How do I tell my cat off?
8 Proven Ways to Discipline Your Cat
One of the most unmistakable things you are soon to find out as cat parents is that these pets can misbehave too. Not just the occasional wrongdoing that is common to all creatures, but outright misbehaving. There are some of these behaviours that will be deemed cute – one of such is a cat that constantly meows to get your attention or does other stuff. However, some others are plain annoying. How to get out of this situation? Discipline your cat. That could be a surprising revelation to you. If you didn’t know before now, you can discipline your cat to conform to the behavioural patterns you had in mind. However, there is one thing we want you to note before going forward. ‘Discipline’ here is not synonymous to punishment. Rather, it can be better linked to social reconfiguration. If little feline has been showing some traits that you can’t put up with no more, we’ve got one or two suggestions on how to get that out of them.
Why Do Cats Misbehave?
Most times, what you see as your cat misbehaving is just them expressing their natural inhibitions as animals. That is why it is not advisable to punish them for what nature has made them when you could help them adjust instead. At other times though, the cat has just picked up a bad behaviour from nowhere and started to run with the idea. Some of the fault might even have been on your part as to not having nipped the behaviour in the bud earlier. This is not a blame game though. Depending on what is making your cat misbehave, you will want to approach the discipline with utmost care and patience. Trust us, you’ll need loads of patience.
Common Cat Misbehaviours
There are different cat misbehaviors out there. While some are general to most cats, others are specific bad behaviors picked up by the kitty at one point or the other in their lives. Generally, a majority of these bad behaviours fall under
As well as being extremely annoying for pet owners, chewing wires can seriously harm their animals.
• Jumping on counters • Chewing of wires around the house • Scratching household items – Household furniture suffers the most for this in most scenarios • Biting – Sometimes your cat will determine it is a fun thing to bite you. They are not doing this nearly as much as they would when they are attacking prey, but it hurts nonetheless. • ‘Gifts’ – Has your cat started bringing home little dead animals to you? You are not alone • Play – Cats sleep for more than 14 hours every day. The worst part is that they don’t have a timetable for sleeping and waking up. That means they could wake up and be active just when you are about to sleep. We don’t need to tell you that such an occurrence will leave one party frustrated – and it won’t be the cat.
How to Discipline Your Cat
You must have been fed up with all of Kitty’s antics. Having looked at some of the best methods that work to discipline your cat, we can tell you that they are all based on one principle: cause and effect. The cat needs to associate an unpleasant happening with what they are doing. Once that is done, they wouldn’t want such unpleasantries anymore. Thus, they’ll naturally stop doing what you want to get them to stop. That being said, here are some of the things you might as well do.
1 Use Voice
When your cat is doing something you don’t like, simply using your voice to stop them might be enough. Have a stop word in mind and use that for the cat whenever it’s in the bad behavior zone. A simple ‘No’ or ‘Hey’ said in a loud, firm voice will get the job done. The key to making this work is consistency. When you have started using a stop word, stick to it so long, the cat starts associating that word with bad behavior it needs to quit.
2 Clap Your Hands
Cats dislike the sound of hands clapping.
Another thing you can do to get a cat to desist from misbehaving is clap your hands. Such a sudden, loud noise that comes from a clapping of hands will be irritating/ unsettling to cat and it many causes them to stop. Some cats are easily startled too. Clapping your hands together will give them a jolt. Repeat that for a while and they associate what they were doing (which is bad behavior) with the unsettling sound of your claps
3 Use Noisy Cans
This one is particularly useful for cats that like to climb on top of cabinets and other platforms. You can also use it when you want to stop your cat from snooping around some places. Likewise, it works when you want to keep the cat away from household plants Get some empty soda cans and arrange them, one on top of the other, such that minimal contact causes them all to wobble. The first time your cat makes an approach and causes them to wobble, the noise will be enough to chase it away. Don’t forget to repeat this exercise 2 – 3 more times till the cat gets the message. For the most stubborn cats, you won’t need to do this more than five times.
4 Use Deterrents
Some cats will not have anything to do with citrus to save even their own lives. Some others dislike pepper flakes for some reason. Guess where that puts us? At an advantage. There are commercially available sprays for these smells which you can purchase and use around the places where you don’t want to see the cat. If your cat is one that likes to chew things, you can find some (harmless) sprays that makes such things taste bad too.
