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No way I believe this about cats!!

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
The experts tell me that you should never punish a cat after they have done something bad, especially if it has been a while, because they will have no idea what you are punishing them for, because they do not remember. First let me say I would never even think about punishing my cat, but I think the part about not remembering is so much hogwash! Case in point: My wife leaves for work very early and I stay in bed for about an hour more so she puts Persi in the front of the house and closes the door so that he cannot come back there and rout me out of bed. There is a chair right by this door and the usual scenario is I open the door and he is right there on the back of the chair waiting for me to come and give him his morning attention and brushing. This morning he was not there. I suspected something was up and saw some flowers strewn around the living room. When I got to the kitchen I found the vase that was sitting on the dinette set was shattered on the floor. Persi was nowhere to be seen during this time. After getting my needed morning cup of coffee, I got the broom and began sweeping up and Persi shows up to watch! And watch me he did, get every little bit of glass up off the floor while carefully watching everything I was doing. And you can call me crazy, but if I have ever seen a guilty look on a cat, I saw one at that time. THERE IS NO WAY IN THE WORLD THAT I BELIEVE HE DID NOT REMEMBER DOING THIS. But of course he received not even a reprimand. So, are the books right that say cats cannot remember what they did more than a minute ago? Anybody else have any stories that prove this to be false?
post #2 of 20
guilty look? I think you are anthropomorphizing the cat. he probably recalls the event but was more apprehensive/worried than guilty watching you clean up.

as for cats knowing and recalling cause and effect I agree with you that they remember. how else does my cat know where the cat food is and which direction to run when we play with balls and toys?

by the way my old eyes have trouble with your teensy weensy font
post #3 of 20
I think you're right. Like you I would never punish my cat, the worst he gets from me is a stern look that I use on the parrot - what parrot owners refer to as 'the evil eye'

But oh yes Radar will sit in the corner looking very large-eyed indeed if he has been yet again leaping into the pile of cans for recycling, or batting shot glasses off the shelves. And if he has something in his mouth that he shouldn't have, if he didn't know that he wasn't supposed to be chewing it, why does he run off with it before I've even reached down to take it out of his mouth? It can only be because he remembers that's what I do under those circumstances
post #4 of 20
I agree with you that cats remember. Otherwise they wouldn't know to try to run and hide when they see the pill bottle or something else they don't like.
I believe the list could go on and on with proof that cats remember things both good and bad.

As far as punishment for something they did that they shouldn't, I believe that in a case such as the broken vase, if you had decided to punish Persi, he might not have associated the punishment with the broken vase. He may have just seen it as you decided to be mean to him and then he may never wait for you on the chair again because he remembered the meanness.

I think it's more a matter of "different" thinking where some events do not connect with others, not an inability to remember.


I think I was clear as mud on my opinion of that, but hopefully you could get through the muck and mire to what I meant.
post #5 of 20
i punish my cat. i'm not aggresive with them. but emma gets into everything, and SHE KNOWS when i'm not happy with her. all i do is lay her on her back and point my finger at her, then i put my finger lightly on her nose and say "emma, NO" and give her a little tap on her rump, and she learns. but i don't beat my cats or anything. my older cat all if have to do is give him a little tap on his rump. i only do it when he is playing way to rough and huring emma, but he knows...as soon as i give him a little tap...he puts his head down, and lays down for a little bit. i think animals need disapline. but my babies are still spoiled.
post #6 of 20
It's not that they don't remember it-- it's that they don't associate the two like Tru said.

If your wife is really mad at you for something you did yesterday, but doesn't act mad until suddenly she's making dinner and just slops your plate down in front of you and goes and eats in the other room, do you always know why she's mad without her telling you?

Same thing with a cat. Since we can't tell them what they're being punished for, if you don't catch them in the act you can't shake a can of pennies at them later. They remember what happened, but that doesn't mean they know it will make you mad and that a rebuke they get three hours later has anything to do with it.

Anyway, you can't have punished a cat for an accident in the first place. It's more likely he scared himself silly and that's why he was acting weird.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by cutie1515 View Post
i punish my cat. i'm not aggresive with them. but emma gets into everything, and SHE KNOWS when i'm not happy with her. all i do is lay her on her back and point my finger at her, then i put my finger lightly on her nose and say "emma, NO" and give her a little tap on her rump, and she learns. but i don't beat my cats or anything. my older cat all if have to do is give him a little tap on his rump. i only do it when he is playing way to rough and huring emma, but he knows...as soon as i give him a little tap...he puts his head down, and lays down for a little bit. i think animals need disapline. but my babies are still spoiled.
All you are doing is teaching your cats to fear you, and if not that, then it's not doing anything. A stern "no" works better anyway.

Also, your cats aren't hurting each other. What you judge as playing too rough probably isn't too rough. They learn each other's boundaries naturally, and if one of them is getting too hurt or is sick of it, they'll walk away.
post #8 of 20
Cats DO remember, but you can punish them after the fact. IMO its the same rules for dogs as it is for cats. Never punish after the fact unless you catch them doing wrong. They really do NOT remember and have no idea why you are so mad.

Now if either (cat or dog) acts guilty - and I can tell, especially with our dog, then you start looking at what they did wrong. But even if you find it, you can't punish them for it at that time.
post #9 of 20
I agree with what Tru and Zissou's Mom have said. I think that animals do remember a past event, but that they most likely will not associate any punishment with the event, unless it occurs simultaneously or immediately afterward. I believe that punishment will instill fear much more than it will correct a behavior. I would try to work toward either replacing a negative behavior with a more positive one, or redirecting it.
post #10 of 20
The other day I came home to find Ferris greeting me at the door, looking for affection. This in itself is highly unusual, but I thought, "Oh look! He's turned a corner!"

