This article was inspired by the ever constant debate as to whether spraying water at cats is cruel or not. Some people swear by it but I make no secret of the fact that yes I do think it is cruel because I hate any punishing of cats at all.
Cats don’t understand punishment, it doesn’t work and they eventually become nervous around the person punishing them.
Pro squirters say you need to squirt from a place where the cat can’t see you doing it, so he doesn’t associate it with you. So that means lying in wait with a squirty bottle and watching for the cat to ‘misbehave’ and then using it.
Some people recommend saying NO at the same time as squirting, so how they think the cat doesn’t associate the wetting of them with the person’s voice puzzles me?
Yes it stops the cat there and then from doing what you don’t want him to do, but for it to really work you’d have to watch him 24 hours a day, who is to say he doesn’t do what you are trying to stop him doing, when no one can see him?
Some say but it does work eventually, now I only have to show him the squirt bottle or say NO and he runs from the place he shouldn’t be. I’d say in that case that it hasn’t worked, if it had he wouldn’t keep on wanting to do what he shouldn’t.
There is also the risk of when the cat suddenly bolts in fear, the water although not aimed at his face, may go into his eyes, mouth or ears. In particular water in a cat’s ear can set up a middle ear infection. Why risk that?
Far better the kind, gentle, distraction method which alters the cat’s thinking. The trick is not to say one word, just silently and gently lift the cat from where he shouldn’t be scratching, to his scratching post or board and when he uses it praise him, saying his name a lot.
‘Good boy Smokey, well done Smokey, clever Smokey’ whatever words you want to use it’s important you say his name. Give him a treat if you like too.
You will find after a few times of this he will go to his scratching post to scratch, not to your couch. It’s just like humans having CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to alter their thinking, cats brains are very similar to our brains, so it works for cats too.
The cat will soon connect the need to scratch with the correct place to do so, that being his own furniture. The method can be used with any of the cat’s behaviour which isn’t acceptable to his caretaker. Such as him jumping onto surfaces you don’t want him on or if it’s not safe for him.
Simply silently and gently lift him off and distract him with a cat toy or a ball, when he plays praise him, using his name, he will soon learn where not to jump onto.
What cats do isn’t bad behaviour, scratching is necessary behaviour and jumping up heights is natural behaviour, to a cat,
Put it this way, we humans are far from perfect ourselves and we all have habits which aggravate others. Just supposing every time we did something to annoy someone else in our family, they turned a hosepipe on us? How would we feel?
Threatened in our own home, that’s how!
No, it wouldn’t cure us, we are only human and we would live our lives on edge just like cats being punished do, simply for doing what cats do.