We love our feline friends when they rub against our legs, knead our laps, or look us in the eye and purr. Yet sometimes we may not like everything about our four-footed friends. Not when they streak through the house at 3 a.m. or reject a perfectly clean litter box.
The good news is that just about every common cat problem can be managed with a little help. That's why WebMD turned to the pet pros to get their solutions for some of the most common kitty conundrums.
Just like people, dogs and cats can get stressed. Changes like a new home, a new family member, or just that annoying cat next door can cause unwanted behaviors like destructiveness, marking or urinating in the house, and excessive barking or meowing.
But some owners would rather not use drugs to treat a stressed dog or cat. One alternative you might see on store shelves are pheromone-based products, which were first introduced in the U.S. in 2001.
But what exactly are these pheromone products,...
Litter box issues. This is "numero uno by far" of problems people report with their cats, says Linda P. Case, MS, author of The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health. And no wonder. It can be extremely frustrating when your kitty decides that the litter box is off-limits. But there's usually a reason cats avoid their box, and fortunately there's a lot you can do to address the issue.
Talk to your vet first. Bladder stones, urinary tract diseases, and crystals in the urine are all reasons your cat might start avoiding the litter box. To rule these and other health issues out, be sure to have your cat checked by your veterinarian.
Have at least one litter box per cat. If your kitty has to stand in line before she can relieve herself, she may decide to take her bathroom break elsewhere. Try test-driving a few kinds of litter and litter boxes. Some cats prefer covered boxes, some don't, and some cats prefer one litter over another.
Always keep the litter box clean -- even clumping litter has to be changed regularly. A rule of thumb: Clean the box at least once daily, twice if there's more than one cat in the house.
Scratching. It may seem like kitty is scratching your couch and curtains to annoy you, but she's really doing it to work off energy, to play, to mark her territory, even to get rid of frayed bits of claw. Good news: "Scratching is easy to prevent," Case tells WebMD. So you don't have to settle for raggedy furniture or stop kitty from expressing her natural behavior. To prevent scratching damage:
Buy one or more scratching posts for your cat, then dab a bit of catnip on the posts to entice your feline friend to use them.
Trim your kitty's claws. It may seem daunting, but trimming is easier than you think. Get a quick tutorial from your veterinarian, who can probably do the deed in 10 seconds -- a skill that can be learned.
Turn your cat into a fashion plate with colorful claw caps (also called nail caps). These small, vinyl sleeves fit over kitty's claws, preventing them from doing damage when they scratch.