|Purred: Tue Feb 19, '13 2:01am PST |
|#1 NEVER discipline a cat for a fear reaction. A fearful cat often will act aggressive in an attempt to defend itself from a perceived threat that it's afraid of. You can't use the same discipline methods with cats that you use with dogs. Holding a cat down in a position that a dog would understand as submissive, is likely to make a cat become even more agitated and may make the cat feel threatened and cause the cat to react with defensive aggression. You can't get physical at all with a fearful cat. Getting physical with a cat will only make the cat's fear and fear-motivated aggression become worse.
Try to figure out what triggers the unwanted behavior in your cat. Some young cats get excited and want to play when you are petting them. A human walking by a young cat hiding under a bed, couch, or other such object will often become the pretend "victim" of a playful ankle attack. Don't encourage your cat to go after your hands or feet, etc. A lot of times people make the mistake of playing rough, hand wrestling, etc with a little kitten, forgetting that the kitten will soon be a grown cat and that all this rough play with human hands is teaching that little kitten to do the same when he or she is grown. Playing with interactive toys, laser lights, etc that the cat can chase is a good way for a human to play with a cat and work off some of the cat's energy.
Some cats get overstimulated and react with biting or swatting if they are petted too much at one time. The key here is to stop petting the cat when you first sense the cat starting to go from relaxed to tense.
Young cats generally get full of energy and need to run it off somehow. Play that seems rough from the human perspective is just energetic fun from a young cat's perspective. Make sure your cat has toys, a cat tree, etc and preferably, another feline playmate to work off some of her youthful energy with. My younger cats tend to save their rough play for each other because its much more fun to race around and jump and play ambush, attack, wrestling, and other such games with a feline playmate who can keep up with you. If one young cat gets too rough, the other one will suddenly stop playing, hiss, smack the offender a couple of times, and the play will stop for awhile. When the play starts up again, the offender generally is careful to play less roughly the next time around.
When you first notice your cat building up agitation when you're interacting with her, take note of what was going on that preceded the cat becoming agitated. If you can figure out what triggers the cat's agitation, you may be able to avoid triggering her agitation in the first place. When your cat starts acting agitated, cease your interaction with the cat, and try redirecting her attention elsewhere by doing something such as throwing a ball. Sometimes simply slowly turning or walking away and ignoring the cat awhile will work too.
With misbehavior such as trying to play attack you, being too pushy about trying to beg or steal food from you, being on or in something that's supposed to be off-limits, etc., hissing at a cat with canned air or air freshener is an excellent way to make your point in a way that a cat understands & that always seems to work. You spray the canned air or air freshener in the general direction of the cat (don't actually spray anything ON the cat-its the strong hissing sound and whoosh of air that gets the cat's respect) and the cat should stop the undesired behavior and probably will leave the room. I also say something such as "knock it off," or "back off," when I hiss at a cat with the canned air or air freshener. After awhile, you will find that the all you need to do is pick up the can and show it to the cat and the cat will stop the misbehavior.
Dealing with pets is in a lot of ways, much like dealing with human toddlers. Avoiding situations that may cause problems, preventing problems from getting started, stopping problems as soon as they start, setting up situations etc that encourage good behavior, etc all are strategies that need to be used when dealing with pets just as they need to be used when dealing with small children. For example, it's much easier and better for both me and the cats for me to keep childproof locks on kitchen cabinet doors that I don't want the cats to open. It takes me seconds to open the childproof lock when I need to get into the cabinet. The cats cannot open the childproof locks. The problem of cats getting into the cabinets that I don't want them getting into, is prevented and prevention is much better and more positive for me and for the cats.
Most cats aren't mentally grown up until they are at least two years old. Before you know it your cat, like most adult cats, will probably become much more sedentary than she was as a kitten. I remember the time 2 to 3 years ago when after several years of having only adult cats, two rescue kittens came my way. At first it was a bit of a shock to me when these two kittens started getting into everything, stalking my ankles from under the bed, chewing on things, knocking over things, and otherwise reminding me of just what life with a kitten is like. I quickly kittenproofed things and otherwise readjusted to life with kittens again. I added a few new playthings such as the long fabric tube and another sisal wrapped carpeted cat tree. The kittens and young cats spend hours playing on and in these things. The adult cats, Buddha especially, also were very helpful in teaching the kittens how to behave.
The more positive ways you use to relate to your young cat and shape her behavior, the more you communicate with her in ways a cat can understand, and the more you remember to give her time to play with interactive toys with you, snuggle with you, and enjoy each other's company, the more you will be able to avoid problems and prevent them from developing and the better the foundation you will create for a good lifetime relationship with your cat. Best of luck to you both!
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