Is your cat acting up? It's important to stop your cat's bad behavior quickly, whether it involves not using the litter box, jumping on the countertops, scratching your couches, or any other undesirable behavior. While cats are usually not as easily trained as dogs, it doesn't mean that stopping these behaviors is impossible. Here's how to discourage kitty's bad behavior:
- Understand why these habits are forming. Is your cat refusing to use the litter box because it needs to be cleaned? Is your cat sharpening his claws on the furniture because he has nowhere else to sharpen them? Fix these common problems by going to the source. Clean the litter box, and get a scratching post to allow your cat to sharpen his claws. Cut your cat's nails so they aren't so long, but do not declaw your cat, as this actually removes the last joint on their paws, and is considered cruel. Sudden behavior changes may require a trip to the vet. Some are brought on by stress, such as adding another pet or person to the household. Try to connect recent changes to your cat's bad behavior.
- Correct these behaviors as they happen. As soon as you see your cat doing this bad behavior, say NO in a loud, firm voice. Correct it as quickly as possible so that the repeated behavior does not become a bad habit.
- Use spray bottles. Spray bottles filled with water can be a very effective training tool because cats hate when they get wet. Many can be trained to jump off counters or other furniture simply by hearing the noise of the spray bottle. Place a few in convenient locations around the house so that there will always be one within reach when you catch your cat is somewhere he's not supposed to be. This method will quickly get your cat's attention, but will not harm him.
- Make the behaviors disliked by the cat. For example, if you have a problem with your cat jumping on the counters, arrange baking sheets so that they clatter to the ground when your cat jumps on the counter. They won't want that to happen twice! Another popular method is to wrap any furniture that is being scratched with aluminum foil or double-sided, extra sticky tape. Both of these surfaces will make them unattractive scratching surfaces for your cat. Bitter apple spray can be purchased in many pet stores and will stop your cat from chewing on plants or other items.
- Be consistent. Command your cat to stop the bad behavior every time you see him start it. Otherwise, your cat can get confused, if it's acceptable sometimes and not acceptable other times.
Though many people think that cats are too independent to be trained, you can stop their bad behaviors using training techniques like the "no" or "down" command. Cats will stop doing an action if they learn to associate it with bad consequences, like loud noises or being sprayed with water.