We hear this comment from pet owners on almost a daily basis. “While I was out he chewed up a pair of my shoes” or “He urinated outside his litter box. He must have done this to spite me”. These sentiments are often verbalized as a result of common myth. Whether a cat or dog is able to rationalize and perform an act of intent such as above is a subject of endless discussion. In reality there is nearly always a somewhat obvious cause for ill behavior in our pet companions.
In the case of the feline who recently may be urinating outside the box there is nearly always a physical problem at the root of the behavior. A change in litter material, a box that is not clean enough, addition of another cat in the family, Feline Lower Urinary Track Disease (FLUTD), even home construction or a house guest, is enough to alter a cat’s bathroom habits. Stress from an upset environment leads to physical changes in the body which can affect many organ systems resulting in disease. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in the cat and dog seems to somehow relate to a stressor in the environment.
Destructive behavior, most often seen in our canine friends, may be the result of boredom, insufficient exercise or separation anxiety. In the case of separation the destructive behavior is not a conscious act to “spite” us for leaving them. Rather it is an expression of the upset and the anxiety felt when they are left alone. It is no wonder that rescue pets who have often had difficult beginnings to their lives tend to suffer more from separation disorders.
If your pet exhibits any change in behavior such as those mentioned above or any other abnormal acts in your household, there likely is a good reason. Whether the illness is one of physical cause or behavior is not important. What is critical is that you address the problem as soon as possible with your vet. One of the most common reasons given for pet surrender in the US is behavioral issues. Please make sure you don’t become part of this unfortunate trend.