Question: My cat really struggles to be alone. When I leave the house for any extended period of time, such as to go to work or out for a social occasion, I return to a scene of devastation and a very unhappy cat. I can hear my cat crying out for me as I leave the house, and while I’m not there, they have a habit of destroying furniture and knocking things over. I can’t always be at home – so how do I stop it?
Answer: One of the most common causes of this is loneliness, as this type of behaviour is seen most commonly in house cats where they are the only animal present. A simple solution is to take on another cat, as company for your existing animal. When they have another animal to socialise with, your existing cat may find being separated from you less distressing.
However, that isn’t always an option, so the next step is to create a comfortable scenario for your cat to be alone in. Fill a room with toys and a comforting, familiar blanket. Then, use a small wind-up radio and leave it running. Your cat will therefore always be able to hear a human voice, which they should find reassuring. Ensure when you come home, you lavish affection on your cat to cheer them up and create a sense of confidence that you will always come back.
If your cat is destructive when you are not there, it is best to keep them to one room only while you are not present. Make sure ‘their’ area has some toys, a water dish and a tray, and remember to let kitty out as soon as you’re home.
Training a cat does not need to be any more difficult than training a dog. In fact, you will find that as long as you are faithful to the principles of cat training and discipline, that your cat will respect your authority and behave more reasonably. However, it is important to remember that the conferment of this power should not be seen as licence to go overboard with the punishment.
One mistake that any pets owners make is in thinking that all old wives’ tales work because there is some truth in there, somewhere. When you think about it, a cat may very well stop digging in your carpet because you slap it for doing so. It will do the same if you throw a brick at it – but do you want to be that person?
Certain aversion techniques are far more efficient in persuading a cat to behave reasonably. Among these, one of the best is noise aversion. This has the benefit of making problem behavior seem unpleasant and convincing the cat to stop it. Instead of reaching for a paddle or going to slap your cat, why not invest in a clicker?
A sharp clicking noise will annoy a cat without hurting it. clickers are available in most pet stores, but in actual fact may not even be necessary. If you have a small apothecary bottle with a child proof lid, try twisting that lid when your cat is misbehaving. The cat will then begin to associate its problem behavior with an unpleasant noise, and will behave better as a result.
We all love cats. They are endlessly entertaining, cute as anything, and despite what some people might think they are highly affectionate. Indeed, once you have got the friendship of a cat you are pretty much set for life with your pet. They are highly faithful animals. That’s not to say, though, that they cannot get on your nerves from time to time. There’s no harm in that, really. Humans do that. But sometimes it can become a problem if their behavior gets to a stage where they are more annoying than affectionate.
One of the more common problem behaviors with cats is excessive miaowing. It should be said that, in comparison with a dog’s problem barking, miaowing is far less intrusive to neighbors and other people. Nonetheless, it can be troublesome and it is not something you want to encourage. The immediate solution you should be looking for is to check why your cat is miaowing. Is it hungry? Is it in pain? Or does it just fancy exercising its vocal cords for a time?
If it is the last one, then it can be hard to think of a solution. If it is hungry, you can feed it and if it is in pain then you can treat it. However, if it just seems to like miaowing then you need to think of another way. Often, this kind of miaowing is simply your cat looking for attention. One thing you will find is that if a cat which is miaowing is picked up and fussed, it will usually stop. Sometimes all they want is to be the center of attention.