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Disciplining a Cat: To Spray or Not to Spray?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Alright, much debate has occured about this amoung my family, and we all really want to do what's best. We have a 13 week-old, maine coon kitten. He's recently come home to us and is very sweet and loving.

Now, there are some places I don't want him to go, and some things I don't want him to deal with, mostly for his safety. I don't want him to be on the kitchen counters or kitchen table, where we eat/prepare food. Nor do I want him on the piano keys or my drafting table, because it's a nice piano or he'll risk getting paint on him.

We began by discouraging him to go to these places, preventing him from going there or picking him up and moving him away. Eventually we'll spray him once with a light mist from a spray bottle from far away. One spray and he never goes back.

One side of the arguement is this will make him fearful and hurt his personality.

What do all recommend? What's been your experience and your takes on these things?
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunskitten View Post
We began by discouraging him to go to these places, preventing him from going there or picking him up and moving him away. Eventually we'll spray him once with a light mist from a spray bottle from far away. One spray and he never goes back.
until you're not there, that is!
seriously - i use a spray bottle w/mine, but it only stops them temporarily. upside - i rarely have to spray them anymore - i just shake the bottle!
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
So you don't think it hurts their personality? If you do it when they're young?
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunskitten View Post
So you don't think it hurts their personality? If you do it when they're young?
really depends on the cat. plus, you must be extremely careful not to get any water in their ears.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Got it, be careful for none in ears.

Do you have any other suggestions for methods of Dicipline?
post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunskitten View Post
Got it, be careful for none in ears.

Do you have any other suggestions for methods of Dicipline?
loud noises are good. many people keep a soda can w/pennies in it to shake at misbehaving cats [put duct tape over the hole, btw]. i sometimes clap at mine, or snap my fingers [i can snap pretty loudly]. hissing is also good - they understand what that means.
post #7 of 25
I used the spraying method with my itten. He likes water, but only on HIS terms, and spraying him really did the trick. he's really smart, anyway, so only a couple of times, did I have to spray him (like when he was trying to escape outside) before he got the message, and now, I only rarely have to shake the bottle. =P
post #8 of 25
post #9 of 25
Although I have not used them, there are also products that use sprays of air. Some of these have a motion detector that you place in the area you don't want the cat to go. When he triggors that, it would spray him with a puff of air, whether you're there or not. They are not cheap though, but might be the best solution for things like counters and the piano.

Something else for counters is to use rubber car mats, either turn upside down (exposing the pointy ends) or put double sided tape on them and put them on the counters when you're not using them. That way, he will get an unpleasant sensation when he goes up there. Other than that, just don't leave anything tempting on the counters or in the sink.

I don't think there's anything wrong with squirting them, the trick is not letting them see YOU squirt them. Most that suggest that method suggest that you do it so that the cat can't see the source...and thinks "oh, whenever I go here water shoots out of nowhere". If the cat associates the squirting with YOU, then he will just not go there when you are in the room. It's the same with the shakecans. Just don't let him catch you.

Art
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone who's posted with a reply, you've all been really helpful.

Not to sound like the paranoid parent, but I've sprayed him about five times, and I think he's seen me at least three. I haven't damaged our relationship do you all think, have I?
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
until you're not there, that is!
seriously - i use a spray bottle w/mine, but it only stops them temporarily. upside - i rarely have to spray them anymore - i just shake the bottle!
Mostly I just shake the bottle now too. I use it mostly for door darting (the door to the porch and the basement door). Mine sometimes need a refresher squirt, but usually just a shake does it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kunskitten View Post
Thank you everyone who's posted with a reply, you've all been really helpful.

Not to sound like the paranoid parent, but I've sprayed him about five times, and I think he's seen me at least three. I haven't damaged our relationship do you all think, have I?
I don't think so. My cats saw me when I've squirted them--hard to hide when I'm coming up the stairs and opening the door.

I will warn you, squirt bottles don't work on every cat. My Nabu could have the entire bottle emptied on him and won't budge. He's stubborn. The method we use for him is removing him from whatever he's on/doing with a loud firm "No" accompanying it. He actually listens when my husband says "git". When Raven was still with us he knew what "get down" meant. And most of the time I could just look at him and point at the floor and he'd get down.

Penny cans, tin foil, and upside down runners didn't do anything here. Mine will even walk on sticky tape. The funniest was when I tried penny cans. When they knocked them down it scared them all of once. I tried shaking the can when they were naughty (someone told me they did that) and my cats looked at me like I had completely lost my mind.

