Cat behavior: why pets ignore the litter box and damage furniture

Researchers believe that our pets are actually not so evil and petty, and the strange behavior is explained by completely different motives.

All owners have had days when their cats seemed to act in extremely petty ways, like a bad roommate: they ignored the litter box, scratched the precious couch and engaged in other self-harm, writes Inverse.

However, experts warn that people should not humanize their pets in this way. In fact, our pets are not at all vindictive and malicious: their actions can upset us, but in reality, animals do not demonstrate their indignation in this way, but uncertainty.

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According to Christine Vitale, professor of animal health and behavior at Unity University of the Environment (USA), as a rule, all unwanted pet behaviors have a decisive common factor. It’s likely that your cat is actually trying to get your attention through self-mutilation: she’s lonely, anxious, or insecure.

Sick or stressed

Scientists note that minor pet mischief may be an expression of anxiety and uncertainty in response to change. Vitale notes that irregular behavior, especially when it comes to physiological processes, can be a sign of illness in your pet.

The expert advises paying attention to how often cats repeat this or that action. For example, urinating outside the litter box once may be abnormal, while repeated urination may indicate that you should contact your veterinarian. The same applies to vomiting: there is no need to worry if this behavior occurs once, but persistent vomiting requires consultation with a doctor. Other changes in habits may also be signs that you should seek medical help.

If your cat is not sick, it is worth making sure that she is not experiencing stress, for example due to changes in the environment. For example, this may be due to a visit from a new person, construction inside or outside the house, or external factors outside the window.

According to Vitale, when cats experience anxiety, they may engage in some inappropriate behavior to cope.

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Focus on small changes

If medical reasons for an animal’s behavior have been ruled out, Vitale advises looking at “resource allocation.” For example, it is worth paying attention to where the litter box is located – it may be too isolated for the animals to smell themselves.

Urination is a natural behavior that allows an animal to mark its territory, so it is possible that ignoring the litter box is a way of “marking a more central place in the house.” In this case, it is worth considering the possibility of moving the tray or adding a scratching post to the room so that the animal can leave its scent.

At the same time, scientists do not advise using punishment, so as not to strengthen the animal’s associations. According to Vitale, this situation can be especially bad for the cat-human relationship if the sabotage is a reaction to stress.

However, the expert recommends using positive reinforcement, for example, if the animal uses a scratching post instead of a sofa and stops ignoring the litter box, this signal can be much stronger for the pet.

Previously Focus wrote that scientists had discovered a new prehistoric species of predatory cats that lived 15.5 million years ago.

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