He lay at my feet, didn't run when I stepped over him (he usually bolts if I look cross-eyed at him) and was very talkative, asking for loves.

A little while later (because of COURSE I stopped to give him the attention he was asking for - it's THAT rare!) I noticed that there was something "off" about my heirloom Christmas cactus. It had belonged to my late Nana, and was a gorgeous plant that arched out from the center in an almost perfect circle.

Upon closer inspection, it appeared to have been in a car wreck. Entire branches (we are talking YEARS of growth, here) were broken off and lay around the plant. I knew immediately who the culprit was - he was watching me VERY intently from a few feet away.

Upon the commencement of my finger pointing and shaking, as I began telling him what a naughty boy he was for breaking up my special plant, he bolted for the kitchen and wouldn't come near me again for several days.

Don't tell me that he didn't know what he had done! The little squirt was trying to romance me so I wouldn't notice!
post #11 of 20
One thing they remember well is the treat bag. It's a far more rewarding 'training' experience all round if they know that when they behave in certain ways they will get a tasty treat (and a cuddle, if they like that) and other times they get told NO and no treat, no cuddle. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar And it does get them to use the scratching post rather than the loudspeakers
post #12 of 20
Of course they will remember something that is repeated. What they cannot do is connect cause and effect. A broken vase or cactus, discovered hours later, will not create guilty memories in a cat. If you punish them after the fact, they will associate the punishment with you, not their naughty doings.

Reprimands must be given immediately. If Gizmo is somewhere she shouldn't be, I pick her up, say No.
Then I put her where I want her to be and immediately praise her and pet her and say Good Girl. She gets the idea.
post #13 of 20
I don't believe in punishment with cats or children. I DO believe in consequences for behavior which the person has complete control over eliminating. Examples:

cat jumps the counters you get spritzed.
kids don't put clothes in hamper: they don't get washed

Now with husbands - hahahah - punishment is HIGHLY effective LOL.

no birthday gift? no pie for you.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmocat View Post
Of course they will remember something that is repeated. What they cannot do is connect cause and effect. A broken vase or cactus, discovered hours later, will not create guilty memories in a cat. If you punish them after the fact, they will associate the punishment with you, not their naughty doings.
Ferris met me at the door with a guilty conscience - if you knew him as I know him, you'd know that he knew darned well that he'd done something wrong!

If you consider finger shaking and telling him that he was naughty "punishment," then you haven't raised any skin children!
post #15 of 20
I'm just not sure how you guys can "punish" your cats. Whenever mine do anything wrong, they give me "the look". For those of you who have seen Shrek 2, it's the look Puss in Boots gives.....how could a girl be mad at that face?
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abigail View Post
guilty look? I think you are anthropomorphizing the cat. he probably recalls the event but was more apprehensive/worried than guilty watching you clean up.

as for cats knowing and recalling cause and effect I agree with you that they remember. how else does my cat know where the cat food is and which direction to run when we play with balls and toys?

Quote:
by the way my old eyes have trouble
with your teensy weensy font
Ha! Old eyes indeed, I just looked at your profile, you are just a youngster!
post #17 of 20
I'm wary of that guilty look. When I first got Jaffa and Magpie, Jaffa would look guilty whenever anything was knocked over, damaged etc. so he tended to get scolded (just in an "oh jaffa, what have you done now <sigh> kind of way) the most while Magpie sat there looking like a cute little kitten who could do no wrong . It took me months to work out that Jaffa just looked guilty whether he'd done it or not. One day I noticed Magpie running off with a sponge from the sink whle Jaffa sat there looking sooo guilty. So now I never trust that guilty look. It's always the innocent looking one in my experience
post #18 of 20
Oh yeah. I come home from work and Tammy-Timmy is not at the door to meet me.

OK, I come in, turn the computer on, turn around and there this shiny stuff all over the floor. I looked down and, I'll be darned, it's glass!!!! I'm thinking, what is glass doing all over the floor???? I haven't said a word yet.

Then I said, "OK, who did this?" and Tammy-Timmy ran from the kitchen to the kitty litter room. No one else moved. She didn't remember this???? HO HO HO.
post #19 of 20
Gizmo is often naughty when I am present. She likes to get up on top of the animation desk and also on top of a plastic sheet covering a small greenhouse/planter stand.
When I go over to get her, she starts protesting volubly. I can almost hear her saying "Oh, Mommmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Why Can't I stay here? You never let me have any fuuuuunnnnnnnnnnn!
post #20 of 20
I've never seen a "guilty" look from my cats in all these years. But then again, I don't punish my cats, I redirect them to positive activities rather than dwelling on the bad. My house is as cat proofed as you can make it, so I rarely come home to find the plant chewed, the papers shredded, or things knocked over. Cats are all about "what's in it for me?", so in general, they are always going to respond to positive rewards than negative punishment. Punishing them simply makes them fear you.

I have seen the "guilty" look in my dogs. My dog Sam has bowel problems (under constant treatment) and I can walk in the house and tell he's had an accident by looking at him. He doesn't get punished (as it's medically based), but he also knows I don't like to clean up after him. With dogs, it's all about pleasing their alpha, so they do respond to "punishment", even if that punishment is being annoyed at them.
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