5 Play with the Cat
A bored cat is a disaster waiting to happen. If you aren’t playing with your cat much, you could be the source of its misbehavior. If your cat is one that likes to run around the house, chase things, swipe at your leg while you pass by and so on, somebody is not getting enough play time. Another example that we feel worthy of mention here is that of older cats and biting. When this happens, it is usually as a result of insecurity and/ or confusion in the cat. You can correct this behavior by buying some toys for the cat. Get it a cat furniture for scratching and a swing for playing when you are not around. Anything to take all that extra energy off is welcome.
6 Time Out
When the cat does something bad, give it a time out. Designate a place in the home to serve as the cat’s jail. It is preferable to use your bathroom. Whenever they do something bad, pick them up immediately and put them in the bathroom for about 20 minutes to half an hour.
7 Use a Spray Bottle
You could use a spray bottle to help discipline your cat.
Nobody likes to be sprayed with water. Even cats. Get a spray bottle and squirt the cat with water whenever they are doing something bad. The rule of thumb with this correctional method is that you must never let the cat know that the water is coming from you. Otherwise, they will associate the sprayed water with you and not with their bad behavior.
8 Reward Good Behaviour
It might sound funny but one of the ways to discipline a cat is to reward them when they do something right. The reasoning behind this is that the cat will associate the good behavior with getting a treat. Since it wants more treats, it starts doing more of the good things. We don’t suppose a cat busy doing good will have so much time left to do bad, don’t you think?
Additional Tips If You Discipline Your Cat and It Does Not Work
9 Visit the Vet
As absurd as that might sound, the discipline your cat needs could be as simple as paying the vet a visit. When at the vet’s, run a full medical checkup on the cat. That will eliminate the possibility of there being some underlying medical conditions that is making your cat that aggressive/ misbehaving being it has turned out to be.
Take your cat to the vet if he is acting out, as it could be due to pain.
More often than not, cats could be suffering from undetected wounds, imbalances in their hormones, distress, roundworm, flukes and tapeworm (from mites, fleas, wormer, etc.), and psychological disorders, to mention but a few, that you won’t even have the slightest hint about. As soon as the vet makes a call, you’ll be better advised on what next to do.
10 Look at the Cat’s Diet/ Medication
Before you play the discipline card, have you recently changed your cat’s dietary plan? Altered some ingredients? Switched to a new supplier? Maybe it is even on some medications and all of a sudden, started displaying some strange traits. For example has he just been castrated? For the latter, speak to a vet and ask them for possible side effects of the said medication. Let them know what you are experiencing and ask if its normal, given the drugs they are on. If its food, try to change to the brand/ style/ ingredients they were comfortable with and see if the problem goes away. Similarly, he could be extremely dehydrated and subsequently falling ill. Check out our Miaustore cat fountain to see if this could encourage a more healthy state of hydration for your feline.
What Not to Do
As there is a list of possible things to do, so is there a collection of things you should never do when you discipline your cat.
1 Never Get Physical
Getting physical with the cat and hurting it won’t solve any problems. In fact, you would be creating one for yourself as the cat will no longer trust itself to be safe around you.
2 Always Give Prompt Punishments
If you’ll discipline your cat for their behaviour (time out, spraying, etc.), it has to be immediately they do something bad. Unlike humans, you don’t expect the cat to remember what it did wrong that you are now meting out the punishment for.
3 Lack of Consistency
Humans can be told that what they are doing is wrong, and punishments can be meted out to them on that basis. Cats can’t be told stuff like that so you can only get to them via associations. Now, where your disciplinary measures could turn counterproductive is when you don’t exercise consistency in discipline. If you saw a cat chewing some cords and you shouted a firm ‘No’ at it today, then allowed it freedom to play with the wires tomorrow, you would have achieved nothing. If anything, you’ll have confused the cat even more.
4 Ignore the Cat
Some are of the opinion that a misbehaving cat might be trying to get your attention. The flaw in that theory is, what if its not and the cat’s mind has just gone AWOL? Leaving bad behavior to continue for long just makes it harder to control when you finally get to it. Taking a leaf from the big book of English proverbs, a stitch in time does save nine
There is no one way to correcting bad behavior in cats. With the proper investigation of the root of the problem and type of it though, patience is the only other thing you need to get results. Therefore it is possible to discipline your cat, however you must work out the most effective way depending on his behaviour faults. Does your cat also have some weird behaviors you’d like corrected? Perhaps you have been successful in training your cat back to the good ways after it went ‘’wild’ once. Let’s hear all about it in the comments then.
