Many households use a spray bottle to deter pets from naughty behaviors. While it works at the moment and will certainly stop your cat from doing whatever behavior you don’t like, it’s not the best discipline. Not only is spraying your cat with water uncomfortable and cruel, but it’s also ineffective.
Read on to learn six reasons you shouldn’t use a spray bottle as punishment and to find more effective alternatives to promote good behavior.
The 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Spray Your Cat With Water
1. It’s Uncomfortable
Spraying your pet with water is extremely uncomfortable for her. While you might not think a few water droplets could be that uncomfortable, it can certainly feel that way for your kitty. A cat’s tactile and olfactory senses are much more sensitive than that of humans, so what you feel when spritzed with water will feel much different to your cat.
2. It Can Have Long-Term Negative Effects on Your Relationship
Your cat doesn’t understand why you’re spraying her with water, so anytime you resort to doing so to try to correct her “bad” behavior, you’re putting a strain on your relationship. She may start to fear and distrust you, breaking the beautiful bond you’ve created in your time together.
3. It’s Not Effective
If you spray your kitty with water every time she does something you don’t approve of, she may start associating the unpleasant experience of getting sprayed with you, not her actions.
Additionally, as much as you’d like to think your kitty is an angel when you’re not at home, chances are she’s getting up to no good when she’s alone. You won’t be there to spray her when she’s being naughty, so the punishment is not being reinforced every time she does the bad behavior.
4. It’s Stress Inducing
Being sprayed with water is not only uncomfortable for your kitty, but it can cause her stress levels to rise. When stressed, your pet may be more likely to exhibit the naughty behavior you’re trying to correct and can even promote further bad behavior like urine spraying.
5. It’s Confusing
When you spray your cat with water, you’re assuming your cat knows she’s doing something wrong, but she actually doesn’t. Think about why you’re punishing her in the first place: because she’s doing something you deem “bad”. But her “misbehavior” might just be her reacting naturally to something in her environment.
For example, if something frightens her and she hisses in reaction. You will spray her for hissing, but she doesn’t know that. She thinks you’re disciplining her for being afraid. Spraying her when she’s already scared compounds her fear, which could cause serious psychological repercussions down the line.
6. It Can Cause an Aversion to Water
Spritzing your kitty can cause her to develop an aversion to water. Unexpected spritzes from a bottle can make her fearful of having her back turned to you and may even make her afraid of her own water. It is already difficult for some cats to meet their hydration needs, so any fear of water will certainly not be healthy for your kitty.
What Other Ways Can I Discipline My Cat?
Now that you know you’re not supposed to spray your cat with water to discipline her, what can you do when your kitty is naughty? Effectively disciplining your pet can take trial and error because each cat differs from the next. One may respond positively to one style of behavior correction, while others will completely reject it. Let’s take a closer look at some tried and true discipline techniques you can try.
Reinforce Good Behaviors
Cats and most other pets do not learn from punishment, be it physical or verbal. Instead, praise them and give them a treat when you see them exhibiting good behavior. For example, when your kitty moves from scratching your sofa to her scratching post, tell her what a good girl she is and give her a high-value treat. You must offer the reward during the act of positive behaviors so your kitty can make the connection in her brain.
Redirect Bad Behaviors
Redirecting your cat’s attention to something else while she’s doing something she shouldn’t be is a great way to reinforce good behaviors. For example, if you catch her scratching your sofa, physically remove her from the area and put her on her scratching post.
Understand the Reasoning Behind Cat Behavior
Understand that many of your cat’s “bad” behaviors are because she’s trying to meet a biological need. For example, cats need to scratch. They require scratching posts to meet that need; otherwise, they’ll turn to your furniture. They may jump on your kitchen counters and cupboards because they’re bored and need environmental enrichment to keep boredom at bay.
Once you know why your kitty is exhibiting the so-called bad behaviors, you can alter your environment to meet their needs better.
Use Cat-Safe Deterrents
Cat-safe deterrents are another great alternative to traditional discipline. There are many different types out there, depending on your needs.
Certain smells will repel cats. If your cat is always eating your houseplants, put lemon or orange peels in the dirt to keep her away.
If your outdoor cat is getting into your garden, invest in motion-activated sprinklers to spook her away or plastic mats with flexible plastic spikes to prevent digging.
The Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher is a functional and stylish design that makes it the ultimate scratching spot for your cat – and a superhero in the battle against furniture destruction. Unlike most cat toys that end up being ignored, this one's a crowd-pleaser for both cats and their hoomans. With its 3 configurations, thick textured cardboard, and solid birch plywood frame, it encourages your cat's natural scratching instincts, so they stay away from your precious furniture, rugs, and curtains, among all other things they shouldn't scratch. The Hi-Lo is like your home's mini guardian, keeping it safe while looking super sleek and trendy. At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!
The Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher is a functional and stylish design that makes it the ultimate scratching spot for your cat – and a superhero in the battle against furniture destruction. Unlike most cat toys that end up being ignored, this one's a crowd-pleaser for both cats and their hoomans.
With its 3 configurations, thick textured cardboard, and solid birch plywood frame, it encourages your cat's natural scratching instincts, so they stay away from your precious furniture, rugs, and curtains, among all other things they shouldn't scratch. The Hi-Lo is like your home's mini guardian, keeping it safe while looking super sleek and trendy.
At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!
Spritzing your kitty with water is not reinforcement; it is punishment. There are many other ways to discipline your pet that won’t cause discomfort or damage your relationship. Give your pet ways to express her needs, reward her for her good behaviors, and watch as the inappropriate behaviors fade away.
Featured Image Credit: Halk-44, Shutterstock
- The 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Spray Your Cat With Water
- What Other Ways Can I Discipline My Cat?
- Final Thoughts