We love cats unconditionally, but we can admit that our favorite cats are not perfect. As members of our four-legged family, cats are no strangers to trouble. Scratching furniture, ignoring the litter box, bullying the dog, and breaking window screens are just a few of their favorite behaviors. It is basically guaranteed that your cat will eventually do something you don’t like. What matters, however, is how you respond. Your first reaction may be to punish the cat for misbehaving, but when it comes to our pets, discipline can be complicated.
of animal behaviorists agree that punishing cats is never a good idea. The reasons for this are as follows.
1. they do not understand what you are doing.
While there are many benefits to talking to cats, we must remember that cats do not speak our language. Even if you explain at length why a cat’s behavior is wrong and why it should be punished, the cat will certainly not understand what you are saying.
Not only will the cat not be interested in what you are saying, it will be confused by your actions. Cats cannot make the connection between the punishment and their behavior. They don’t think, “Oh, I pooped on the carpet before, now I’m being punished.” In their minds, their behavior and the resulting punishment are two completely different things.
The only exception to this is when your child commits a crime, or seconds later, you give them the punishment of your choice. This is more difficult than one might imagine, so in most cases the punishment is pointless.
2. make the cat learn to fear you.
Every time you punish a cat, you are giving it another reason to fear you. Cats do not understand the purpose of punishment, but that does not mean they are stupid. Instead of associating punishment with a specific crime, they associate it with the only thing they have in common: you.
If you don’t understand why you are being punished, the cats will see you as unpredictable and dangerous. The cats do not know when you will attack again, and this uncertainty eventually leads to fear. Cats no longer associate you with cuddling or scratching their heads, but with the possibility of fear and pain.
3. the cat does not trust you.
Once a cat becomes afraid of you, it no longer trusts you. You go from being the source of all good things in life to a source of confusion and stress. Even if you scratch the cat’s head far more often than you punish it, the bond of trust between you and the cat will fray and eventually be torn apart.
4. Punishment leads to stress, and stress leads to bad behavior.
The only reason to consider punishing your cat is purely because you want to prevent it from becoming a repeat offender. We have already discussed why this idea is wrong and how it may actually increase undesirable behavior.
Being punished obviously stresses the cat. And when a cat is stressed, it will most likely behave in ways that you will not appreciate. Stress makes us do things we never thought we would do. Cats are no different. So even if you want to correct the cat’s behavior by punishing it, you are actually only stressing it out and causing it to express its feelings even more.
5. There is a reason behind any crime. It has nothing to do with “hate”.
Your cat vomiting on your pillow or pushing your favorite cup of coffee off the table is not done out of spite. Nor is it trying to prove anything. Cats do not become resentful, vindictive, vengeful, or have any other human feelings of hatred. They are not intentionally trying to offend you, but that does not mean that there is no reason behind their bad behavior.
When your cat engages in behavior that you think is punishable, there is always a reason behind it. For example, if your cat repeatedly pees on the carpet, the reason may be that he is unhappy with his litter tray. It could be that you forgot to clean it, or it may not like the new litter. It could also be that it is sick. In any case, messing up the toilet is not haphazard or vindictive.
If you feel the urge to punish your cat, a more effective approach is to consider possible reasons why the cat is engaging in such undesirable behavior. It could be stress or boredom. It could be fear or distress. If you want to prevent a relapse, punishment will not solve the problem. You (and your cat) would be better off identifying the cause of the problem and taking steps to resolve the original problem.
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