Spraying Cats Is Not The Answer
The squirt bottle has a reputation of being the first tool for correcting behavior problems among pet owners but is one I never recommend. The squirt bottle can destroy the bond that you share with your cat and cause stress for everyone involved. Read this article for less invasive and cat friendly techniques for training.
The Downfall Of Using Squirt Bottles
The squirt bottle as a method of deterring cats is still popular in many households for keeping cats off counters. Many other people use the squirt bottle in an attempt to stop their cats from scratching furniture or from being aggressive toward cats or people.
One would think that the squirt bottle would be highly effective since it is well known but this is far from reality. The squirt bottle will only cause feelings of frustration, fear, and stress for your cat long term. Your cat will likely learn to participate in problem behavior when you are not around and hide when he sees you.
The reason that squirt bottles do not work is because the cat is associating the squirt bottle with you. The cat knows that once you are gone, the squirt bottle is gone. This is bad because he is going to associate the spraying with you which can create long term fear or stress of people, especially you. Cats that were once social can start to stray away from people or social situations.
Punishment Is Not The Answer For Training
The truth is if you punish a cat for showing behavior that you do not like, there is not likely going to be a change in the behavior because cats do not respond to punishment. I want you to realize that there is a purpose for every behavior that your cat exhibits regardless of how unpleasant or bad the behavior seems to be.
All behaviors serve a function when it comes to the cat or any animal for that matter. Many behaviors may be viewed as an unwanted or bad behavior like furniture scratching but are completely normal. Scratching is a way for your cat to remove old claw sheathes and release pent up stress for instance.
When you spray your cat for scratching furniture, you may stop the behavior for a brief period of time but that does not remove his need to exhibit normal behavior which will continue. If the cat is punished when he tries to engage in normal behavior then he will start to develop a fear of you and continue the behavior when you are not watching.
Understanding Your Cat
First step is to figure out the reason behind a behavior that your cat is exhibiting so you can provide better options to suit his instinctual needs. If your cat is scratching up your couches or carpet then you want to get a scratching post or cat tower for him while using deterrents such as double sided sticky tape. If your cat is showing aggression toward you or another individual then you want to work on building positive associations. I have included a few links below as an example of how you can work with problem behavior.
How to fix inappropriate urination article
How to modify destructive clawing article
Trust must be the foundation of training and is paramount when working with any cat. You will need your cat to trust you for you to form a bond with your cat. Having a cat run from you will always result in a low trust level. It is time to put the squirt bottle away and focus on a more humane training method.