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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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How To Discipline A Cat

How to discipline a cat

Does your cat refuse to listen to you? Are they always getting into trouble? While some people believe that cats cannot be trained, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Learn how you can discourage bad behavior without having to resort to disciplining your cat in ways that can break down your trust-based bond.

Why Cats Misbehave
Despite their seemingly mischievous nature, cats do not misbehave to spite us, for revenge, or because they’re “evil.” The more you understand your cat on a psychological level, the stronger your bond will be, and the less you will feel the need to use discipline.
Many unwanted behaviors can be chalked up to anxiety. Spraying, scratching furniture, attacking people and other pets can sometimes be resolved by simply using an anti-anxiety solution like Feliway.
Boredom is another common culprit. Clicker training can build your bond, help your cat learn new skills, and even help you teach your cat to get off the counter, or get into their carrier without a fuss. Enrichment toys, playtime, and attention can all help your cat use their energy in productive ways, rather than for getting into trouble.
It’s worthwhile to visit your vet to rule out any medical issues. Having accidents outside of the litter box can be caused by urinary issues, while aggression can indicate that your cat is in pain.

Can You Use A Spray Bottle To Discipline A Cat?
When your cat yet again claws the couch or knocks over your cup of tea, you may be tempted to reach for the spray bottle.
But spraying your cat with water will, at best, make them fearful of anything that sprays, including topical medications that you may need to use in the future. At worst, it can make your cat feel much more stressed, leading to even more unwanted behavior.

Discourage Climbing By Making Surfaces Less Attractive
Does your cat jump on your counters, knock over glassware, and steal food? You can keep your cat off high surfaces by providing perches that are safe and appropriate for them to climb.
For the most part, cats climb because they feel safer when they’re high up and look out for threats, prey, and family members. Place cat trees close to areas where your cat likes to hang out. Window perches, bookcases, and shelves can also make good places for your cat to watch over your home.
Your cat may climb kitchen counters to reach the water faucet. Cats love to drink water, especially because standing water can be hazardous in the wild. Try providing a drinking fountain for your cat to sip instead.
You can try to discourage your cat from jumping up by lining your table or counters with sticky tape or aluminum foil. These materials feel unpleasant on their paws, so your cat may stop jumping after one or two tries.