As any cat owner will know, felines are often a law unto themselves. Subsequently, it can be difficult to train them. A cat's willfulness coupled with its agility means that it is tricky for many owners to establish areas that are out of bounds to their feline companions. This can cause problems, especially in the kitchen where hygiene and safety issues arise.
Obviously, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to train a cat as you would a dog. However, there are ways to tackle an unwanted behavior. Below are eight tips to help keep your cat away from kitchen surfaces.
1. Before embarking on an attempt to restrict your cat's movements, it is important to ensure that he, or she, has plenty of roaming space. This is crucial, especially for an indoor cat, because cats can make mischief due to boredom and frustration. When considering the space that your cat has to play, it is wise to consider the amount of vertical freedom too, as cats require an opportunity to jump and climb. It may be wise to consider purchasing a cat shelf, gymnasium or a cat tree.
2. Typically, discipline is not an effective method of training cats. As already mentioned, a cat's aim is not to please its owner. This, coupled with the fact that you are trying to discourage, rather than encouragé, a behavior, means that you need to employ 'negative reinforcement' techniques. In other words, if a cat associates a behavior (that you are trying to discourage) with an unpleasure consequence, then he, or she, will be far less likely to repeat this action.
3. There are several things to bear in mind before selecting a method of negative reinforcement. Firstly, it is a good idea to ensure that your cat does not associate the unpleasance with a human. A fundamental part of these training techniques is that the cat directly links its actions and the negative response.
4. Always try to keep the training as consistent as possible. Therefore, if someone else is caring for your cat, ensure that they understand how and when to use your chosen technique. Similarly, it is important not to overstress your cat. Some cats are particularly highly strung and can become stressed easily. Observe your cat's reaction and gauge the severity of negative reinforcement that is required.
5. Many owners choose to use a water squirter to train their cat. Some people feel that this is cruel, but the effectiveness of this method and its necessity should be decided upon by individual owners. If you do choose to use water, never spray your cat directly in the face. Simply, spray the cat with a little water every time it jumps on a counter. Ideally, it should be done in such a way that the cat does not associate the water with you, but this is easier said than done.
6. Alternately, some owners choose to use a noise, such as a can filled with coins. Again, when the cat fulfills the behavior you wish to eliminate, shake the can. The noise should start your cat causing him, or her, to cease the behavior.
7. Unfortunately, these methods of training require an owner to be alert at all times. However, it is wise to bear in mind that if the negative reinforcement is consistent, it will not take long for your cat to learn.
8. Most importantly, it is a good idea for owners to monitor a cat's reaction to either the loud noise or the water squirter, because, as stated before, some cats can be easily stressed. If these techniques are causing your cat disproportionate anxiety, then the exercise should be abandoned.
Remember, cats can not be obedience trained like a dog. Therefore, owners need to be creative and patient in their attempts at training a cat. Moreover, a cat owner should ensure that their feline friend has ample stimulation and opportunity for exercise, as this simple step can quickly eliminate behavioral problems.