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Old 12-21-2012, 03:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cat discipline 101? Need advice

Hey guys,

I'm a little frustrated with knowing how to properly discipline cats. I'm very used to methods used on dogs, e.g. if they start to focus their attention on something they're not supposed to (ears prick up), you issue a correction via collar tug or a harsh sound. It seems like dogs learn pretty easily what to do and not to do. Cats.. well, you know. I have no idea how to get my cat to stop doing a few things that we don't want him to do:

1) Jump onto the kitchen counter (this might be a lost cause).
2) Chew on cords (this is an important one).
3) Play too aggressively with our older (11 yrs) cat who has a bad shoulder.
4) Ambushing the older cat when he's in the litter box.

He's not a huge chewer, but I've caught him a couple times chewing on charger cables, and I give him a flick in the ear to get him to stop (he seems to hate that; getting sprayed with water doesn't bug him too much, not to mention I can't be spraying him around electronics).

As far as play, the cats do mostly OK, but sometimes the younger guy is too rough and it sounds like a borderline real fight. I usually scruff the younger guy immediately, tell him no forcefully, and lightly toss him aside.

When the older cat is in the litter box, the young guy waits outside to ambush him after, or sometimes even disturbs him during. We're trying to get him to stop doing this so the older guy doesn't associate going to the bathroom with getting attacked. Again, I usually flick him in the ear or just block him from going near the litter box while the old guy is in there. He doesn't seem to get the message though, and hasn't stopped doing this.

I need some Jackson Galaxy type advice here. Dogs, I get. Cats, I don't. Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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as for chewing on cable you could try bitter apple spray.

ambushing the other cat when he is in litter box, well, that doesnt sound like fun for the older. how many litter boxes do you have for them?
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Two boxes. It's not about him needing room.. he just does it to be a jerk. As soon as he hears the older cat scratching in the box, he runs over there and waits to attack.
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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1) Jumping on the counter Ssscat Automatic Deterrent is effective for most.
Amazon.com: Multivet International CMV19005 Ssscat Cat Control Spray System: Pet Supplies Amazon.com: Multivet International CMV19005 Ssscat Cat Control Spray System: Pet Supplies
Has advantage of not being associated with you and it works when you're not there. If that doesn't work, resign yourself and just wipe down all the kitchen counters with Lysol wipes before preparing any food.

2) Yes do try the Bitter Apple available at most pet stores, but if that doesn't work, you can get wire covers. A lot of it is just teething which he will grow out of in a few months.

3) Play too aggressively. You didn't mention how old he is, but he's in bratty teenage phase if he's between 4-10 mos. old or even older. Most settle down when they're 2+. NO EAR FLICKING ever. Cats hate that and some will retaliate with aggression, then you have another problem. A better method is to distract him from the older cat by tossing a toy, paper/foil ball, or shake a can of pennies. If he's really aggressive, you will have to separate them when you're not there to supervise to protect your senior cat. If distraction doesn't work with him, during an attack walk at him with heavy stomping feet saying "bad boy" at the same time. Most cats don't like that. If your young cat still bugs, a swat with a newspaper on his bum while he's attacking your old cat will work....it doesn't hurt him, but most cats don't like the sound of it. You have to show him you're the alpha cat in the house and you won't tolerate his bad behavior with the other cat.

4) Ambushing other cat in litter box. A definite NO NO. Next thing you know your older cat will be going somewhere else where he feels safer. Remove your younger cat and put him in another room until your senior cat has finished with the litter box. You could try to use the method of discipline as for aggression. Just make it clear to your older cat that it's not him you're mad at by showing affection to him if he gets scared of you.
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Last edited by catloverami; 12-21-2012 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 12-21-2012, 05:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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1) We've tried Ssscat with previous cats.. the device seems to become unreliable and spotty at detecting movement. Maybe it was a lemon. We could try again.

2) The younger guy is 2 yrs old, he wouldn't be teething at this point I don't think.

3 & 4) Good ideas.. I'll try these next time. Though it's hard to always be there when the older one is using the litter box, so I can't always separate them by putting the younger cat in another room.

And no more ear-flicking. It was the only thing that really seemed to deter him. That, and oddly a pair of kitchen tongs that he hates when they click together.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If the clicking of the tongs deter him, definitely use them when he starts harassing your older cat. He may become habituated to them tho over time and then ignore them.
You're right, at 2 yrs. old, he wouldn't be teething.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Ha! Interesting. For some reason he fears the clicking tongs, so I'll use that as soon as he does something bad. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Maybe he dislikes them because they sound like gnashing of teeth. lol
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