Discouraging Bad Behavior in Cats Without Punishment
5 December, 2017
bad behavior incats

Cats and kittens aren’t usually trained as dogs are (for the most part!) but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn what acceptable behavior is.  Most of our training is discouraging unwanted or a bad behavior in our cats.  Cats do not understand punishment, but there are many ways for you to stop your cat’s inappropriate behavior.

Below are some tips on how you can discourage bad behavior in our cat:

Consistency and repetition are keys to success. Be sure everyone in your family knows the rules and follows them consistently. Your cat will soon learn them too.

Concentrate on making your relationship with your cat positive and rewarding

Cats are known to become overly active and destructive when bored. Daily play sessions and relaxing rub downs help your cat calm down. Cats that feel neglected will often stop using their litter box. If you schedule regular sessions to give your cat undivided attention and to play games with him, even litter box problems can disappear almost overnight.

Stop all reprimands and punishment and reward your cat for good behavior

Set up your cat to succeed in performing those behaviors you want her to learn so she can be rewarded. The most effective method of cat training is through rewards. This will give you the opportunity to reward and praise him for good behavior.  If your cat is scratching the couch, for example, walk her over to the appropriate place for scratching and praise your cat when she scratches the right item: scratch pad or post.

Don’t ever strike or shake a cat in anger. It will only teach him that you’re a bigger bully and will lead to more aggression. For the same reason, don’t drown him with the water spray, either.

Set up the cat’s environment so that his misbehavior is not a rewarding experience.

There are many ways to stop your cat from misbehaving by making the experience less than positive.  For example, if your cat likes to jump up and pee in the sink, you can put aluminum foil around the counter tops.  Cats don’t like foil and this will tell your cat to stay away from the sink.  This makes the foil the culprit and not you so your cat won’t be angry at you!

Some other ways to discourage your cat for specific bad behaviors around the house:

Use citrus scent. Cats hate the smell of citrus. Spray around areas where cats misbehave or scatter orange and lemon peels around to keep them out of certain areas.

Use double-sided tape. Placing double-sided sticky tape in areas where your cat is misbehaving will discourage him from that area. This technique works especially well for cats that love to jump onto the kitchen counters.

Red pepper sprinkled around a flower bed is said to keep neighborhood cats away. It combines well with citrus peels.

Bitter apple, found online and in pet stores, is a nasty-tasting substance. Applied on plants or other areas where kitty chews and shouldn’t, will break that habit quickly.

Verbal commands work. If your cat becomes too rough in a play session, yell, ‘ouch’ or ‘no’ and walk away. He will soon connect his roughness with the curtailment of an enjoyable play session.  And, of course, praise your kitty for not biting during a play session.

Cats do not understand good or bad behavior as we do and punishing them never works!

Cats don’t see their behaviors as “good” or “bad.” We see them that way, but they don’t. There aren’t “bad” cats, and when they do “bad” things it doesn’t mean that they’re mad at us.  They are just acting out for whatever reason – or just being a cat!

If we punish our cats, they won’t understand it. They won’t connect the punishment to the “bad” behavior.  Then all they see and feel is their human being randomly cruel to them. They connect the punishment to the one who’s doing the punishment, rather than to the behavior.  It’s a lose/lose.

If you want your cat to stop misbehaving, remember that cats learn best through the use of rewards, praise and positive reinforcement. It works, and it simplifies training your cat. It’s a lot more fun when training succeeds for both of you.

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