When bad is a bad word

It might be reflexive to yell "Bad cat!" when our cat knocks something over; but thinking that way will mess up our head. And mess up our cat.

Thinking this way will make us think our cat misbehaves on purpose, to bother us. Then we get resentful and stop being friends with our cat. Since the only reason cats will change their behavior is if they are doing a favor for a friend; the cat stops caring, too.

Now, no one is happy.

If our cat is "always" misbehaving, the problem isn't the cat. The problem is that we are doing a bad job of meeting our cat's needs. Because when needs aren't met, they don't go away. They just keep reasserting themselves. If we've ever tried to tell our body to stop being hungry or sleepy, we know just how well that works.

Cats have no sense of "being bad." If they are doing things we don't like, it's because they are trying to survive by doing what their instincts tell them. They have to run around and find lookout posts and do all the other things that lead to catching dinner. Even when they don't catch dinner any more.

If we want our cat to be a loving companion, we have to treat them like one. If they need more play or more attention or more of anything, they will come to us to try and get it. They are smart enough to know who handles the world they live in; better than they do.

So don't create anger and resentment with our training methods. Because that is all we will get back.

For more about training kittens, see Why “naughty” is a misconception.
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