Most cats don’t intentionally engage in destructive behavior, however some cats seem to have the ability to get into everything. Whether this is your cat’s nature or whether they are just bored and looking for something to keep them busy and entertained when you are gone, there are some strategies and techniques that you can use to help curb the problem. 

Types of Destructive Behaviour

Typically most of what humans consider destructive behaviour is just normal cat behavior that ends up in our furniture developing that fringed, loose-weave appearance and our plants being chewed down to nothing but the stem. Sometimes cats will also start to chew like dogs, typically on the corners of area rugs, on the legs of your coffee or end tables or even on your shoes or a cell phone that was just left lying on the table. Chewing is potentially dangerous to your cat as they can swallow pieces of objects that can either cause choking or can block their intestinal tract. Also many plants are toxic to cats, so please do some research; Ive listed some at the bottom of this article. Please do take this seriously.

Occasionally cats, especially toms, will engage in a behavior known as spraying. This is a really awful behavior since it is hard to curb once it gets started. Marking or spraying involves backing up to an object, typically your favorite chair, couch or your bed, and spraying a fine mist of urine. You will notice the cat immediately if he, and occasionally she, is doing this because their tails will be straight up and will twitch or vibrate in a very distinctive motion. 

Some cats, often those that are pure or part Siamese or Persian, will engage in sucking behavior. This may or may not be a result from being removed from the mother too soon, but cats that do this are usually very calm and well adjusted, except for this one little quirk. Cats that engage in a sucking habit will find a favorite item, usually the corner of a rug or a pillow and just hold it in their mouth and move their mouths as if they were nursing. Usually all the damage that occurs is a wet spot on the corner of the favorite item. My cat grooms everything; her bedding and me if allowed!

What Causes Bad Behavior?

As mentioned above most cat behavior is natural and perfectly normal. Occasionally cats may engage in certain behaviors such as eating plants or chewing or licking a particular item because they have some sort of nutritional deficiency, however if they appear healthy and are eating a high quality cat food, this is not likely to be the problem. To verify any health concerns, take your cat to your vet and they can complete blood test to check for deficiencies and imbalances. 

Cats that chew on plants, furniture, shoes, or other objects are likely bored and looking for something fun to do. Thankfully there is a wide range of possible chew toys, balls, fluffy toys and even mechanical toys to keep your cat occupied when they have to stay by themselves. Another great option is to find a suitable companion pet such as a cat friendly dog or another cat. 

Cats will often become more difficult and challenging with their behavior if they are not spayed or neutered when they are young. The spraying behavior described above is almost always eliminated in males that are neutered early, around the three to six month mark is the best time, however even males neutered as late as nine months will not usually develop the behavior. Toms that are neutered after that time may still spray, however it is much less of a problem. General mating behaviors of males include territorial aggression and fighting, both which can cause an increase in the risk of being injured or contracting a disease through contact with a feral, unvaccinated cat. 

Keeping Your Cat Happy

Keeping your cat happy is not as difficult as one may think. Spending some one on one time in grooming, feeding and playing with your cat as well as ensuring that they have companionship in the form of another animal or human when you are gone can really help. Most cats are very comfortable being alone for the day and accept that you are going to leave them in the house or apartment. If they can see outside, sit on a window ledge or at a patio door this can also help them stay mentally occupied. If you are able, have a think about a companion cat, or just get two cats; if a cat is an indoor cat, he or she will need attention and entertainment during their waking hours. Cats do sleep two thirds of the day, but don’t underestimate their need for love, care and play during awake hours. Many problems can be solved by wearing your kitty out with some gentle excersise and playtime. Have a look at Jackson Galaxy’s blog and advise.

Keeping your cat happy also includes ensuring that they have clean litter box, toys and food and water when you are gone. Provide a good variety of toys from balls they can bat around with their paws to small toys they can carry in their mouths. Cats that explore cupboards and shelves are likely in search of a treat, and with food and water easily available they are less likely to go hunting. 

Cat play towers or condos that have scratching posts, ropes, boxes and lots of areas to jump and move about in are a great way to provide exercise in a controlled space. This can also help to prevent scratching on furniture and digging in plants.

Cats enjoy scratching so much that it is a pity to try to stop them. Instead, provide them with carpet-covered habitats, posts or wooden posts with shredable bark. Posts are easily constructed from discarded carpet, a four by four wood post and carpet tacks. Some cats prefer posts and boards covered with burlap or potato sacs; others prefer cork Some times, a section of fireplace wood with the bark left on works well. Try to design the post or board so that it is at the same height and incline as the furniture the cat prefers and place it as close to the preferred furniture as possible. Once the cat is using the new post, move it gradually – over a week or two – to a better location. You can never have too many scratching posts. If you make them at home, I prefer you not use treated, outoor-intended lumber. Most of that lumber has been dyed green. 

You can show off your new posts to you cat by carrying the cat and setting it down in front of its new toy. Reward your cat with a treat and a stroke when the post gets used. You can guide the pet’s paws through the motion, hooking its claws on the pile until it gets the hang of it. Once a cat is using the new post, do not replace it even if it becomes raged. Cats can be perfidious and may not like the replacement.Try to make your furniture less attractive to your cat. Cats pick out scratching objects by feel and odor. If you can, close the door to rooms that hold the prized furniture.

One last thing….boxes. Cats love boxes. I defy you to buy anything in a box, and not have your cat prefer the box to the item in the box that you spent loads on money on! As mentioned before have a look at “if it fits, I sits” videos on you tube!

As always, I wish you many happy days with your kitty cat.

Surfcats & Rio xxx

Flowering Plants:
AmaryllisHyacinthAsian LilyHydrangea
Autumn CrocusIrisBird of ParadiseKalanchoe
Climbing LilyLily of the ValleyCyclamenNarcissus
DaffodilPoinsettiaDay LilyRubrum Lily
Rubrum LilyEaster LilyStargazer LilyElephant Ear
Tiger LilyTulipGladiolaWood Lily
Asparagus FernEmerald FeatherPlumosa FernLace Fern
Indoor Plants:
AglaonemaDracaena FragransArrowhead VineDracaena Marginata
Dracaena Deremensis
Aloe VeraMorning GloryAnthuriumMother-in-law’s Tongue
Arum or Calla LilyNightshadeHelleborePussy’s Ears
Aloe VeraCrown of Thorns
 Firestick Pencil Tree Plant
 Pencil Cactus Panda Plant Mother of Thousands Mother of Millions
Devil’s Backbone Chandelier Plant Jade Plant Snake Plant
 Silver Jade Plant String of Pearls String of Peas Plant