Oh, how we love our cats. Their tiny toes, their beautiful coats, and their loving purrs are enough to make a cat lover’s heart melt. While they may not show it as much as a dog, our cats love us just as much as we love them, and the bond we share with them is truly special.
However. As amazing as they are, cats have their quirks, too. Cat owners know what I mean by this — they’re a finicky species that take a lot of patience and unconditional love to live with! While we put up with a lot of it, there are certain things that our cats do that we just can’t let slide. So, what do we do when these annoyances happen?
The old trick of squirting a cat with a spray bottle has gained popularity over the years, simply because it works. But does it? It might get results in the short term, but are you doing damage when you punish your cat this way? Cat experts agree that spray bottles aren’t the best way to go, and I have to say I’m on board with that theory.
So, what are you supposed to do then> Just let kitty run amok and terrorize your home sweet home? Absolutely not. But there are alternatives to the spray bottle that are much kinder to your cat, and that won’t put a strain on your bond, either. Here are the top 6 alternatives to the spray bottle for the next time your cat performs one of these annoying behaviors:
1. Climbing on Surfaces
Every cat owner knows the frustration of having a kitty that constantly climbs on forbidden surfaces. This is one of the traits that all cats share, even those who wait until we leave the room to do it!
Cats naturally like to be up high: it gives them a sense of security and allows them the best possible vantage point of their surroundings. It’s an easy way to get out of that pesky dog’s reach, and a great way to satisfy their curiosity about any items up there — after all, if we keep it up high, it must be interesting!
It’s easy to grab a spray bottle out of frustration when your kitty jumps up on the counter (or table, shelf, etc.) like a flying ninja, and yes, it works to get them off in a pinch.
But the reason it works is because they hate it, and while it may only seem fair that they get irritated just as you are, it’s not a good idea.
Cats — with the exception of a select few — hate water, and certainly don’t appreciate it being squirted in their face. Over time, they may learn to associate that annoying water with you, which will harm your bond and cause them not to trust you.
Instead of using water as a deterrent, try introducing a positive alternative instead. Get kitty her own high place to climb, like a tall cat tree or some floating shelves designed for cats.
She’ll love you for giving her a place to be up high that’s just for her, and it’ll help cut back on her annoying counter surfing behavior.
Sprinkle a little catnip on the surface of her new digs or put little pieces of her favorite food up there to entice her. Before long, that will be her new favorite place, and both of you will be happier for it!
2. Scratching Furniture
Cat people know that the love of a cat is priceless, but that doesn’t mean we appreciate our furniture being torn to pieces.
That brand new couch or comfy chair you love so much is prime real estate as far as your cat is concerned — they can’t wait to sink their claws in and give it a good scratch.
There are several reasons why cats scratch vertical surfaces, and they’re all based on feline instinct. Leaving their scent, filing their nails, and relieving stress are all reasons our kitties perform this maddening behavior, so it’s not just because they don’t want you to have nice things!
Spraying water on your cat for scratching is a bad idea for the reasons mentioned in the previous point, but it also goes deeper than that. Not only are you stopping them from doing what their instincts tell them to do, you’re adding insult to injury by squirting water in their face!
Another thing to consider is that they’re marking their territory by scratching, which is one of several ways cats leave their scent on their surroundings. Isn’t scratching highly preferable to another way they might do that? I’d think so!
There are a number of ways you can deter kitty from turning your couch into a pile of fibers, and without using water to do it! Firstly, make sure he has other options as far as scratching sources go, and plenty of them.
Placing them near the furniture at first will help — especially if they smell like catnip — but you can move them to more convenient places once kitty uses them regularly.
You can also try spraying your furniture with bitter apple or something else cats hate the smell of, but to be honest, just having their own areas to scratch to their heart’s content will be the most helpful.
3. Eating Your Food
There’s an old myth floating around that cats are more dignified than dogs. While this may be true in many situations, when it comes to human food, all bets are off!
If you’ve ever been stared down, yelled at, or straight up had your food stolen off your plate while eating, you know exactly what I mean. Cats are very cunning and know exactly how to get what they want, even if it means making you so frustrated that you give in just so they’ll leave you alone!
Spraying kitty with a water bottle during these maddening times might be very tempting, and you wouldn’t be alone in thinking it’s the only way to stop this behavior.
