Cats are notorious for being aloof and overly independent, but in my experience they can be as loving and as giving as any dog. Nevertheless, like all animals, their behaviour can sometimes be difficult to understand – especially when it becomes a challenge in your life or home.

I am going to explore several areas in which you could experience problems with your cats and suggest reasons why they do what they do and how to rectify the situation.

If you think children are fussy eaters you have not seen anything yet. Get a cat! Many cats won’t just eat anything you give them; they can detect what is not good for them, can have very particular tastes, and will only eat that what they don’t like when they are on the point of starvation.

So it is very important to ensure that you get food with the best nutritional value for your kitty – and try out various flavours – or you may have mutiny on your hands. Remember a cat (or any pet for that matter) is like a child you and need to feed it the best you can to ensure you have a healthy happy cat.

I’m not sure what it is about our feline children, and it could just be me applying human behaviour to animals, but cats really seem to be aware of when they are being pampered with good quality food.

Now if your cat consistently refuses to eat there is also the possibility that there is something medically wrong with it, so if you change its diet, and there is still no improvement, then you should take your cat to the vet and get him or her checked out.

Does your cat scratch your furniture? Cats may do this to mark their territory and also as a form of exercise. Have you thought about declawing? Please don’t! Declawing is not an acceptable option for your kitty. Doing so is literally maiming the cat which could lead to physical, emotional and behavioural problems.

Many believe that it’s the same as trimming your finger nails, but it is not! A cat’s claws are an important part of its anatomy; essential to balance, mobility and overall survival. There is a lot involved in declawing a cat; it is a procedure that cannot be reversed and in essence involves amputating the last joint on the cat’s toes!

What you could do is buy the cat a suitable scratching post. At first your cat may not be interested in it but why not buy some cat nip and place it or rub it on the scratching post? I have seen a cat in action when it smells the stuff – and it works. I doubt you will have many problems with your furniture once you do this. Remember that scratching comes naturally for a cat and you cannot prevent a cat from doing anything it wants to. So buy that scratching post to distract it from your furniture.

And then there’s my least favourite thing to experience with your cat: spraying. Also known as feline spraying, this is when a cat deposits small amounts of urine on surfaces around the home. This is to mark their territory thereby warning off other cats. It is usually not a problem with their litter box training or their bladders. Cat urine contains pheromones which are chemicals that communicate certain messages to other cats. This behaviour is especially common during mating season and in multi-cat households.

Now there are several ways of preventing this from happening. Spaying or neutering your cat could solve the problem, but that is not guaranteed; most will stop the behaviour after the procedure, while some will not. It may sound cruel and extreme, but many pet experts recommend spaying anyway, as a means to prevent more unwanted kittens from landing up at the SPCA, so this is one possibility you could try.

You also get anti-anxiety tablets from a vet as spraying can also be caused by stress (it’s not only us that experience this). However, there is the potential that your cat will go into a zombie like state – not something you really want. You could ask your local vet for more information on this.

Another option is to remove the odour from any spots that have been sprayed – thereby helping to prevent the cat or other cats from reacting to the smell and spraying the area again. You can do so by cleaning the areas where the cat has sprayed using a household detergent and then you could mix 50% water and 50% vinegar in a spray bottle that could be then sprayed on the area.

If you experience any of these problems and your attempts to get your kitty to behave don’t seem to have any effect, remember to take a trip to your vet for more information and a check-up on your little tiger or tigress.

And last but not least did you know that your cat can be affected by your mood? It appears that a cat is extremely attuned to the mood in a home. It can affect him or her if there is tension and conflict in the air and could lead to erratic behaviour. So when you are having a bad day, try not to take it out on the cat. No point in both of you being grumpy!

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