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Destructive Behavior in Cats

Treatment

 

If a medical problem has been confirmed, that problem will be treated first. Usually, treating the illness will resolve the behavioral problem. If your cat does not have a medical problem, your veterinarian will develop a plan to treat your cat's behavior problem. In most cases, a combination of training and medication will be necessary. Medication alone does not usually solve the problem.

 

For primary destructive behaviors, your veterinarian will help you to come up with a plan for directing your cat’s destructive actions towards objects that are appropriate. This will help you to train your cat to scratch on the things that you approve of, and prevent your cat from scratching on the things you do not want destroyed. While you are in the process of teaching your cat what it can and cannot scratch, plastic covers can be used to keep it from destroying your furniture.

 

Treatment of secondary destructive behaviors will involve a combination of medications and training. Your veterinarian may choose to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help your cat respond more quickly to the training. You and your veterinarian will also develop a training plan to help your cat learn how to behave in a more appropriate way. Once your cat has learned not to destroy things, you may be able to stop the medication. However, some cats need to be medicated for anxiety for some time to help them to get over their destructive behavior.

 

Living and Management

 

When you first start the training and medication program, your veterinarian will want to talk with you frequently to make sure that things are going well. It is important that you give medications exactly as directed by your veterinarian. If your cat has been prescribed medication, your veterinarian may want to follow-up with complete blood counts and biochemistry profiles to make sure the medications are not adversely affecting any of your cat's internal organs. Make sure that you do not give any other medications to your cat while it is under the veterinarian's care unless you have first consulted with your doctor.

 

It is most important that you be patient with your cat while it is learning not to be destructive. This can be a slow process and may take several months or more. Some cats have more anxiety and reluctance to learn new behaviors and may need long term medication and training.

 

Prevention

 

It is important to start training early with kittens, teaching them what they can and cannot scratch or claw on. During the training phase of your cat's growth, plastic covers can be used to keep it from damaging your furniture and rugs. It is also important to watch your cat carefully for any changes in its behavior. Treating medical or behavioral problems early makes them easier to treat and less likely to become habitual.

 

Image via Shutterstock

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