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Alternatives to traning with the water sprayer...?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
It seems that a lot of people on this site are very much against training your cat with a water spray bottle, and some (like myself) have had much success with it. I'd love to get some conversation going about reasons for or against this method... (If there is already a thread specifically about this, please feel free to bump it and yell at me for starting another! LOL!)

My personal experience:
Before I first brought home my two kittnes, I did a lot of internet research reading articles on sites such as this one to find out the best ways to bring them up. It seemed that almost every one I ran across recommended the water bottle method.... I also found many that said not to yell at your cat, because you don't want it to associate the sound of your voice with something bad. One recommended making a "sssssssssss!" noise (kind of like hissing) because a cat already associates that noise as being something bad. So what we did with our two was spray them with the bottle and make a "sssss!" noise at the same time. It didn't take long at all until we could put the bottle away and just make that noise - they would immediately stop what they were doing (like scratching my new sofa!) and go on to getting into some other kind of trouble.

I did not at the time realize that water in their ears could give them infections, but fortuantely we never had that problem. We always aimed for their torso so we did not get water in their faces. Also, I've read on this site that it can make cats afraid of water, but not so with ours. They both love it when you turn on the bathtub spicket... they sit in the tub and play with the water stream!

I'm by far NOT a professinal, I've only raised three kittens in my lifetime! But I had great success with the water bottle/"ssss!" method and honestly, I would recommend it - but I know many here would tell me I am very wrong.... So I'd love to hear more about this and why many of you feel this is a bad idea (or a good idea!). Also, I'd love to hear your recommendations on what to do instead of using the water bottle to, for example, stop kitty from scratching the sofa or jumping up on the kitchen table. I'm sure a lot of new kitten owerns could use your advice!
post #2 of 18
I'm still very new to the cat world. I've only had my cat about 9 months of her 18 months of life. I have never used a squirt bottle to correct her behavior, although she doesn't really have any "bad" habits that need correcting (at the moment), except for chewing on my plants to get attention. I have noticed that she runs like a bat out of heck whenever I use my hairspray or window cleaner (squirt bottles).

Just last night, I was trying to get one of her toys from underneathe the refrigerator. I used a long, wooden stick and she immediately tried to play with the stick. She wasn't doing anything "wrong" but I wanted her to stop. I hissed at her 2x and she stopped trying to get the stick. I have found it's easier to speak "cat" or do hand gestures (body language) than teach her the English language. I tell her "no" and sometimes she does respond to it, but hissing always works. I actually learned about "hissing" here at TCS !!!
post #3 of 18
The problem with using the water bottle, isn't using the water bottle, it is how it is used. If you use it as a tool to distract the cat by not spraying the cat directly but say, spraying a stream of water into a plant or a faraway corner, thus letting the cat think there is prey in that corner. The cat will then go investigate what that prey is and stop the unacceptable behavior.

The problem with the water bottle is that if the cat is sprayed by it, it scares the cat, and scared cats can lead to aggressive cats. Also if you accidentally get water in their ears (such as spraying a moving cat) you can upset their pH balance resulting in loss of equilibrium and a vet bill you didn't plan on to correct it.

As Wendy Christenson, author and pet behaviorist expert told me long ago- "water bottles just aren't nice."

You can hiss at your cat to stop unwanted behavior, it is just as effective if not more than the water bottle, and it is language they understand.
post #4 of 18
I clap my hands loudly once and say NO! loudly once. This is enough to startle them into stopping what they were doing. I rarely have to do this anymore. Instead, I just look at them and clear my throat...they know to stop when I do that!
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
If you distract the cat from say, clawing the sofa, by making them think there is prey in the corner, what's to keep them from coming right back to the sofa (or the top of the table or whatever) when they figure out that there was no prey on the corner? Is there a way you can recommend to make your cat realize he/she is not allowed to do something?

Hissing at our cats didn't do anything until we taught them to associate that sound with getting hit in the booty with a water stream. LOL! Now that we have Lily, we are trying to break her of her bad habbits and when we hiss at her (without the water bottle) she just completely ignors us... Maybe we aren't making the right sound...? Or maybe my cats are just too darn brave!

"water bottles just aren't nice."
But, neither is grounding your child or giving him or her a "time out" for being bad.... but it would be aweful hard to bring up a child where the basic forms of punishment were off limits because they aren't nice.

