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Starting from Scratch

It’s Not Too Late to Correct Your Adult Cat’s Behavior Problem! Pam shows you how.






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If you thought it was too late to correct your cat’s behavior problems, you can now breathe a sigh of relief because help has arrived. Whether you’re dealing with a serious problem or just an annoying feline habit that’s driving you nuts, Pam’s techniques provide step-by-step solutions to get you and your cat back on track.

Just because your cat is no longer a kitten doesn’t mean you can’t correct problem behavior. The nation’s most sought-after cat behavior expert and host of Discovery Channel UK’s television series, Psycho Kitty, is here to help you bring out your cat’s inner pussycat.

Geared specifically to owners of adult cats, be they recently adopted or longtime family members, this book covers every aspect of your cat’s lifestyle, behavior and environment. Offering specific techniques to help seemingly set-in-their-ways cats change for the better. Starting From Scratch is the next best thing to a personal in-home consultation from Pam Johnson-Bennett.

Starting from Scratch by Pam Johnson-Bennett

 Table of Contents:

1.   Get Reacquainted with Your Feline Einstein

Body and posture









Pay attention to what your cat is saying

 2.      Real Estate Reality Check

Is Your Cat’s Environment Part of the Problem?


Vertical Thinking

Hideaways and Tunnels

Scratching and Climbing

The Litter Box Environment

The Feeding Station


Feline Home Makeover: Operation Enrichment

Climbing and Perching




 3.      Serious Fun

Play Therapy


How to Use Play Therapy to Your Advantage

Interactive Play

Choosing Interactive Toys

Interactive Play Therapy Techniques

Play Therapy Schedule

Interactive Play Sessions for Multiple Cats

Interactive Play Therapy for Retraining

Solo Play


Clicker Training

Clicker Training in a Multicat Home

Beyond Basic Training

 4.      Retraining Old Habits and More Serious Problems You Thought You had to Live With

Retrain with Right Starting From Scratch Attitude

Rebuilding Trust

Correcting Those Little Annoying Problems

Counter hopping

Door dashing

Plant nibbling

Curtain climbing

Computer crashing, cat-style

Interior decorating with toilet paper

Toilet water fascination

Faucet fixation

Nightly noises and crack-of-dawn wake-ups

Oliver twist syndrome

Correcting More Serious Problems



The grieving cat

The fearful cat

Fear of people

Separation anxiety

Compulsive Behaviors

Psychogenic alopecia

Compulsive licking

Wool sucking, chewing, and pica behavior

Feline hyperesthesia

Medicating a Cat Who Doesn’t Want to Be Medicated

Know your options


Administering liquid medication

Applying ointment or cream

Eye medication

Ear medication

 5.      Tired of Those Out-of-Box Experiences?

Retraining to the Litter Box

Reevaluate the Current Setup

What we assume cats want

What your cat really wants you to know

Why problems occur

Spraying and indiscriminate urination

Back to the Box

Products you’ll need


Retraining a sprayer

Indiscriminate urination

Retraining an indiscriminator

Location strategies

Turf claims and overcrowding

Other deposits that occur outside the box

Toilet training cautions

 6.      Tattered and Shredded

Retraining Inappropriate Scratching

The Need to Scratch


Nail Caps

Refresher Course on Scratching

Rethink the Current Scratching Post Setup

The Retraining Process: Operation Velvet Paws

Furniture armor: set the stage for retraining

The right post

The right location


Bonus retraining tips

 7.      Mealtime

I want What I Want When I Want it!

Maybe the Bowl is the Problem and Not the Food

The Bottomless Bowl: Pros and Cons of Free-Feeding

Pros and Cons of Scheduled Feeding

Finicky Eating Syndrome and Fixed Food Preference

Retraining the Finicky Eater

Bowl Bullies

Cats on Different Diets

Tubby Tabbies: Safe Mealtime Retraining

Stick to the Plan

 8.      Spits and Spats

Aggression, Biting, and Fighting

The Biter


Fear aggression

Petting-induced aggression

Redirected aggression

Pain-induced aggression

Territorial aggression

Play aggression

Predatory aggression

Intercat aggression

Status-related aggression

Maternal aggression

Idiopathic aggression

The Starting from Scratch Reintroduction Technique

Other Uses and Variations on the Reintroduction Technique

When Professional Help is Needed

Psychopharmacological Intervention

 9.      Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Your Cat and Other Family Members

Is Your Cat Meant to Be the Only Cat in the Home?

Dislike or Fear of the New Cat in the Home

Starting from scratching with a proper introduction

Dog Panic

Birds, Hamsters, and Other Small Pets

When the New Baby Creates Kitty Crisis

If the baby isn’t home yet

After the bundle of joy arrives

Kids and Cats

Fixing Blended-Family Cat-astrophes

The Cat-Avoiding Spouse

The Spouse-Avoiding Cat

 10.   Travel Retraining

On the Road with Your Mr. or Miss Grumpypaws

Look at Travel from Your Cat’s Point of View

Retrain Your Cat to the Carrier

The starting from scratch retraining process

The emergency technique for getting a carrier-hating cat into the carrier

Long-Distance Car Travel

Air Travel

Home Alone Kitty: Retraining the Cat Who Hates Pet Sitters

Boarding Woes

How to Reduce Anxiety for Veterinarian Visits

Leash Training an Adult Cat

Moving to a New Home

Start early

Moving day

The new home

 11.   Cat Versus Brush

Groom Your Cat and Live to Talk About It

Look at Your Current Grooming Technique From Kitty’s Point of View

How the Grooming Session Should Be Viewed by Kitty and the Cat Owner

The Retraining Process

Time for Tools

Brushing and Combing

Nail Trimming

Ear Cleaning

Teeth Cleaning



 12.   Looking Ahead

Senior Cat Behavior

Behavior and Physical Changes

Make Adjustments as Needed

The Litter Box

Feline Cognitive Disorder

Other Companion Animals in the Home

Show Patience and Tolerance

Enjoy This Time Together





Rave Reviews…

“Johnson-Bennett’s new book, Starting from Scratch: How to Correct Behavior Problems in Your Adult Cat (Penguin Books) will change lives.”

The Oregonian


“Finally, something works!”

M. Raven Brown, Amazon.com review


“The book is an amazing read. And while you might not think a chapter applies to you it can help you understand other issues. You WILL find yourself having many AHA moments as you read this book. Highly recommended!”

Dan Lewin, Amazon.com review


I cannot give this book too many stars. It is definitely one of those 100 star books that are rare and meaningful and find you right when you need them. Five days ago something awful happened in our house. Our oldest cat, Bear, who was best friends with our youngest cat, Sage, turned wild. All of a sudden she started hissing, growling and screaming any time Sage was anywhere near her. This upset me greatly because they had always been best friends. So what to do? I quickly did an online search to find some help. The first result pointed me to this book and boy am I glad it did.”

Rebecca of Amazon, Amazon.com


“It’s a great book on retraining cats that have behavioral issues, and it’s a wonderful resource for any cat caretaker.”



“This entertaining and very readable book contains a wealth of information for anyone who lives with a cat. By showing things from a cat’s point of view, the author explains the causes and cures for common behavior problems, and by giving insight on the cat’s perspective, she suggests simple ways to prevent problems from happening. Indispensable for any cat owner!”

Carol Schneck, GoodReads review


“She can, in fact, work miracles with problem cats.”

Pet Life magazine


“The queen of cat behavior!”

Steve Dale, syndicated pet columnist


“An encyclopedia of feline behavior”

Denise Davis, Amazon.com review


“This book is fabulous. Concrete suggestions supported by experience and insight. No “cat-lady” fluff or “pussy-kins” garbage. The few product suggestions have proven in our experience to be excellent.
We recently moved. We viewed with great trepidation the impact on our two Russian Blue house cats; one which is afraid of everything and the other which runs for the exit when ever possible. Prior to and after the move we followed all of the advice of this book (much of which is NOT homo sapiens intuitive) with total success: Two well-adjusted house cats which behave better now than before the disruption.”

