Friday Cat Blogging: Failed Attempts at Discipline

So there’s a basic problem I have with disciplining Comet.

When she’s into stuff she shouldn’t be into, or doing stuff she shouldn’t be doing, the SPCA guidelines on play-aggressive cats are very clear: I’m supposed to scold her in a deep, loud voice, and stop her from doing it.

But half the time, instead I end up cracking up with laughter, and running to get the camera. Not exactly a disincentive.

As I did the other day, when she was “helping” me clean the pantry.

Comet in pantry 1

Comet in pantry 2

Comet in pantry 3

Comet in pantry 4

I especially love the third one. That is such a Comet expression. Here she is, she’s successfully gotten up onto a brand new high place where she’s never been before… and she’s already looking up, seeing if she can get higher up and into more trouble. Alexander, looking for new worlds to conquer. That’s my girl. (Of course, the second one where she’s trying to bite into the bag of sugar is pretty funny, too…)


  1. fullyladenswallow says

    I had a wonderful cat named Henry. Damn, what a sweetie he was. A very mellow disposition and never got into trouble by climbing or clawing. He was also a cat that needed to go out every night. We lived in an apartment where cats were allowed, but after a while the apt manager decided all cats should be kept indoors. We attempted to conform to this rule but Henry started to act out by climbing on the tallest objects he could find, (looking for a way out perhaps?) and also by peeing on things, namely our toaster. Almost needless to say, when we started to let him out again, this behavior ceased immediately.

  2. Rodney Nelson says

    If you’re not careful, that cottage cheese container is going to fall even without Comet’s help.

  3. rq says

    I see your camera-happy overlords have trained you well. ‘Hey look, I do something a bit weird, and suddenly I’m the focus of attention!’ :D Ah, discipline. And a beautiful cat.

  4. John Kruger says

    I’m supposed to scold her in a deep, loud voice, and stop her from doing it.

    Is the squirt bottle not recommended anymore? After a couple of weeks of saying “No!” in the loud deep voice, then escalating to squirting with water if the behavior continued, the verbal warning was all that was ever required for my 2 cats. Not that they would not try to get away with things when they thought I was not looking, but only scolding did nothing at all at before the water bottle training and was more than sufficient afterwards. Those air cleaners for keyboards are a good non-harmful deterrent as well.

  5. thebookofdave says

    Pics #2 and #3: looks like Comet was assembling ingredients for her latest baking project. Did you show her where you moved the flour and muffin pan?

  6. ellien says

    That’s funny! I have a cat Floyd and he does the exact same thing. I usually just shut the cabinet door and leave him there (sometimes I forget and he can be there for a long time) but he seems to enjoy that too. I honestly believe that any attempt to discipline a cat is a waste of time. Come on, do they ever listen?

  7. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    One of our cats has been getting into our closet and peeing on my wife’s expensive boots. She’s very upset. The cat has always been the pushy/bossy/needy type of the two. Not so much aggressive/play but more in constant need of attention. And he’s turned into quite the drama king ever since the day I moved in. We try to keep the closet closed but it’s one of those doors that often cracks open. Any suggestions on how to deal with the situation?

  8. grumpyoldfart says

    …she’s successfully gotten up onto a brand new high place where she’s never been before

    I had my door open so my cat could go outside and then (as often happens) the neighbor’s cat came in to pay me a visit. An hour later my neighbor asked if her cat was still in my place. I went looking everywhere – in the cupboards, under the beds, out on the balcony – but she was gone. I shut my door and the neighbor went searching…

    About six hours later I was lying on the lounge watching TV when the neighbor’s cat casually strolled across the room!

    I still don’t know where she had been hiding.

  9. Anthony K says

    BB’s a gentle biter, and only when he’s annoyed with how you’re petting him.

    But he’s a pisser. Last night he decided to mark my partner’s school bag. She stopped him mid-stream, but we have to keep all closets closed and I’ve had to fill all the plant pots with bamboo chopsticks and skewers (dull end up) to keep him from ‘watering’ them. It doesn’t seem to be an issue of an unclean litterbox, though I suppose we could always keep it cleaner. *Sigh.*

    (When I lived with my sister and nephew and their cranky cat—he’s the meanest, bitiest cat I’ve ever encountered—I tried a novel trick: when he peed on some of my clothes, I picked him up, plopped him down next to his litter box, unzipped and showed him exactly which one of us was more bladderly equipped to win any pissing contest. The look on his face was priceless. Of course, an hour later my nephew came home from school and went to clean the litterbox…
    “What the fuck?!”
    “Oh no, sorry, that wasn’t the cat. That was me. I’ll clean it up.”
    “Dude, seriously, wha—never mind.”

    That cat never did pee on anything of mine again.)

  10. Anthony K says

    One of our cats has been getting into our closet and peeing on my wife’s expensive boots. She’s very upset. The cat has always been the pushy/bossy/needy type of the two. Not so much aggressive/play but more in constant need of attention. And he’s turned into quite the drama king ever since the day I moved in. We try to keep the closet closed but it’s one of those doors that often cracks open. Any suggestions on how to deal with the situation?

    Yeah, that’s our situation, though we got the cat together and he loves us both, so it doesn’t seem to be an issue of jealousy.

    Boots, gloves…anything with leather, though he’ll pee on canvas and synthetics too.

  11. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    @Anthony- yeah there is definitely a tendency towards him peeing on leathery surfaces. I wonder why that is about. The litter box used to be in the closet but was moved a long time ago (like over a year) so he knows where it is now. And he mostly goes to the bathroom outside and has regular access to the yard, so it’s not a matter of sudden emergency.

