How To Discipline A Cat (Without Losing Your Mind!)

PetGuide logo

If you have a kitty who tends to misbehave, you may be wondering what steps you need to take in order to get him to stop acting out of line. Training cats requires a lot of effort and patience on your part, and it’s also quite different from training dogs.

Check out the tips below on how to discipline a cat so that you can take the right course of action when your kitty misbehaves. Failing to discipline your cat appropriately won’t only prevent you from correcting the behavior, but could also lead to even more problems and behavioral issues in the long run.

Related: Common Bad Behavior Issues And How To Fix Them

Never Physically Punish Your Cat

Cats don’t respond well to physical punishment because they don’t associate the punishment with their bad behavior. If you use physical force when your cat does something wrong, he probably won’t understand why you’re hurting him. Instead, he’ll assume you can’t be trusted and that you could turn on him at any moment.

If your cat or kitten misbehaves, simply ignore him for a little while and then provide him with attention and affection after he’s learned his lesson. Intimidating your cat physically will only serve to make him neurotic, fearful, and potentially aggressive. The once sweet kitty who used to love sitting in your lap may actually become so afraid of you that he no longer seeks your attention. He may become shy and depressed, as well as uncertain of all humans because he may not know whom to trust anymore.

Use Your Voice and Clap Your Hands

Rather than using physical force, you can use vocal intonations to get your cat to understand that he’s doing something wrong. You can say things like “No!” or “Stop it!” in a loud and firm voice, but only raise your voice when necessary. Another option could be to clap your hands, as the irritating sound may cause a cat to stop misbehaving.

Related: 5 Helpful Cat Training Tips To Control Your Frisky Feline

Praise Good Behavior

Cats respond better when they’re praised for good behavior and ignored for bad behavior. So give treats, attention, and praise when your cat behaves so that the good behavior is reinforced.

Correct Bad Behavior with Clever Tactics

Correcting bad behavior using tactics like double-sided tape, spray bottles, and loud sounds will deter your cat from exhibiting certain behaviors without making you the punisher. For example, you can apply double-sided tape to your countertops or furniture to make it undesirable for a cat to jump on or scratch them. Some cat training products use motion detector technology to sense when a cat is doing something wrong, and these products produce a gentle punishment, such as a quick blast of odorless air, to prevent the same behavior in the future.

Never Give Late Punishments

In the event you come home to find that your cat or kitten has destroyed something or done something wrong, it’s too late to punish him, so don’t even bother. He probably won’t realize he did anything wrong, and he may have even forgotten about it by the time you get home, so your pet won’t understand why you’re angry or why he’s being punished. Instead, it’s best to keep valuables in areas that your cat can’t reach and to provide him with plenty of enrichment to keep him occupied while you’re gone.

Try to Understand Your Cat’s Needs

A cat’s bad behavior is usually the result of him trying to fulfill his needs. For example, if he’s scratching up your furniture, you probably need to purchase more scratching posts, including vertical and horizontal varieties that will allow him to fulfill his need to stretch and scratch.

If your cat is urinating outside of the litter box, using physical punishment can make matters worse. Instead, have him examined by a veterinarian to see if there’s an underlying medical condition causing the behavior. Sometimes even just switching the type of litter that you use, cleaning the litter more often, changing the kind of litter box you use, or moving the litter box to a different location can remedy the problem.

Understand Feline Behavior

The key to how to discipline a cat successfully lies in understanding feline behavior. Be patient and know that it takes time to teach a cat what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Once he learns, though, he’ll be the best companion you could ask for.