How to Discipline a Cat: 10 Tested and Proven Ways to Do It Successfully
Cats can be sassy and at times aggressive, but they can also be the most affectionate and loving fur babies you may ever have.
By knowing how to discipline a cat and how to deal with their undesirable behavior, you can be rewarded with more cuddles, gentle “meows,” and purring from your feline companion.
And not only that, considering a cat’s personality, it’s important that every cat owner must know how to discipline a misbehaving cat, especially for harmful or destructive behaviors.
Cats are known to jump from high places, scratch household items, and chew on wires. Some of these behaviors are part of their natural behaviors in a certain environment, while some are simply bad habits that were just ignored.
Unfortunately, just like humans, if not corrected or reprimanded, cats will continue with their bad behavior. Thankfully, cats are smarter than many people think.
They can be trained, and it is possible to change his unwanted behavior. You can do this by rewarding him for his good behavior, and enforcing safe disciplinary measures to discourage him from repeating any undesirable and unsafe behavior.
And to discipline your cat without damaging your relationship with your furry friend, you should know how to do it properly.
The idea of “training” your cat to behave properly may be intimidating, but whether you believe it or not, it can be done.
And as mentioned earlier, you will be surprised as to how smart your cat is to understand what you want and what you don’t want him to do.
- Proven Ways on How to Discipline a Cat
- Additional Tips If the Above Steps Don’t Work
- What Not to Do When Disciplining Your Cat
Proven Ways on How to Discipline a Cat
1. Use Your Voice
When your cat does an undesirable behavior that you want to correct, simply use your voice to let him know that what he is doing is wrong.
To do this, start with a stop word in mind that you will use each time he is in his bad behavior zone. A simple “no,” can do the job, but say it in a loud, and firm voice.
Also, never shout at your cat even if you feel like doing it because it can be counterproductive, or it can just drive your cat away or frighten him.
Additionally, another key factor for the success of this tactic is to use your “stop word” consistently until your cat associates it with the bad behavior that you want him to stop doing.
2. Stomp Your Feet or Clap Your Hands
Another thing that you can do to capture your cat’s attention if you see him misbehaving is to create a sudden, loud noise from clapping your hands or stomping your feet. The noise can be irritating for him, and it can also startle your cat. Clapping your hand will cause him to jolt.
Keep clapping your hands or stomping your feet, and your feline friend will start to associate his undesirable behavior with the unsettling sound of your claps.
So, chances are he won’t be doing such an undesirable act because he knows that if he will, then, you will create such noise again, which is irritating for him.
3. Shake a Noisy Can
Just like the noise created by clapping your hands or stomping your feet, cats are also easily startled by the noise created by shaking a can with pennies inside. You can do this if you see your cat jump on places he shouldn’t be such as in your counters or cabinets.
You can also get empty soda cans and arrange them one on top of the other. Place them on restricted areas, so that when your cat decides to invade such a spot and he ends up wobbling the cans, the noise will be enough to chase him away. Keep on doing this until your cat gets the message.
4. Make Use of Time Out
Time outs are not just effective in curbing negative behaviors in kids, but also in kittens and adult cats.
Whenever your cat misbehaves, simply put him inside a designated place in your home to be his temporary jail for about 20 minutes.
For example, you can use your bathroom; or you can also use his cage or travel crate. However, make sure that there are no other cats or people around whom he can still interact with. Quite often, he will come out of the room with a more desirable attitude.
5. Use Deterrents
Most cats hate citrus smells and red pepper flakes. You can also purchase commercially available sprays that are designed to keep cats away from certain areas.
Most often, these sprays carry these scents that cats dislike. Similarly, there are also harmless spray deterrents that taste bad for cats. You can use these to deter your feline buddy from chewing on cords, or other household items.
6. Play with Your Cat
It might be hard to accept at first, but, if you are not playing with your cat regularly, chances are you are one of the reasons for his undesirable behaviors.
If your cat is the type that runs around the house, climbs up and down the stairs, or chases things, then, he is most likely a bored cat who doesn’t get enough play time.
To use up his energy, and at the same time strengthen a loving relationship with your cat, you should allot a couple of your time in your busy day to play with him.
It also helps to buy some toys and a scratching post to keep your cats busy and occupied, especially when you are not at home.
7. Make a Booby Trap
Setting up booby traps is an effective way of teaching cats not to do a certain behavior or to avoid a specific area in the house.
Booby traps can make a place less appealing for cats to perform their undesirable behaviors. For example, you can make use of these traps if your kitty keeps jumping on your counter, or scratching furniture even if you are around.
You can drape a large piece of fabric over the furniture since your cat can’t get his claws on the loose fabric.
You can also make a pyramid of empty tin cans so that when your cat jumps on your counter the booby trap will collapse, which will then startle and scare him away.
Your cat will soon associate these less appealing experiences when he jumps on your counter, or scratch your furniture.
Additionally, since cats don’t like the textures of aluminum foil and double-sided tape, you can use these to your advantage.
Simply place a double sided tape or aluminum foil on the surfaces of things that are off-limits to your kitten or older cat.
