21 May Should You Punish Your Cat for Scratching?
Punishment should only be administered to a cat that is in the middle of scratching objects that are unacceptable. Punishment that is not administered at the time of the offence is not effective and confuses the cat. It will not eliminate the problem with scratching unless administered properly.
The ideal punishment method to use on a cat that is scratching objects should not is remote punishment. This type of punishment has no direct interaction between cat and owner.
Methods of remote punishment can include squirting it with a spray bottle set on “stream”, or ideally loud noises such as whistles, wall-slapping or loud rattling sounds.
Use of interactive punishment in which the cat knows the owner is inflicting it, will only serve as a deterrent when the owner is present. It trains the cat to wait until the owner is out of sight before scratching the inappropriate furniture.
Cats do not have a comprehension of the principles of punishment which is why administering it after the act has been committed does not work. Animals in general do not understand the use of physical punishment as a consequence. Hitting a cat will only teach it to fear and breed insecurity.
An insecure cat will develop other behavioural problems. Nervousness is likely to cause more inappropriate scratching. Additionally, physical punishment will eventually trigger a cat’s defence mechanism and when the owner least expects it, the cat will strike out. Eventually, there is no trust at the foundation of the relationship between cat and owner.
Fear that results from physical punishment will make it nearly impossible to care for the cat. They will accept food because they can wait for the owner to leave the area, but they will be impossible to catch for a visit to the vet or for claw trimmings. Enjoyment for both the pet and owner will be lost. Cats have surprisingly good memories and are the bearers of grudges.
The best suggestion in our opinion is to buy them a cat scratching post and encourage them to use this instead. A good strong and sturdy scratching post will serve as the puurfect distraction!