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How to properly train your cat to play nice

Jana Randall is a busy mother, loving wife, and active career woman from Arizona. In her free time, Jana writes to cover topics on home, living, and pets, while also working full time and blogging. As interests, Jana enjoys reading, wr...

Nice kitty

A cat has a natural desire to play, jump, sleep and scratch. And while you in no way want to inhibit its biological instincts, it is OK to discipline your cat when it scratches you or any other member of your family. Here are a few tips to teaching your kitty to play nice.
Woman playing with cat
Photo credit: Inti St. Clair/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Use your words

The moment your cat scratches a human or does something you deem as inappropriate behavior, give it a firm "No!" Although cats believe that you are their pet, it is still important to show who is boss. Avoid yelling, as this may scare the cat, but use a tone other than you normally do so that your cat understands your seriousness. Also, add its name, so it fully understands that the disciplinary action is directed towards it.

The silent treatment

Another option for disciplining your cat is to give it the silent treatment, meaning, ignore it. Immediately stop playing, interacting and giving any affection toward your kitty. It will immediately understand that you no longer want to play with it and should walk away. Should it attempt an "apology" by rubbing against you while purring, give it a slight pat to accept, but do not cuddle as normal so it understands her punishment.

Physical discipline

Physical discipline with your cat definitely isn't the best approach since it may become fearful of you. You want to show your cat that biting you is inappropriate. Lightly cuff its face, say "no," and let it go. Spanking or hitting your cat will do more harm than good, as well as chasing it for discipline.

Spray bottles

Perhaps one of the most-effective ways to teach a bite-loving cat to stop is to utilize a spray bottle. A bit of a reactive discipline method, you will need to have the spray bottle on hand for any moment the cat strikes. Once it bites, immediately spray it in the face with water so that it is uncomfortable and avoids the actions that cause it to receive the discipline. If it is biting or tearing furniture, you may also want to set a booby trap to spray it whenever it does anything inappropriate.

Everyday practice

Don't forget to make time for your cat daily. It needs and wants love from its human! Sometimes cats will act out when they are not getting enough attention or have a medical problem. If you see that your cat's behavior changes abruptly, make an appointment with the vet to ensure that there isn't an underlying issue.

Other options

  • If you don't want your cat to scratch any of the human kind, give it a few options around the house. Set up a scratching post or play area that is exclusively just for your cat with a few toys and things that it is allowed to scratch and chew. This will help it let out its natural need to scratch things, especially you.
  • Play with your cat. Teach and show your cat what is appropriate during playtime. If it attempts any biting or scratching, refer to the above, and give it a stern "No!" and stop the play session.
  • Another thing to incorporate in your kitty's everyday life is rewards for good behavior. If you notice it gets up and leaves a situation rather than attacking, reward it with kind words and an occasional treat. This will help it learn what is appropriate behavior and what is not.

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