If you’ve been on Facebook this past week, you’ve probably seen this viral video called “Vengeance Meow” being shared among people who have cats. It’s even possible it gave you a smile, and that’s okay… it was meant to be funny! Don’t worry, we aren’t uptight – we get it. But we wanted to take this opportunity to explain why it’s not really as funny as everyone thinks.
But first, the video – just in case you missed it:
In the video, the guy sneaks up on his (really cute) orange cat and wakes him up with an obnoxious meow. The cat looks adorably confused. Revenge – for the cat meowing at him and waking him up in the middle of the night. That’ll teach him! Right?
Wrong. Actually, that won’t teach him at all. We asked our good friend, trainer Steve Reid of S.R. Dog Training, who had this to say:
What the man did in this video was definitely not “training” in any way shape or form. It was simply an attempt at creating a short viral video (which I am afraid he may have been successful in accomplishing), at the expense of an innocent cat. Training any animal is NOT based on fear. It is based on fundamental principles, starting with teaching and shaping desired behaviors.
Too many people attach human emotions, such as “spite”, “jealousy”, etc. to actions of animals. In turn, the human takes the actions of their pet personally. This is the wrong thing to do. Animals are not looking to “get back at you”, they are doing what they either have learned to do (i.e. what you have deliberately or inadvertently taught them to do) or what they feel they need to do out of instinct.
Animals do not inherently know how to navigate the constructs of our human society, it is our responsibility to help guide and teach them. If someone is not prepared to do this, then they should not own an animal, or if they do not know how to properly do this, they should enlist the help of a qualified professional.
Although cats are commonly called nocturnal, they are actually crepuscular, meaning they are active primarily at dawn and dusk. They are typically asleep in the middle of the night just like their humans – unless there’s a reason for them to be awake. So if your cat is keeping you up at night, figure out why and fix it.
For example, our Ask the Vet columnist, Dr. Liz Bales answered this question from a reader who’s cat was howling in the middle of the night. She explained that sometimes there’s a medical reason for cats to vocalize at night – the most common reason being hyperthyroidism – so a vet check could be in order to rule out a medical cause for it.
Some things to ask yourself if your cat is keeping you up at night are:
- Is your cat sick?
- Is your cat hungry?
- Is your cat bored?
- Is your cat seeking attention?
Some small changes that might have a big effect on you and your cat’s sleeping habits:
- Darken your room
- Make your room off limits to your cat while you’re sleeping
When it comes to cats – always keep your cool. Never yell or punish your cat for doing anything you don’t like. Don’t wake them up while they’re asleep for “revenge.” They simply don’t learn that way, and it only serves to hurt your relationship with your cat, and might even cause your cat to act out. Focus on positively reinforcing good behaviors, increasing daytime activities to tire your cat out, and increase affection and you (and your cat) will be on your way to getting a full night’s rest!