Robert Hills, Amazon.com review


“This book is an extremely detailed, all-inclusive explanation of why problem cat behaviors begin and what to do about them. It’s obvious that the author understands cats very well and her solutions are detailed clearly and make sense. I found this book to be a terrific look into a cat’s-eye viewpoint!”

Paula Eifler, Amazon.com review


Ms. Johnson-Bennett is the guru of kitty behavior. Having heard her speak as well as read all of her previous books, I was concerned that I would not learn anything new from this most recent volume but decided to purchase anyway. I was not disappointed as this book addressed many of the issues that confront multi-cat households. The author has profound insight into the feline psyche and her writing style is laced with humor and very readable.

Meezer Meowmy, Amazon.com


“This book really helped us understand our adult cats with problem behavior. Then she gave compassionate methods to modify the undesirable behavior for a more peaceful, happy home (for people and kitties). I liked it so much I ordered 2 copies to give friends with adult cats and a copy of Ms Johnson’s earlier book for kittens. There is so much to know about cats. A wise and critical statement is that,”A cat is not a dog.” What applies to dogs is generally not at all appropriate for cat management and care. Thank you for making this very important book available to us.”

N. Leslie Savage, Amazon.com review


“This book provides great suggestion for helping correct feline mis-behaving. In this book I finally found new, solid methods that work. All of my feline-loving friends have been borrowing this book to help re-train their furry family members. I highly recommend it!!”

Ellen R. Craig, Amazon.com review




  1. Hello my names Darcy, I have big boy cat named snowball, I’ve have him for over 10 years now , n he recently got diabetes so I’ve been injecting my cat with caninsulin 2 times a day (6.30am-6.30pm) I hate doing it but my mum won’t so I have to! Anyways a year n a half ago I got a girl cat names finigan , she’s the most affectionate loving girl , quiet the opposite of snowball, he’s cranky n old n she’s young n friendly, I’v made finigan her own room because her n snowball won’t get a long , m for a while when she was staying in my room she would wake up early in the morning around 5 n piss all over the bed / on me but only on my side n this kept happening for weeks till my boyfriend told me to put her in a different room or get rid of her.. So I’ve made her own room n I put snowball in a different room during the day, if I let them near each other they just fight n my poor finigan gets that scared she doesn’t even like leaving her room, I don’t know what to do its not fair that I have to keep her in there n I’ve asked a local vet n they said they will never get along… If anyone knows a good cat behaivorist who will be able to help please let me know!! It’s becoming to much for me n I’m only 16 giving my cat a needle is hard enough 🙁

  2. Sherrie Douglas

    My 7 yr old female cat (spayed) has suddenly begun to attack our male cocker spaniel she has lived with all her life without issue. He will be 2-5 feet away, and she suddenly launches herself on him hissing, scratching and biting.He is stunned but tries to defend himself. she continues to attack him until I step in to separate them and I am always injured by her in the act of separating them.
    She has been to the vet and given a clean bill of health. she is otherwise very happy and affectionate with me.Eating and drinking normally etc. If I had to guess, I would say she is becoming increasingly more territorial and will not tolerate him in our home. But I have no idea how or why this started. she is currently being confined, but this isn’t a workable situation. How can I stop her from attacking him? He has low platelet count and cannot be cut and scratched without risk of severe bleeding. The vet assures me the cat cannot sense his illness because he doesn’t even seem to notice it. he is energetic and pretty much unphased by his illness so far. I am devastated to think I will have to find another home for her, but unless I can keep them both safe I will have no choice.
    Lastly, I have tried felaway and rubbing his scent from his blanket and exposing it to her. There have been no changes in our home, not even a new piece of furniture. These attacks are totally unprovoked and she is not cornered. Have you ever seen unprovoked attacks that cant be explained or fixed? My children are so sad, I wish I could fix this.

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