Cats

Training

The main reason cats or kittens won’t use a litter tray is due to cleanliness. Cats are naturally very clean animals and will not relish using a dirty litter tray.

Quick Tip

Introducing cats to other household residents should be done gradually, gently and over time.

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Litter Training

Most kittens are very easy to litter train and may already have learned by watching their mother by the time you get them home. However, there are a few simple to follow steps which will ensure your new kitten is using their littler tray in no time.

  • Show the kitten where the litter tray is by placing them in it and letting them have a sniff and a scratch around.
  • Put your kitten in the tray regularly, particularly after meals or when they wake up.
  • Make sure the tray is kept clean at all times. Cats are very clean animals and will refuse to use their tray if it is dirty. However, do not use strong chemicals or detergents as these will also deter the cat.
  • Put the tray in a quiet spot in the house. Much like humans, cats don’t like being watched or disturbed when they’re doing their ‘business’.
  • Never punish your kitten if they have an accident outside the tray. Don’t rub their nose in it or smack them. If you catch them in the act, simply say ‘NO’ in a firm voice and then pop them into the tray and praise them while they’re in there. The kitten will soon associate their litter tray with praise and will want to go in there.

The main reason cats or kittens won’t use a litter tray is due to cleanliness. Cats are naturally very clean animals and will not relish using a dirty litter tray. Clean out old litter on a regular basis to see if this helps.

Below are some other reasons cats might not use a litter tray

  • Your litter tray is too clean! OK, so cats like a clean litter tray, but the smell of some strong detergents or perfumes can be overly powerful to a cat, discouraging them from using it.
  • Your cat or kitten may not like the type of litter you have chosen. This could be due to the smell or texture – try experimenting with different types of litter, or return to the previous type of litter if you have recently changed.
  • Distressed or stressed cats will sometimes not use a litter tray. New pets, people or even furniture can sometimes cause an animal stress.
  • Male cats often mark their territory by spraying. A neutered cat is less likely to spray.
  • Cats are creatures of habit and often return to the same place to use the toilet. If this place is not in the litter tray, you might find it useful to make the area less desirable to the cat by
  • Cleaning the area and removing any remaining scent. Vinegar and water mix is a good way to remove odours.

Did you know?

Cats dislike the winter because their fur doesn’t insulate well when it's wet.

Did you know?

Cats can travel at a top speed of approximately 31 mph (49km) over a short distance.

Scratching

Destructive scratching can be a problem with cats but they’re just exhibiting their natural instincts. As ever, knowledge is power so if you can understand WHY your cat is scratching your beloved sofa or bed, you’re half way to solving the problem.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Cats usually scratch for one of four main reasons:

Marking their territory – Scratching is a territorial instinct to mark their turf. Not only do they leave visible claw marks but cat’s paws also have scent glands that, in the wild, would tell other cats that this was their territory (much like spraying). This is the main reason they scratch the most visible parts of your house such as the corner of your sofa. Once their scent is on an object, they will return often to re-apply their scent and re-claim their territory. It is therefore an idea to remove the cat’s scent from objects the cat has been scratching on but we don’t want them to.

Sharpen their claws – Cats use scratching as a way to ‘sharpen’ their claws as it removed the dead outer layer.

Exercise – Scratching helps to keep your kitty in shape by stretching the muscles in their front quarters.

Pleasure – They just like doing it, it feels nice for them.

How Do I Stop My Cat Scratching?

You’ll never be able to stop a cat from doing something they enjoy and which is a natural instinct to them. What you can do however, is to stop them scratching and destroying your furniture/walls/doors!

Firstly, buy a scratching post. Cats like rough surfaces like tree stumps, however, these aren’t really practical to have in your house and you’ll be forever hovering up bits of wood. Make sure the post you pick is tall enough so that your cat can fully extend their body and ensure it’s really sturdy so it doesn’t fall over on top of your kitty when it’s being used. Sisal scratching posts are ideal (the textile material like carpet – not the rope) as your cat can shred it to pieces with great satisfaction. (Studies have shown most cats prefer to mark their territory with vertical shredding marks, sisal textile provides the perfect surface for this behaviour.) Don’t throw it away when it’s shredded. That’s when it’s broken it in to your cat’s satisfaction and will be covered with their scent. There are plenty of examples of scratching posts in the ‘Other Resources’ section of our online shop.

How Do I Get My Cat To Use the Post and Not My Furniture?

As mentioned previously, one of the reasons catch scratch is to mark their territory so the scratching post should be placed in an area that is well used and not hidden away in a dark corner. Once you’ve got your cat merrily scratching away at the post and not your furniture, you can move it somewhere else, such as the corner of the room, but you’ll have to do this bit by bit.

Encourage your cat to use the post by enticing them with attention and things they like. Try leaving a few cat biscuits near the post or rub catnip on to it. Play with your cat near the post, try dragging something for them to chase up the post to encourage them to dig their claws in to it. Ensure you reward your cat when they use the post, they’ll then associate the post with treats and affection and will be more inclined to use it. Many cats love to scratch when they first wake up in the morning so it might be an idea to have one in the room they sleep in.

