I know very well how much a destructive cat can stress you out, even when you love them to pieces, especially when they start messing with your things.
But the truth is cats don’t become destructive just because they want to be destructive.
It’s because of a few things they need but doesn’t have or an uncomfortable situation they are experiencing.
It took me a while to understand this, which has stopped me from taking things so personally when it comes to my cat, even if she destroys my stuff.
Here are some reasons why they have destructive behaviors and how to prevent it:
Cats may become destructive when they are bored and seeking stimulation.
They may knock things off shelves or chew on cords as a way to entertain themselves or feed their curiosity.
Cats need more stimulation and excitement in their daily lives than you think.
Consider giving them interactive toys and scratching posts or spending time playing with them to provide exercise for your cat and a mental challenge.
2. Lack of play
Insufficient playtime and interactive engagement with the cat can lead to destructive behavior.
Playing with your cat regularly can help drain their excess energy and prevent destructive tendencies.
3. Energy Release
Cats with pent-up energy will use different objects in your house as an outlet for play and stimulation.
This happens to us when we leave our cat and come back home, and she would usually start scratching the carpet on the stair as soon as we come home and open the front door.
Engaging them in interactive play with toys and providing physical exercise can help redirect their energy toward appropriate outlets.
4. Age-related behavior
Kittens, in particular, are known for their mischievous behavior.
They have bursts of energy throughout the day and may engage in destructive behaviors as a result.
Providing adequate play and stimulation can help address this.
5. Natural behavior
Some behaviors, like zoomies (sudden bursts of energy) and scratching, are natural for cats.
While they may be seen as naughty, they are part of a cat’s normal instincts and energy release.
6. Scent Soaking
Cats have a strong sense of smell, touch, lay, and rub against objects in your home to claim ownership and use their scent to mark their territory.
Your cats may rub against the wall, couch, refrigerator, kitchen chair, your shoes and sleep on your clothes as they represent a familiar and comforting smell to claim ownership and leave their scent on them.
Here is some more information on scent soakers from Jackson Galaxy:
7. Stress and Anxiety
Unwanted behavior in your cat could be a sign of anxiety.
Often, the behavior stems from anxiety and then intensifies because your cat gets punished.
Don’t punish your cat because of a destructive behavior; it actually doesn’t help them understand what kind of behavior you want from them.
Using positive reinforcement to correct your cat’s behavior is much better than resorting to anger and punishment.
I have used punishment with my cat when she was peeing on our living room home theatre system speaker and my piano.
Long story short, everything started getting better once I started working with my cat from a place of love (no-brainer) and understanding her needs.
You can also try to identify the source of your cat’s stress and anxiety, such as loud noises, movements of objects, moving their bed and litter box, new visitors, or other cats.
Be mindful of these changes and see if environmental changes, such as creating a safe sanctuary for your cat, can help improve their behavior.
Best things to do when a cat gets destructive at night?
If you’re dealing with a cat that gets destructive at night, here are some suggestions to help deter this behavior:
Engage in interactive play sessions with your cat for about 15-30 minutes before bedtime.
Use toys that allow them to chase, pounce, and expend energy. This can help tire them out and reduce their nighttime activity.
Consider providing a big meal to your cat in the evening, preferably closer to bedtime.
This can induce sleepiness in cats, making them less likely to engage in destructive behavior during the night.
Ensure your cat has plenty of toys and activities to stimulate them mentally. Rotate the toys regularly to keep them engaging and exciting.
Puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys can provide mental stimulation and keep them occupied.
Use deterrents on the countertops to discourage your cat from jumping up.
Sticky tape or aluminum foil can be placed on the surfaces, as most cats dislike the texture and feel.
Alternatively, you can try motion-activated devices that emit a hissing sound or use air to startle the cat when they approach the countertops.
Secure breakable items
Remove or secure any breakable items on the countertops to prevent them from being knocked over and damaged.
Consider a cat tree or designated climbing area
Provide alternative vertical spaces for your cat to explore and climb, such as a cat tree or shelves.
This can redirect their natural climbing instincts away from the countertops.
Reinforce positive behavior
Whenever your cat chooses not to engage in destructive behavior at night, provide positive reinforcement such as praise, treats, or a special reward.
This can help them associate good behavior with positive outcomes.
Toys for hyperactive and high-energy cats
Here are some of the toys that I think are great for hyperactive and high-energy cats:
- Air Prey Telescoping Wand: This toy is designed to mimic the flight patterns of birds and other prey. It can be extended up to 32 inches and has a whooshing sound, making it a great choice for active cats.
- Laser or LED-light pointers toys: These toys can provide both mental stimulation and physical exercise as cats love chasing the laser dot throughout the house.
- PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Toy: It’s an automated laser toy that moves randomly across floors and walls, satisfying your cat’s hunting instinct.
- Hepper Catnip Stick Toy: This toy is filled with catnip which most cats love. It can keep your cat entertained for hours.
- Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy: This toy has a track with a ball and a butterfly on top that spins when your cat bats it. It’s good for active play.
- Penn-Plax Spin Kitty Cat Wheel Toy: A premium choice, this toy is like a treadmill for your cat. It allows them to use their energy without causing havoc in your home.
- Potaroma Catnip Toys Balls: These are edible balls filled with catnip. They can keep your cat entertained and provide them with a tasty treat.
- PetSafe Frolicat Pounce: An automated teaser toy that moves randomly and unpredictably, stimulating your cat’s instinct to hunt.
- SmartCat Peek-a-Prize Toy Box: This toy box requires your cat to reach in and paw at toys or treats you’ve placed inside, providing physical activity and mental stimulation.
- Potoroma Electric Flopping Fish: An interactive toy that mimics a real fish. It flops and wiggles to catch your cat’s attention.
- Frisco Basic Plush Mice: Simple but effective, these plush mice can keep your cat entertained for hours.
Stopping your cat’s destructive behaviors
Here is a full list of all the things you can do to effectively stop your cat’s destructive behaviors.
- Provide your cat with playtime and mental stimulation
- Identify scratching preferences
- Provide appropriate scratching alternatives
- Use positive reinforcement
- Redirect your cat’s energy
- Prevent access to house plants and provide alternatives like oat grass, catnip, and catmint
- Look for situations that could stress or make them anxious
- Use deterrents to make unacceptable places less attractive
- Trim their nails
- Avoid punishment
Finding the most effective solutions for your cat may take some trial and error. Patience and consistency are key when modifying their behavior.
But if your cat’s behavior continues or becomes more disruptive, consult with a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviorist for further guidance.