How to Discourage Your Cat's Bad Behavior

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Cat's generally aren't thought of as pets that can be trained, but anyone whose kitten has scratched the furniture knows that some behavior just isn't acceptable. Unlike dogs, who must be housebroken, most of what goes into training a cat is discouraging unwanted behavior. An important part of training your cat is rewarding good behavior and discouraging bad behavior. It may take some time, but these tips and tricks can help your cat understand (and stop) their inappropriate behavior.


How to Discourage Bad Behavior in Cats

  1. Use the 'noisy can' trick. This is a tried-and-true trick for deterring cats from many bad behaviors. Simply remove the lid from an aluminum can and put in several pennies or pebbles. Secure the lid and shake the can when he's naughty. 
  2. Use citrus scent. Cats hate the smell of citrus. Spray around areas where cats misbehave or scatter orange and lemon peels around to keep them out of certain areas.
  3. The spray bottle trick. Fill a plant mister bottle with water. Spray water on your cat when you catch him being bad. Do not spray the water directly into your cat's face and do not drench her. A quick spray is will send the message loud and clear. 
  4. Use double-sided tape. Placing double-sided sticky tape in areas where your cat is misbehaving will discourage him from that area. This technique works especially well for cats that love to jump onto the kitchen counters. 
  1. Aluminum foil placed in strategic places, such as countertops, may keep your cat from jumping up. Cats hate the sound and the feel of aluminum foil under their toes.
  2. Red pepper sprinkled around a flower bed is said to keep neighborhood cats away. It combines well with citrus peels.
  3. Use specialty products. Bitter apple, found online and in pet stores, is a nasty-tasting substance. It can be applied to plants or other areas where kitty chews and shouldn't.
  1. Get vocal. If kitty becomes too rough in a play session, yell, 'ouch' and walk away. He will soon connect his roughness with the curtailment of an enjoyable play session.
  2. Give him a time out. Timeouts works for kittens, as well as kids. If he's playing too rough, gently but firmly put him in another room and close the door. Let him out in about 20 minutes.
  3. Grab the scruff. Scruffing, a method borrowed from mother cats, works well for quickly squelching aggressive behavior. Firmly grasp the scruff of the neck and push the cat downwards to the floor while saying "no!" (Never pick a cat up by the scruff of the neck.)

Cat Training Tips

  1. Consistency and repetition are keys to success. Be sure everyone in your family knows the rules and follows them consistently. Your cat will soon learn them too.
  2. Don't ever strike or shake a cat. It will only teach him that you're a bigger bully and will lead to more aggression. For the same reason, don't soak a cat with the water spray, either.