Cats can be the sweetest and gentlest creatures around. Soft and cuddly creatures as they are, our feline friends also have a tendency to exhibit undesirable behavior, maybe as kittens or later on as they grow up. Knowing the basics of how to discipline a cat goes a long way to building a safe and healthy environment for you and your pet. Keep in mind that discipline doesn’t at all refer to giving out harsh punishment. There are things you can do to train your cat and guide him towards making some significant behavioral adjustments.
Bad behavior in cats may range from mildly annoying to harmful or destructive. With patience and an understanding of the most effective approach dependent on your cat’s personality, it’s possible to discipline your cat and stop bad behavior such as:
Ø Jumping on furniture or counters
Ø Chewing electrical wires
Ø Scratching and biting
Ø Waking you up in the middle of the night
Ø Putting dead animals on your doorstep
Ø Failure to use the litter box
Best Way to Discipline a Cat
So, you’re still wondering if it’s really possible--can you discipline a cat? The trick lies in having your pet cat associate bad behavior with an unpleasant consequence. Cats are pretty smart and are able to instinctively remember both good and bad experiences. Whenever he engages in bad behavior, you can react with either a sound, a spritz of water, or any other deterrent until he’s discouraged from repeating said behavior.
1. Use a firm, consistent tone.
Use a tone of voice that you won’t otherwise use if you’re pleased with your cat. You can say “No” or “Stop” in a deep voice every time your cat does something he’s not supposed to be doing. Try saying “ouch” if he bites or scratches you. Pick a voice command and use that with consistency. Refrain from shouting but use a tone, distinctive enough to get your cat’s attention.
2. Make some noise.
Try catching your cat’s attention whenever he jumps on counters or starts chewing off your cables by shaking a can filled with coins or simply clapping loudly. Cats are sensitive to sound and loud noises can rattle them enough to stop with whatever it is they’re doing. If you keep making noise every time your cat behaves badly, he will come to associate the loud sound with his behavior and stop repeating it altogether.
3. Use a water spray.
Well-timed squirts of water can be an effective way to discipline a cat. If you catch your cat chewing your plants or scratching furniture, spray him with water. It’s absolutely essential that you do the spraying right in the middle of the unwanted act or else your cat won’t be able to make the association. Spray water from behind so that your cat doesn’t know that the water is coming from you.
4. Use scents as deterrents.
Cats are pretty averse to certain smells, which makes it easier for you to create some boundaries inside the house. If you want to keep him from entering a room or away from a spot where he pees outside of his litter box, place cotton balls or pads scented with eucalyptus, citronella, aloe, perfumes, or citrus.
5. Set up booby traps.
When you think about the most effective ways on how to discipline a cat properly, setting up booby traps may not immediately come to mind. But if done right and with care, it’s one of the techniques that produces fast results.
Place empty tin cans or boxes balanced on top of one another on tables or counters that your cat keeps jumping onto. The next time he springs, the “trap” will collapse and scare him off. Just make sure that the materials you use won’t cause him injury.
6. Use aluminum foil and double-sided tape.
On surfaces that your cat just couldn’t resist scratching, coat them with aluminum foil or double-sided tapes. There are special double-sided tapes available in pet supply stores designed to make the texture of furniture unappealing to cats. Remember though that scratching is normal cat behavior. They constantly scratch to keep their nails healthy. Provide scratching posts and place these near furniture he keeps on scratching.
7. Isolate him for a bit.
When your cat behaves badly and in a persistent way, remove him from the situation and let him spend some time alone in the bedroom or the bathroom. Twenty minutes alone should be enough for him to calm down.
8. Encourage good behavior.
Reward your pet if you see him using the scratch post instead of scratching the furniture or for any sign of behavioral improvement. Positive reinforcement works wonders in cat behavior training. Offer rewards in the form of special, high-value treats to help your cat remember what sort of behavior is expected of him. In fact, positive reinforcement is highly effective not only in basic behavior training, but also in leash training your cat or even teaching him special tricks.
What Else You Can Do?
9. Visit the vet.
It’s possible that your cat is being aggressive or acting abnormally because he’s having underlying health problems. Ailing cats may be feeling pain and discomfort, or suffering from parasites, infections, or even stress. The vet should be able to conduct tests to see if there’s a medical condition that needs to be treated first.
10. Give your cat lots of attention.
Does your cat wake you up to play at the most ungodly hours? You have to consider that your cat may have suddenly started acting out for the reason that he’s not getting enough attention from you. Make time for your pet. Cats sleep most of the day anyway, but during the times when he’s awake, play with him and engage him in basic training sessions.
Give your cat lots of opportunities to exercise, before giving him a meal and sending him to bed. He’s likely to continue disturbing you some nights, but you need to ignore him and never give in to his demands. If you do, he will only repeat this kind of behavior.
What to Avoid
Now that you know how to discipline a cat with the most effective methods, it’s also important that you remember the don’ts of cat discipline. Lack of consistency and physical punishment would quickly undo what you’ve been trying to teach your cat and may even cause him to fear you. Never do any of the following to discipline your pet cat:
1. Spanking or hitting
It’s never a good idea to spank, hit, kick, or even scruff your cat. It doesn’t tell him to stop bad behavior, but only teaches him to fear and not trust you. Keep your home a safe environment for your pet cat.
2. Late to discipline
When your cat is being naughty, you have to take action immediately and not wait a few minutes before you squirt him with water or lock him inside the bathroom. It has to be immediate or else, your cat won’t understand why he’s being punished.
You may be on the right track to keeping your cat’s misbehaving ways at bay, but if you get too busy or forget to be consistent, you won’t be doing you or your cat (or your furniture!) any favors. Also, if you choose a voice command, make sure to stick to the same command all the time. Members of the household should be aware of the same command as well. That would really drive the point home as far as kitty is concerned.
4. Lack of immediate attention
If you notice undesirable behavior in your cat such as that you’ve never seen before, don’t waste time in correcting the behavior. Apply the suggested disciplinary methods immediately. The longer you postpone imposing discipline, the harder it will be.
These are the most effective ways to help improve cat behavior. Cats, of course, have varying personalities as. As someone who knows your cat best, it would be up to you to determine how to effectively discipline your pet kitty. The most important thing is to be consistent in whatever method you’re going to impose and to be patient at all times. Never lose your cool no matter how bad the behavior gets, as cats misbehaving could also be a sign of a deeper problem that you need to pay attention to.