How To Make Your Cat More Comfortable In Your Home
Many millions of people around the world co-habitate with cats, and despite the fact that they don’t always seem to love us, we have no plans to kick them all to the curb anytime soon.
Many millions of people, then, would probably be interested to know how they can make their cat as comfortable as possible living with their human servants.
Basically, it all boils down to this: even though cats can’t speak human language, that doesn’t mean they’re not communicating in their own way.
And since they are cats and we’re people, it’s our job to adjust the way we communicate specifically to them.
Ohio State University veterinarian Tony Buffington spoke with Wired.com about how he thinks cats see us in our shared space.
“You hear the unmistakable sound of claws on couch. You snap, shout, squirt water, and maybe even throw a pillow. It’s all futile, because eventually, he’s at it again. Your cat isn’t ignoring you. He just doesn’t know how to connect your negative reinforcement with his behavior.”
This is because, he says, cats are typically solitary creatures and have little need to read social cues.
Basically, your cat doesn’t actually care about modifying its behavior to please you, because they aren’t designed to need to please anyone but themselves.
“How the h**l is your cat supposed to know that you’re yelling at him because you want him to stop scratching the couch? To the cat, you’re this crazy primate who is attacking him for no reason.”
Instead of “attacking” your cat, try communicating in a way that he or she might be better able to understand.
Since your cat will see you as a threatening primate if the correction comes directly from you – and will therefore just learn not to do those behaviors when you’re around – most experts advise remote correction in the form of bad tastes, offensive sounds, icky textures, or off-putting smells.
You’re connecting a behavior you don’t like to something unpleasant, which should encourage your cat not to do them in the future. Try sticky paper, aluminum foil, or heavy plastic (textures) in areas you don’t want your cat to climb or traverse. Spray citronella, perfumes, citrus scents, aloe, or eucalyptus oil anywhere you want your cat to avoid (you can soak cotton balls in these scents, too).
Bitter apple, citrus products, hot sauces, or aloe gel are also tastes that will convince your cat they don’t want to chew on something.
Any loud sound, like a whistle or pennies shaken in a can, can help divert your cat’s attention.
When it comes to scratching, make sure they have an area they are allowed to scratch, and then put the opposite – inviting tastes and smells – there to encourage them to use it.
The bottom line is that for everyone to get on, the corrections should not come directly from you. Cats learn from their environment, not from others, and so convincing them that it was their idea to avoid the counters or not scratch the couch is the best way to go.
Good luck, cat people. You’re probably going to need it.