How to Correct Bad Behavior in Cats

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Unlike dogs, cats don't need obedience classes to develop good manners. If you are consistent in your regulations and generous in your affection, most cats will reward you with good behavior. If a cat suddenly begins misbehaving, there's usually an underlying cause, such as separation anxiety, stress in the household, sickness or injury.

Prevent aggressive behavior (scratching, biting and hissing). Say "no" and discontinue petting if cat becomes aggressive. Avoid roughhouse play. Leave the cat alone if he displays signs of aggression (tail flickers, ears flatten or cat hisses). Avoid petting the cat in certain area of body if it triggers aggressive responses. Reward the cat with treats and affection for good behavior. Bring the cat to veterinarian if injured or ill.

Stop begging. Feed the cat right before you eat to distract her. It also helps because cats like to sleep after they eat. Never feed a cat from the dinner table. Be consistent with that. Ignore the cat while she's begging or say "no" firmly.

Keep the cat from bringing in critters, catching mice, birds and squirrels. Understand that it's a natural instinct that provides cat exercise and stimulation. Be preventive: Don't leave birdseed or birdhouse where the cat can reach it. Supervise the cat outside. Play with the cat using chase toy to provide alternate forms of stimulation and exercise.

Avoid caterwauling (a mating call or desire for affection, usually). Spay or neuter the cat to reduce sexual pursuits. Provide the cat plenty of petting and affection to decrease feelings of loneliness. Bring the cat to veterinarian if you suspect it's injured or ill, especially if the cat wails while trying to relieve himself.

Stop fighting with other cats. Spay or neuter your cat to reduce sexual drive. Keep your cat indoors if fights occur at night with neighborhood cats. Provide cats with separate space if fights occur between two cats in the same household. Never break up a cat fight with your hands. Spray them with a hose, throw a jacket on them or use loud noise to distract them.

Keep cats from jumping up on kitchen counters or stovetops. Put food items away to remove the incentive. Place double-sided sticky tape on counters to adhere to the cat's paws. Cats don't like this. Place cans filled with coins along the counter edge to startle the cat and alert you.

Keep cats from jumping up on furniture and beds. Provide an alternate nesting spot, preferably elevated. Rub catnip into it to attract cat. Place obstructions (boxes or pots) on the cat's favorite nesting spot or spray it with bitter-apple cat repellent. Say "no" firmly and remove the cat when she jumps on furniture or the bed. Be consistent. Provide the cat plenty of affection when she behaves well.

Stop the cat from eating plants. Move the plant to an inaccessible area. Spray the plant with bitter-apple cat repellent or hot pepper sauce. Provide the cat grass (available at some grocery stores, pet stores, nurseries) as a substitute. Surround the plant with double-sided sticky tape.

Prevent scratching of furniture, curtains or carpets. Spray the area with bitter-apple cat repellent or hot pepper sauce. Cover the area with aluminum foil. Put a scratching post next to the area where the cat has been scratching. Rub the post with catnip to attract it. Trim the cat's nails to reduce damage.

Prevent spraying. Spay or neuter the cat to decrease territorial instincts. Determine the underlying cause. If a cat sprays near a window, he probably spotted another cat. Close all curtains or drapes. Provide a safe nesting space if the cat feels threatened by other household pets. Don't leave dirty laundry around if a cat sprays clothing that has the owner's scent. This indicates overdependence on an owner. Wash sprayed area with citrus-based cleaner to remove the scent and prevent future sprayings. Provide lots of petting and affection to reassure the cat. Do not punish the cat. He will not understand why you are punishing him; it will increase his anxiety.

Stop urinating and defecating in the house. Check the litter box to make sure it's clean. If it's dirty, it might prompt a cat to look elsewhere to relieve itself.

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