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How Best to Discipline Your Feline… if Needed!

How Best to Discipline Your Feline… if Needed!

Posted by Andrea on 22nd Feb 2021

Do you have a good cat or a bad cat? I have often wondered if bad cat behavior is determined by genetics or environment. It seems the answer is not clear, although environment and upbringing seem to combine with the cat’s genetic makeup, which impels him to hunt and display other behaviors we may not find especially civilized.

If your cat behaves badly occasionally, you are in good shape since cats haven’t been domesticated all that long in the scheme of evolution. But if you see unacceptable behavior that is repetitive and regular, then I am sure you have wondered if it is okay to discipline them--or if it should be accepted as emanating from their ancient history in the wild. The answer is… it depends! If the behavior might result in injury to themselves or to their pet parents, then something can and should be done about it.

For instance, if they always bite on electrical wires this could become very dangerous. If they jump on counters and destroy furniture by scratching, they can be trained to displace this behavior onto their Armarkat cat tree. When you put in the training time, you transfer their natural inclinations into more acceptable behaviors. However, if they are urinating outside their box, this is not behavioral. It could reflect a medical condition. Or, it could be environmental: Perhaps their litter is not changed frequently enough.

Regardless of the unwanted behavior, there are ways to make it stop. We will look at some of them here. But first, keep in mind that felines are often much smarter than we give them credit for. Since they have both long and short-term memory, the experts say this is what makes them trainable. It also means they know what they can get away with!

  • Cats don’t like noise. If they are on the counter, shake a can filled with pennies.
  • If they are getting into your plants, buy a spray designed to taste bad to cats.
  • Should you not want the spray, a simple water bottle spritz will often do the trick. When they see you coming with that bottle, chances are they will run.
  • Place double-sided tape or aluminum foil across any no-cat zones. They don’t want to get stuck on the tape or get their claws stuck in tin foil.
  • Raise your voice! Again, cats don’t like loud. A loud “Off” will sometimes do the trick. For aggression, a loud “Ouch” may stop them from biting or scratching.
  • Give them a time out. Twenty minutes in the bathroom or bedroom often corrects misbehavior. Watch them emerge as a contrite and sweet kitty!                               

Problem Child: Never spank, hit, or cause hurt to your cat. Trying to “teach them a lesson” will generally have the opposite effect, resulting in even more aggression. Further, do not try to “scruff” the cat as a means of restraint. Scruffing is painful, and it will not help. Instead, you can “burrito” your kitty in a towel or blanket to keep them safe and to calm them down.

Encourage the Good Stuff: Always provide praise and attention when Kitty is behaving well. When she is scratching on her Armarkat cat tree instead of your furniture, praise her and give treats. To explore Armarkat’s variety of cat trees, visit

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