Cat behavior issues. Can bad habits be corrected?

Cats are an enigma. Just as we think we have them figured out, we realize there are many things to learn about cat behavior and many things we will never understand about them. “Training” is a subjective word. Unless you are an animal handler in the movies or the circus, you’re really not going to “train” your cat. You can, however, modify her behavior and reward good behavior while discouraging bad behavior. Cat training is often more about training the person and less about training the cat.

cat behavior issues

Punishment is not an effective tactic in changing your cat’s errant ways. Any punishment thrown at your cat will come back to bite you. Your cat will simply associate you with the punishment and you could potentially lose the possibility of a meaningful, close, loving relationship with her.

What are some of these cat behavior issues.

1Wool sucking

One of the most perplexing undesirable behaviors in a cat is “wool sucking”. This is usually due to early weaning and separation from the mother cat. The “Oriental” breeds, Siamese for example, are particularly susceptible to this problem. You will see a full grown cat behave as if she was suckling her mother, only the focus of her attention is on your favorite cashmere sweater. First, don’t leave your cashmere sweater lying around. Most importantly, you need to find a diversion and substitute the object of her attention. As with all unwanted behavior in cats, dedicated play time and attention daily, can do wonders for easing the boredom from monotonous, non-stimulating time your cat can otherwise be spending. Provide a chew toy or fabric covered mouse or similar, that can satisfy your cat’s oral fixation, much like chewing gum aides a smoker trying to quit smoking. Providing wheat grass to chew on might also be helpful.

cat behavior issues

2. Peeing outside of litter box

Does your cat pee outside the litter box? First, you should rule out a urinary tract infection or other medical condition if this is a new behavior in a cat that has been living in your home for a time. With that ruled out, are there new members of the family and enough cat litter boxes to go around? Most cats don’t want to use a litter box that’s just been used by someone else. Even if your household is a one cat home, there should still be at least two boxes provided. The boxes should be cleaned well and often. These should be in a quiet, out of the way place with little traffic. Any urine or feces left outside the box should be cleaned up quickly and thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner to remove the odor. The cat is less likely to return to the scene of the crime in that way.

3. Feline aggression

Aggression in cats can come in many forms. It can be as simple as the addition of a new cat to the family. In which case, a slow introduction and gentle reinforcement of kitty etiquette should be supported by you. Senior cats can become aggressive. The cat may have arthritis or some other health issue. Once that has been eliminated as the source of the problem, you might want to try a new bed or window shelf or a cat tree with multiple perches to give your cat a new perspective and time away from any other pets or people that might be causing the aggression in the first place. Aggression might be a carry-over from rough play as a kitten. When they are small, tussling, gnawing and swatting are cute. Not so cute in a ten lb. cat. Avoid the temptation of this behavior between yourself and your kitten or cat. Praise your cat for peaceful and gentle behavior and give treats in moderation.

4. Excessive Meowing

Excessive meowing can be a truly annoying habit. You must avoid the temptation of giving in to your cat. Once you have rewarded that behavior, trying to appease your cat and find something to make her happy, she has won and will continue this very bad habit. Again, no punishment is effective and can indeed be detrimental to your relationship with your cat. You can’t ignore a crying baby, but you must try to ignore a meowing cat. She will eventually get bored and find something else to do. Oscar our cat frequently resorts to this to try to get more food from us even after he has been fed. He soon gives up after we have ignored him.This is why it is imperative to leave plenty of toys, cat puzzles and scratch pads and posts available.

…………Oscar posing for the camera!


5. Eating foreign objects

For some reason, mostly in very young cats, inedible things are attractive. Ingestion of tinsel, rubber bands, twist ties, shiny things like bits if aluminum foil can be very dangerous and lead to costly vet bills and a lot of discomfort for your cat. Keep this sort of thing out of reach.

6. Clawing furniture

The most destructive and common bad habit of cats is clawing furniture. Most cat households have at least one piece of furniture that has cat scratches on it. A scratch post or pole should be introduced at the earliest point in your cat joining your family. Preferably, take the scratching toy or toys home with your new cat.

cat behavior issues

Discouraging bad behavior

There are a couple of tried and true deterrents to curb your cat’s bad behavior. When your cat is behaving badly, a soda can, with a few raw beans or a couple of coins in it with the opening taped shut, tossed from an unseen place may startle your cat and make her cease the undesirable activity. You must be consistent with this. A spray bottle or squirt gun also do the trick. Again, you cannot be seen as the source of the unpleasantness. Your cat must think that when she does this activity, bad things happen to her.


