What do you do if kitty’s latest trick is a bad habit? The key is to remember that undesirable behaviors are rarely done out of malice. Understanding why your kitty is misbehaving can set you on the path to peace again. More often than not, the solution is to replace the negative action with a positive one. Here are some of the most irritating feline behaviors and what to do about them.

Waking you up in the middle of the night

If your cat has developed the habit of rousing you from your sleep too soon, it’s probably because she is very bored. Even if all you do is grumble a little bit, you’ve taught your kitty that waking you up has a fun reaction. Try your best not to overreact if your cat interrupts your slumber. Instead, put out more stimulating toys before you go to sleep at night, then pick them up in the morning. This will give your cat something else to look forward to at night.

Alternatively, cats will wake you up first thing in the morning if you routine involves feeding them as soon as you get out of bed. Get in the habit of feeding your kitty after another recognizable routine, such as getting out of the shower or eating breakfast.

Licking plastic bags

It used to be widely believed that plastic bags had minerals and animal products present in them that attracted curious felines, but that theory has since been debunked. Cats are most likely attracted to the sound and texture. However, plastic can be dangerous if swallowed, especially since it doesn’t show up on X-ray.

The best thing to do is to keep plastic bags out of your kitty’s reach. You can replace the urge to nibble the plastic with a much less annoying toy from the pet store. Toys like the Petstages Catnip Wrestle and Romp are much more fun for your kitty and safely offer that satisfying crinkling sound.

Clawing your walls or furniture

Your cat’s claws are always growing. If they get too long, they can become uncomfortable for your kitty. Scratching helps to remove the outside layer of the claw and to stretch your cat’s paw muscles. Cats also leave their scent on surfaces that they scratch.

You can keep your cat from scratching unwanted surfaces by applying an herbal spray found in the pet store. You may also want to use a double sided tape to make the area less desirable for your cat. Of course, once you take away your cat’s current scratcher, you’ll want to add a positive one. If your cat likes to scratch vertical surfaces and fabric, consider buy a sisal rope cat tree. If your cat likes to lay down and scratch the arm of a chair or the edge of your rug, a flat corrugated cardboard cat scratcher may do the trick.

Has your cat developed a habit that really gets your goat? Ask your pet sitter for recommendations on how to remedy the problem.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

“Caught in the Act” by Adreanna Moya Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0