  12. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    I eventually just got used to arranging my apartment so that my cat would be unlikely to damage anything important. It helps that she has a consistent set of habits: I know that she likes to burrow into enclosed spaces, and loves to be tall (when she was younger, she’d ride around on my shoulder sitting perfectly upright), so for the sake of avoiding aggravation I let the cupboard above the refrigerator be a designated cat-bed location. Similarly, she will find a way to sleep on clothes when the mood strikes her (they’re soft, and they smell like me! almost as much fun as sleeping on my face!), so I make sure that the dirty-laundry basket is in a more attractive position (taller, closer to my desk, more likely to be in sun) than any clean clothes that aren’t in a very securely closeable drawer.

    She hasn’t trained me — I’m just engaging in interspecies diplomacy! (Yeah, sure, I believe that…)

  13. otrame says


    I still don’t know where she had been hiding.

    I don’t know where she was, but I guarantee she was somewhere where she could watch.

    I second the spray bottle approach. Mostly I just have to shake the bottle to get my cat Mikey to get out from in front of the computer screen while I am playing Guild Wars 2. He had a gift for doing it at the exact moment when I am in trouble and need to concentrate on doing everything just right or I will die. He also decides when it is bed time and will pester the hell out of me until I finally give up and go to bed. He is my hip-warmer and takes his work seriously.

  14. says

    If I had a dollar for every time Gracie has made me get up and physically remove her claws from the couch, I’d be pretty comfortable, financially. I swear she knows exactly what she’s doing, too — she looks right at me as if to say “I’m about to do that thing you don’t want me to do. Try to stop me.”

    She also has this “thing” about occupying the cracks between couch cushions.

  15. magistramarla says

    Today I was mopping floors. My husband had left one of the cat carriers in the living room, so I moved it to the storage area. I didn’t want to mess with the gate (there so that the dog won’t eat the cat food), so I simply balanced it on a shelf to be taken care of later and forgot it.
    This evening Conner the dog, my cat Casper and myself were relaxing in the living room when we were all startled by a crash. My husband’s troublesome cat Dax came sliding across the floor, puffed up about three times his normal size. Of course, he had found the cat carrier in a new place and just had to jump on it.
    I’m still laughing at him.
    He’s also convinced that my husband’s CPAP machine is a cat-eater. He casually stepped on it one day and it “breathed” noisily. That was another time that he exited a room puffed up to three times his size.
    The cat is constantly causing problems, but he’s a barrel of laughs.
    Someone mentioned the water-bottle technique for discipline. When our Christmas tree was on the table, we used a water bottle to try to deter the cats from eating the branches of the artificial tree. A couple of showers did the trick with Casper. With Dax, I could spray him until he was soaked and he would still defy me. He’ll respond to Daddy’s menacing voice, but not to mine. We had to wrap the tree in a sheet every night to keep him from destroying it while we slept.
    For some reason, my husband adores his little trouble-maker.

  16. says

    I love the photos, and agree that she looks like she’s going to bake something.

    I understand the joys of trying to “train” (hahahahahahhahahahahahah *gasp*wheeze*choke* hahahahahahahahha) a housecat.

    I’ve given up. It’s dawned on me that I’m seriously outnumbered, and that they have time to think up things to do while I’m away earning our keep.

    The problem is, of course, when you have a *smart* cat — they dream up stuff to do and then show the other cats, to boot! The current top cat is a girl named Pandora, whose newest tricks are to burrow under the blankies and sheets, even when the bed is made (the poor dear is chilly), and to sneak into the linen closet, plop herself on a pile of clean towels and commence with butt-washing. She also gives me a look as if to say, “Some privacy, please?”

    It’s also fun if Pandora and her brother climb the shower curtain while I’m having my morning shower. At 5 am.

    Really, we keep them for entertainment, don’t we?

  17. PatrickG says

    it’s one of those doors that often cracks open

    Fix the door or find another closet. There is no other solution. Once you’ve chosen to own an animal that chews/pisses/incinerates* things, Fort Knox-style solutions are the only remedy.

    *That first minidragon I owned was a real pain. The cats were nothing in comparison.

  18. mildlymagnificent says

    For seriously loved/ expensive/ important boots or bags or other things you normally put on shelves or floors, the only solution I’ve ever found is to hang them. You might need extra or different pegs to attach them, or use a trouser/skirt hanger, maybe just a hook for a bag. But until you’ve solved the door problem, they need to be right out of the way and not on a stable surface.

    Our dear 21 years old deaf-as-a-post, stubborn cat occasionally has these week or two periods of peeing on stuff she either likes or dislikes – I’m never sure which. Though I’ve never understood why the common expressions are “pig-headed” and “stubborn as a mule”. The only creature I’ve ever come across more stubborn, oblivious or single-minded than a cat would be a wombat. “Cat-headed” would be a much more accurate saying.

  19. laurie says

    Some cats kind of get off on scolding. My cat Tigger (not very original, but he came with the name) is one of them. For a few minutes, all attention is directed at him. Water bottles also had no effect, he just kind of scrunched down and laid his ears back while being sprayed, then resumed his bad behavior when the water stopped.

    Since then I’ve changed training tactics. I give him treats when he’s being a good cat, and play with him for a few minutes when he’s being aggressive. It’s helped a lot.

    Try playing with Comet when she gets into something she shouldn’t, and give random treats when she’s being a good cat. Positive training seems to work better for many cats.

  20. eyeroll says

    Oh, what a bad kitty.
    My old girl Itchy (aka The Fat Bastard) is now getting too old and stiff to “help out” around the house.

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