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Is your cat a bit of a menace when it comes to being rough? This is most likely a trait that comes along with loving to hunt for prey. Cats, after all, do enjoy pouncing and rolling, whether it be with a toy or a feline housemate.
Still, having a cat that is easy to handle and cooperative is important. Tasks like grooming, giving medicine, and even general play are much more pleasurable for both cat and human when a docile and agreeable personality is in the picture.
Cats work a little differently than dogs do, and that’s completely okay. Because cats and dogs are different! Pet parents love each species for that exact reason. A message often given to kitty-loving humans is to always reward your cat for the behavior you do like (such as giving them a tasty treat when training) and ignoring the actions you don’t like.
So while you can attempt to train a frisky cat to be more gentle, ignoring their actions is effectively training them that the behavior isn’t acceptable. You’ll see more about that through the methods below.
What do all cats love? A favorite treat like a vet-approved soft chew or a tiny morsel of tuna will come in handy when training your cat to be gentle. Practice this training exercise consistently on its own for several days or weeks, depending on how long it takes your cat to catch on.
Why is this? Interspersing fun like training your cat to spin may get them excited and rowdy. Stick to one training type at a time, perfect that, and then move on.
The Noise Method
As with all training methods, keep a positive attitude. Your cat should not be punished, even on the occasion their rowdiness gets out of hand. As mentioned before, you can also ignore the behavior instead.
For this method, you’ll make a loud noise each time your cat isn’t gentle. Redirect the behavior by distracting your cat when they are being rough via a noise.
The noise of choice is a verbal one. Choose a consistent phrase to use when diverting the behavior. Try “Halt!” “Enough!” or “Youch!” to make your cat stop. They may be in the pounce and play zone, and essentially what you will do is alert them to the need to change their behavior. Keep your voice calm, but firm.
Issue the command, such as “Halt!” and leave the room to signal that the behavior isn’t acceptable. Return a few minutes later and continue whatever you were doing, whether it’s grooming or playing.
The Substitution Method
The substitution method will work in certain instances. If you are petting your cat and they change from docile to rambunctious, using a toy for diversion is a good remedy.
Replace hands and feet
If your cat tends to treat your hands and feet like toys, teach them to be gentle by replacing your hands and feet with a toy. This will signal that your hands come into play for petting, grooming, medication administration when necessary, and picking them up for affection or a task.
No hands and feet
Never use your hands as a way to play or roughhouse with your cat. Offer a toy instead. Keep a basket of toys on hand and play with your cat often.
Toy means play
When you exchange your hand for a play session, this will train your cat to be gentle when you pat them, and ready to play when they see the toy.
The Body Language Method
Every pet parent wants to see their cat frolicking and doing what cats do. It’s never ideal to always attempt to quell your cat’s playful personality. Instead, nurture it with the body language method.
Watch for hints of your cat’s mood. Is their tail swishing? Are you petting them and their ears are beginning to lay flat? Watch for signs and stop what you are doing if you sense your cat has had enough.
Petting your cat on the belly or continually massaging and roughing up their fur near the tail may lead to them becoming rowdy. While it is okay to pat your cat in these areas, innate cat traits may come into play after a bit.
Along with knowing your cat’s body language for play or aggressiveness, it’s also important to recognize signs that they may be unwell. If your feline friend being not gentle is something new, consult the veterinarian for a checkup. Underlying medical issues like arthritis or diabetes can bring about a change from gentle cat to one who scratches or bites.
By Darlene Stott
Published: 02/22/2021, edited: 02/22/2021