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How to Punish a Cat

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Spray bottle

  • Water

  • Two-sided tape

  • Aluminum foil

  • Empty soda cans

  • Plastic cups

When punishing a cat, the punishment must fit the behavior. If the cat does not connect that the punishment is related to a certain behavior, it will continue to misbehave. Punishment should never be painful or harmful in any manner. Before using punishment, be sure to provide the cat with the proper cat care items that most felines need, such as a scratching post, toys, readily available food and water, and a clean litter box. Should unacceptable behavior continue, even when the cat is provided with these items, then punishment can be used. The following guidelines are well known suggestions, and if necessary, contact a veterinarian if there is concern that a cat’s bad behavior is related to its health.

Clap your hands together to make a loud sound when you see your cat in the act of misbehaving. The idea is to get the cat’s attention and you can tell it “no” for reinforcement, but do not frighten the cat so badly that it becomes skittish.

Purchase an empty spray bottle, and fill it with plain, room temperature water. When your cat misbehaves, for example by biting attacking, or scratching furniture, simply spray the cat with water a couple of times. Spray bottles can be found at most department stores in the housewares section.

Set up a trap to scare the cat away when you will not be present to punish the cat yourself. A safe and reasonably priced trap can be made out of empty soda cans or plastic cups. Stack the cans or cups up in the area that the cat is causing problems in so that they will fall and startle the animal if it goes near the trap.

Place double-sided tape on any object that the cat tends to scratch. It will be very unpleasant for the cat to return to this object, because of the memory of the tape.

Clean up any messes that the cat has made; for example, if the cat chose to use the bathroom on the floor as opposed to the litter box, clean up after it. Be sure that the litter box is clean, not overused by too many cats, in a private location, and that the litter is suitable for the cat. You may need to try different types of litter. Place some tin foil around the area where the cat made a mess. The aluminum foil will deter the cat from stepping in this area.


  • Never hit a cat. It will not help alleviate bad behavior, and it can hurt or cause death.