Profile of a Spoiled Cat

Are you encouraging your cat's bad behavior? Learn how to avoid spoiling your cat.

By Anne Leighton | Posted: Thu Jun 3 00:00:00 PDT 2004

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Overall encourages intellectual stimulation by creating simple games. "If the cat eats dry food, give him a roller treat ball and bat it around the room. Toys work best when humans are involved," she said.

On days when Overall is swamped with work, she said she first schedules extra time to exercise her pets. This helps prevent cats from distracting you.

Battista's approach to discouraging bad behavior has contributed to successful rescues at Best Friends. "Cats will try a behavior, like begging for food while you eat. If we make it successful, we can't complain about it," she said. "If you're clear and consistent in not rewarding them for what you don't want them to do, then their behavior won't be an issue for as long."

Typical Misbehaviors
Aggression and play biting, begging for table scraps and soiling the house are typical behaviors many owners don't want to deal with.

Biting. "Play biting is a learned behavior," Battista said. "I've noticed people thinking aggressive play in kittens is cute and they'll encourage wrestling matches with their hands. That will reinforce how kittens relate to people. In our most extreme cases these cats have to be ignored for three months to break the pattern. They're not totally blacklisted people should talk to them, but there's no petting."

Begging. There are also owners who feed healthy cats in bed, because their cats won't come out to eat. "Catering to the cat's whim is a slippery slope. If they eat in a certain place move the cat to the dish. Bringing the dish to the cat is pandering," Battista said. "You're dealing with a very affectionate creature that is habit-oriented. And if you create the habit, you're creating your own monster."

Some people spoil their cats by feeding them table scraps at dinnertime. "Cats are really persistent when they smell great food," Battista said. "You're reinforcing the negative behavior each time you feed them your food; they're as successful as a kid who throws a temper tantrum."

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Reader Comments

janet    bethlehem, PA

11/23/2011 4:20:47 AM

good article, thank you

Gina    Rochester, NY

3/26/2009 5:15:34 PM

great info

janet    bethlehem, PA

10/15/2008 4:41:12 AM

good article thanks for the information

Susan    High Point, NC

5/30/2007 8:28:01 AM

Nice Article.

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