Some of the most annoying -- and odiferous -- forms of cat misbehavior center around bathroom habits. Spraying urine and avoiding the litter box are two common problems in this category.
Problem: Your male cat sprays urine on walls, furniture, and/or carpets.
Possible causes: Spraying is one of the ways in which cats mark their territory. Your cat's territorial instincts might have been aroused by the addition of a new pet to the family, the regular appearance of another cat outside the window, or a heightened stress level in the household. Male cats also spray to attract females.
Problem: Your cat urinates and defecates somewhere other than in her litter box.
Possible causes: Your cat may be suffering from a urinary problem or disease. If not, she might have objections to the condition of her box.
Scratching and biting are natural behaviors for cats in the wild -- they use them to capture prey and defend themselves against attack. In your home, however, what's natural can become a no-no if it gets out of hand.
If your cat does scratch or bite you, apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the affected area. If your pet is healthy and her vaccinations are up to date, there's little cause for concern, but the antibiotic will help head off any mild infection that might result.
Problem: Your cat scratches you or other family members. (If your pet is inappropriately scratching furniture, see the "Claw Care" article.)
Possible causes: Most often, the problem is that when the cat was a kitten, "playful" scratching behavior was allowed. The cat is expressing her natural play instincts and doesn't understand she is hurting you. The problem may be compounded if your cat doesn't get enough playtime.
In rare cases, cats can become aggressive due to illness, age, or chronic pain.
Problem: Your cat bites you or other family members.
Possible causes: Like scratching, biting is often a form of play for cats. Your pet may be having fun pretending your foot, leg, or hand is a mouse to be pounced upon, and not realize you'd rather not play that game. Again, your cat may be initiating these play sessions because she hasn't been enjoying regularly scheduled playtimes with you.
Biting is another form of aggression that may occur in animals that don't feel well due to illness or injury.
Suggested solutions: Same as for scratching, with one addition:
Cats are known as dainty, even finicky, eaters. Yet sometimes the mealtime manners of these otherwise-elegant creatures leave something to be desired.
Problem: Your cat comes to the dinner table begging for the "people food" she likes best.
Possible causes: Most cat owners who are beseeched by mealtime beggars have only themselves to blame. At some point, the cat was fed scraps from the dinner table and learned that it was acceptable to beg for food when people were eating.
Problem: Perhaps the only thing more annoying at mealtime than a begging cat sitting under the table is a bold cat jumping right onto the table -- or the kitchen counter, or anywhere you'd rather she not be.
Possible causes: Cats always enjoy viewing their surroundings from a high vantage point. And if that choice spot happens to offer some tempting morsels, so much the better.