How To Train A Cat: The Beginner’s Guide to Good Kitty Behavior
When new pet parents bring a puppy home, training almost always comes to mind – but the same can’t always be said of cats.
In fact, most people never consider training a cat because they assume they’ll be independent and aloof. But this certainly isn’t the case!
In this guide, we’ll dive into why cat training is an essential part of your new cat checklist, some expert training tips, and a few common commands that will benefit you and your feline friend.
Cat training 101
At its core, cat training is teaching your cat to associate a desirable behavior with a reward. By doing so, you can encourage them to stop bad behavior and start desired behavior so you can both live a happier, healthier life.
Although cats don’t instinctually work in partnership with humans, they can learn to follow commands and perform tricks just like dogs. Cat training can also provide positive mental and physical stimulation for cats, which can help reduce anxiety, aggression, or other destructive cat behaviors. Consistent cat training can also help you pick up on their body language and learn what they’re trying to communicate (including the many ways they show they love you!) If you’re unsure whether you’re ready to get a cat due to the prospect of bad behavior, factor in the effectiveness of cat training in your decision.
What to know before you start cat training
Stock up on treats
For starters, cats need motivation. Unlike dogs, cats won’t be as excited and eager to learn unless their rewards are worth their while. To make the most of your training sessions, be sure to stock up on their favorite treats and delicious cat food.
Find the best time
Cats’ daily lives follow a predictable cycle of hunting (playing), eating, grooming, and sleeping, so you’ll want to fit training sessions into their routine. Try training your cat right after they wake up from their nap as they’ll be ready to play and more likely to focus. They’ll also probably be hungry, which means they’ll work extra hard for those tasty treats.
Keep training sessions brief
Cats have short attention spans. A training session under 15 minutes is long enough to accomplish the goal but short enough to keep your cat focused. Remember: the goal should be progress, not perfection!
A distracted cat can’t focus. Find a quiet place away from any pets and members of the family for your training session. Any background noise can throw your cat off, making the training session unproductive.
Be consistent with cues
To avoid confusion, use the same signals (could be hand signals) or cues for the command you want to achieve. Making sure family members also know the right signals and cues will help maintain consistency.
Only train one skill at a time
Trying to teach a cat multiple skills at once can overload them. Only after your cat masters one skill, should you move on to the next.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Repetition reinforces your cat’s behavior. Once your cat masters the skill, make sure you repeat it frequently outside of a training session so your cat doesn’t forget it.
Use positive reinforcement
Focus on the behavior you want your cat to continue rather than the behavior you want them to stop. Yelling, swatting, or spraying your cat for unwanted behavior won’t be productive and your cat will likely just avoid you.
Learning new behaviors or solving behavior problems takes time. Be patient with your cat while it’s learning a new skill – they’re more than capable and very intelligent.
Common cat training methods
Whether you use a clicker, hand signals, voice cues, or a combination of all three, here are some cat training methods you can use.
Clicker training is a very effective cat training method. All you need is a tool that makes a gentle clicking sound like a training clicker, a pen, or even your tongue! The goal is to first associate the clicking sound with a reward, and then further associate a new skill or desired behavior with the click, so your cat knows they’ll be rewarded, creating a cycle of reinforcement.
Using hand signals is another great way to train your cat. The key is to associate different commands with hand gestures. For example, making a fist when you want your cat to sit or making an open palm when you want them to give you a high five can help strengthen behaviors.
Voice cues are saying certain words to indicate certain commands. Similar to hand signals, the key is to associate a word with a behavior and reward your cat when it’s done. For example, saying “sit” to get them to sit or saying their name to get them to walk to you.
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Cat training: Reinforcing good behavior
Whether you want your cat to give you a high five or get into their carrier with ease, here are some specific skills and how to teach them.
Many kittens and cats come already trained to use the litter box. However, even if yours didn’t, you can litter train them fairly quickly.
Make sure the box is clean and in a quiet place. After your kitty eats, move them to the litter box and gently scratch the litter with one of their front paws. After they pee or poop, reward them and remove them from the box. Do this consistently, and they will soon figure out the litter box is their elimination area.