But the truth is, your cat isn’t trying to be rude (even though they really are), he just wants to share your yummy treats with you! Grabbing the spray bottle may be the first thing that comes to mind, but again, it only gives him a reason to trust you less — and it’s unlikely that the behavior will stop permanently.
You deserve to have a peaceful dining experience, however, so let’s help you with that. One thing you can try is giving kitty his food while you eat.
This works to distract him, as well as to communicate that his dinner is his, and yours is yours. Depending on your personal preference and whether what you’re eating is cat safe, you can also give him his own small portion away from where you’re eating.
The last thing you can do is the hardest: be patient and ignore him. Any attention he gets while he’s acting like a poor little starving cat will only reinforce his behavior, so don’t do it!
4. Going Outside the Box
This is by far the most vexing of all cat behaviors., and sadly, the main reason why cats are surrendered to shelters. The smell of cat pee is like nothing else, and definitely not in a good way!
You’re totally within your rights to be frustrated when kitty uses your home as her bathroom, and it may seem like she’s exacting revenge for some act you committed against her in the past. However, I promise you, she’s not. Inappropriate urination is a cat’s way of trying to tell you something, and it’s usually not anything good.
Cats urinate outside their boxes for a variety of reasons and should never be punished for it — even though it feels like they’re punishing you.
While you might very well be angry enough to reach for the spray bottle when this happens, don’t! You’ll only make whatever’s bothering your cat worse, by adding fear to the problem she’s already dealing with.
This can also make her sneakier about it for fear of being caught, leading to nasty surprises that you may not discover until it’s too late to clean them up.
First things first, take kitty to the vet. Medical causes for peeing outside the box can be life threatening in some cases, and there are a few conditions that cause this behavior, so don’t wait. If your cat is given a clean bill of health, consider her environment. Is her box usually dirty?
Does she have access to more than one box? Is there a change in her environment that’s stressing her out? Getting to the bottom of this will help you figure out the reason for the problem so you can find the solution, resulting in a happier cat and a (much) happier you.
5. Playing too Rough
Cats are predatory creatures, as is evidenced by their crazy hunt/catch/kill play styles. They’re also well equipped with those sharp claws and teeth we’ve all felt from time to time while playing with our cats, which makes it frustrating when they get a little overzealous in their play.
While the crazy cat zoomies are pretty darn cute, feeling teeth or claws sinking into your skin is quite the opposite, and can cause some cat folk to feel the need to reach for the spray bottle.
This is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you’re basically punishing them for having a good time, which is confusing and scary.
This may lead to them not wanting to play with you anymore, as they’ll start associating play sessions with something they don’t like.
Second, spraying a cat with water usually causes them to run away, which means they’ll be scrambling with their claws out. Not the smartest thing to do when said claws are currently stuck in your skin, right?
Instead of spraying kitty with water when he gets over excited, consider playing in a different way.
Use wand toys to create some distance between you or throw those little mice down the hall for him to chase instead of giving him a chance to play too close to your hands.
Also, learn to read his signals: ears back, thrashing tail, and wide eyes usually mean he’s getting over stimulated, so either end the play session before things get out of hand or give him an alternate option. It’s amazing what you can understand about your cat when you pay attention!
6. Being Extra Vocal
One of my cats used to do this all the time, to the point where I wished I had earplugs — just so I didn’t have to hear him.
Listening to them meow, meow, meow, endlessly can be so annoying you want to pull your hair out, so it’s understandable that spray bottles come to mind for some people!
It might not seem as annoying as a dog that barks constantly, but trust me, it’s not that different. However, it’s not a reason to squirt your feline friend with water, either.
As much as you want to use the spray bottle in this situation, it will likely do nothing to stop the behavior — at least not for long.
Your cat is literally trying to tell you something, you just don’t understand his language! While this is obviously not your fault, spraying him with the spray bottle might make him stop for a moment, but he’ll go right back to his kitty serenade after a few minutes.
Not only that, but his trust in you will be diminished, as will the bond the two of you once shared.
While some cats are just extra vocal naturally (Tabbies and Siamese, that means you), it can also be a sign of anxiety or even an underlying health issue.
If neither of these are the cause, try a little sleuthing to see if you can find anything about his environment that’s troubling him. Does he need water in his bowl, or are you a little late setting out his dinner? Is there a new cat in the yard that he doesn’t like, or is he in need of some exercise?
All these causes are pretty easily remedied, so the excessive meowing should stop once his needs are being met.