Effects of a synthetic facial pheromone on behavior of cats. - NCBI
Some people decide to declaw their cats to prevent or resolve a scratching problem. The ASPCA is strongly opposed to declawing cats, because declawing has not been proven an effective method for improving behavioral issues, including aggression towards people or other cats. It should never be used as a behavioral remedy or as a preventative measure. The only circumstances in which the procedure should be considered are those in which all behavioral and environmental alternatives have been fully explored, have proven to be ineffective, and the cat is at grave risk of euthanasia.
This being the case, I ALWAYS focus on positive reinforcement to help cats establish better habits in the home, and I never encourage punishment. Cats really don’t respond well to punishment on a stress-level side side of things, and they have a hard time associating the behavior with the punishment. They respond so much better to positive reinforcement!
It is frustrating for cat owners when their feline engages in behavior that damages or destroys property. These behaviors include chewing on houseplants, scratching furniture and carpet, and urinating on clothing and bedding. Some have mistakenly concluded that these behaviors are normal for their cat or that they are the cat’s way of acting out or getting revenge against their owner. The truth is that these are innate behaviors that are part of your cat’s natural sense of curiosity and a desire to play. Thankfully, these destructive behaviors can be controlled.Destructive behaviors in cats develop as a result of physical, mental, and emotional trauma or discomfort. Some of the causes of destructive behaviors include:It is frustrating for cat owners when their feline engages in behavior that damages or destroys property. These behaviors include chewing on houseplants, scratching furniture and carpet, and urinating on clothing and bedding. Some have mistakenly concluded that these behaviors are normal for their cat or that they are the cat’s way of acting out or getting revenge against their owner. The truth is that these are innate behaviors that are part of your cat’s natural sense of curiosity and a desire to play. Thankfully, these destructive behaviors can be controlled.Punishing the behavior remotely, with you out of sight, is impractical if the cat cannot be prevented from performing the undesirable behavior when you are not there to supervise and monitor. Booby-traps are a way of teaching the pet to avoid the area or the behavior itself. One of the simplest ways to discourage a cat from entering an area where an undesirable behavior is likely to be performed (scratching, eliminating) is to make the area less appealing (or downright unpleasant) for scratching or eliminating. If the cat is scratching furniture, a large piece of material draped over the furniture may do the trick, since the cat won't be able to get its claws into the loose fabric. A small pyramid of empty tin cans or plastic containers could also be balanced on the arm of a chair so that it topples onto the cat when scratching begins. A piece of plastic carpet runner with the "nubs" facing up can be placed over a scratched piece of furniture to reduce its appeal; a few strips of double-sided sticky tape would send most cats looking for another place to scratch (hopefully to the scratching post!). Mousetrap trainers, shock mats, or motion detector alarms are also very effective at keeping cats away from problem areas. There are devices that are triggered by motion that will spray the cat with compressed air and startle them so they leave the area (See our handout on ''). For outdoor use, there are motion detector sprinklers, a motion activated compressed air spray, and a variety of sonic and ultrasonic motion detectors (See '' handout for more details).A light tap on the nose or top of the head has been advocated for owner directed behaviors such as play biting, hissing and swatting. However, even these mild forms of punishment can lead to retaliation, fear and an increased level of aggression in some cats, and cannot therefore be universally recommended. At the very least they tend to make the cat wary of your approach. Instead, whenever the cat begins to swat or play attack, immediately stop the play by walking away or by using some non-physical form of punishment such as a water sprayer, can of compressed air, cap gun, hand held alarm or perhaps a loud hiss. Although ideally you should just walk away from these forms of playful behavior to ensure that they are not reinforced, many cats will continue to pursue as part of the play and chase. Before any punishment is considered, the cat should be given ample opportunities for social play. Toys that can be chased, swatted, and batted should be provided (See our handouts on '' and ''). Species appropriate punishment such as "hissing" or the use of a punishment devices such as a water sprayer, can of compressed air, or hand held alarm are better than using any physical techniques since they are less likely to lead to fear and retaliation. There may be times when gently shaking or lifting the cat by the scruff of the neck can be used to successfully calm, distract or restrain a cat but only to disrupt undesirable behavior and not as a punishment. Remember that giving any form of attention to a cat that is swatting, or attacking in play, might, at the other extreme be misconstrued as play, and further reinforce the behavior.Having a close relationship with your veterinarian is a key part of your cat's recovery process. If the vet has prescribed prescription drugs to address an emotional or physical issue, they will want to monitor the effect it is having on your cat. Follow the environmental modifications your veterinarian recommends and provide your feline with sufficient exercise and stimulation to satisfy their curiosity. All of this is part of devising a behavioral management strategy that will allow you and your cat to both be happy, healthy, and at peace.