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    Reasons you should not punish your cat

    Articlegeneral cat adviceFriday 22 March 2013
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    You may think that with fair punishment you can teach a cat to behave. Things are not the same for cats as they are for dogs. Punishing cats can not only make the situation worse but can also have negative effects on your cat's affection for you. You must take extreme caution when dealing with any issues you are having with your cat. Even though direct force and punish can work, it will only work for that moment there and then because you are distracting your cat and they stop doing what they are doing. You must understand that cats do not relate punishments to the crime. They do not foul outside of a litter tray because they are angry with you. They do not scratch the curtains because they didn’t like their dinner yesterday. They misbehave because they do not feel secure in their environment. 
     
    Stress is a very important factor. Whilst you may think your cat is bad or they do not like you, it is quite different. Often they are stressed in their environment which causes unusual displays of behaviour. Instead of going in the litter box they go elsewhere for example. They do not do this to purposely to annoy you. They also didn’t do it because you didn’t give them their favourite treat. It is simply because they are not happy with something in their life and the environment they live in. Finding what exactly they are not happy with is extremely difficult however punishing them is sure to increase these feelings of stress and anxiety. Like humans, they want to feel safe and secure in their environment and being yelled at will not help the matter.
     
    There is also the aspect of further negative behaviour as a result of the punishment.  One example Catster looked at was a cat called Yuki who was not doing her business in the litter tray. As her owner punished her more and more, Yuki would "misbehave" more often and it finally led to Suki not even entering the room with the littler tray. Furthermore Suki's owner felt distraught as she would also stop resting on her at the end of the day. The more stress means the more uncertainty and more problems. It is like a vicious cycle that gets worse and worse for both your cat and you.
     
    Cats have a completely different mind set to humans. When you punish them, they don’t see that punishment directed to their bad behaviour. This behaviour is only maximised the more you tell a cat off for their bad acts. They will not be able to relate to the punishment to the crime. What they will however relate the punishment to is the person giving it. Over time this can increase so much that your cat may shy away from you.
     
    You must remember that cats are strategically territorial. They know the house off by heart; they know where every piece of furniture is located. If you punish your cat near the little box they may not ever go close to it ever again, worse still, highly sensitive cats may avoid the room altogether (as shown in the example of Suki). If you don’t have litter boxes elsewhere in the house then this is going to cause some problems!
     
    So remember that even though punishment may work. For example the louder you shout, the quicker the cat reacts away from the crime, this is not a long term solution. All it does is merely distracts the cat from the crime. They don’t understand that the punishment relates to the crime like humans do.  You must be careful, act strategically and not frighten your cat. If not then not only will the problems get worse but you may also lose a friend as they get immersed into a more frightening environment.  
     
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