Posted on 6 Comments

Why Spraying A Cat With Water Doesn’t Work (Do THIS Instead!)

Using a spray bottle to train your cat won't solve bad behavior - but there's many great alternatives that won't ruin your relationship

It’s the suggestion you’ll see in many articles, blogs, books and even TV shows – if your cat is doing something wrong, fill a spray bottle with plain water and give them the swift squirt of justice.

Spraying your cat with water seems to work. The cat will almost always run out of the room – stopping the very behavior you wanted to discourage.

However, this is not an effective long-term training solution. There’re many alternatives that will teach your cat even faster, without destroying your relationship with them.

When Water Spraying Doesn’t Work

Punishment can stop problem behaviors. That’s why so many people have relied on it in the past, and many still do. However, it only works when you’re able to use it consistently.

Even if you keep spray bottles around the house, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to grab one in time for an effective punishment. To punish effectively, you would need to spray your cat the moment they climb on the counter or start to claw the couch.

After a few sprays, your cat will anticipate it as you get closer to them. They may start to hop off the counter as you approach. Some people mistake this for “respect” – but it’s really just a fear response. Your cat may also start to flee when you approach them when they’re not doing anything wrong.

Your cat may also continue to have problem behaviors when you are not around. Punishing your cat does not teach them that a particular behavior is wrong. It just teaches them to tread carefully around you because you might do something unpleasant.

Drawbacks Of Spraying Cat With Water

After you spray your cat with water, you might feel elated, at first, to see the problem behavior momentarily discontinue.

But as you approach your cat for a snuggle, you might notice your cat flinching, or even running away from you. Punishments break your cat’s trust. They don’t understand that your furniture is expensive, or that they’re getting litterbox germs all over the kitchen counter. Exploring, clawing and climbing are natural behaviors, and punishment is not going to lessen your cat’s need to express their natural instincts.

Spraying your cat with water will also make them distrustful of similar bottles and sensations. If you ever have to use flea spray, medicated spray, or even bathe your cat, they will have negative associations that will make these processes very stressful for them.

Cats do not have to hate water. If they have positive experiences with bathing and being sprayed, they can actually learn to enjoy it.

Are Cats Really “Untrainable”?

Cats can seem defiant when they lock eyes with you before knocking over a glass of water – but they’re not purposefully annoying or destructive.

Just like dogs, cats are best trained with positive reinforcement. In fact, it’s even more important to ditch punishments in favor of positive reinforcement when you have a cat. Our feline friends are shy and sometimes skittish. Even raising your voice at a cat can make them fearful, which is not the right mindset for learning new skills and good manners.

Once your cat realizes that you’re willing to provide motivation in the forms of praise, treats and attention, they’ll become more and more trainable.

lightbulb Teaching your cat a simple cue like “off” can open them up to learning so much more!

Use Positive Reinforcement To Correct Behavior

Your cat jumps up onto the counter where you prepare meals. Naturally, this is unacceptable.

Tell your cat, “Off!” and toss a tasty morsel to the floor. Praise your cat when they leave the counter. You can also pick your cat up, or lead them to a better climbing spot. Cats love high places, so simply installing some cat shelves or a tall scratching post can give your cat fewer reasons to counter-surf.

The same will work if your cat is clawing the couch. Redirect them to scratch at an appropriate scratching post instead. You can use a cue like “go scratch your post” and praise your cat whenever they’re doing right.

Foil, Balloons And Other Tricks

Some people will advise that you make the counter or couch unattractive to your cat by adding inflated balloons, foil or double-sided tape.

These solutions will work temporarily, but as soon as you get rid of them, your cat will be back to the same spot.

If your cat encounters that loud POP when they hit a balloon with the claws, they’ll stay away from the counter for a while. As silly as it sounds, this can be traumatizing for your cat. If your cat does not feel safe in their own home, they may exhibit signs of fear – like pooping outside the litterbox.

lightbulb Cats dislike the scent of citrus, so a lemon-based spray applied directly to forbidden areas can effectively and humanely keep your cat away.

Disarming Your Cat

Declawing is not a humane option for getting your cat to stop scratching furniture. The procedure doesn’t just remove your cat’s nails – it removes the entire last joint of their toe.

