Categorized | Cat Behavior Problems

Punish Bad Cat Behavior or Reward Good Cat Behavior?

When learning how to train your cat and correct bad behavior, you might wonder whether it is better to take the strict disciplinary route (my way or the highway) or the reward route. Which one is more effective? Which method does a cat respond to better? Actually, a combination of both works well, depending on the behavior that you want to modify. In the case of behavior like scratching the furniture, climbing up on counters to eat human food, climbing curtains, etc., a quick squirt with a spray bottle full of water or a loud noise often diverts the bad behavior. Done consistently, it can change bad behavior.

There’s also a lot to be said for the rewarding your cat for good behavior. Cats react very favorably to receiving their favorite treats and treats can be used to encourage and reward good behavior. You can see this in action when you go to the cupboard to get your cat’s food out to feed him. Watch how he comes to you and starts rubbing against your legs or meows in anticipation of the food. They have learned that when you go to that cupboard, something good happens.

In contrast, training a cat with the constant threat of punishment looming over them can result in a shy, fearful cat rather than a happy, affectionate cat. Hitting a cat should never be used as punishment for bad behavior. It will only make your cat afraid of you. In addition, there are a lot of cat behaviors that are considered bad behavior, but are actually natural cat behavior. One of these are scratching/clawing. Providing alternatives to furniture is an effective way to eliminate damage to the household while allowing a cat to behave the way that cats naturally behave.

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