggest cause of cat behavior problems. If at all possible, stay with old reliable. If you must switch, do so using the same gradual method you’d use with a food switch.
Moving to a new home will often throw a cat for a loop, so be prepared for cat behavior problems. To minimize them, consider restricting your cat to one room for a few days before giving him free reign of the home. Put his litter box in one corner, and his food and water dishes in another. After he gets used to the scent of the new place, give him access to the rest of the home, and watch him closely.
Be sure your cat wears a safe collar with a suitable identification tag
Make sure your cat wears a collar with an identification tag firmly attached. The collar itself should be of an elastic material, so that, if snagged on a branch or fence top, the cat won’t choke. This advice is really not related to cat behavior problems but we thought we mention it here because it is critical.Without a collar and ID tag, your cat could end up in a shelter, where she could be euthanized. Give her a fair chance to be returned safely; let her wear a collar and identification tag.