Why is My Cat Behaving Badly?

Most cats behave badly at some point or another, but sometimes what we determine to be ‘bad’ behavior can be due to a lack of understanding of why cats do what they do. There are a few different ways to remedy bad behavior in cats, but it really starts with trying to better understand your cat. Keep in mind that some of the training techniques that work for dogs aren't always effective for cats.

Biting

Cats may bite when afraid or angry. This makes it especially important never to tease your cat, which can be frustrating and threatening. If your cat has a medical condition, she may bite because of the pain she's feeling. Whatever the reason, a cat often gives warning signs before she bites. If she is hissing, flattens hers ears or emits a low growl, it's time to back away.
If your cat is not acting out because of an injury or illness, it's time for some training. If you've been play-fighting with your cat, stop - it encourages aggressive behavior toward you. Let your cat play rough with a toy she can chase instead. If she nips at you during play or petting, stop and walk away. If you attempt to pet your cat and she rewards your affection with a bite, slowly take your hand away and respect her personal space. If your cat continues to exhibit aggressive behavior, consult with your veterinarian.

Rejecting the Litter Box

If your cat starts to use an area other than the litter box as an indoor bathroom, there are ways to redirect her behavior. Some cats will refuse to use the litter box if it's not up to their cleanliness standards. Remove soiled litter once a day and wash the box each week with mild soap. Avoid using bleach. You can also try providing extra boxes - a good rule to follow is having one more litter box than you have cats. Then make sure the boxes are in an out-of-the-way spot that will ensure your cat's privacy.
If your cat still refuses to use the litter box, don't attempt to punish her, as increasing her stress may make the problem worse. Clean the affected area with a product that uses enzymes to break down the smell and stain. DON'T use an ammonia-based cleaner - it will smell similar to the cat's urine and will encourage her to return to the places it is applied.
It's possible that a health problem might be behind issues with litter box behavior. An older cat may not be physically able to climb into the litter box. Try switching to a pan that is shallower than the one you're currently using. You may need to change it more frequently, but that is a small trade-off for good litter box behavior.
If your cat strains to urinate or urinates more frequently than normal, she may have a urinary tract infection. Cats with kidney, thyroid or liver conditions often produce increased amounts of urine. Refusal to use the litter box could be her way of telling you she doesn't feel well. Consult your veterinarian.

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