Scratching the sofa, peeing in the shoes, breaking the expensive vase into a thousand pieces – cats can put their human housemates to a tough test. To stop unwanted behavior, punishment seems to make sense. But is it?
Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding pet training, many of which are outdated and characterized by ignorance.
This includes punishing cats and dogs. It is much better to consistently set boundaries and show them desirable alternative behaviors.
We will help you to educate your cat in a sensible way that is effective and understandable for both parties.
In this article you will learn if you should punish your cat or if there are better ways to educate your cat. We’ll also show you why yelling and hitting won’t get you there and which methods actually work.
Punish cats – yes or no?
Clearly no. Punishing or disciplining a cat does not understand. Hitting, screaming, throwing objects at them or spraying them with water will only teach your cat one thing: to be afraid of you.
You will damage the relationship and the trust between you and your cat, but you will not make your cat leave the sofa as a wonderful scratching place or never jump on the kitchen counter again.
You can still set limits for your cat, and you should keep to them consistently. However, this works best with reliable discipline and not with punishment.
Can you punish cats?
The purpose of punishment is to make an individual abide by set rules and boundaries and repent of a misdeed – that is, not repeat it in the future.
For example, if a child does not keep to the agreed time to be at home, house arrest can be given as a punishment. Anyone who parks incorrectly or drives too fast must expect a ticket and fine.
It doesn’t work that way with cats.
You can’t explain to them that they have to go without dinner and treats today because they licked your steak at lunch.
Similarly, they won’t associate the ban on outdoor access with the mouse they let run around the house yesterday.
So in the human sense, you can’t (meaningfully) punish cats. All you can do by “punishing” them is scare them, confuse them, and damage your relationship.
What happens if I hit my cat?
You lose their trust and create fear. Depending on your cat’s character and the situation at hand, she may panic and flee, causing even more damage.
Likewise, it is possible that she will become unclean in the aftermath of being hit because she is afraid and feels unsafe.
She may also meet you with fear aggression by hissing at you, growling, or hitting you as well.
However, she will not learn to refrain from unwanted behavior by hitting you.
Can I scold my cat?
Of course you can. However, just as with hitting or other punishments, your cat will not understand what you are trying to achieve.
Sensitive animals can get frightened by scolding and behave accordingly.
How do I train a cat?
Hitting or even kicking and any other form of physical aggression are just as scolding, screaming, throwing objects or spraying water are not suitable means to educate your cat.
But how can you stop the animal from scratching in the wrong place, jumping on the stove or any other undesirable behavior?
The following tips can help you.
Accordingly, the animal has no reason to intentionally upset you.
Nevertheless, this rumor persists.
Equally common are the phrases “The cat just wants attention.” or even “The animal is testing boundaries.”
Wanting attention is not negative. However, it can be an indication that your cat is bored and is doing something about it, which experience tells you demands a reaction.
A cat can “test” boundaries only if you have already set them clearly and understandably for the animal beforehand. This brings us to the next point.
- set limits that your cat understands
Education requires consistency. Is your cat allowed on the couch today and not tomorrow? Do you let her sit on your lap at dinner today and forbid it next week?
This is confusing and creates conflict.
Establish rules that you stand behind completely and enforce consistently.
For example, can’t your cat jump on the stove? Then say “No!” loudly every time she tries and block her path, or take her off the stove and put her on the floor.
You can also say “Stop!”, “Hey!” or “Woe!”. The only important thing is to be calm and firm and stop your cat’s action immediately.
With time and each repetition, your cat will know that already the word or even your tone of voice means, it must interrupt the current action.
You can even make pssshhht or hiss instead of a word. A clear, short signal is important.
A long explanation, on the other hand, your cat will not understand.
- offer alternatives
If your cat keeps sharpening her claws in the wrong place and completely disdains her scratching post, you should offer her appropriate alternatives.
The same goes for most other undesirable behaviors.
Does your cat chew on houseplants? Provide cat grass. Does she keep jumping on your bed? Offer her a different and comfortable place to sleep. 4.
- investigate the cause
If your cat suddenly becomes unclean, there is usually a serious problem behind it.
Does your velvet paw no longer leave you out of sight and pursues you even in forbidden rooms or scratches desperately at the closed door? Then something is wrong.
Researching the causes can help you to find the right alternative or countermeasure.
- design the apartment cat-safe and -suitable
Many annoying or even dangerous situations can be avoided in advance by taking appropriate measures.
Train cats to be tidy: Don’t leave anything lying around that your cat could eat or play with and destroy. Food, medicines, knitting and Co. belong to it.
Refrain from poisonous houseplants: A whole range of plants are poisonous to cats. With some it is enough even if your velvet paw chews on the leaves.
Secure fragile: Porcelain figurines, glasses and decorative vases are also better known to cat owners as piles of broken glass. Whether the feline accidentally knocked them over while playing or climbing, or pushed them off the shelf with his paw out of curiosity, they often have a short lifespan in cat households. Therefore, place them in inadequate places.
Our tip: Some cats learn to open cabinet and room doors and even drawers. In these cases, make friends with childproof locks. Alternatively, the handles of room doors can be turned upwards in a few easy steps, so that your cat can no longer unlatch them.
Educate cats without punishment
Not punishing your cat does not mean completely abandoning education.
Set clear rules and boundaries and demonstrate consistency. This requires patience and perseverance.
Therefore, always keep in mind that your cat does not want to annoy you by its behavior. This already helps to spare your nerves and to keep calm.
Prevent trouble by looking for alternatives.
For example, does your cat jump on the countertop every day when you’re preparing food and you’re annoyed by having to keep sending her downstairs or putting her down?
Then close the kitchen door and don’t let your cat in the room until the food is on the floor.
In other cases, you’ll have to get a little more creative. Does your cat keep lying in your closet on what used to be neatly folded sweaters?
Secure the closet and offer her a sleeping den with one of your old sweaters, or reserve a compartment for her in your closet.
With a little creativity and good will, a good solution can be found to most problems.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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