A cat can act up for many reasons: It may be bored. It may feel threatened by another cat. It may have a medical issue, or it may feel neglected. Regardless of what the reason is for your cat's naughty behaviour, if you don't discipline it properly, the unwanted behaviour can worsen. Take your cat to a veterinarian to ensure that a medical condition is not causing its naughty behaviour. Once you know the issue is behavioural and not physiological, you can start correcting your cat's behaviour.
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Avoid screaming at or hitting your cat when it displays bad behaviour. Disciplining it in this manner only scares your cat and makes it fear you. It damages your relationship with your cat.
Punish your cat in the moment. If you catch your cat after the fact and attempt to punish it, your cat will not understand why it is being punished and will perceive you as being mean. Act in the moment your cat is displaying the bad behaviour.
Spray water on your cat to stop bad behaviour. If you catch your cat scratching furniture, correct the behaviour by showing it the new scratching post you purchased for it. Put catnip and some cat toys on the post to spark your cat's interest. If this is unsuccessful. and your cat keeps scratching the furniture, fill a spray bottle with water and spay water on your cat when you catch it in the act. Hide yourself so your cat cannot see you before spraying it. If it sees you spraying it, it will only continue the bad behaviour when you are not in the room.
Walk away when your cat displays bad behaviour, or place it in a timeout in a locked room. If your cat bites you, instantly ignore it. Avoid playing with it, because that sends the wrong message. Your cat will associate its behaviour with being ignored and not talked to or petted, and it will stop the biting.
Reward your cat for good behaviour. If your cat does what it is supposed to, give it a treat. This reinforces the good behaviour and encourages your cat to continue it. Avoid rewarding bad behaviour, because this confuses your cat.
Keep your cat out of forbidden areas. If your cat visits areas of the house that it isn't allowed in, place orange peel on the floor or use a commercial cat repellent to keep it away. Cats dislike the scent of orange peel. Place booby traps in the form of double-sided sticky tape on the floor as an alternative.
Consult your veterinarian if your cat is not responding well to behaviour modifications. Your doctor may recommend medications, such as anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs, to treat your cat's undesirable behaviour.
Tips and warnings
- Correct your cat's bad behaviour at a young age so it grows up learning how to properly behave.
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- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Destructive Scratching
- Pets.ca: Pet Tips
- OurHappyCat.com: Cat Discipline The Kind Way
- The How to Live With Your Cat Journal: Managing Cat Behavior; Tim Thompson
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Behavioral Medications for Cats