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Cures for Kitty Crimes

By Cricky Long

Cures for Kitty Crimes

Cats often surprise us, and usually it's in a good way, such as with an affectionate head butt on the ankle or companionship just when we need it. But sometimes they can rub us the wrong way. For some reason, this usually happens after a long day when all you want to do is sit down, relax and snuggle with your kitty. Only the moment you start to unwind, you discover that your kitty wasn't such a good feline today.

It could be a torn curtain, a soiled rug, an overturned plant or some other tell-tale evidence. In that moment, you might think your cat is out to get you. But it is only following natural instinct. It's up to you to channel your cat's energy in a more positive direction.

According to feline behavioral consultant Mieshelle Nagelschneider, "Cats will repeat behaviors that give them a reward, but they will stay away from behaviors that give them a negative experience." This means you can change your cat's behavior by providing appealing alternatives, while simultaneously laying down deterrents to prevent your cat from exhibiting undesirable behaviors. Here's how.

1. Never reprimand or use physical punishment of any kind on your cat   When you reprimand your cat, your cat will learn to associate you, rather than the act, with the punishment.

For example, if your cat soils outside the litter box, pushing your cat's nose in the soiled spot is not going to do anything except stress out your cat. Conversely, according to Nagelschneider, you can stop your cat from eliminating in an inappropriate spot by playing with your cat in that location. This activity, which will trigger your cat's prey drive, should put an end to the potty naughtiness, since cats usually will not soil where they eat, hunt or play. However, you must also figure out what is causing your cat to eliminate outside the litter box, and fix that problem. More often than not, litter box aversion stems from the type of litter you're using, the location of the box or its sanitary condition.

2. Never punish your cat after the fact   Felines are smart, but no cat is going to be able to associate punishment doled out a minute or more after the "kitty crime" took place.

For example, if you come home and find that your cat unraveled a roll of toilet paper throughout your house or decided to play in your laundry hamper, nothing you do to your cat in that moment will deter your pet from going after the TP or the hamper the next day.

However, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent this type of undesired behavior, which usually stems from boredom. First, make the problem areas inaccessible for your cat. Then, save your feline's favorite toys for when you are about to leave so it has something to play with while you are gone. You may also want to hide treats and toys so it can hunt for them while you are out of the house. Also, try to make sure your cat is getting enough playtime while you are home.

3. Never get caught at the scene of the crime -- or punishment  Keep the action and the consequence very clear for your kitty. Allow no room for misinterpretation.

Let's say you want your cat to stop jumping up on the table. If you scream every time your cat jumps on the table, your cat is more likely to think you are nuts than perturbed by its actions. (A really smart cat may even learn to jump up on the table only when you are not present.) But if you put something on the table to deter your cat, such as a motion-triggered noisemaker or any kind of unpleasant-feeling surface, like crumpled foil or bubble wrap, your cat should have no problem associating the act of jumping on the table with the unpleasant result. You then won't be perceived by your cat as the screaming nutcase or the bad guy.

4.  Call the experts  If your cat suddenly begins to exhibit unusual behavior for no apparent reason, take it to the vet for a checkup. A medical issue could be at the root of the problem. If your pet receives a clean bill of health, yet you are still unable to resolve its behavioral issues, call in a cat behaviorist for help. Your vet or local cat rescue organization may be able to provide you with a referral.

is the author of The Complete Cat Organizer and The Complete Dog Organizer, as well as more than eleven City Dog guidebooks, which cover dog-centric resources in numerous cities across the country.

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Posted on June 3, 2009

Mark says: I agree 100% that if you punish your kitty it will only associate you with the hurt and nothing else. Cats don't understand the concept of punishment for deeds done in the past. Train good behavior into your cat and keep that litter box clean and you'll have a great loving relationship with kitty.

Posted on June 15, 2009

Mary Lou Morin says: I hope by now someone has posted a reply to you ... I see youp posted 7/08 so what I am about to tell you may have already been posted. My vet says you need one more litter boxes than cats in your household. One cat, 2 boxes, 3 cats, 4 boxes. That's one way to make sure she goes back to her litter box. Hope you see some improvement.

Posted on October 3, 2010

Kate says: My cat is 20yrs old, and has been howling and desperate to get outside! What's going on?

Posted on November 9, 2008

Holly says: I'm not sure if this would work but it is probably worth a try. we had a dobermien once who kept eating washing off the line so we were advised by the vet to put water balloons full of tabasco sauce on the line. after a few bitten balloons we had no problems. So maybe you should lemon juice on your hand because your cat probably not like it and stop in a while. hope this has helped ;P

Posted on June 9, 2008


Posted on July 26, 2008

sharon wharton says: My cat is around 8 (she was a shelter cat years ago) she has always been clean but lately has been using the tub to urinate in and now is having her bowel movements anyplace she feels like it. I keep the box clean, it is in the same place as always. I actually have two boxes,one with a top and one open. I have 2 other cats and up to now there has been no problems. What can I do to stop her from defecating all over the house?

Posted on May 26, 2008

rhian says: my cat has been getting scared of me for no reason when i try to go near her she moves away and starts to tremble shes been like this for a day do you know what is wrong with her

Posted on December 6, 2007

Kathy Barker says: My cat who is 6 months old likes to bite with his teeth, and appears to want me to interact with him as soon as I get home. How can I stop him from biting with with teeth. He is declawed ( front paws). He seems gentle most of the time. thanks, for your time.

Posted on March 22, 2008

kimba says: we brought home a puppy over three months ago there has been no aggressive behavior untill a week ago from any of our cats mouse, a seven year old has become very agressive towards the pup...which has inticed the other cats to to attack.....what could be the cause of mouses(the Queen)of her pride to becomeso aggressive

Posted on April 29, 2008

greidgre says: My kitten (9 months old) loves to bite. I try not to play with him in such a way that he will want to bite, but he will just latch on and not let go. Any ideas?

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