To make a cat behave “better”, we need to understand it and its instincts. We readily understand our shared drives for food, sleep, and sex (this last one, of course, doesn’t apply after spaying/neutering). However, we don’t need as much alone time, and most of us aren’t predators. As a predator, a cat needs to chase and hunt. If it bothers you when your cat kills, keep it inside.
Give it some toys to chase instead. Noisy toys that roll on the ground or spring help work out some of the cat’s aggression. Let it watch the birds from the window instead. The birds will be safe, and your cat will avoid the
dangers of the outside world.
Your cat’s predatory instinct may extend to hunting humans as well. Have you ever had your ankles pounced by a hungry cat in the morning? “It’s time to wake up and feed me, human slave!” Kitty is hunting you down for a food reward. Put some food in the dish before going to bed so he isn’t hungry at an unreasonably early hour. Feeding at around the same time each day will help, too.
Playing with your cat is great for both of you, but a hand to paw wrestling match is a bad idea. Thanks to the dual threat of claw and surprise, it will win every time. Encourage your cat to swat a toy, feather, or yarn, not your hand.
Cats are most active at sunrise and sunset. Hyper energy doesn’t have to be a problem. Work it off with games. Throw balls, paper cylinders such as rolls or mugs, or even crumpled paper for your cat to chase. Play laser or flashlight tag.
Teach your kitten that human hands are for petting, feeding, and care- not scratching. Scratching means game over for you. As hunters, cats need to keep their claws sharp. Save your furniture. Get a scratcher infused with
catnip, a cat tree, or log to use instead. Toilet paper rolls are fun to scratch, too.
Respect your cat’s need for space. You will soon learn the warning signs of an annoyed kitty. Listen to them, and teach your kids to listen, too. Hissing is the most obvious, but laid back ears, arched back, and big staring eyes also
Keeping your cat off the counter and table is challenging but important. When you see your cat there, clap your hands or squirt water at it right in the act. Make the area less inviting by not leaving food out.
Teach your kitten early that houseplants are off-limits. Before you get it, remove all toxic plants and then put the others up high. The kitten will not be able to jump as high at first. Meanwhile, you can train it to have a healthy respect for them. Hold kitty close and cuddle. In a very sweet voice, introduce them to all the plants. At the same time, shout “NO! STAY AWAY from the PLANT!” from about 3 feet away.