Tip: If your cat is suddenly urinating or pooping outside of their litter box, it could be a sign of a potential health problem like a UTI. Talk to your veterinarian about any out-of-character litter box habits.
Carrier training can teach cats that the carrier is a safe place to be, thus, making traveling with your cat easier.
First, leave the carrier door open and put a favorite toy or a treat inside it. When your cat enters the crate, give them some positive reinforcement like a pet or a chin-scratch. Once your cat is comfortable, try closing the door. Start with just a few seconds and slowly build up as your cat gets more comfortable with the door being closed.
After your cat adapts to the door being closed, get them used to the crate being carried. Start by lifting it up and placing it back down, and slowly start taking steps. Do this enough and your cat will soon be comfortable when it’s time to travel or visit the vet.
Teaching your cat to sit can come in handy. Simply stand or sit in front of your cat, and when they sit naturally, reward them. Start using the “sit” cue after they start sitting in anticipation of the treat. Soon they will associate the cue with the behavior.
The high five is a fun party trick. Start by having your cat sit in front of you, and offer them a treat. If your cat’s paw comes off the ground, give them a treat.
Once your cat is reaching for your hand, raise it up in small increments. Your cat will soon reach higher and higher for the treat. When your cat is finally performing the high five, replace the treat with praise and chin scratches.
Cat training: Stopping bad behavior
Tired of your cat scratching furniture or clawing at your arms? Here are some tricks to stop bad behavior.
Staying off counter tops
Cats love to jump on counter tops, which can be unnerving and cause damage. Training a cat to stay off the counter is possible by using double-sided tape or an object the cat doesn’t like to discourage them from jumping up there.
If they do jump on the counter, calmly and gently put them back on the ground. If they know the sit command, this is a good time to use it. When your cat sits and doesn’t jump back up onto the counter, give them their treat.
Biting or kicking with hind legs
It’s not uncommon for cats to bite or kick, but it can become a problematic behavior. If your cat bites or kicks because of a boundary or privacy issue, respect your cat’s space. If your cat bites or kicks out of rough play, however, disengage, and ignore your cat. When your cat stops being rough, reward the calm behavior.
Another way you can discourage cat bites is by disengaging and offering your hand for licks instead. Do this by putting a treat or some cat food on the back of your hand or fingers. By letting your cat lick the treat off of your hand, they learn a better way to engage with your hand when in a playful mood.
The easiest way to prevent scratching furniture is to provide a scratching post. If that doesn’t solve the problem, place double-sided tape over the area to discourage your cat from using it. Keep in mind: Cats use scratching posts for claiming territory and leave their pheromones around. A cat is more likely to use a scratching post if it’s in plain sight or a room others occupy, too.
Not only is destructive chewing annoying to deal with, but it can also be very dangerous. This is especially true if your cat likes to chew on electrical cords.
Prevent destructive chewing by hiding objects or spraying them with a bitter apple deterrent. You can also redirect them to chew sticks or other cat toys like catnip balls.
There are many houseplants that are poisonous to cats. Although you should avoid having these types of plants in your home altogether, the next best thing is to seclude them in one area and put double-sided tape, a screen, or foil around the base of the plant. You can also add foil strips into the pot to discourage your cat from climbing into it.
You can also offer your cat an alternative like cat grass when they feel the need to chomp on some greens.
Yowling for food
Like clockwork, some cats will start yowling and meowing close to mealtime to get your attention.
The best way to stop incessant cat meows is by simply ignoring the behavior. Your cat will soon learn there is no reward for this and stop. Try making them sit while you prepare their food to show them only good behavior will get them what they desire.
Whether you want your cat to be safer in their environment, stop unwanted behavior, or show off some fun party tricks, training cats is great way to get the job done. A few minutes of your time each day will not only keep your cat mentally and physically stimulated, but also forge a better relationship between you and your purring feline.
Is there treatment for behavioral issues?
Even with expert cat training, behavioral issues like anxiety or aggression can still arise. We know how stressful this can be for both you and your cat, which is why unlike a lot of insurance plans out there, Pumpkin plans can help cover eligible vet bills for behavioral issues. Protect your kitty with one of Pumpkin’s cat insurance plans today.
*Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses.
Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She’s also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!