Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell (Saturdays at 8 p.m. E/P), makes his living helping cat parents who have almost given up hope of solving their pet problems. He revealed to us the top three cat crises he’s called in to solve.
PETFINDER: What cat-behavior issues do you see most?
Litter box issues, territory/aggression and integration — introducing cat-cat, cat-dog, cat-baby, etc.
Why do you think those three are so prevalent?
By and large, it comes from lack of understanding of how your cat sees the world — in terms of ownership or territory.
After the jump, Jackson’s tips for solving these problems.
What causes those three issues?
Oftentimes there are too many animals or humans in too little space, which leads to competition for resources. For example, if there are four cats and only one litter box, many times we’ll see competition for that prime piece of real estate.
In my experience, if not for territorial insecurities, the other top two reasons a cat will act out are lack of exercise or an underlying medical issue, which can lead to, for example, litter box aversion.
How can someone try to resolve these problems before calling an expert?
Litter box issues:
- The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra.
- Scoop more often.
- Create a new litter box with opposite choices than you would normally make. If you have a square litter box, get a round one. If you use clay litter, try wheat- or corn-based. Attempt to make a new association with the litter box. Put it in the last place you want it: the middle of the room! Away from loud noises, corners, appliances, etc.
- Spread out blankets, beds, cat condos and cat towers. If your home is full of these territorial markers and you spread them out, there won’t be so much competition for scant resources.
- See the world the way your cat does: floor to ceiling. Accommodate the “tree dwellers” and the “bush dwellers.” [Editor's note: Give your "tree dwellers" places to climb and perch and your "bush dwellers" safe spaces to relax at floor level.]
- Slow and steady wins the race with this one. [Introduce your cat to whomever you want him to feel comfortable around -- the other cat, dog or person -- by] scent first, sight second.
- Create a positive association through food. Before they ever lay eyes on each other, good things should always happen in the presence of one another.
- [When introducing two cats who will share a home, keep them separated at first.] Before opening up the home completely, practice “site swapping.” The cats never make eye contact during this process and they each own the home at different times during the day.
If someone has tried all of the above, what would you suggest?
Don’t get discouraged! Remain objective. Try going back and thinking, “At what point did everything start to fall apart?” Start observing the behavior closely. If these techniques don’t work, or the problems escalate, call a behaviorist.
You might also like:
Litter Box Problems:
Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside Her Litter Box?
Resolving Feline Aggression, Part 1
New Cat Introductions