Wise Words

By Ruth AKA Kattaddorra

The very wise words from Mark Twain inspired the poster.

Punishing cats in any way at all is unkind and pointless. They don’t understand punishment because they don’t know why a person is doing it to them, they aren’t ‘misbehaving’ they are behaving in the natural way for a cat.

Cats can be easily taught to have ‘acceptable to humans’ behaviour, simply by gentleness, kindness and distraction, which means distracting them from whatever they are doing ‘wrong’ and praising them when they do ‘right’

For example scratching the furniture, a cat doesn’t know that’s wrong, he is simply following his instinct to exercise his muscles and to mark his territory.

Countless cats in the USA and Canada lose their toe ends for this ‘crime’ They are punished by surgery for doing what comes natural to cats.

Countless kittens lose their toe ends too without even a chance to learn ‘claw manners’ which are very easy to teach to them.

Imagine being punished just in case you unknowingly commit a crime in the future by doing what comes naturally to you!

Surely simply providing a tall strong scratching post and silently lifting the cat to it and praising him when he uses it is better than disabling him by cruel surgery. With a bit of time and patience any cat can be taught where he is allowed to

It’s the same with jumping up onto kitchen counters or anywhere ‘out of bounds’. There is no need to yell or knock the cat off or squirt liquid at him, it’s kind and simple to provide him with high perches of his own and gently and silently lift him to one.

Cats are very intelligent and soon learn what earns silent treatment and what earns praise.

There has been a bit of controversy on facebook lately about using squirt bottles to stop cats ‘misbehaving’

Some people swear by them BUT in my opinion they don’t work, for the simple reason that the people using them have to keep on using them. Surely if spraying the cat with water was the solution there wouldn’t have to a squirt bottle continuously around to be used.

As someone so rightly put it ’squirt bottles are a band aid’. In other words they stop the cat doing what he is doing right then but he goes back and does it again later, probably when the person isn’t around, because in the cats mind it’s that person punishing him, not the squirt bottle.

Yet some cat consultants recommend squirt bottles!

Maybe most people using them don’t aim for the cat’s face (although some boast of doing just that) but we all know how quickly a cat can move and of course water squirted at speed into his eye, ear, nose or mouth could easily set up a reactive infection. Not a lot of chance of it happening I know, but I wouldn’t like to take any risk at all! Even more worrying is that some people put vinegar or other liquids in the water.

We always need to remember that cats can not behave like people, we shouldn’t expect them to, they have done well to adjust to living with humans, especially the cats with no freedom outdoors. They accept the life they have to live because they have no choice. We owe it to them to make that life as near a natural one as we are able to, not to expect them to live by strict rules, not to live in fear of punishment not knowing why they are being punished.

There has to be some rules of course, in order to keep cats safe and with time and consistency cats do accept those rules. In our own cats case, they know they have to stay in after dark and if no one is going to be at home, they learned this from being kittens and it became an accepted way of life.

A bit of give and take makes for a happy household, I don’t think there is a single person in this world who doesn’t now and then forget to behave impeccably. No living being is perfect.

So let’s not punish our cats for being cats and sometimes forgetting to always behave how WE want them to behave

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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3 Responses

  1. Rose says:

    Great poster Ruth.Punishment for cats is cruel and that includes the squirt bottle so popular with ignorant people.It drives me mad when they say about keeping one handy makes their cat behave,of course it doesn’t it merely makes them frightened of the idiot squirting it.
    I’d never rule my cats by fear nor my dogs nor my kids either.

  2. Barbara says:

    Totally agree with this, great poster and a timely reminder that cats aren’t mini humans to be punished into conforming to the human ideal of what a cat should be, there is too much domination, we should let cats be cats as far as it’s reasonably possible. And I have to pick myself up there as I’ve written “let” cats be cats, I should have said help cats be cats!

  3. Michael says:

    You poster looks great in this format on this page. And you know we share the same thoughts about punishing a cat. It is always worthwhile to promote the message that is in Mark Twain’s cat quote. He was a great advocate of the domestic cat.

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