Declawed cats are often in pain for weeks, even months after the procedure. Some never fully recover. The pain can make it difficult for your cat to jump, walk, even climb into their litter box and dig. Cats tend to have litter issues after declawing.

There are claw caps that you can glue to your cat’s nails. The caps make it impossible for your cat’s claws to cause damage. They fall off as your cat’s claws grow, so you have to reapply them every few weeks. Claw caps can be a temporary option, but some cats do not like wearing them.

You can also clip your cat’s nails so that they will be less sharp. This is the best solution, as it also means you’ll be able to play with your cat with less worry of getting scratched.

LEAVE A COMMENT below to share your thoughts and experiences. We would love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to SHARE this article on your favorite social media outlets:

6 thoughts on “Why Spraying A Cat With Water Doesn’t Work (Do THIS Instead!)

  1. Any idea how to get an albino deaf cat to STFU and not yowl like a baby because I won’t let him out early in morning?

    His yowling is spiking my cortisol levels and worsening my covid recovery.

    The spray bottle has made him stop yowling but he’s now fearful of me even when I don’t have a spray bottle in hand.

    Others have said that I should put up with his abuse but it’s insane. I’d rather him be fearful of me then hear the little selfish shit.

    He’s not my car btw and therefore doesn’t need my affection.

  2. My cat was taken from the liter too early and never learned proper play and has horrible play aggression especially directed toward me. I’ve tried carrying toys with me to throw and distract him and it doesn’t even phase him. I ignore him, doesn’t work. I remove him from the room, sometimes works but only after I’ve gotten hurt. What can I do? He plays with toys sometimes but he’s not very interested in them, I try to keep him active but he’s very easily bored at everyyyyyything.

  3. I’ve had cats my whole life. 42 years. I’ve had cats with kittens, cats that are fixed. I’ve had indoor cats and outdoor cats.. And one thing I can say about this article is that is mostly wrong. While it is true, overdoing it with a squirtgun can be harmful, I have found it to be quite effective in long term behavior modifications. There is a ‘but’ in that statement. The ‘but’ is the cats need enough resources and space to be cats. What all their needs are satisfied, and a particular behavior isn’t wanted, training them with the squirt-gun helps a lot. My cats know the moment that thing comes out (it is bright yellow and shaped like a banana) they need to stop. And they do.
    Never, has using a squirt of water ruined my relationships with my cats. They still attack my feet in bed, they still purr and sit on my desk as I work. I get it, it won’t work when there is an obvious need not being met, because they have a ‘need’, but when they are just being pesty, it is very helpful.

  4. HI, I don’t punish Ollie at all I just use A firm voice and say NO.He has improved a bit and is becoming so friendly during the day and now sits on my bed during the day on my dressing gown in the last 10 days when he, which he loves, so its not mine any more, its his. He is till difficult at night but I have had 3 nights when he has been fine. Time and patience is what is needed.

  5. My cat is a two year old Tabby that I got from another family 11 days ago as they couldn’t have him in their new unit. He is use to going outside any time of the day or night, Which he cant do here.He is perfect during the day but as soon as I go to bed, he wants to get out. He tried climbing my bedroom windows the first night and howled almost all night. A vet told me to tape my blinds over the windows so he cant see out. This has helped a bit but he still tries to climb them and still howls. He has slept through the night 3 times but the rest of the nights he sounds like a banshee.I live in an over 55s Housing Estate which is the reason he cannot go outside as if he annoys the neighbours I will have to get rid of him. He also doesn’t really play with toys and doesn’t know what the scratching post is for but uses a door mat to scratch which is fine as he isn’t damaging anything. Its just the night antics I want to change so that I don’t suffer from sleep deprivation as I have anxiety and some depression which lack of sleep can worsen.Please give me some ideas. I do use Feliway spray and am waiting for a plug in to be delivered.

    1. The cat is still really new, and will probably take some time to get used to being inside at night, but of course, punishments will make it so much harder to bond with the new cat. Maybe you could get a catio or try walks during the day to help the cat settle into a new routine.

      Keep us updated on how it goes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge