Teaching Your Cat Good Manners
By Charles Hopkins
Published 10/23/2007 | Pets and Animals
Establishing the relationship between you and your cat can either fall in place smoothly or take patience and time.
This article is not about how to train your kitten to rollover or
sit. It's about setting boundaries, such as him not jumping on the
table or swinging of the curtains, using a scratching post as opposed
to your speakers or that beautiful sofa you have. It's about getting
him to use the litter box instead of the inside of your closet or your
best cozy comforter!
Our job as owners is to make the cat understand what we will and
won't accept. With setting your boundaries you are showing him that you
rank #1 when it comes to hierarchy.
So how are you going to do that? It is common sense really... Make
all experiences rewarding for your cat when he does something you want
him to do, however it should not be such a pleasant experience if he's
doing something he shouldn't be doing.
Here are some basic troubleshooting tips:
LITTER BOX TRAINING
When the majority of people see a wet spot on the floor, carpet or
wherever it may be, their initial reaction is to go and get their cat,
take him to the litter box and hold him down. Some people even rub the
cat's nose in it! This is by any means not acceptable, and most likely
will have a bad impact on the cat's psyche. If punished like this, he
will associate the punishment with his litter box and avoid using it
altogether. He also could get angry or anxious and lash out in some
The best way to deal with litter box training is containing him to
a space where it is large enough for him as well as his litter box.
Just until he gets the idea that this is where he needs to do his
business! It is best to put him in his litter box about 10 - 20 minutes
after he eats. You may want to shuffle the litter around for him a bit,
in clean litter of course! This gives him something to mimic. Although
this usually comes naturally to most cats, there are the occasional few
that need a bit of help.
If he simply jumps out of the box, that's OK. It's just a reminder
to let him know it's there. When you see him using the litter box,
praise him by petting him a lot, talking to him and a little piece of
his favorite treat could only be beneficial. On the other hand, if he
has an accident on your carpet, don't yell at him just ignore him.
Clean it up thoroughly to remove any remnants of urine or feces odor
that would attract him to do it there again. With little patience and
reward system it won't take him long to master the concept of using his
For cats, scratching is a natural thing to do, and necessary too.
It not only feels good on their claws, it helps to keep them filed down
and marks the territory with their scent. You should always provide
your cat with an outlet for scratching.
Sometimes your cat will favor an object such as and to no surprise
your couch, speakers or a favorite rug. Usually, it's just one or two
objects he will get his claws at. It's up to you then to make his
favorite scratching object unappealing to him.
All cats are different, some do not like the feel of two-sided
sticky tape, and a citrus or menthol scent repels others. You could
also try covering his selected scratching spot with some sort of
netting or loosely knitted fabric. Although this may not be the most
attractive decor in your house, remember that it's only temporary. Cats
do not like to get their nails snagged on anything and this could
If you are trying to get your cat to use that scratching post you
bought him, make it attractive for him. Place it in a location where he
feels comfortable, rub it down with some catnip, or you could buy a
catnip spray to make it more appealing.
It may be cute when you and your new kitten are playing and at 8
weeks old he's biting and scratching your hand and tearing up anything
he can get his little claws on. As time goes by though, and your cute
little kitten turns into a 10-pound cat, things could seem a whole lot
different! So, it is important to detour any bad behavior as early as
When it comes to cat aggression, there is most definitely a
difference between normal behavior and behavior that you want to curve.
For example, it is perfectly normal and acceptable that a cat will bite
and scratch out of self-defense, when attacked or forced to do
something he fears.
However, when you're walking through the comfort of your own home
and all of a sudden your cat leaps out from behind a door and scratches
or bites your ankles hard, this is not acceptable. This kind of attacks
can have a number of reasons. The cat could be playing out his
predatory hunting instincts, or is frustrated and angry because of
something as simple as having no food in his dish. He may simply be
feeling bored or left out and this is his way to ask for your
attention. Never allow your cat to play with you in an aggressive way!
While pouncing and biting softly are normal actions when a cat is
playing, vicious attacks are not. They are the kind of attacks that
could send somebody to an emergency room. In some cases, vicious
outbursts can be seen in cats that haven't been socialized properly
while they were kittens. Your cat could also have a painful condition
you may be unaware of, or an undetected neurological problem, so if
your cat suddenly starts to exhibit unexplained outburst of aggression,
it is important that you have him examined by a vet to make sure
there's actually nothing physically wrong with him.
In the majority of healthy cats, biting is an action that is
developed by miscommunication, or a learned habit. With a little
persistence and patience though, this habit can easily be broken over
Cats are intelligent animals and can learn fast. Remember, they
learn by praise and reward - stick to this law and the two of you will
have many years of happiness together.