7 Best Ways To Discipline Your Cat

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We adore our cats in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons, one of which being their distinct – and frequently mischievous! – personalities. Cat personalities can range from shy to playful to independent to loving. Some people have a strong sense of mischief, which might result in unwanted behaviours.

The good news is that you can still have a polite and loving relationship with your cat even if you choose not to tolerate these undesirable tendencies in your pet.

Although discipline can be a difficult topic, there are many various approaches you can use to capture your cat’s attention that work for both adult cats and kittens. Since every cat is unique, you might need to test a few different things before figuring out what is ideal for your household.

The Best Ways To Discipline A Cat

Here are some of the best ways to teach your cat the do’s and don’ts of good behavior.

1. Positive Reinforcement

Using rewards when your cat does something you want them to do make her likely to repeat these good behaviors and less of the unwanted behaviors.

Cats don’t always understand the context of punishment, but they can easily link praise and treats to good behaviors that you want them to repeat.

Using rewards when your cat does something you want them to do, such as using their scratching post instead of your sofa or playing with their cat toys rather than the curtains, means they are more likely to repeat these good behaviors and therefore do less of the unwanted behaviors.

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The reinforcements (treat or praise) must be given immediately as your cat does the right thing so that their brain correctly links behavior to reward.

2. Draw Your Attention Away

Removing yourself from giving your cat time and attention can be very effective

Discipline doesn’t always involve active measures of punishment. Removing yourself from giving your cat time and attention can be very effective at teaching a lesson about undesirable behavior.

If your cat starts being naughty, for example getting over-excited during a game with you and starts to bite or use their claws, stop the play time immediately and leave the room. A bored cat is not a happy cat, this lesson is often very effective! This method can take some repetition to really hit home, but it is a very calm way of achieving results.

3. Teach Your Cat To Say No

Cats are also intelligent creatures, which means they are well able to learn certain commands, and respond to our body language and actions.

We don’t often think about training cats like we do dogs, but they are intelligent creatures and can learn more than you might think. If your feline’s behaviors are sometimes not quite what you want them to be, for example, if you keep finding them scratching furniture, then being able to tell them ‘no’ immediately and decisively is a good skill. Learn more about this excellent and invaluable trick here.

4. Change Their Environment

These tricks must be cat-safe and not designed to punish your cat

Depending on the type of undesirable behavior you are trying to stop, you might want to make some small changes to your house to help you. Some simple and non-harmful booby traps can be very effective at preventing certain mischiefs.

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A silky blanket placed onto a leather sofa will cause your cat to slide off if they try to jump on the couch. Crinkly aluminum foil on the counters will deter even the most determined kitty leaper. These tricks must be cat-safe and not designed to punish your cat physically for any exploratory behaviors they make.

5. Enrichment

Pushka’s home made puzzle feeder constructed by  our very own cat behaviorist Melina

This may seem counter-productive if you’re looking to deter bad behavior rather than reward it, but adding some positive bonding and playtime can help prevent naughtiness from creeping in. Cats have a strong instinct to play, chase, and hunt, and unless this is satisfied, they may well turn to objects in your house to assuage their boredom.

If you have a kitten, this is especially important. A tired cat is much less likely to get up to mischief! Plenty of positive interactions such as play, grooming, puzzle feeders, and enrichment toys will help your cat be snoozy rather than naughty when you leave them unsupervised. Check out some marvelous suggestions for cat toys here.

6. Apply Scent

Cats have a very good sense of smell and are very sensitive to scents both positive and negative. If your cat is repetitively entering an area you want to keep them away from, such as jumping up onto surfaces or making their bed on top of your towels, then different scents can act as non-harmful deterrents.

Cats generally dislike citrus scents, including citronella, so using water scented with a small amount of these scents can be successful in convincing your cat to leave them alone.

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7. Health Issues

Cat aggression can be due to pain or discomfort

Certain medical conditions in cats can present somewhat unusually, so any change in behavior may be cause for concern. Urinating outside the litter box can be a sign of urinary infection or bladder stones or a symptom of stress and anxiety.

Aggression can be due to pain or discomfort. If your cat exhibits a change in behavior, especially if it is sudden and unexplained, a check-up with your veterinarian may be a good idea to rule out any health problems.