Why You Should Never Discipline Your Cat
Cats would tell you themselves if they spoke in the same language as ours to stop disciplining them. Cats do not take punishment well and can even become scared of you due to punishment. [It’s important to remember that POSITIVE reinforcement is the only type we ever recommend!]
Physical punishment should never be given to a cat or any pet for that matter since it only worsens their behavior. They are animals, used to the wilderness and doing their own thing. Moreover, the key is environmental enrichment. Provide your cat with plenty of playtime and scratch posts. Take preventive measures though if you find the kitty hell-bent on ruining all your stuff. Provide your cat with daily interactive playtime and for items that you don’t want knocked over, cat proof them.
Cover the surface with double-sided tape and aluminum foil in case of behaviors like tearing up the couches or jumping on counters. When people pet their cats in an uncomfortable manner or over-stimulate them, it results in aggressive behavior during playtime like biting or scratching. Never pay back in the same coin if you notice your cat getting rough, biting or scratching while playing. What you should do instead is as soon as you see these signs, give your cat a break from the interactive play. Until your cat calms down, leave the room, it would tell them you have boundaries.
Since cats and humans speak different languages, they show us how and what they are feeling through their body language and it is imperative for us to understand what they are trying to say. You will find development of more unwanted behaviors due to punishing the original one.
Humans and cats have a different perspective of morality. Unlike us, they do not perceive their actions as destructive or bad. Therefore, every time you punish the cat, instead of associating the punishment with their behavior, they will associate it with the person delivering the punishment. This would lead to your cat shying away from you. They would perceive you as hurtful and scary instead of the loved and trusted person you once were.
Instead of punishing your cat, stop for a moment and think that there is always a reason for a certain behavior. What we deem as an unpleasant behavior is usually the cat’s response to a stressful stimulus in their environment. Cats are more likely to feel insecure and anxious due to punishment. They need to feel secure in their world and due to periodic yelling or punishing, it is difficult to feel happy and safe.
Moreover, cats would probably avoid the spots where they were punished. If they were reprimanded near their litter box, for instance, they would avoid using them. Your cat may become so anxious and fearful they avoid the room where the litter box is located.
To find out the best way to curb your cat’s unwanted or rebellious behavior, talk to a behaviorist or a vet. And until then, remember that cats are not made for disciplining, and steer clear of physical punishment because it will do more harm than good.