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How to Keep Your Cat From Being Destructive

Posted by Dr. Jessica on March 19, 2021

Lifestyle
Nutrition
Puppy & Kitten
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Cats are lovable, but they sure can be destructive at times. Pet parents might come home and discover a scratched-up new rug or a prized houseplant with holes or chew marks in several leaves. Read on for cat training and mitigation tips to keep cats from destroying furniture and other belongings in the house. 

Why Are Cats Destructive?

Cats have their own needs, and just like humans they can become destructive or aggressive if their basic physical, psychological, or emotional needs go unfulfilled. From stress and anxiety to boredom or frustration, cats show a range of emotions. They can also have behaviors that are normal but seen as destructive in a home setting, such as prey hunting or claw buffing.

What Are Examples of Destructive Cat Behavior?

Here are the most common destructive behaviors pet parents can expect from a cat.

Chewing Houseplants

Eating or chewing on houseplants can indicate a cat isn’t getting the right diet. This behavior might be a sign that cats need more plant matter or fiber in their diet. Cat grass or digestive health probiotics are popular solutions.

Chewing Fabrics and Household Items

Although this habit is rarer, it is no less frustrating. Chewing non-food items can stem from natural behaviors like teething or investigation—or boredom and lack of attention.

House Soiling

Leaving waste in places other than the litter box happens for several reasons:

  • A dirty litter box

  • A medical issue

  • An aversion to the location or flooring material

  • Tension with another cat

Knocking Over Objects

When cats jump on counters and push objects over the edge or knock over objects, they’re acting out of boredom and lack of mental stimulation.

Scratching Furniture and Curtains

Scratching is a natural behavior because it serves several purposes:

  • Claw buffing

  • Grooming

  • Scent marking

  • Stretching

Sometimes cats also like the texture of certain fabrics or don’t have any other appropriate cat scratching option. 

How Do You Manage or Mitigate Destructive Cat Behavior?

Below are best practices for training cats to stop their destructive actions.

Make the Object Less Appealing

Spray an odor neutralizer on fabrics or carpets to mask the scent a cat has already left.

For chewing behaviors, add hanging cat toys or cat-safe chew toys. Close closet doors to keep fabrics safe. 

Provide a Substitute Cat Scratch

Try to mimic the texture the cat likes and place a cat scratch mat or post nearby. Cat parents can slowly move the new scratching surface to a better location.

Provide Activities and Stimulation

Environmental enrichment for cats goes a long way. A cat tree, feeder toys, and other stimulating activities can help keep cats occupied when pet parents are away.

Reward Good Cat Behavior

Rewarding good behaviors can reinforce the actions that stop cats from destroying belongings. With a bit of patience and positive reinforcement, you can stop cats from being destructive. 

Schedule Play Dates

Time spent playing and engaging offers behavioral enrichment for cats, and it can help reduce behaviors like chewing out of boredom or knocking stuff off counters. 

Do You Need More Support?

Need more support in learning how to keep your cat from destroying furniture and other objects around the house? Chat with Fuzzy. Become a Fuzzy Member and get 24/7 access to Live Vet Chat—ask about everything from cat poop to behavior training or dietary considerations. No question is too small for our veterinary support team. 

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