Lordy. Before I even start typing I feel like this could be a controversial topic that some won’t like. Punishment is certainly a hot topic in the human world. But here’s the thing: Cats and humans are different. When you punish your cat, there’s scientifically a different result than when you punish your child.
Some people believe that punishing your child – with any type of physical contact – can/should be considered child abuse. This doesn’t resonate with either of us – we were both spanked as children and never considered spanking to be anything like child abuse. Even if our folks broke out the belt. We grew up knowing full well that certain things risked ending with a good spanking.
But cats don’t perceive life – or punishment – in the same way that humans do. Felines act and move on their instinctive nature. When they scratch furniture, play rowdy with another pet, pee on you bed – they are exercising instincts. This is why punishing them or yelling (in a manner similar to how children are reprimanded) just won’t work.
My family disagrees with me. They believe that throwing pillows at a cat, squirting it with a water bottle or smacking it on its nose makes a cat behave. But it doesn’t make a cat behave. It makes a cat scared. And you might just have to deal with additional “misbehaviors” because now you have a stressed, scared cat.
And who wants to scare their cats?
Sure, if you punish your cat with force when they’re in the act of a behavior you dislike, they’ll stop. And run the other way, likely. You stopped the behavior, but you’ve left your kitty confused.
Let’s say your cat jumps on the kitchen counter. Cats, by nature, like to be up high. They jump and climb to higher areas to survey their territory. This is how their species was designed, yet many cat parents wish to redirect this action.
And that’s fine. There are many ways to redirect the behavior of your cat if it is undesirable to you. Cats can be trained too!
How to redirect your cat’s behavior
When you catch your kitty climbing on that counter or scratching that furniture, grab their attention. Once you have their attention, get them to do something else – like engage in play with you or a toy. Then give them a treat. Rewarding cats for good behavior is a great way to train them – fear free. Yes – it will take consistent effort on your part to redirect your cat’s less than desirable instincts – but you will also get to enjoy the love and trust of these beautiful little souls.