PET TAILS: Behavior training tips for your cat

Just like dogs (and people), cats need certain things in order to be healthy and happy.

For instance, cats need to scratch to stretch their muscles and mark items with their personal scent. They need play for exercise and enrichment. They need a calm and safe place to use the litter box.

Understanding why cats do what they do will create a positive environment that works for everyone.

First, if your cat does something you don’t like, don’t punish her. She won’t understand and will learn to fear you. Instead, think: What does the cat need and how is her behavior fulfilling that need?

Is your cat scratching the sofa? Put a scratching post in front of the sofa and give her a treat directly after she uses the post.

Is your cat getting into mischief? Maybe she’s bored! Spend 15 minutes every day playing with your cat. This will help her get rid of pent-up energy and is a great way to bond.

Is your cat soiling outside the litter box? She may be ill or in pain, or the box is too small or dirty, or in a poor location. Another pet may be menacing her by controlling access to the box. Take her to the vet to rule out any health issues, then experiment with different boxes and litter in various locations.

Set your cat up for success by providing plenty of options. Put several scratching posts in a variety of locations. Supply plenty of toys and spend time playing with your cat. Offer several litter boxes in quiet places that are easy for the cat to access and clean the boxes daily.

If your cat is exhibiting unwanted behavior, don’t resort to spraying your cat with a water bottle. If you spray your cat when she jumps onto the kitchen counter, but she does not get sprayed when you are absent, she learns that the spray bottle is associated with YOU and begins to fear you. Instead, make the counter undesirable to her by putting away food and cleaning dirty dishes. There are also some deterrents you can find at pet stores that can help.

Many good books, articles and videos exist on the subject of positive training for cats. Read up on cat behavior and communication. Be understanding and patient as you and your cat learn to live together in harmony.

— Brown County Humane Society

Save the date

What: Rabies vaccine and other services

When: Sunday, April 30, 1 to 4 p.m.

Where: EMS building, next to the sheriff’s office on State Road 46 East

Who: Brown County resident pets only

More info: Call SPOT at 812-703-0797

Featured pet

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Blackie

Outgoing, playful, friendly and with personality to spare, Blackie is a staff favorite. He’s a big boy with a heart of gold. He loves people, is fine with other cats, and is even learning to walk on a leash. He even wags his tail when he’s happy.