Destructive Behavior in Felines

Destructive Behavior in Felines

Many people struggle with their cats and their behavior. Many of these are a normal part of investigation and play for your kitty. They are not out for “revenge”. These can include:

  1. Scratching furniture
  2. Chewing on fabric
  3. Eating Houseplants
  4. Using the furniture as the litter box
  5. Knocking things off counters.

Scratching is largely a marking behavior that deposits scent from special glands on the cat’s paws into his territory and removes the translucent covering, or sheath, from the claws. The scratch marks and claw sheaths left behind may also be displays of confidence. Because scratching is an innate behavior like grooming or burying waste, it can be difficult to stop. There are 3 tactics to try to stop the scratching.

  1. Identify scratching preferences
  2. Provide items that match scratching preferences like scratching posts.
  3. Make unacceptable targets of scratching unavailable or less attractive. Cover items with blankets, sheets of plastic or double sided tape. Even aluminum foil will work. The plastic, foil and tape scare them and they don’t like the feel.

Because scratching has a scent marking component, cats are more likely to re-scratch areas that already have their scent. To help break this cycle, try using an odor neutralizer to deodorize these areas.

Chewing fabric can be as simple as giving them a blanket or piece of fabric with some pheromones or catnip sprayed on it. This will give them an acceptable piece of fabric to chew on.

You may need to forego having houseplants with cats who like to eat them. There are so many that are poisonous, make sure it’s none of these. See our previous posts on poisonous houseplants. You can have catnip or cat grass growing inside to give kitty something great to munch on.

Using the furniture as a litter box is one of the most frustrating behaviors. Please bring kitty for an exam to make sure they do not have a Bladder Infection. Once we rule this out, we can make behavior suggestions.

Knocking stuff off counters is part of cat’s playtime. Again, you may have to try several things to redirect them. I have put aluminum foil all over my counters, so when kitty jumps up, she is scared of the rattle of the foil and goes running. If nothing deters her, you may need to become a minimalist, having no items left on your counters. My cats love to know papers and empty cups on the floor. I believe it gives them enjoyment.


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