Again, maybe I was just lucky but the two we brought up with the water bottle don't show any agression. It seems to me that they associate the fear of getting hit in the buttox with a watter stream with whatever they were doing at the time..... "Eek! if I scratch that chair I get sprayed! If I don't want to have a wet butt, I better not do that anymore." For the longest time, I don't think they even knew it was coming from us! They just knew that when they did certain things, they got water on them - so they stopped doing those things.

I'm not trying to be the devils advocate, so please do not take offense. I truly am fascinated by this since I honestly believe that I had great success with this method of training and I was surprised when I first read that it was not a recommend method by many here. I'm just trying to get some good conversation - If I am offending anyone, please let me know!
post #6 of 18
I think this is a very interesting topic; it's obvious that you are asking because you genuinely want to know the best way to teach cats correct behavior (so no offense taken!).

When I first started looking up stuff on the 'net about cats, all the sites seemed to support the spray bottle. Roughly a year later, many said it wasn't okay. Some people have said that when they sprayed their cats, they became terrified of water, and would cower at the sound of, say, a hairspray bottle. Others (including me) have had great success with it. I was able to teach Snowball not to plant her claws into the screen door and shake it when she wanted my attention (she's an outside cat).

In the end, as with most things, it depends on the cat. Some cats will learn from it, some will fear it, some will actually enjoy it. Because the spray bottle is a very human method of discipline, you never know how a cat will respond.

Hissing, on the other hand, definately makes sense to any cat, since it's "their" language. Other things that I've heard of are scruffing the cat and flipping it over (in the case where the cat is trying to be the alpha cat) and blowing a puff of air in their face. While some of these methods seem more extreme than the water bottle, they are actually not so bad since the cat instinctively understands these actions as disciplinary and not an attack from you.

One thing I learned is that not all cats appreciate humming. I read somewhere that if you hum low, the resulting vibration will simulate purring, and comfort a cat. So, Snowball was lying next to me and I started humming. She looked up, her pupils dialted, ears folded down, and she ran the heck out of there! I realized that it must have sounded like I was growling at her. As it turns out, it's an effective warning sound you can use if the cat is about to do something bad.
post #7 of 18
It takes practice to hiss correctly. If I haven't hissed for a period of time, I lose my touch. Also for me, it seems to have more effect if I show some teeth and stare directly into my cat's eyes.
post #8 of 18
Hissing DEFINATELY does nothing for our cats, they will just look at you and keep on going. Spraying water doesn't do anything either, they could care less. The only thing that I have found to somewhat work is take away whatever they aren't supposed to have (if it is moveable) or pick them up and put them some where else. We have a major problem with Neko's aggressiveness (sp?). If he even catches a wiff of Mia (my baby girl kitty) then he goes crazy, in winter she would live in my bedroom with the door closed, and if Neko somehow got in he would attack her, I mean litterally jumping on top, pinning her down and all I see is fur flying. My poor girl is scared to come in the house, she now lives in the garage, has some pillows and blankets and a dog door so she can go outside. She will only come inside if I am holding her, and then she wants to be covered by a blanket and stay close to me. I don't know what to do with him! He doesn't do this to any other cat, and Mia hasn't done anything to him, she is the type of cat that just likes to mind her own bussiness. She is about 3 years old, and Neko is 1. He will also bug Onyx, but he does that for fun, he knows that if he looks at Onyx then Onyx will get pissed and growl, he never touches him.

Anyone know what I can do to get Neko to leave my girl alone? He has started to teach Doku to go after Mia as well!
post #9 of 18
I personally used the water squirt on my boys when they were growing up, but it had to be something extreme that they were doing. Usually it was fighting cause they would be sitting there, and all of a sudden fur would be flying and growls all over the place. But I never sprayed at their head. I always sprayed their bottom, or between them. That was enough to teach them. Now if I pick up the spray bottle, they go running in opposite directions. They're usually back in about 3 minutes to find out what they did wrong.

post #10 of 18
We discovered, quite by accident, that a pressurized air duster works great, with no harm to cats or furnishings. Jim bought the air duster can at Office Depot. It is sold to blow dirt and dust out of your computer keyboard and such. I found it is great for cleaning dust from my sewing machine. While I was sewing one of my cats decided that it would be fun to play with the thread, so I grabbed the nearby spray can, gave him a "puff" of air, and that ended that. Now when he goes somewhere which is off limits I just have to show him the can. Works every time.


