It’s widely believed that spraying a cat with a water bottle when they’re doing something you don’t want is an acceptable and effective means of disciplining and teaching them to stop unwanted behaviors. This is totally wrong! In fact, spraying your cat with water does nothing but harm your relationship with your cat!
It’s easy to see why people do it — because it seems to work. Your cat will almost always stop doing what you want them to stop doing and run away if you spray them with water. However, they aren’t actually learning anything other than to be scared of that water bottle. You’re not effectively teaching your cat what behavior is unwanted.
When you use punishment, like spraying your cat with water, as a training tool, it does not teach your cat which behavior is wrong. It merely teaches them to be careful around you. It teaches your cat to fear you. And, it breaks your cat’s trust.
We’re sure you love your cat and don’t want to teach them to fear you! Fortunately, there are better ways to teach a cat and to strengthen your bond instead of harming it.
Other reasons not to use a spray bottle to discipline a cat
We’ve explained the main reason not to use a spray bottle for discipline, but there are other reasons you shouldn’t use one for training, too. Spraying your cat with water as punishment makes them fearful of spray bottles. That could pose a problem if you ever need to use flea spray, medications that come in a spray bottle, or even if you ever need to give your cat a bath. It’s not a good idea to create a fear of water and spray bottles in your cat.
What’s more, the “spray bottle method” requires you to be around when your cat is committing a crime. If you’re not home with the bottle, your cat will be free to scratch the furniture, walk on the counters, chew on your plants, or commit whatever crime it is that you don’t want them doing. Isn’t it better if you teach them correct behaviors instead?
Instead of punishing your cat when they’re doing something wrong, reward them when they do what’s right
People think that cats cannot be trained, but that’s far from the truth! Cats can absolutely be trained! Does your cat come running when they hear the sound of a treat bag opening up? That’s because they’ve learned that the sound of that crinkly bag means a delicious morsel is coming soon!
In the same way dogs can be trained with positive reinforcement, so can cats. You just need to find what motivates them and be very specific in your communication. If you see your cat scratching the sofa, do not punish them – instead, redirect them to the scratching post and reward them every time you see them use it. Do this until they are using it consistently.
For more detailed advice on how to train your cat, check out this guide. And, see our tips on how to teach your cat to use a scratching post instead of your furniture and how to stay off the counters — all without ever spraying your cat with water!
Save that spray bottle for your houseplants.
If you don’t believe us, take it from Jackson Galaxy
Here, Animal Planet’s “Cat Daddy” Jackson Galaxy explains why water bottles don’t work and gives some alternatives that actually do work!