Cat is destroying the house when left alone

Hi! We are having a new problem with our cat!! Every time we leave the house, we come back to it destroyed. This is something new that started this week. Nothing has changed at home or with our schedules. My cat is knocking over the trash can & spreading the trash throughout the house. He is knocking everything off of the counters in the kitchen & bathroom. He ate my computer cord & is also stealing things.

I don’t know why my cat is being so destructive, but there has to be a solution!!

Thank you for writing in with your cat behavior question. The times I have seen or heard of a cat being so destructive and doing the things you described has been when the cat is either extremely hungry or anxious to go outdoors.

Do you generally allow your cat to go outside? If so, do you allow him out through a cat door or by opening a door for him? If your cat goes outside but cannot do so on his own terms, such as going through a cat door, and there has been a change in the weather, a new critter outside, or he is simply restless and wants to go outside, this can certainly make him engage in the cat behaviors you described.

If your cat is indoors at all times, it seems most likely to me that he is doing these things because he is hungry. Has there been any change to your cat’s feeding schedule? Does he have set mealtimes for canned or dry cat food? If so, perhaps he needs to be fed more or at least fed more frequently. Is your cat free-fed dry food? If he is, are you leaving less down for him, not changing it often enough (allowing for the possibility that it is getting stale), or is he eating more and finishing what you would normally leave for him? These problems could be fixed by leaving more fresh food down for your cat before leaving the house.

Of course, any time there is a new or drastic change in your cat’s behavior, having him examined by a veterinarian is a wise idea. A number of cat illnesses can cause drastic shifts in cats’ behavior and most are easily treated. If you can’t find an environmental or schedule-related cause for these actions, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and seek advice from your vet.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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