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304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Ever had problems with an aggressive and/or misbehaving cat? If the answer is yes, this collection of tips just might save you a few bite and scratch marks, and a lot of headaches.
Cats can be trained too. Just not the same way as dogs.
People think that because cats are individuals and like doing things their own way, you cannot teach them anything. That you just have to take them as they are and deal with it, whatever random character features your specimen presents. However, my experience has been quite different. Yes, they are individuals. Yes, they will not obey blindly to your commands. But there are things you can do to establish rules in the house.
Funny enough, I made one quite important observation while watching a show called “The Dog Whisperer”. And just before you turn away thinking I must be insane to let me explain. It is true that the mentality of these two animals could not be further apart. Although, the faults of the pet owners are surprisingly similar. People depicted in the TV series constantly forgot that Fluffy is first and foremost a dog, and only after that their furry friend. The same often applies to cat owners – we personify our pets.
It might not seem very important until you realize the way cats think and how they perceive time. One of the biggest and most common mistakes is punishing your furry friend too late after the actual deed. As cats live “in the now” they do not connect things from the past to consequences the way humans do. And unless there is a direct reaction to their behavior, the connection will not be made.
For example, if you find a broken vase at home, there is no point screaming and shouting, as the cat will not understand that your behavior is related to the vase accident. Even worse, it might accidentally associate it with something else!
How to Punish Effectively Without Hurting Your Cat
However, if you do spot your cat just about to commit some mischief, it is a good point to do something about it. Now for the common mistake – using the cat’s name in a negative tone. Yes, they will understand the tone of your voice, but do you really want to associate your pet’s name with scolding? Most of us work very hard to get the cat to react to his name, by using it in pleasurable situations, so why ruin it by connecting it with our angry voice?
Do not get me wrong. You still do something about the behavior, and some kind of punishment can be helpful at time. To do it right, though, you should relate to the cat at their level. Think how another cat would react to something they did not like your pet’s behavior.
Hissing and growling is usually the start, and however silly it might look to other humans, it has worked best for me with a variety of cats. Of course, you can use any other negatively sounding, shot noise. Next comes the stroke on the head. Now, by no means, do I mean you should hurt your cat! It should be more of a pat, and if you want the cat to move, you might push him slightly.
If your pet goes into a frenzied bite and scratch mode, there are three things you can do:
Making a high-pitched noise, is similar to what kittens do between themselves to signal that the fun is getting too rough. Not only does it usually make the cat stop trying to massacre you, but it can often work as a prevention measure. When I see my cat launching at my legs, a short squeak means that instead of having claws digging into my flesh, I only get brushed by my cat’s paws. Sometimes he will even abandon the attack altogether.
If it is one of those “crazy hours”, and nothing seems to work, you can use another conditioned behavior from your pet’s kitten hood. Firmly grab the fold of skin on his neck and hold down. This is the way cats carry their young. For this reason, cats are “programmed” to go into a “paralyzed” state, so that they can be transported from one place to another. Obviously, do not expect a grown up cat to go stiff immediately, but it definitely helps to calm them down, as well as establish dominance. Because despite cats preferring to live alone rather than in groups, they still establish a hierarchy relevant to cats, and humans, they live with.
And the last tip is something counterintuitive. Very often when a cat tries to chew on your hand, the natural instinct is to pull back, however doing the opposite is a lot more effective. Cats have instincts that make them very “possessive” and they will try to grab whatever is running away from them. Moving your hand towards the cat acts as a surprise, and does not trigger the chasing instinct. Also, the claws tend to sink into things so that the cat can get a better grasp of the thing they are trying to not let go of. So by not pulling, this can be avoided. A variation on the above is to try to get fingers into the cat’s mouth, rather than your hand or arm. By resting a finger against the cat’s palate, it prevents the mouth from closing and biting.
I hope this collection of tips will help you create a better connection with your feline friend!