At first you may find that your kitty is reluctant to give up their old favourite scratching places. Try and discourage them by covering the area with either double sided tape or tin foil. Cats really don’t like the feel of them. As mentioned previously, cats also use scratching to scent their territory to try and get rid of this. You can buy all sorts of different pet odour removers from supermarkets or pet shops or you could use citrus scented sprays around the area as cats really don’t like the smell.

If all else fails and your kitty still insists on scratching the furniture, try squirting them with a water spray or clapping your hands loudly and saying ‘NO’ in a firm voice. However, to be effective, you have to do this when you catch them in the act so they associate scratching that piece of furniture with getting wet or that sharp noise.

Biting

Cats are predators and have a natural hunting instinct. Even though your cat doesn’t have to hunt for food, their natural instincts to do so won’t go away. It’s perfectly normal for cats to practice their hunting skills and you therefore need to make sure you provide an acceptable outlet for this behaviour.
A couple of play sessions each day will give your cat opportunity to get rid of a little bit of energy and to practice their hunting skills. There are loads of toys to choose from on the market and, in my experience, the wands with a fish or mouse attached to a long string at the end seem to go down well. Drag the toy it in front of your cat, alternating between slow pulls and sudden jerks and let him/her stalk and pounce on the toy instead of you.

If kitty becomes over-excited, tone down the play session a little. If he/she bites or scratches you, immediately say “OUCH” loudly, walk away and ignore them. Stopping a fun play session is a great way to teach your cat that rough behaviour and biting you is not acceptable.

Biting While Being Stroked

Its quite common for your cat to be sat on your lap purring away as you stroke them and then next minute turn around and bite you. And while this can be quite confusing for you, it’s simply their way of telling you that they’ve had enough. You may think that your cat has bitten you without any warning but if you watch your cat when you’re stroking them, you’ll get to pick up on the warning signs.

Watch your cat’s body language. When he/she has had enough of being stroked, they will begin to flick their tail, turn and look at your hand and their ears may flatten. If your cat does this, just stop stroking. This is them telling you in the nicest way they can that they’ve had enough. If you ignore this and continue stroking then you may get bitten. That’s them telling you in no uncertain terms to stop it. Not all cats bite when they have had enough, some of them will simply move away from you and settle down somewhere quiet. But if your cat does, then keep an eye out for the warning signs and stop when you see them.

If you miss the warnings and your cat does bite you, say “OUCH” loudly and keep your hand still. This will make them realise that biting isn’t acceptable and keeping your hand still will stop them digging their teeth into your skin.

Spraying

Firstly, spraying should not be confused with urinating as they’re different. Spraying is normal, natural behaviour for marking their territory and is nothing to do with them just having a wee on the carpet or missing their litter tray. Before you take action against spraying (which usually ends up all over the wall), make sure it’s not just urination (which will be on the floor).

Cats are very territorial animals and if they feel threatened by someone or something then it’s a natural instinct for them to redefine their territory. Spraying mainly occurs in cats that haven’t been neutered or spayed or in families where there is more than one cat. However, even cats that have been neutered/spayed can still spray but it is much less common.

How Can I Stop My Cat Spraying?

Make sure there are no medical reasons. Take your cat along to the vet for an examination, just to check there are no underlying medical problems that are causing them to spray.

Neutering or Spaying. Whilst occasionally some cats can continue to spray after being neutered or spayed, it’s not very common. Whilst initially, this may seem like a cruel or radical option to take, there are health benefits for the cat.

More than one cat? Try and make them friends. If you have more than one cat, try and foster some kind of friendly relationship between to two of them. Play with them together, treat them equally, try and get them to eat together. The aim is to try and make them see they’re not in competition with each other and so reduce their need for spraying to mark their territory.

Reduce anxiety. Are other cats loitering in the garden or spraying the exterior of your house? Is there a new baby or adult in the house? Have you recently moved house? Stress and anxiety brought on by changes can cause your cat to spray. If there are changes within the home, feed kitty at the same time every day, in the same place and keep their bed and litter tray in the same place at all times. If they can see other cats in the garden (ie their territory), try and keep the blinds or curtains closed.

Use a repellant. Stick tin foil, a plastic carrier bag or double sided tape on the floor near to where your cat is spraying. They don’t like the feel under their paws and won’t stand on it. Clean the soiled area thoroughly with 1 part white distilled vinegar and 2 parts water. Once you’ve cleaned the area, try using a citrus scented spray as cats really don’t like the smell.

Quick Tip

It's important to provide your cat with a balanced diet. A premium quality dry cat food will be the ideal option.

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Have a question?

If you have a question, please email us or call us on 0800 413 969. Our dedicated consumer care team are available to answer any questions you may have. If you are concerned about the immediate health of your pet, please seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.

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