Just like humans, cats can develop bad habits. The good news is, just like humans, their bad behaviors can be corrected with some commitment and patience.
It’s very important to realize that teaching a cat is not the same as teaching a dog. Cats are more independent than dogs, and they’re a lot less likely to listen to commands. Even so, cats should be rewarded when they do what’s asked of them, but you shouldn’t punish them for making mistakes, so it is like training any other animal in some ways.
The three simple steps to correcting your cat’s behavior:
These are the three basic steps you’ll use to correct your cat’s unwanted bad habits.
- Distract the cat from his bad behavior.
- Direct his behavior to a more appropriate activity.
- Offer a reward for good behavior, such as a favorite treat, some affection, or a little play time.
Now, let’s talk about some specific things you can do to correct the most common issues.
Walking on Kitchen Counters
It seems like most cats take a look at a kitchen counter and decide it’s the perfect runway. And we all know where those paws have been! The last thing you want is the cat walking where you prepare your food. Start by making the surface less attractive to your cat by putting down double-sided tape or aluminum foil. When you see him trying to jump on the counter, move him to a more appropriate place, such as his cat tree, and offer him a treat or some other positive reinforcement. Cats love to observe their domain from a high place, so offering a cat tree with a high vantage point will make the kitchen counter much less appealing.
Scratching on the Furniture
If you don’t already have several scratching posts in your home, that’s a good place to start. Place one near the piece of furniture your cat loves to scratch on. Make the scratching post extra appealing by attaching a fun toy to it or putting catnip on it. Then make the piece of furniture less desirable for scratching by putting plastic wrap or double stick tape over it. Watch him closely and distract him whenever he looks like he’s getting ready to go for the furniture. Redirect him to the scratching post and offer a reward when he uses it.
Consistency is always going to be the key when you’re trying to train any animal. In this case, your cat is just doing what comes naturally to him. If you can create a more appropriate outlet for these natural behaviors, your cat will be less likely to continue in his bad habits. Remember that many bad habits develop out of boredom, so offering enriching activities that will keep your cat entertained will be a huge help. Taking the time to correct your cat’s bad habits will make life more enjoyable for both of you.