Some cat and dog owners think that they can can tell-off their companion animal to correct so-called “bad behaviour”. People are thinking in the same way they think when they tell-off their child. Humans understand what a telling-off means. Parents can explain to children why they’re being given a good telling-off with the objective of correcting unwanted behaviour.
But the effectiveness of telling-off a human depends on the human understanding why they’re being told-off and what standards they’ve got to attain in terms of behaviour. Cats don’t think like that. Telling-off cats is anthropomorphising them and believing that they will respond like a child. They can’t and won’t.
Telling off means raising your voice. Cats don’t respond to being yelled at because they don’t understand why they’re being spoken to firmly or shouted at. All they understand is that their caregiver is angry and looks hostile.
It’s said that a social reprimand such as saying “bad boy” and avoiding eye contact with your dog works and apparently can work with a dog but not with a cat. Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM says that “dogs don’t bear grudges but cats, in their own way, do”. I disagree with that or I don’t fully agree with it.
But you cannot threaten a cat with a nasty sounding voice because they remember that you can be nasty. It can make them a little bit nervous in your company. Whereas in the past they were completely relaxed and never saw their owner interacting angrily, after being reprimanded with a stern voice they might have a different attitude towards their owner which can undermine the relationship. It certainly does not achieve its goal of correcting “bad behaviour”.
In the clever words of Dr. Bruce Fogle, “Reprimand too frequently and not only will your cat not learnt its lesson, it is more likely to skip classes in future, or even pack its bags and leave altogether.”
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