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The Right Way To Discipline Your Cat

If you own a cat (like the majority of us), you are aware of their independence and stubbornness. If your cat exhibits unpleasant tendencies, you may feel helpless to change them.

Despite the fact that the thought of teaching or training your cat may seem unattainable, you are aware of their intelligence, therefore it is not entirely implausible.

Sometimes teaching cats is for their own good, not simply because your cat enjoys knocking fragile objects to the ground.

Some cats bite electrical lines or are violent toward you and other family members. In "The Right Way To Discipline Your Cat" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org), we examine the most effective strategies for preventing your cat from engaging in these undesirable (or harmful) behaviors.

Positive Reinforcement

The first step is to choose the most effective technique to reward your cat, or what you believe will have the most effect. If your cat is driven by food, utilize his or her favorite reward during training sessions. Or, if your cat enjoys being scratched on the cheek or has a favorite toy, use affection or play as a reward.

Use whatever you know your cat will respond to best while educating it to quit the undesirable habit. Thus, your cat will begin to link this unique reward or toy with the elimination of the undesirable behavior.

This method can also be effective if you use an unfamiliar reward, like as a new (and fresh) catnip toy, canned tuna, or a new feather toy. If your cat like tuna, they will be very motivated to perform what you want for a taste of it.

Reward Good Behavior

Almost all organisms react better to incentives than to punishments. When your cat ceases the undesirable behavior or performs the desired action (such as clawing the scratching post instead of your favorite chair), offer it a special treat or some affection and petting.

Eventually, your cat will learn that nice things occur when he or she refrains from negative behavior or performs certain acts that you clearly like.

No Attention

If the undesirable conduct is violent, such as biting or rough play, you should remove yourself and your focus from the situation. As kittens, they learn from their siblings not to engage in harsh play. If a kitten bites too hard while playing, the second kitten will yell and quickly cease playing, so teaching the first cat what is and is not acceptable play.

You may employ this technique with your cat. If you cease playing with or caressing your cat when it engages in undesirable behavior, you are removing the cat’s source of enjoyment: your attention. This may gradually dissuade your cat from continuing to engage in this activity. Any type of attention from you may be interpreted as an incentive to continue playing.


You can deflect or distract your cat when it begins the undesirable behavior. When your cat begins to scratch your couch, for instance, pick up a feather wand or throw one of your cat’s toys (such as a mouse or a spring), which should successfully distract your cat from continuing the damaging activity.

Methods for Discouraging Bad Behaviors

Cats will not respond well (or at all) to punishment, so you may use a variety of techniques to discourage their mischievous behavior.


There are several odors that cats detest, especially citrus, and you may spray them in locations where your cat is causing difficulties. Your cat will avoid this location by instinct. You may purchase them online or manufacture them yourself. However, keep in mind that essential oils (often used in fragrances) are extremely poisonous to cats, so do your study.

Cord Cover

If your cat has a propensity of chewing on electrical wires and cables, you may purchase cord coverings to prevent it from biting through. Some rope wraps are scented with a cat-repellent perfume, but you will also have to smell it.

Sudden Noise

A sudden, loud noise might shock cats, causing them to flee quickly. There is no guarantee that clapping your hands will be beneficial. You may use a container, jar, or can filled with dry beans, coins, or rocks, or whatever is available. When your cat gets on the counter, give it a short shake to send it running.


Place aluminum foil or double-sided tape on the door frame or dining room table if your cat is clawing or walking on these surfaces. Cats dislike the texture and sound of aluminum foil and dislike having their paws come in contact with anything sticky, therefore they will avoid areas containing these deterrents.

You may also lay a material that resembles silk on your leather sofa to prevent your cat from scratching it, or you can place a baking sheet on the edge of the counter where your cat often leaps up. This manner, it will fall when your cat jumps up, and they may reconsider leaping on the counter in the future.


When your cat bites too hard or is uncomfortably aggressive, you can employ the startle approach using your voice. Immediately yell “Ouch!” and cease any engagement with your cat. This is similar to a cat that stops playing when the game becomes too tough.

There are devices that employ a mix of a sudden loud noise and a pheromone fragrance to soothe cats, therefore preventing them from engaging in undesirable activities.

What You Shouldn't Do

There are many things that you should not undertake since they will end up inflicting more harm than good.

Cats Are Not Dogs

Cats are not dogs. They cannot be trained and disciplined in the same manner as a dog. Whereas the majority of dogs will pay attention throughout training, the majority of cats will not. Knowing that cats are unique and require a distinct strategy is a good way to address the problem initially.

No Physical Discipline

This should be obvious: it is never acceptable to physically injure an animal. Your cat will just develop a fear of you and the behavior will likely intensify as a result. You will lose your relationship with your cat if you strike or shake it, regardless of how furious you are.

In reality, like with the majority of animals, they do not correlate the punishment with the undesirable behavior, making it at best ineffectual!


You should avoid shouting at your cat. This is distinct from just crying “Ouch!” when your cat plays too roughly. The only effect of yelling at your cat out of anger is to induce anxiety and worry, which can lead to other behavioral issues.

Accidents Will Happen

If your cat ever defecates or urinates outside of the litter box, you should never rub its nose in it. Cats, as intelligent as they are, will not comprehend why you are doing this and will continue to eliminate outside of the litter box.

When this occurs, wipe up the mess using an enzyme cleanser to prevent your cat from returning to the area.

No Scratching

Scratching a cat should only be done when it is necessary for your or your cat’s safety. Grabbing cats by the scruff of their neck is uncomfortable and can induce fear and anxiety in them. Instead, place a blanket over your cat and then take up the blanket with your cat inside. This is the most efficient method for immediately removing your cat from a situation.

Is This a Health Concern?

Sometimes terrible conduct may be the result of other factors, such as disease. If your cat is peeing outside the litter box, for example, you should consult your veterinarian before concluding that he or she is simply misbehaving.


Not every cat will respond to every strategy. You may need to engage in a little of trial and error before you discover what will work best for your cat.

Try to use a deterrent that your cat will not associate with you if you intend to use one. It is preferable to put up “booby traps” so that your cat associates anything unpleasant (texture or sound) with the region and not with you.

We hope “The Right Way To Discipline Your Cat” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) will be beneficial to you and your cat. Above all else, ensure that everything you try is safe for your cat and does not cause a split between you two.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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