5 “Bad” Cat Behaviors That Shouldn’t Be Discouraged

1 comment

Cats are wonderfully mysterious creatures. Why do they take off running after they make a trip to the litter box? Why do they try to make biscuits on their favorite human? They also do some admittedly irritating things, like scratch on furniture and munch our potted plants.

But while cats are indeed doing these things intentionally, it is not out of malice or spite. Cats are only doing what comes naturally to them, and their actions serve to help them live healthier, happier lives.

It’s important to understand the motives behind a cat’s less-than-desirable behaviors so that it becomes easier for us humans to redirect these “bad” behaviors into positive ones that benefit both you and your furry family member.


1. Scratching

Fish have to swim, and cats have to scratch! While they might not always choose the best locations to scratch (your couch, for example), scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for your cat. Like you might stretch your muscles and keep in shape with a yoga routine, scratching helps your cat to both stretch muscles and relieve any tension or stress.

For your cat to be the happiest and healthiest they can be, it’s important that they have a satisfying place to dig their claws into. Your cat isn’t scratching the arm of your sofa out of a wanton desire for destruction.

Believe it or not, cats actually scratch as a form of communication to other cats – and us humans, if we know how to read cat. Through both the visual marks and pheromones they leave behind with scent glands on their paws, cats use scratching as a way to establish the boundaries of their territory. Marking their "territory" can help a cat feel secure and safe in their home. 

Be sure to provide your cat with plenty of places to scratch, ideally in locations that are visible at cat height. Observe where your cats are scratching to determine what type of scratcher they're most likely to use: a cat that scratches the side of a couch might like a vertical scratcher. One that scratches the carpet? Try a scratcher that sits on the floor, or a cat tree with sisal scratching pads.

If your cat doesn't immediately take to using the scratchers you provide, try sprinkling some catnip or their favorite treat on the surface of the scratcher to encourage use. 


2. Climbing on Counters or Windows

The Mega Perch Cat Tree by Meowingtons

Vertical space is a cat’s best friend! Many cats naturally seek height as a source of safety and comfort. Cats are predators - but they're also small predators who know they can be prey to larger animals. So cats often seek out height as a way to stay safe (from dogs, or toddlers).

If you don't want your kitty jumping on your counters or your bookshelves, a multi-level tree will have many places to climb, play, snack and nap - and it will also give your cat its own "safe space." Encourage them to see this new tree as their safe space by hiding their favorite treats or toys in the tree. Even feeding them on higher levels of the tree can be an ideal way to get them to jump on the tree rather than the counters. 

3. Eating Plants

tom cat mug cat grass

Photo: @nclaspell, featuring the Tom Cat Mug

Most cat owners know that cats can be the humble houseplant’s worst enemy. Some cats like to chow down on plants mostly out of instinct, as grass acts as a digestive aid. Whether it’s a source of folic acid, some extra fiber, or simply a way to help your kitty pass a hairball, grass can be beneficial to your cat.

But houseplants aren’t always the safest of greens for your cat to munch. In fact, cat owners should note that some common houseplants and flowers (both indoor and outdoor) are toxic to cats. You can find helpful lists of some common houseplants you’ll want to keep out of reach of your kitty’s paws.

Cat grass or catnip is an ideal solution to give your cat a safe garden to graze on. Purrfect for indoor and outdoor cats alike, growing your own cat grass is a simple, easy and safe way of satisfying your kitty’s cravings for the greener things in life. Give indoor cats a healthy taste of the great outdoors and keep your adventurous outdoor kitties from grazing on the neighbor’s potentially pesticide-sprayed lawn.

As a note, some cats seek out cat grass and house plants when their stomachs are upset or they have hairballs and may use it as a way to induce vomiting. So be sure to watch your kitty when they're eating grass!


4. Stealing sips from your cup

cat drinking cup gif

If you keep catching your cat sneaking drinks from your glass, instead of their own bowl,  give them a glass of their own! Cats have an extremely sensitive sense of smell – 40 times as powerful as our paltry human noses. They might be sniffing out something in the bowl they don’t like: its freshness, its location to their food, even the material of the bowl. If your cat is drinking from your cup, it means they’ve found an ideal source of water.

It only makes sense to cater to them just a little bit more than you probably already do to ensure your cat stays hydrated and healthy, as indoor cats are fairly susceptible to dehydration. Cats in the wild get water from their food, which happens to be the bodies of their prey. Indoor cats don't get nearly as much water from their food, especially if they eat a diet mostly consisting of dry kibbles.


5. Late-night play sessionscrazy cat meme 4am cat meme

Your cat’s instincts may be telling him to play at night. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. This is the ideal time for a cat to hunt, so their bodies are telling them that at 4 am, it’s time to get movin’.

While you don’t want to encourage your cat to keep up this late-night routine, you do want to encourage your cat’s natural hunting behaviors. If your cat is keeping you up, try tiring them out by playing hunt-chase-capture games in the evening before bedtime. Check out some more tips on how to stop your cat from keeping you up all night!

1 comment

  • Mike Rafferty

    Why do cats act like they’re covering up their food after eating?

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.