Cats make great pets. They are the perfect pet for busy people as they are relatively low maintenance pets, but at the same time very happy to see you on your return. There are few things better than curling up on the couch with a good book and a purring cat in your lap.

There is generally a solution for every undesirable behavior in a cat. In the absence of success in modifying your cat’s behavior, always consult your vet. There may be an underlying health issue that is causing the problem.


Author: James Kelly

James Kelly is a network marketer and blogger who earns a living from affiliate programs and blogs

20 thoughts on “Cat behavior issues. Can bad habits be corrected?”

  1. Hi Jim,

    Great article on Cat behavior issues. Can bad habits be corrected? I have two adorable cats and they certainly pit their wits against me all the time, clawing furniture and peeing outside of their litter box is a major problem for me – even though I have had my two cats from kittens they forever surprise me on what they get up to? Any suggestions on extra litter box pee training?

    I have book marked your site for future reference so keep up the good work. Regards, Michael

    1. Hi Michael,

      Pleased you liked my article. Yes cats definitely try to see what they can get away with from their owners and I have experienced this from each of the three cats I have owned. As for cats peeing outside of their litter boxes you might like to look at the article I have written on this subject at this link:-

      Thanks for your feedback.


  2. I absolutely love cats!!

    how on earth have you managed to find out how to control them though? Great stuff.

    Cats are usually the most placid things in the world and very caring with great personalities.

    I love the picture with cats head poking through the fabric of the couch haha A picture of innocence!

    Great post especially the peeing outside the litter tray.

    Thank you


    1. Thank you for those comments John. I remind myself each morning of how difficult they are to control when Oscar our cat is excitedly walking between my legs as I am attempting to give him his morning feed!

      Again thanks for the feedback.


  3. Hi Michael,
    Great post on Cat behaviour issues.
    Cats are so different to dogs, you can train a dog to do so much but a cat, no, it just does what it wants, when it wants.
    I’ve heard that the reason a cat pees in the corners of a room is to mark their territory, not sure how true this is but we found one way to stop this happening was to spray some lemon where she was peeing and that did the trick for us. We saw this on a TV program.
    What I love about cats is that you don’t have to take them for walks and they love sitting on your lap on an evening – great fun.

  4. Some great points Simon and I like the one about spraying lemon juice in the spot where the cat has been peeing to prevent a recurrence. Thanks for those comments.


  5. I am happy to say that I have a pretty great cat. To my opinion cats are the most adorable creatures in the world anyways. I am a great dog lover (and even a groomer by profession) but cats are just simply more adorable.

    There is one cat behavior issue that my cat could need some improvement on. When she gets on my lap she starts to massage me with her paws. This mostly also includes her nails and that is painful. The only solution that I have come up with so far is to push her away once she starts hurting me. Maybe there is more that I can do?

    1. Great to hear from you Elisa and many thanks for your feedback. Yes cats kneading into their owners can be painful at times but to them it is because they are happy and content and possibly brings back memories to them of when they were being weaned by their mothers. Maybe to save yourself further pain you should clip her nails more regularly so they don’t grow too long! I also have experienced that from a cat lying in my lap and deciding to knead on a sensitive part of my anatomy!



  6. I love your site! Thank you so much. You have excellent information here. I am an animal lover. I have dogs and cats. Yes, cats are the most interesting to “train”. My children love to tease me about how well my cats have me trained. They are right of course, but I love every minute. My favorite time is when I sit in front of my fireplace and my cats come wandering in and sprawl out right between me and the fire. They also loudly announce every night that it is meal time – usually starting their announcements about 30 minutes to an hour early. It’s fun to see them try so hard to get me to feed them.
    Great post. Thanks again.

