Let’s examine litter box problems for example. The cat stops using the litter box and starts urinating on the carpet in the dining room. The cat parent who punishes, rubs the cat’s nose in the mess, hits, yells, sends the cat into time-out or shoves the cat into the litter box has only succeeded in doing one thing: elevating the cat’s fear and stress to an emotionally unhealthy and physically unhealthy level. What if the cat was eliminating outside of the box because he was in pain due to a urinary tract problem and associated the box with his pain? Because he will now associate punishment with the need to eliminate, he is not only in pain from the medical condition but he’s afraid and unsure about where to pee or poop. As a cat guardian you intended to convey the message that the cat’s choice for elimination was wrong but the actual message he received was that urination is bad and will result in punishment and fear. Since urination will have to occur again at some point when his bladder gets full, he’ll become stressed and may attempt to retain urine as long as possible and that’s not physically healthy. He may also attempt to find a more secretive place for elimination to avoid your punishment. Either option causes even more stress to an already stressed-out cat.
Cats aren’t Dogs or Fur-Covered Children
Many behavior problems could also be corrected or avoided in the first place if people stopped viewing their cats as children or dog substitutes. Cats should be loved and cherished but when you forget that he is a CAT with specific, normal feline needs and the inability to scheme, it’s a set-up for failure. Additionally, when you adopt a cat and expect him to act like a dog and then are disappointed because he doesn’t interact with you the way dogs do, it creates another lose-lose situation. View cats as the beautiful, intelligent, playful, social creatures that they are and you might just be surprised what you can learn. You have an opportunity to have an amazing relationship with the cat in your life if you take the time to look at his world the way he does.
Need More Information?
For more specific information on the correct behavior modification techniques to use for behavior problems, refer to the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. The books are available in bookstores everywhere, through your favorite online book retail site and also here on our website.