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Turn Your Naughty Cat Into a Lovable Fur Ball
CatsBehavior

Turn Your Naughty Cat Into a Lovable Fur Ball

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Oct 24, 2022

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Because dogs see themselves as members of your pack, they respond to time-outs. Cats are relatively solitary, so while time-outs may work, you must also manage discipline with other techniques. It's not mission impossible—cats are trainable and feline habits are not set in stone. Do your research and train for 10 minutes daily, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by what's achievable.

1

Meet your cat's needs

An 11 week old kitten peeks out from behind a wall. Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Indoor cats require balanced diets, somewhere comfortable to sleep and go to the toilet, alone time, and enrichment in the form of toys and interaction with you. Perhaps you need to dedicate more time to playing with your cat, or they need a puzzle feeder that engages and satisfies their strong hunting instincts. Or maybe a new baby or pet in the home is causing stress, and you'll need to address the problem. If you're checking all these boxes, there's no apparent medical issue, and your cat is still acting up and being aggressive, you'll have to work on training. Neutering can help with behavioral problems too.

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2

Figure out your cat's favorite rewards

Cat takes a Pill Valery Kudryavtsev / Getty Images

Cats are adaptable—they need a little persuading, and appealing to the stomach is often all it takes, although some cats may enjoy certain toys as incentives. If you can zero in on what makes your cat tick, you'll have the perfect tools for positive reinforcement. Reserve high-value treats for challenging tasks and solid progress.

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3

Use verbal commands

Naughty Cat british shorthair kitten with large yellow eyes ripping toilet paper with his claws. kimeveruss / Getty Images

The first verbal command your cat will learn is its name. But your cat can also learn to link the word good and the sound of a clicker with positive behaviors and incentives and the word bad with negative ones. Teach positive behaviors in increments and offer treats at every step in the right direction. Your cat will respond to your tone, so if you say no firmly and offer a treat for stopping, it will become conditioned over time.

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4

Walk away

a broken clay pot with spilled soil and plant while a defiant cat looks on. jeffadl / Getty Images

If your cat doesn't respond to an emphatic no, you can use a whistle to draw its attention and highlight bad behavior. In situations where your cat is playing with you, gets rough, and ignores your protest, or even a loud hiss from you, get up and leave the room.

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5

Buy a tool or two

cat Sharpening claws danilovi / Getty Images

One of the best remote methods you can use to deter your cat from scratching or peeing where it shouldn't is to set up a motion-activated air spray that expels compressed air to alarm and put your cat off. It will teach your cat to change its behavior whether you're present or not. Citronella collar sprays can be helpful as well.

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6

Take a soft approach

Ferocious red cat bites its owner in the arm with all its power. zsv3207 / Getty Images

To have a mutually comforting long-term relationship with your cat, you'll have to err on the side of caution — be gentle and patient in the face of bad behavior. Never yell or get physical if your cat misbehaves because it won't understand and may redirect its aggression to you. Screaming can also tarnish your bond. Don't scruff or pick your cat up by the loose skin of its neck unless it's an emergency—adult cats don't respond well.

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7

Try time-outs

angry looking grey and white long fur cat Photo by Andreas Schantl on Unsplash

Cats are individuals, and time-outs don't work for everyone, but they're worth a shot if you have an excitable cat or one bullying another. Set up a time-out room with all the basic cat necessities. Scoop a naughty cat up using a protective blankie and deposit it in the time-out space for half an hour. It should calm down. Ensure you aren't isolating the cat when it's due for a play session, and looking forward to interacting with you.

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8

Acquainting cats with new family members

cute dog licking and smilling little kitty in stylish room. woman holding adorable black and white kitten and stroking puppy, caressing pets. best friends together. vet concept Bogdan Kurylo / Getty Images

Dogs and cats explore the world with their noses. So, one of the ways to get through to a cat is through scent. Cats are incredibly suspicious of newcomers, so if a newborn or a new cat is in the home, use a pheromone diffuser or spray to calm your kitties. Keep them separated until you get a chance to leave a bed sheet or item of clothing that smells like the baby or other cat. Once your cats are used to each other's smell, put them in the same room with enough treats for both and let them graze together. This slow and steady approach can reduce aggression and stress.

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9

Consult with a pro

A female veterinarian is doing routine physical exams for a cat SunnyVMD / Getty Images

Think of how grouchy you feel when you're in pain or unwell. Cats are no different and can lash out if they have a medical issue. Vaccines, flea treatments, and worming are preventative healthcare measures that can keep kitty well. However, they're not the only medical problems it may face. Take your cat to the vet or get in touch with a cat behavioral expert if the doctor confirms there's nothing medically wrong.

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10

Changing minds

cutre gray kitten cat looking into the pet carrier 123ducu / Getty Images

Taking a cat to the vet is easier said than done. To modify a cat's behavior, you need to alter its perception. If the thought of placing your cat in a carrier fills you with dread because kitty starts hissing or is visibly panicky, you have to shift the paradigm. Days before transportation, show your cat the inside of the carrier and disassemble it if possible. Leave high-value treats nearby and reassemble the carrier piece by piece, letting the cat get used to every stage. It may even end up napping on the base if lured with goodies. This interaction can leave your cat with new positive associations.

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