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behavior modification

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to tell you all about my use of spray bottles. I have had many cats over the years, a few times it was four at a time, now it is three. I have used the water squirt many times but only for short period. I can honestly say my kitties learn real fast what they can and can't do because of this. I no longer have to actually do this now.....just pick up anything that looks like it could spray and say no and it only takes them a couple of this and from then o nits no.
Of course I know it wouldn't work with all pets but mine it did. Maybe it was because I only used it on important things.....to stop the more harmful actions and not something that might be because of age. Example the youngest is 2 &1/2 and was actual one of a litter born to a pair who frequented my son's business and she has been the most inquesitive of all past and present pets. As a baby it was trying to catch the sewing machine needle, laying on top of the monitor when I was on line, or even worse pulling the pins out of my sewing projects!!!!!!!! Yes if she does something 'wrong' and she is shown 'the can, bottle' whatever she runs but she comes back and behaves. The older cats 16 and twenty years no longer require more than a no on occasion (like hissing or raising a paw to the baby).
And that is the 20 yr old female who still rules the roost (she thinks) but she defers to the baby on everything. Anyways thats my two cents worth on spraying. Thanks for lending an ear!
post #2 of 2
Thanks for sharing your experience I know that spraying sometimes helps but here's why I don't recommend it for cat owners -

1. To stop an unwanted behavior you need to understand the cause first. Cats do what they do (scratch furniture, jump on counters etc) because they have certain needs. We must give them the proper alternative (and that has to be proper in their eyes!) before we try to stop them. For example, before you try and teach your cat not to jump on the counters, make sure that she has enough high places where she is allowed to climb. If not, get her a cat tree or a cat gym before you attempt to teach her not to jump on the counters.

2. Once you found the alternative and you know that your cat uses it - you can start teaching her to avoid what you want her to avoid. The best method to do that is by passive training. Punishing your cat in any way (and water spraying is punishment for the cat), turns you into the "bad guy". Some cats will forgive, but many others might hold the grudge and learn to avoid you as well as the kitchen counters. Additionally, they may learn to avoid the unwanted behavior only when you're around.

3. Some cats are more sensitive than others. For those cats, being startled by a water gun, a loud noise etc. may be too much. The cat can get overstressed and her overall quality of life is dimished. Stress is also a potential cause for other behavior problems as well as health problems.

So, my bottom line is - yes punishment sometimes works with cats (they're not dumb ). However, in many cases punishement does more harm than good - it can ruin your relationship with your cat and stress your cat. There is always an alternative to punishment and that alternative is always preferable.
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