Of course, you should never make changes or do something that can potentially harm your cat in any way. There are a lot of cat-safe methods online that you can use to change your feline’s undesirable behavior.
8. Reward Good Behaviors
Positive reinforcement with the use of a reward, or a treat, remains to be one of the most effective ways in encouraging good behaviors in cats, dogs, and other animals.
So, when your pet cat does something right, acknowledge his positive behavior by giving him some treats. Sooner or later, he will associate his good attitude with receiving a tasty reward.
Additional Tips If the Above Steps Don’t Work
9. Visit the Vet
It may sound absurd, but if you’ve tried almost everything and still your cat keeps on doing what you don’t want him to do, chances are there’s an underlying cause that is yet to be resolved.
So, to rule out all possibilities, you can visit your veterinarian and have your cat undergo a full medical checkup.
This will not only help you find the cause of your cat’s aggression or misbehavior, but it can also detect medical conditions that may need immediate intervention.
More often than not, misbehaving cats could be suffering from undetected wounds, hormonal imbalance, psychological disorders, and parasitic infestations (mites, fleas, worms, etc.), just to name a few, that you may not be knowledgeable of, or you have no way of knowing without a vet appointment.
10. Check Your Cat’s Diet and/or Medication
Before you try to discipline your cat, ask yourself: have you changed your cat’s diet lately, altered some ingredients in his food, or started him on some medications?
If so, there is a chance that his sudden shift in his behavior might be caused by any of these changes. Also, is your cat spayed or neutered already?
If not, it can be a reason for his aggression, or it can be the reason for other cat’s aggression towards him – either way, spaying or neutering your cat can bring positive changes in your cat’s behavior, his interaction with other cats in your house, and his overall health and wellness.
What Not to Do When Disciplining Your Cat
1. Don’t Get Physical with Your Cat
Training your new cat, or older cats can be frustrating, but be patient, and no matter what, never punish or discipline your cat by hitting him.
Physical punishment can only worsen the situation – it can make your cat fearful of you, and eventually damage your flourishing loving relationship with your feline companion.
Also, cats have difficulty associating physical punishment with their bad behavior. So, you are actually not training your cat to avoid the negative behavior even if you intentionally spank, or hit him.
2. Don’t Delay Appropriate Disciplinary Actions
Whenever you discipline your cat for his unwanted behavior (time out, using of voice, etc.), you should do it immediately after his negative behavior.
Unlike us, humans, we can’t expect our feline companions to remember what they did wrong. And when you delay the disciplinary actions, they can’t associate the punishment for their wrongdoings.
3. Forget About Consistency
Enforcing positive and negative reinforcements are helpful in disciplining your cat, but if you are not consistent in implementing them, then, these disciplinary actions won’t be effective in the long run.
For instance, if you used the stop word, “No,” upon seeing your cat chew on a cord today, and then you simply let him chew the same cord the next day without reprimanding him, you would not be successful in changing his undesirable behavior. Worse, you may even confuse your feline buddy even more.
4. Ignore Your Cat’s Behavior
Some pet owners assume that when their pets misbehave, they are just trying to get their attention. But, what if they are not? Ignoring bad behavior for a long time makes it harder to control or change when you finally find the time to do it. As the old English proverb says, “A stitch in time saves nine.”
5. Don’t Scruff Your Cat
Once upon a time, scruffing or gripping the loose skin at the back of a cat’s neck, is a recommended way of restraining and transporting adult cats.
However, this practice is painful, and it can only exacerbate a cat’s misbehavior. It is also believed that what appears as relaxation for some cats who are scruffed is actually a manifestation of fear paralysis.
6. Don’t Yell at Your Cat
Using your voice in a firm loud voice is different from yelling at your cat. So, don’t confuse the two as the same. When you yell at your cat, you may just scare him or put more attention to his negative behavior. .
Yelling may also stress your cat and make him anxious, which can just aggravate the situation and cause additional unwanted behaviors.
7. Don’t Use a Spray Bottle
Using lemon scent, or commercially available sprays on cords to deter your cat from chewing them is different from using a water bottle or a spray bottle to spritz water directly into your cat. When you spray water to your feline buddy, he may not associate such an act with his bad behavior.
She is more likely to run away because he doesn’t want to be sprayed, rather than understanding the disciplinary measure and stopping his negative behavior. This action can also cause your cat to run even just by seeing a squirt bottle.
There are different ways to discipline your cat, and as a pet parent, you may have to try as much as you can to know the methods that work best for your cat. The way this works depends primarily on your cat's personality or his undesirable behavior.
Remember, that while disciplining your cat you can also build a stronger bond with him that will last forever. However, when you pick the inappropriate methods, as mentioned earlier, you may also damage your relationship with him.
Give your cat lots of affection and attention whenever he seeks it. Respect his stance, and never force him to cuddle, sit, or play with you if he doesn't feel like doing it.
Respect his boundaries. Chances are, if he wants to be with you, he will walk towards you, rub his head against you, or even lie on top of your tummy while you are lying on your bed. If he does any of these, let him be; don't push him away.