So there are several methods you can try.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
loud noises are good. many people keep a soda can w/pennies in it to shake at misbehaving cats [put duct tape over the hole, btw]. i sometimes clap at mine, or snap my fingers [i can snap pretty loudly]. hissing is also good - they understand what that means.
What worked best for Gus was a box of Nerds candy, about 1/2 full. He absolutely hated that noise, with a passion. Nothing else worked with him. Even if we scolded him, he would just stare at us with that "come over here and make me" look on his face. Turd. LOL

If Nora gets on the counters, which honestly she really doesn't do anymore (when we are watching), she is very smart and learned quickly, we just say "Nora get down" and she jumps right off. Yesterday afternoon my husband was peeling cucumbers for a veggie tray for our dinner tonight. Nora absolutely loves veggies, and she could smell them from across the house. One time I looked over and all you could see was her butt sticking up out of the sink. LMAO She was in there scavenging for scraps, and ate a ton of cucumber skins. She's a weirdo.
post #13 of 25
I didn't read the whole thread and don't have time now, so I'll just put in my vote and not my two cents, because the whole concept of "discipline" with cats is one I could spend the next 45 minutes typing. Anyhoo, my vote for spraying as a corrective to undesired behavior is "NO" It might be useful as a deterrent but not as a training aid, and that's been my experience.
post #14 of 25
Laureen has given you outstanding observations about using a spray bottle. All of my cats were born feral and I could not use a spray bottle on them if I wanted to build up their trust with me. So I've had to look for alternatives to discipline.

I believe in positive redirection first. If you don't want them on a counter, give them a more attractive alternative to the counter. My cat tree in the kitchen is about 6 inches taller than the counter, and since they prefer high places, they chose the cat tree over the counter. If I see them on the counter, they get a strong "NO", then are moved to the cat tree and praised once there. Very quickly, they learn that "NO" is the discipline word.

Same thing works with scratching your furniture. I keep scratch posts by my furniture and use the same technique to direct them to the scratch posts.

And often times, you can read them well enough to know that they are about to do something wrong. My Pinky and Eightball respond wonderfully to this: I see them about to do something and will call their names in a friendly voice to distract them. They almost always come over to me and I give them lots of love and scritches when they do.

Do I have a spray bottle? Yes I do. But I reserve its use to what I consider the "serious crimes" (ones that can hurt them): walking across my stove top and jumping on top of my cast iron fire place. I don't think I've used that bottle for about 5 years now. The hiss or the NO work very well for me.

And concerning your question about making them angry with you: my husband still uses the spray bottle with them. Not very often, probably a couple times a year if he catches them scratching the furniture. And guess what? The cats are somewhat afraid of him but are strongly bonded to me. But the ones that are afraid of him are the ones that are most feral in nature. The cats that are strongly socialized to humans love him in spite of he bottle.
post #15 of 25
I use a left over paper towel roll and start banging it on the table or something, and start saying No! No! Down! He usually gets the picture and darts down before I even get to him.

Occasionally I'll very lightly tap him with it, but 90% of the time he will think I'm playing with him then start play-attacking shortly after.
post #16 of 25
I've been trying to use a spray bottle for Jake when he is climbing up the curtains.It has worked out well, he does see me when I spray him and now as soon as I reach for the spray bottle he stops doing it- the thing is though he was climbing up a table cloth today and I decided to use the spray bottle like I did previously, and he would not move, I sprayed him about three times from afar and I stopped because I didn't want to get him wet...But he has not tried to climb the curtains for a few days now, so I am hoping that it was just a phase..
I don't think your kitty will be scared or not trust you, it's not like you are hurting him, you are just making him slightly uncomfortable with the spray..I think once you have sprayed and some water gets to him, then you can just spray from a really far and just the sound will make him stop..
The best thing that has worked for tables is aluminum foil...The downside is that your tables look ugly for a while lol...
post #17 of 25
I use a spray bottle on my four kitties, mostly for the really big no-nos. I'm terrified they'll jump on a hot burner or get in the dryer so that's a big deal around here. It's never once damaged their personality. Nine years later and Friday is still as spunky and playful as ever and we're super close. The other three have had no ill effects either and if any cat would, Kit would but she still feels the same about now as she did before any squirts.

All that being said, the others are right. It's only a deterrent and the moment you're not looking a cat will still do whatever they please. There really is no such thing as training a cat. It's more of a calculated stand off between people and felines with each side taking advances and losses so long as they live together. That's why I like them so much! (Don't get me started on the dog! )
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by howtoholdacat View Post
I
All that being said, the others are right. It's only a deterrent and the moment you're not looking a cat will still do whatever they please. There really is no such thing as training a cat. It's more of a calculated stand off between people and felines with each side taking advances and losses so long as they live together. That's why I like them so much! (Don't get me started on the dog! )
There may not be "training" of a cat, but you can definitely use human tricks to stop a cat from doing undesirable things permanently, even though that doesn't mean that the kit knowingly doesn't do those things because it's been trained to be 'good'...My little kitten who is 9 weeks old at the moment, is not allowed to roam free in the entire house while no one is there because we think it's too dangerous for both him and the house. So, he stays in one room with his food, water and litter box...There really isn't that much damage he can do in that room and until he gets a little bit older, in a few months we are going to keep it that way....I have no idea what will happen when he is allowed to go everywhere when he is by himself, although I do have tin foil on all tables that he can jump on, and he doesn't get on them that way...Currently he is only alone from 10 am-4 pm three days a week, so I don't think he minds staying in that one room during those hours..
post #19 of 25
I don't use a spray bottle, but I sometimes use a loud noise to get their attention like clapping my hands... With Church all I do when he is misbehaving is say in a low reproving voice, "Churrrrch..." and he stops. Or if he is playing too rough with the kittens I say "Church, be nice!" and he'll stop biting them.
With the foster kittens I 'hiss' at them-- a kind of "Tssst!" noise, and they will stop whatever they are doing and are less likely to do it again, for example if they play-bite my hand (they're pretty good about not biting but once in a while they forget.) I think they respond to my 'hissing' because they think I'm their mother since I raised them from 4 weeks old.

