How to End Problem Cat Behaviours (even if you’ve tried everything!)
I live with 3 cats who I absolutely adore, and having lived with them in both rented places and now my own flat, I know all about behavioural issues such as scratching, spraying, and peeing outside the litter box. Of course, these are really just the cat being his or her natural self, and they’re only behavioural “problems” to us humans. Often it’s just a case of damage limitation, or reducing the stress that causes your cat to act out. Here’s how:
How to Stop your Cat Scratching the Furniture
The big problem here is that most scratching posts are woefully inadequate. Scratching posts need to be tall enough for the cat to fully extend its body. The post must be stable and weighty enough not to topple over when scratched (or what’s the use?). Fixing a scratching post to the wall will give you a happy cat, and it keeps the post tidy and out of the way. I actually gave my cats a tatty old upholstered chair to scratch – and it did keep them away from my beloved Chesterfield sofa.
Stress-related behaviours in cats.
Stress can cause a lot of behavioural issues, from scratching, to spraying, to hiding. Stress can also cause medical conditions. One of my cats, Devon, needed regular tablet-medication for skin allergies for a while. She was very itchy and scabby, and wasn’t sleeping or relaxing much, spending a lot of time outside away from me and the other cats. However, I gave up with the medication within 3 days as it was obvious that the stress of having to take a tablet was outweighing the benefits of the medication for her. She wasn’t interested in food (even tuna!) that had the tablet crushed up and mixed in. She had become withdrawn, and would hide outside all day and night, only coming in for food, and didn’t want to be touched. Having exhausted recommendations from the vets, I knew I needed to find an alternative remedy that worked, and fast. After a bit of internet research, I decided to try Feliway plugins, and valerian root, to at least deal with the stress she was experiencing to begin with.
The Answer to my Cat’s Stress-related Problems
The great news is that this combination worked- and far better than I could ever have hoped. The valerian root worked straightaway –like catnip, the cats enjoyed rolling in it and seemed to love the smell. Devon ate some and immediately became happy, relaxed and sleepy. I gave the valerian root every day for a week, until it seemed that the Feliway plugin had a chance to take hold. Devon has since been her usual happy and social self, and the itching, over-grooming and skin condition is reducing, seeming to confirm my initial suspicions that the “allergy” was in fact a stress-related condition.
As she is an indoor/outdoor cat (with cat flap), with a good diet, lots of space, and a good relationship with the other cats, it was hard to tell what could be causing the stress, apart from the simple fact of being a domestic animal. So I decided to accept Feliway and valerian as good solutions to the problem.
A Final Note
Valeiran and Feliway do seem to be very effective cure-alls for stress-related behavioural problems such as spraying,excessive furniture scratching, over-grooming, and personality changes/withdrawal. If you’ve tried to eliminate the source of the problem with no success, both these remedies are very wortha try. If your cat has any medical conditions or is on medication, be sure to check with your vet before giving valerian.