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Combating Common Behavioural Problems in Cats

Cat’s make wonderful pets, if you’re considering getting one, please look at some of our amazing felines who are waiting for the right home.

Every pet owner knows, often pets come with their quirks, and some of these quirks are more desirable then others. Below, we’ve listed some of the more common feline behavioural problems, and how you can treat them at home.

If your cat has any sudden behavioural changes, get in touch with your vet. Changes in behaviour, such as unusual urination in the house, can be a sign of medical problems.

Using the litter tray

Cats don’t like using a dirty litter tray, so make sure you’re cleaning it regularly. You need one litter tray per cat, plus one extra (for one cat, you’ll need two litter trays), and make sure they are placed away from food and water. Cats can get used to using a particular type of litter. If you recently rehomed your cat, use the litter they have been using in their previous home or rehoming centre and gradually change them over to your preferred litter.



Both male and female cats spray. Spraying is a normal, scenting, behaviour. Females will spray to show they are in season, and males will spray to mark their presence. One way to prevent your cat spraying for reproductive reasons is to get them neutered, which will also prevent unwanted litters.

Cats sometimes spray due to stress. Has a new cat moved into your street recently? Have you welcomed a new cat into your home? If you have a multi-cat household, make sure you have enough resources for all your felines to reduce stress. This includes a litter tray for each cat, plus one spare, multiple water bowls placed separately to food, and a comfortable sleeping place for each cat.

Clean sprayed areas with warm water, ensure any cleaning fluid doesn’t have ammonia, as these type of cleaning fluids will encourage the cat to spray more.

Going into the cat carrier

A cat disappearing once the cat carrier comes out of the loft is a fairly common occurrence! It’s not surprising when the carrier normally appears with vet visits or cattery trips, so your cat won’t have the best association with it. One way to help with this is to keep it out and make it part of the household furnishings. You can place treats in the carrier, randomly, so your cat is comfortable with going in and out. When you do use the carrier for a vet visit, continue to build the positive association with it afterwards.



A cat directing harmful behaviour towards you, family or other pets in the household, can be distressing. A change in your cats normal behaviour can be a sign of a medical problem, so book a trip to your vet to give your cat a once over.

Understanding your cats communication can help, maybe your cat is asking you to leave them alone, but you keep stroking them. We have a more detailed blog on cat communication here.

If your cat has been aggressive, take a moment and think about what the situation was, and what might have led them to show that behaviour. Did something startle them, was there a sudden loud noise on the TV? Had they been playing for too long, and your cat had become over stimulated?

Some cats do get aggressive after a period of play. If your cat becomes aggressive whilst playing, stop the game and move away. Once your cat has calmed down, they are less likely to be aggressive towards you.

Aggression between household cats can be complex. Cats are territorial, and living in a house can make territories difficult to maintain. Some cats don’t mind overlapping territories, but some like to keep their territory as their own. Sometimes, something scary or unpleasant, such as fireworks, might become associated with another cat in the house.

Ensure you have enough resources available for all your cats, including hiding places and perches and always seek advice from your vet if the problem persists.

Scratching Furniture

Cats scratch to keep their claws in good condition, and if your cat has decided your sofa or wall makes the perfect scratching post, you could get a tiered scratching post to encourage them to use something else. Provide your cat with plenty of suitable scratching places to try and reduce the need to use your furniture. A tiered scratching post will be heavier than the smaller ones, making it less likely to move when being used, and will give your cat a chance to really stretch as they scratch. A tiered post will also provide further exercise for your cat, by giving them an area to climb and jump, which can help prevent boredom and frustration.

Milo and Lena

Early Morning Wake-Up Calls

Is your cat becoming your early morning alarm clock? Before bed each night, make sure your cat has a fresh litter tray and plenty of water (or access to outside if this is what they are used to). Some cats don’t like drinking still water, so you could consider a cat water fountain, if your cat is waking you up to let them out to drink or to turn on the bathroom tap. Interactive feeders can help spread the time a cat spends eating, and some feeders give your pet the opportunity to hunt… find out more below:

Extra Tips to Help Prevent Boredom and Frustration

Cats are natural born hunters and need stimulation. Spending time playing with your cat with homemade or purchased toys (e.g. fishing rod type toys or ping-pong balls) is enjoyable for you and helps prevent your cat from getting bored. To ensure food time is fun, NoBowl feeders are used at the centre with great success, along with interactive games and mazes. Please ask your local centre for more information on interactive feeders, or about purchasing NoBowl feeding systems.  


Our tips and hints are only a brief introduction into resolving common cat behaviour problems. If you would like any further advice, please get in touch with your local rehoming centre, or a cat behaviourist.

Don’t forget, sudden changes in behaviour can be a sign of medical problems, so get in touch with your vet to talk through any concerns.

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