Ann, with Jim, Samwise and Miss Kitty, on a Texas beach
post #11 of 18
Being the happy mom of MANY felines, I find the water sprayer extremely effective if you just shake it at the animals... the water-sound is enough to stop whatever is being done that shouldn't be. Sometimes I find it necessary to spray, but rarely.
post #12 of 18
The water bottle has done wonders for me. Its at the point now that all I have to do is pick it up and most times Molly will stop doing whatever it is she knows she shouldn't be doing. I don't use it nearly as much as I used to. The only time now I actually have to use it is in the evening right before bed, when she thinks it is "ok" time for her to do as she wishes LOL. I've learned though that what my mom told me when I first got her is so very true.....

Owners own their dogs....Cats OWN their owners.
post #13 of 18
I only ever used the water spray once, that was to stop a cat fight. I would never use it again because one the cats was scared of me for weeks. From the first day Felix came to me I have a problem with him soiling anywhere he wanted to. None of the other cats do it. I could never shout at a cat but what I have found works with Felix is if I sound really disappointed with him and he gets embarrassed. Now the problem is only once in a while and since he was neutered is hardly at all. The way I got him to stop scratching the furniture was not me at all and was really funny. Everytime he scratched the furniture I put my "disapponted" voice on and Buttons would run up to once of the scratching posts and scratch like mad (as if to say I'm a good girl Mom), and them I praised her, eventually he stopped it. I have wondered sometimes if we should act their real Moms they just put their paws on their backs with a tiny bit of pressure and look stern.
post #14 of 18
Yes, they are like our children at times. I usually tell them when something different is going to happen (like "Dad" and I are traveling and someone else will be taking care of them) or to stay out of "something" or to get along with a "sibling"..... I really think they understand some or part of what I am saying.
They are smart and when you love them, they get smarter! My husband and I have 15 felines (not all indoors) on 2 acres of land and we are serious cat people. I would take more if I could properly take care of them all, its all we can do to take care of this bunch.... Susie, Bob, Geoffrey (he's British), Tut, Gizmo, Sarah, Ocho, Footie, Miracle (he was), Bubba (he is), Bizkit, Teensey, Frank the Tank, Huckleberry and Coco.
post #15 of 18
The water sprayer worked fine for me. I never noticed any problem with the cats being afraid of me afterward. But then both of my cats are very affectionate and dependent cats, too. They get lots of cuddling. And I never used it close enough that there was any danger to their ears; most of the time the water may never have even hit them. I think they stopped what they were doing because of the sound more than anything. However, I haven't used the water sprayer in ages - I don't usually have one around when and where the trouble starts. For little things, usually just a firm "No!" or a "Oh, bad boy!" will do, with the appropriate intonation. Or a clap of the hands.

I tried the hissing for the first time recently and can't believe how effective that was! Three times my two were either in a fight or were making the moves to start one. When "mama" hissed those two went flying off in different directions. I must have a really good hiss! Because of the effectiveness, I think I'll reserve that for the big things like fights.
post #16 of 18
Well I don't know WHAT is wrong with my cats, they love water and could give a rats butt if you spray near them or towards the back of them, they just look at you and keep on doing what they want. Hissing does nothing either, they won't even look at me! They pretend they can't hear me when I KNOW they can! So I really don't know what to do, I also tried shaking my vitamin bottle to make a loud noise and they don't care.
post #17 of 18

Try picking them up and putting them in time-out for about 5 minutes. If you do this every time you catch them being naughty, they will likely stop. And, at the same time, make sure you give them lots of praise and attention when they are being good. This way they will learn that when they are good they get lots of lovin and when they are bad, they get none at all (because they are in time-out).
post #18 of 18
Well this will work with small things (I usually do pick up neko and move him to a different room then onyx, the one he bugs) although he has a major problem with Mia. Mia is about 3-4 years old, and is to scared to come into the house unless I am holding her at all times, and keeping her close to me under a blanket. Neko is 1 year old and whenever he sees her, or even smells her he goes straight for her. It is nasty, he pins her down and there is evil growling and hissing, and lots of fur flying. I don't know what to do, especially if we move, then they will all be kept inside, I wish Mia could live inside right now (she stays in the garage). Do you have any idea of what I can do? I tried spraying, but like I said, it does nothing.
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