How should I discipline my cat for bad behavior?

  • There are a couple of things that I try and prevent my cat from doing: jumping up on the kitchen counter and being mean to the dog (who is obedient and minds his own business). It's easy to catch him in the act when he tries to bully the dog around, but to catch him in the act of being up on the counter where he knows he is not allowed requires a bit of stealth.

    When I do catch him exhibiting behavior, how can I effectively discipline him to discourage him from continuing the bad behavior?

  • Zaralynda

    Zaralynda Correct answer

    8 years ago

    Punishment rarely works because cats don't have a social structure that recognizes you as the dominant being in the home, they only understand that you're doing something to them that they don't want (squirting them with water, for example).

    Therefore, it's much more effective to figure out why your cat is exhibiting the undesireable behavior and meet those needs in a way that is acceptable to both of you rather than punishing the cat for the undesireable behavior.

    Usually, cats climb on countertops because they have instincts telling them to climb (better view, hiding from predators/prey, etc). To keep them from the kitchen countertops, you should install cat wall shelves and/or cat trees to give them that height advantage that they are looking for. Sometimes it's hard to find space for these things in the kitchen, but even devoting a corner to a set of shelves so they can watch you cook can be helpful!

    (They also may be climbing on the countertops if you leave dirty dishes out that they can scrounge for food from, so housekeeping is important!).

    I'm not familiar with dog/cat interactions, so it's difficult for me to give advice there. We do have a cat who's much younger than the other cats and often would harass them because he had a lot of energy and wanted to play. I started making SURE that I spent 30-60 minutes a day playing with him with wand toys to tire him out, and he is now much less bothersome to the older cats.

    Just because the cat has alternatives for climbing it will not stop to go on the kitchen countertops. You have to make clear that you don't like it. Cats avoid negative things, too, and if you punish them (with squirt bottle, or simpler by putting it back to ground) they will understand. But I like the suggestion of providing alternatives. +1

    @HarasBrummi if the cat is on the cat tree (because it's a more desirable surface than the counters) then (by definition) it's not on the counters. You have you make it select the tree (or whatever alternative surface)

    That's right I am with you on this point Zaralynda. But what makes you so sure the cat would choose the tree?

    @toothless199 you have to experiment with the tree (location, materials, lures, etc) until the cat chooses the tree

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM