Never Punish

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Punishment is pointless. Giving a cat a shake if you catch it chewing on your houseplants or jumping onto the kitchen work surface may satisfy your need to vent your anger but all it will do with your cat is make it worry more about what you plan to do when you touch it. So will shrieking and screaming at it The more you use punishment the more likely your cat will simply view you as a weirdo and avoid your touch, even your presence.

Divine intervention is different. Divine intervention doesn’t come from you, it is a direct result of what the cat just did. For example, a cat jumps onto the kitchen work surface, lands on double sided sticky tape, doesn’t like the feel and instantly jumps off. A cat jumps on a bed, through an infra-red beam from a tiny burglar alarm that sets off a siren, doesn’t like the sound and escapes from the bedroom. A cat is about to scratch the sofa and – silently – gets a shot of water in its face from a water pistol. All these are, from a cat’s perspective, ‘acts of God’, not punishment from you. Your aim in associating what it is doing with something mildly unpleasant is to train it in ‘avoidance’. All feral cats learn through experience how to avoid dangers. Be creative but always be kind with your use of ‘divine intervention’. Your aim is to train your cat to abandon whatever it wants to do because it’s unexpectedly unpleasant, but never painful.

A Hiss Is Useful

A short, sharp hiss can be a simple way to stop a cat in its tracks long enough for you to put it off what it’s planning to do. Has your cat caught sight of a songbird in the grass? A sharp hiss, or any other noise, should distract it long enough for the bird to fly away or for you to get your cat. A hiss is part of a cat’s verbal repertoire. Use it sparingly otherwise your cat will learn it means nothing.

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