Many cat owners are not aware of how they influence the behavior of their cats by their own behavior. I often experience amazed faces when talking to cat owners. Stunned, because the owners are surprised that they have encouraged their cat in unwanted behavior quite by accident.
To train cats, so the misbelief is, is more than simple. So simple that there is hardly anything to know about it. Since this is not the case, today I would like to introduce you to the most common training mistakes made by us humans and give you tips on how to do it better.
Mistakes in educating the cat
Your cat is not allowed to jump on the dining room table? Through positive reinforcement, you can teach her that the dining table is off-limits to her. How this works, you can read here. But one thing is more than important: Consistency. Once the table is a taboo zone for your cat, it should always be so. Your laborious training will be over if you allow your cat to crawl on the table once in a while. If you give her a little stroke on the table, your cat will try everything to get back on the table as soon as possible. After all, you were so incredibly sweet to her the last time she was up there. But if you send Miezi away from the table again, she is completely confused. So stay consistent in your actions. So you do not make it unnecessarily difficult for your darling to understand you.
Once a mishap has happened to your cat, punishment is the wrong way to show your cat that his behavior was not correct. Hitting, locking away and aggressiveness towards the cat are absolutely taboo. With this behavior you unsettle your cat so much that you destroy the trust you have built up. Your cat develops fears and shyness towards you and possibly causes more mishaps due to the increased stress.
Cats show you with their behavior how they are feeling. For example, if your cat defecates next to the toilet, maybe there is something wrong with the litter box or your cat is in pain. It acts with cat typical behavior. To punish them for it is an absurdity. Much more you should go on cause research.
By the way: Scratching, meowing, climbing and Co. belong to the cat like breathing. These are instincts for which a cat should never be punished. If you don’t want your cat to scratch the curtain, make it uninteresting for her and allow her other places where she can sharpen her claws.
3. Loud scolding
Oops, your cat has been playing wildly. And poof, your favorite vase broke in the process. You are so angry about it that you shout loudly at your cat. How could she destroy your favorite vase?
Of course, your cat does not know what he has just broken because of his exuberance. For her it sounds like this: She has played more exuberantly than she has in a long time. But today the Flummi flew through the apartment in a very exciting way. Past the TV, straight onto the sofa and then also onto the side table. "Quick, nothing like it, on the side table I get him. Juhu makes this a fun! And suddenly my mistress comes and yells at me very loudly. I’m afraid, ouch, it’s loud, I get out of the way very quickly and don’t dare to look at my mistress the whole day long."
Loud scolding makes cats extremely insecure and causes stress. In addition, the volume is extremely uncomfortable for cats. Similar to punishment, loud scolding and yelling usually leads to a break between owner and cat. The cat gets scared, is afraid of its owner and withdraws. Such a shattered relationship is usually difficult to overturn again.
Misfortunes happen when you run a cat household. And cats being cats. How to avoid such mishaps? Put your vase where Kitty can’t destroy it. And if something does happen, remember that scolding cats out loud is taboo.
4. The wrong time
Do you know situations like this? You come home from work and discover your tipped over plant in the hallway. Many leaves are broken off and the soil is already all over the place. You are so angry that you scold your kitty disappointedly. For you totally logical, after all, your cat has destroyed your plant and with it still half the apartment made dirty. Your cat, however, has long forgotten about the upturned plant; after all, it happened three hours ago. For Miezi, you come in to the apartment and scold her. However, she doesn’t connect your behavior with the plant, but with your coming home. What should be a nice moment between you, will from now on be remembered by the cat as an unpleasant situation.
So if you want to point out misbehavior to your cat, your reprimand (Not a loud scolding!) must be done at the same time as the misbehavior. Only then the cat can learn from it.
By the way: Cats do not learn by punishment or reprimand, cats learn from praise and affection. Therefore, it is much more important to praise positive behavior instead of punishing negative behavior. If you, as a cat owner, learn about cat-typical behavior, you will live with a contented cat that trusts its owner and is happy to give affection.
Annika lives with her three cats in Munich. She trained as a cat behavior therapist and shares stories about living with her velvet paws and many other beautiful things in life on her blog Stilliebe.