One of the widely asked questions is whether to punish a cat for bad behavior or not? And if so, how? As you know, a cat is the personification of comfort, warmth and kindness. However, it often happens that the behavior of our pets gets out of control and upset the owners. If you do not raise a kitten from childhood, then one day your fluffy little “lump” can turn into an impudent and ill-mannered cat.
Why are cats being mischievous?
Cats have lived side by side with humans for almost 10,000 years. But they still remain a mystery to us: we absolutely do not understand many of their habits. We tend to explain them from a human point of view and endow cats with our views and motives. But this does not work, and sometimes it is harmful.
Despite the fact that there has been a lot of scientific and behavioral research, people still cannot fully understand the psychological relationship between a pet and a person. Meanwhile, for a comfortable coexistence, it is important to understand the language of the pet and know the reason for its actions. This is easy for some owners, while more difficult for others.
See also: 6 Symptoms Indicating Disease in Cats
There are often very reasonable explanations for bad deeds. For example, if a fluffy urinates on the carpet, then it most likely expresses dissatisfaction with the new filler, the appearance of a new family member, or the rearrangement of furniture in the room.
Stealing tasty morsels from the owner’s table usually does not contain negative from the fuzzy side. It’s just a purely physiological desire to feast on. Torn furniture upholstery or scratched wallpaper can be the result of a person or family member’s neglect.
In general, the cause of disobedience can be determined through short-term or long-term observation. Better than the owner, no one knows the cat – and it is he/she who sooner or later guesses about the background of all the cat’s actions.
Can you punish a cat?
Before you punish a cat, you need to think about what you are punishing it for. Is it real offense? Or just natural instinct? In the case of the second, punishment is completely meaningless. On the contrary, punishment will only destroy all trust and love between the two of you.
The squeak of a kitten calling for mom, March screams at night, “burying” your affairs, jealousy of a new dog – all these are not bad habits and not attempts to make you unhappy, but completely normal behavioral features for which you cannot be angry or punish a cat for.
When there is a problem, it is important to understand the cause and consider if you can solve it peacefully. Consider why a cat behaves this way and not another? What can you do to make it more comfortable and change its behavior? If you do not understand the motives behind the feline behavior, consult with a zoopsychologist. He/she will help you see the situation through the eyes of a cat and tell you how to proceed. Maybe no punishment will be required!
However, this does not mean that you need to close your eyes to unwanted behavior. As a good owner, you should be able to set boundaries and instill in your pet basic norms of behavior. For example, do not spoil furniture and wallpaper, do not climb the table, and do not walk past the tray. Therefore, if peaceful solutions to the problem do not help, you will have to start punishing. But for it to work, you need to punish your cat correctly.
How to punish a cat correctly?
Cats are strong and independent animals. They walk on their own and do not tolerate violation of personal space. The path to friendship with a cat lies through respect for its person and persistent setting of boundaries.
Any manifestations of aggression: loud screams, reprimands, the use of physical force in dealing with a cat are unacceptable. There has never been a single example in history when such an approach would be beneficial. All this only increases stress and pushes the cat to other unwanted actions. But worst of all, it instills fear in the cat, makes it nervous, and kills trust in the owner. Imagine if you couldn’t feel safe in your own home? What good behavior can we talk about here?
How then to punish a cat? How to convey that the cat is committing an inappropriate action? These three rules work:
The most important thing is that you can only punish a cat at the moment of misconduct. The cat’s brain is designed in such a way that after a couple of minutes it will not remember its action and will not understand why it is being punished. The lesson will not be learned, and the cat will fall into a state of shock, never understanding why the beloved owner treated it so cruelly.
Remember: you can punish a cat only in the moment “here and now”, when you caught it committing an offense.
If, after returning home after work, you find a broken pot with a violet, do not even bother to punish the cat for this. It has already forgotten about that pot 200 times, and the punishment is completely pointless.
Decide once and for all which behavior is acceptable for your cat and which is not. And strictly adhere to this plan: either prohibit always, or do not prohibit at all. For example, if you do not allow your cat to climb on the table, then the next time, do not be moved to find it stealing sour cream from your plate of dumplings.
3. Correct punishment
The cat can be affected by loud noises (such as clapping or rattling) – this simple method works great. When you catch a cat doing something wrong, say its name loudly to get attention and clap your hands (or make another loud sound, but not a scream). Repeat this every time your cat breaks the rules.
As a heavy artillery, you can use a spray bottle – sprinkle water on the cat at the time of the offense. And even in the most severe cases, it is permissible symbolically, to gently shake the cat by the scruff of the neck – if you are already very angry. This is the maximum punishment a loving, thinking owner can afford.
Shouts, assault, throwing objects (including slippers), poking its nose into a “puddle”, locking the pet in the toilet, starving diets are not punishment, but cruelty to animals.
A bonus tip
Focus not on punishment, but on rewarding good behavior. Remember to give your cat compliments and treats when it is behaving well. For example, if today your cat went to sharpen its claws on a new scratching post, and not on your favorite chair as usual, be sure to scratch it behind the ear and treat it with its favorite treat. After several such repetitions, the cat will understand the pattern of “action-reward” and will not exchange its scratching post for any other chair in the world!
Patience and work will grind everything, and love and care are the best keys to a good pet behavior. We wish you good luck!