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Cat Behavior 2012

On Sunday, June 20 reputed cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett gave her annual seminar at The Farm. As always, the event saw quite a few attendees as Johnson-Bennett dispensed priceless pearls of wisdom to help us learn to live with our beloved feline companions.

Why do cats have litterbox issues?

  • Medical factors
  • Genetic tendencies
  • Improper or insufficient socialization from other cats
  • Abuse or trauma
  • Stress triggers in the household

One important thing to understand is that cats view their current behavior as “normal” based on the contributing circumstances and what a cat thinks he or she needs to do about it. The result is a payoff (i.e. I will feel safer going potty under the table instead of the covered box where I can be ambushed) reinforced through repetition, so to break that cycle we must change the conditions that are causing the behavior, not the behavior itself. Always set your cat up to succeed!

Solving the issue

  • Try to discover the reasons for the litterbox issue
  • Keep track of when the “accident” happens and what circumstances surround the cat not using the box
  • Discover what is the potential payoff for not using the box
  • What is your desired result?
  • How do you get there? What can you change about the environment to achieve the desired result? How can you make using the litterbox properly provide a better payoff that not using it?