Spraying Cats with Water

Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.

Do you spray your cats with a water bottle or know someone who does? Is it to keep them from scratching the sofa or getting up on the kitchen counter? Spraying cats with water will work as an immediate deterrent but will not be a long-term solution.

In general, punishment will only teach your cat to avoid punishment, not the action they’re being punished for. Using a spray bottle may indeed change your cat’s behavior, although not in the way you want it to. Your cat might stop scratching the couch…only to start scratching on another piece of furniture when you’re not around. Or, your cat might stop chewing the plants…until you’re not around.

Your cat might stop hopping up on the kitchen counters…until you’re not around. They are smart enough to avoid the spray bottle by waiting until you are asleep to misbehave. You will need to address the root of the problem. Stay calm while looking for a solution, even though these situations are frustrating and stressful to us humans as well!

So what happens when you use a spray bottle or other method of punishment that comes from you?

  • Your cat starts to associate the unpleasant experience with you, and not necessarily his actions with the punishment (as you intended).
  • Your cat will begin to do the undesired “thing” when you’re not around.
  • Your cat will begin to fear and distrust you.
  • Your cat’s stress levels may increase, which can result in more of the behavior you are trying to correct or result in a new undesirable behavior.

If you have a litter box or spraying (peeing around the house) problem, you might need to see a Veterinarian. It could be that you are not keeping their litter clean enough for their liking. If you have cats that are fighting, you will need to separate them and slowly reintroduce them again.

Scratching the couch is a big problem. Some people may turn to declawing in this instance, but declawing doesn’t just take a cat’s claws—it’s an amputation surgery that takes part of your cat’s toes as well. This inhumane process doesn’t just take your cat’s natural scratching instincts from them, but will also lead to health problems throughout your cat’s life. You would fix your cat scratching the couch by providing several types of scratching posts in the places where your cat likes to hang out.

Perhaps you place one right in front of the couch, and then move it gradually to a more convenient place once your cat is scratching it consistently. There are also couch-scratching corners and tape that might work. If your cat eats your houseplants, give them their own cat grass to munch on.

Jumping on counters is harder. There are motion-directed scent deterrents and sticky tape to try. If they discover that they are met with something unpleasant every time, like a burst of air or sticky tape on their paws, they’ll eventually learn not to jump up there in the first place. Your cat might not behave differently overnight, but it’ll get there eventually!

Further Reading


Feline Behavior Solutions
Archie Cat
The Dodo

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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