Top Causes of Destructive Cat Behavior

Having a cat for a pet can be very rewarding; they are playful, smart, and have strong personalities. However, all of these great cat traits can sometimes come with a tendency to behave in a destructive or annoying way. Destructive cat behavior can be expressed in the following ways:

  • Aggressive behavior such as scratching, ankle grabbing, and aggression during petting.
  • House soiling
  • Destructive scratching
  • Incessant licking

Although you may never fully understand your cat’s behavior, a recent Pet Sitters International newsletter article that lists the top causes of destructive cat behavior is a good place to start.

  1. Health problems
    It may not be surprising that a sick cat is not a happy cat. A minor illness that upsets a cat can lead to things such as the cat not using the litterbox. Painful or frequent urination, inability to urinate, bloody urine, and crying during urination can be caused by an inflamed urinary tract. Cats affected by an inflamed urinary tract are more likely to miss the litterbox.[1]
  2. Stress
    Maintaining a relaxing, cat-friendly environment is important for a cat’s health and well-being. According to Dr. Tony Buffington, a professor at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, if a cat “[lives] in a threatening enough environment, their stress response system, their sympathetic nervous system, their hormonal system and their immune system can all be activated searching for the threat”[2]. If your cats are stress free, both you and the cat will be happier.
  3. Boredom
    Cats are naturally playful, predatory, and territorial. It’s important for owners to provide a playful outlet for their cats so they can unleash their natural predatory desires. Play time allows your cat to“safely act out her role as a predator by pouncing on toys instead of people’s ankles.” [3].
  4. Fear
    When a cat feels threatened, it will do what any frightened animal would: “flight or fight”. If you’re in the way of your cat’s escape plan or are attempting to restrain a cat in a position in which it is afraid, be prepared to be trampled on or scratched when the cat scrambles for safety. It’s important to be careful whenever you know something may frighten your cat and make it defensive [4].

Cats are amazing and complicated animals that just like to be themselves. Keeping your cat stress free and healthy is the best start towards resolving cat-related behavior issues. Read up on the sources and additional reading links below to learn more about cat behavior and to find out what can help make your cat happy.

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