Should You Punish Your Cat When He Does Something Stupid?

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Ouch ouch ouch, it’s not easy to know how to react when your lovely little ball of purr does what you might consider “stupid”: he climbs on the table, takes a little wee outside the litter box, he scratches your beautiful, brand new sofa. .. Should he be punished to prevent this from happening again? Well, no, especially not! 

Oust the punishments and the reprimands, the cat does not understand them and it can damage your relationship and the problems can just get worse (I doubt that is what you want ;-))!

NO, your kitty doesn’t do stupid things on purpose!

The cat does not know what stupidity is, it does not have the notion of right and wrong as we humans have it. 

When your cat scratches, urinate on a bed or a sofa, or when he climbs on our furniture, he is simply expressing the natural behaviors of his species. Yes, our little feline is a climber, a jumper, so why couldn’t he climb onto the kitchen counter or even the dining table? The same goes for his modes of communication, the cat communicates in particular with his smells, visual signs …, and it is instinctive for him, he needs to mark his home by scratching and by doing his business in spots that make sense to him.

When your cat scratches the sofa, he is simply marking out his living space, indicating that he lives here, passes by there regularly, etc., and incidentally, he is sharpening his claws. The sofa is usually located in the middle of the living room and is made of a nice scratching material, which is why the cat tends to “tackle” it.

When he pees outside the litter box, if it is not related to a health concern (which should always be checked beforehand with the veterinarian), it is to reassure himself because something is disturbing him or stresses him in his environment or in his relationship with other cats or humans in the house, he does not seek revenge or provoke you.

And if your cat runs into hiding with a guilty look after you catch him urinating on the bed, it’s not because he knows it’s wrong, but it’s because he knows you’re not going to be very nice to him and he’s protecting himself.

Cats don’t know the concept of punishment

So just like the notion of stupidity, that of punishment does not exist in cats either. Stop preconceived ideas: no, the mother cat does not punish her little one when she takes him by the skin of the neck. It is something that she does, when he is very small, to move him: either bring him back to the nest when he has ventured a little too far or when she changes his nest and all his litter. square. It is therefore quite unnecessary to take your cat firmly by the skin of the neck and shake it when it does something that you dislike.

Other “classic” punishments do not necessarily all seem violent and, however, they will be interpreted as attacks by your cat: spray him with water, put a pitchenette on his nose or a small one. slap him on the buttocks, lock him in a room, yell at him … These punishments are misunderstood and experienced as attacks by the cat who will either be stressed and need to be reassured, or attack you in return to defend itself.

Punishing the cat increases its stress level and risks amplifying unwanted behavior. Take the example of uncleanliness: your cat does his business outside the bin to reassure himself because he is not doing well, if you punish him when he is already doing badly, he will therefore be even worse and will have as much no need to reassure yourself by intensifying your communication. It can quickly become a never-ending story!

What to do when your cat has a behavior problem?

1. We understand and we care about the cat’s well-being above all

Know that if the cat can freely express its natural needs, it should not develop problems such as uncleanliness, aggression, or unwanted meows.

If your cat has a well-managed litter box (an open box, in a passageway where his communication can be seen and read and therefore effective with a scent-free substrate), an appropriate diet (food at will in order to be able to carry out his 10 to 15 small meals a day), well-placed scratching posts, something to play, climb and see or have access to the outdoors, then his environment is adapted for his well-being.

2. We are patient and persevere

If your cat or kitten doesn’t really have a behavioral problem but does some damn annoying things like standing on the table when you eat or meowing at your bedroom door to wake you up too early in the morning, it will take then show you more stubborn than him.

For the table, take him down systematically, gently, without looking at him, you can also divert his attention by throwing him his favorite toy to disinterested him from the table. It will take a little while, but the cat will eventually understand that in your presence there is nothing interesting to do on the table because it is constantly dislodged there. For meowing at night, same, patience is required, ignore your cat, but really ignore him and he will eventually lose this “bad” habit.

It is also necessary to have the reflex to withdraw the temptations: not to have enticing food lying around unattended, to block access to dangerous corners such as behind the oven or the washing machine for a kitten, to protect the soil from indoor plants so that the cat will not scratch in it (by putting pebbles for example), etc.

3. Make an appointment with a behavioralist

If the difficulties persist or are more complex, do not hesitate to consult a behaviorist who can analyze your cat’s physical and relational environment, his history, and his character to understand the origin of the annoying behavior and provide you with solutions. tailored to your home.

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