How to Discipline a Cat the Right Way

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Cat owners often struggle with their cats’ misbehavior and wonder how to discipline a cat the right way and keep control. Well, there are many ways to train or discipline a cat that can be very handy when your cat is making a mess. If you know how to discipline a cat, you will never have any serious issues with your cat’s behavior.

First of all, know that disciplining your cat may be a complicated process as compared with a dog. Dogs usually have the tendency to please their owner, so they listen rather readily. Cats, on the other hand, can be indifferent at times which is why you need to know everything there is to know.

Why is Your Cat Misbehaving?

The first and foremost thing to do is to find out what is causing this misbehavior. Most of the time, cats start getting irritable if they are not allowed to follow their natural instincts. In simpler words, if the cat is not getting enough activity or cannot do the things he or she wants to do they will start to get aggressive.

They just need to scratch, climb things or play around. For that reason, it may be a good idea to get some kitty fun furniture that they can use for climbing  or scratching.

Some cats that stay indoors a lot can start to misbehave. These cats need to be walked outside so they can have new experiences and enjoy outdoor activities. Boredom, too, can make a cat irritable at times.

How to Discipline a Cat: Helpful Tips

In hindsight, it is very similar to discipline a cat as it is to discipline a child. Yes, we are talking about positive discipline, which is considered very effective by psychologists as well as pediatricians. You need to reward positive behavior and punish (or not reward) negative behavior.

For a cat, positive experience means:

  • Food
  • Playing with the cat
  • Petting
  • Responding
  • Noticing

And negative experience means:

  • No treats
  • No petting
  • No playing
  • Silence
  • Ignoring

Negative is basically the absence of positive rewards. Some people take negative experience way too far thinking they have to punish the pet. That is completely wrong and ineffective in reality.

  • Using Positive Rewards

Now, this is the best way to discipline your cat and will require a lot of patience at your end. Whenever they do things that count as good behavior, reward them. You can give those treats, make a fuss about it and pet them. For behaviors that are negative, do not give any reward. You may also walk away from them or ignore them in order to signal that what they just did is not good.

For example, some cats start to bite their owners and think of it as a game. Obviously, it is not a game for you and may even hurt you. You can try walking away from them and keeping your hands away. Avoid shouting because for some cats that may be a sign of likeness instead of dislike. When you are playing with them, and they do not bite, give a treat. If they bite, put the treats away, so the cat thinks it was because of the bite that you did so.

  • Water Aversion

As an extreme measure, water aversion method might come in very handy. For behaviors that are absolutely bad like breaking plants, jumping on the counter or bringing home dead animals, you can quickly spray some water. This is a tricky part as the cat should not know you squirted. Do it from an angle they cannot see you from.

Since cats do not like water, they will immediately stop the activity. However, do not do this often as ultimately the cat will get frightened of you.

  • Use Special Tone for Bad Behavior

Instead of yelling, adopt a special tone for situations where your cat is misbehaving. For instance, if it is removing or spreading toilet paper roll you can call out the name in that special tone. You can use words like ‘No’ or ‘Bad,’ so the cat associates the tone and the words with things not to do.

  • Understand Your Cat

The positive discipline works universally, but for a deeper understanding, you need to have a connection with your cat. You should take into account the cat’s previous experiences. If you adopted it from someone else or a shelter home, it could be possible that they were not groomed there or even suffered abuse. This can make things hard as such cats act up frequently and often even aggressively.

Cats are quite complex and moody creatures just like us humans. This will take time, but you should be able to gauge your cat’s personality. What does your cat like to do most? When does it misbehave? When does it require attention? The answers to such questions should let you in on the kind of personality your cat has.

  • Repetition Is the Key

Cats learn from repetition, so whatever method of discipline you are following you will need to repeat the actions. This is how they learn naturally as cats use repetition themselves to teach certain behaviors to their kittens. Some cats might learn after just a few times; others might take longer. It all depends on your cat and its personality.

Sure it can be annoying sometimes, and you might want to give up but be patient and polite with your cat, and surely it will learn. Cats respond to love no matter what, which is why positive discipline, especially petting and playing, works very well.


In situations where your positive rewards or negative for that matter are not working, it is best to remove the cat from the situation. You can keep it in another room or go out for a walk. And know that disciplining is a constant process. Cats can adopt a lot of new behaviors so you might want to keep an eye out what new things they are doing and if they are good or bad.

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