An example when I first put the Xmas tree up this year, Church had not really seen one before. He was trying to bite the needles and play with the low ornaments. I said "eh-eh!" and "Churrrrch" when he did that (and I think I clapped once) and he leaves the tree alone now.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
I've been trying to use a spray bottle for Jake when he is climbing up the curtains.It has worked out well, he does see me when I spray him and now as soon as I reach for the spray bottle he stops doing it- the thing is though he was climbing up a table cloth today and I decided to use the spray bottle like I did previously, and he would not move, I sprayed him about three times from afar and I stopped because I didn't want to get him wet...But he has not tried to climb the curtains for a few days now, so I am hoping that it was just a phase....
No, I don't think it's a phase....it's what usually happens....the cat has learned that the water comes from the bottle and it only comes when you're holding it. Climbing the curtains might have been a phase, but being dissuaded by the water was a case of the cat being smarter than the spray bottle advocates would like to admit. Heh heh .... Kitty is chuckling to himself when the human leaves the room.
post #21 of 25
I feel as long as its working for you, I don't see the harm. If you are not aiming for the head/face and only at the back, then use the method. We use the spray bottle to discourage our cats around the Christmas tree and it works for us.

Some people tell you not to do it for fear of getting water in their ears - that's true, but I don't think it happens that often that its something to ban entirely. We aim for the back end of the cat and are pretty accurate.

Charlie STILL loves his baths and playing in water, but the spray will also work on him. Ling doesn't like baths and it works really good with her.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunskitten View Post
Alright, much debate has occured about this amoung my family, and we all really want to do what's best. We have a 13 week-old, maine coon kitten. He's recently come home to us and is very sweet and loving.

Now, there are some places I don't want him to go, and some things I don't want him to deal with, mostly for his safety. I don't want him to be on the kitchen counters or kitchen table, where we eat/prepare food. Nor do I want him on the piano keys or my drafting table, because it's a nice piano or he'll risk getting paint on him.

We began by discouraging him to go to these places, preventing him from going there or picking him up and moving him away. Eventually we'll spray him once with a light mist from a spray bottle from far away. One spray and he never goes back.

One side of the arguement is this will make him fearful and hurt his personality.

What do all recommend? What's been your experience and your takes on these things?
You do realize that while you may teach your kitty not to do these things while you are there, he will do these things while you are gone or while you aren't looking, in another room or whatever.

If it was me, I would live with the kitty on the piano keys, my cat is more important to me then walking on a piano, but that is me, not everyone thinks like me. My 15 year old cat still gets on the kitchen counter, when no one is looking, although not as much as she is getting old. It really doesn't bother me much. Good luck
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
You do realize that while you may teach your kitty not to do these things while you are there, he will do these things while you are gone or while you aren't looking, in another room or whatever.

If it was me, I would live with the kitty on the piano keys, my cat is more important to me then walking on a piano, but that is me, not everyone thinks like me. My 15 year old cat still gets on the kitchen counter, when no one is looking, although not as much as she is getting old. It really doesn't bother me much. Good luck
I feel the same way-- my cats go everywhere in my apartment. I could spray them but that will just teach them to avoid me and/or the spray bottle. As soon as I leave, they will jump on what they want anyways.

I wipe off my countertops before cooking whether a cat has walked on it or not.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetKara View Post
I wipe off my countertops before cooking whether a cat has walked on it or not.
When I read this I thought, "how can you tell?" Then I remembered reading about someone who put flour on the countertops to see if her cats had walked on them.
post #25 of 25
There are pros and cons to using a spray bottle as I see it. On one hand it doesn't hurt your cat and can be used to quickly stop them from doing something bad. One of my two cats needs the occasional squirt but unfortunately he's the bigger faster stronger and younger of the two, and it seems to just get him excited and he starts going nuts... He thinks we're playing.. :-/

My girlfriends cat likes to get on the counter to try to eat our food at her place. If you grab the spray bottle she shrinks away and meows in the most sad, pitiful way, but all the while she's still going for that plate. She'll literally take a bite while being sprayed at close range.

There's also the risk of missing your target and hitting something else.
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