    1. Just love that feedback Tina! Yes Oscar our cat always makes very vocal announcements when it is time to feed him. The trouble is that he frequently tries to ‘double dip’ by trying to get food both from me and my wife and on occasion he succeeds with this! We have to be careful to let each other know who has fed him as he certainly doesn’t mind getting fed twice in error!


  7. Great post! So many people do not understand how to interact with cats correctly. Many of the problems people usually have with cats are because they don’t try to “think like a cat.” I really appreciate you giving such great advice on how to deal with cat behavioral problems and, having worked with cats for my entire life, I think it seems spot on. Great work!

  8. I’ve just become a cat owner for about a year now and I am truly guilty of one of these behaviors – giving in to my cat when she meows excessively. Just an hour ago, she got a small piece of the fish that I had for dinner. She was literally begging for it.

    I’ll try to refrain myself better from now on. There will be consequences when she starts asking for human food. I’ve seen evidence in her stools…hmm….

  9. I’ve just become a cat owner for about a year now and I am truly guilty of one of these behaviors – giving in to my cat when she meows excessively. Just an hour ago, she got a small piece of the fish that I had for dinner. She was literally begging for it.

    I’ll try to refrain myself better from now on. There will be consequences when she starts asking for human food. I’ve seen evidence in her stools…hmm….

  10. Hi,
    Cats are great.

    Recently, I got my first cat and then I wanted more cats. There was an episode where two of my cats was meowing through the night and marking places out of the litter box.

    I found out that they needed to be spayed. With my crazy work schedule, I wasn’t able to bring them on time. Eventually, I got to it and that bad behavior gone away.

    That taught me to get them spayed when they are supposed to. I had many sleepless nights from the loud meowing.

    I agree, they are very low maintenance and they love people too. That depends on the owners though. If you love your cats, they will love you too.


    1. Thank you Sofia for that feedback. Yes compared with other pets cats are low maintenance but that often depends on the duration of time their owners allow them to be out of the house. If they are allowed out at nights, for example, they will often get into fights with other cats with the result that the owner will incur expensive vet bills.

  11. Thanks for this informative article. My grandma has two Persian and a Siamese cat. Recently, we found that one of the Persian cat tends to eat newspapers. We tried to discourage him from doing so, in every way possible. But our efforts are in vain.

    Could you suggest ways to deal with this behavior?

    1. Whilst this habit would seem to suggest something is lacking in the cat’s diet it would be best to have a vet check the cat’s health for medical problems to rule out any serious disease.Chewing paper is not something that a cat would normally do and if he is doing this a lot this could also cause a blockage in his digestive system which would also require the vet’s attention.. Hope this helps.


  12. Hi James,
    We are lucky enough to have 6 beautiful cats. We have a couple of issues though as probably can be expected. Our youngest girl hates all the other cats equally! We have had to resort to separating her from them except she has to share the area with our 19yo blind boy as he cant see his way around anymore and needs a bit more protection. She will swat him if she gets the chance so they are only together when we are home.
    These 2 use the 4 litter boxes religiously that are on their ide of the house.
    The other 2 who have access to a huge patio and the living area have 4 litter boxes as well. The Alpha male will still pee on the furniture, bedding (if we leave the kiddie gate open accidently), walls and whatever he wants to pee on. The girl uses the litter boxes.
    The other 2 tuxedos live in the cat run. They use the litter box which is a kiddies sandpit plus 3 more litter boxes. The male will however spray when he comes inside hence him being in the cat run/shadehouse where his pee can be washed away.
    They all have a lot of area to use. All are desexed and want for nothing! lol.
    Our youngest fights through the glass sliding door with the 16yo female in the cat run. First time I heard them, I seriously thought there was a real cat fight going on. And the other cats come to watch them. I’m sure the alpha thinks she is an idiot and walks away after he has satisfied his curiosity. Although he will bail this old girl up if we let him out there unattended. He just corners her (so far) and why we separate them.
    I would dearly love for my babies to like/love one another 🙁
    They range in age from 6 to 19
    Do you think you can help us.

  13. Hi Lynne,

    Many thanks for those great points you have raised and congratulations on having such a large cat family which must leave you with a few headaches from time to time! In answer to your query I am currently in the course of writing a new article on the subject of multi cat households which will be released shortly and should cover the problems you mention.

    Best regards.


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