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Behavior Tips

Establishing an effective aversive stimulus to prevent various antics is often a case of trial and error, as individual reactions will vary with each cat. But don’t forget that even after you’ve found the best method to discourage a cat from a particular action or place, the approach will seldom work effectively unless you offer a positive alternative that is both convenient and rewarding.  What are some typical aversives used by cat caregivers?

Textures

One way to keep your cat away from certain areas is to surround (or cover) the area with materials that make your cat’s paws uncomfortable. Try shelf paper (sticky side up) or double-sided carpet tape. Heavy plastic carpet runner (pointed side up) can also be used effectively in some situations.  You may need to weight the material firmly or tape it down to ensure it stays put. To protect furniture or floor finishes from sticky substances, attach the aversive to a piece of foil or heavy plastic and secure that with weights or light tape.

Smells

Because cats are often attracted or repelled by certain scents, you can set boundaries by soaking cotton balls, rags, or washcloths in a “stinky” substance that is not harmful to cats. To help protect carpets, upholstery, floors, or furniture, place the saturated object on a piece of weighted foil or heavy plastic. To prevent the substance from seeping into the ground, use the same precautions. Some of the most effective substances to apply include the following:

Tastes

Just as certain odors will discourage cats from visiting places where you don’t want them, certain displeasing tastes will keep them from returning. Some of the following substances may damage furniture or floor finishes, however, so be sure to test them in a hidden location before widespread use.

Human-Controlled Aversives

Some items can be used to distract your cat and thereby interrupt his unwanted behavior. Such devices are not meant to terrify your cat, but to provide a brief distraction. It’s best if your cat does not perceive the distraction as coming from you. In the instant your cat’s attention is focused on the distracting action, redirect his behavior to an appropriate object, and then give him lots of praise. Some effective aversives that you control include: