by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Discipline in nature is applied by an elder animal, or Nature, in order to teach a youngster about safe living. Since cats are not naturally social, the only discipline experienced is during the early months when they are with Momcat. Once they leave the family there is only learning; Nature becomes the only disciplinarian they understand or obey.
Everything cats do is for themselves; their actions are always right in their eyes. They do not care what others think or feel. Dogs can associate the discipline with their actions, cats associate the discipline with who or what administered it.
Much of what we consider as ‘bad behaviour’ is natural cat behaviour – scratching furniture, waking up early, fighting with other cats, hunting, etc.
The only real way to discipline a cat is for something negative to happen each and every time the undesired action is performed, regardless of whether you are there or not, time of day, etc. There are electronic devices that will emit a sound, flash a light, or issue a blast of air or water when activated by movement, pressure, or a warm body.
Punishment, or discipline, is seen as negativity by cats, therefore they will tend to avoid the source – the person administering the discipline. This often results in them repeating the unwanted behaviour when the person is not around.