Is spraying cats with water bad?

Spraying cats with water to stop them doing something that you don't like is a form of punishment and therefore it is a bad thing to do. Punishment is misunderstood by domestic cats as it is a human concept and it may harm the human-to-cat relationship. To be effective it requires a knowledge of right and wrong, morality and self-awareness.

Motion activated water spraying cat deterrent. Photo in public domain.

However, if you can spray your cat with water without them realising that it is you who is doing it then from the cat's perspective it is divine intervention. What I mean is the cat just thinks that what they're doing results in something unpleasant and therefore they won't do it anymore but there will be no connection between the unpleasant experience and their human guardian/caretaker. This prevents any damage to the relationship and it is no longer, strictly speaking, punishment but, as mentioned, divine intervention.

Training a cat with punishment is not good. Image: MikeB

That said, there is a third way which is better than both these. You don't spray water at all but you use positive reinforcement through training to stop your cat doing something that you don't like. It is always better to use the positive route for obvious reasons. Spraying water is negative no matter how you do it whereas gently training your cat to do something that you refer is positive. The downside is that it takes longer and more skill to achieve a result doing it this way. It is very simple and direct to spray water over your cat. Instant result.

Personally, without wishing to be boastful, and without wishing to feel superior, I would never consider spraying water over my cat even if it was in the form of divine intervention. I prefer to accept his behaviour. This is the fourth way: nothing that your cat does is wrong or bad behaviour and nothing that he does requires modification through either training or divine intervention. If he does something that you don't like adjust expectations. If he does something 'bad' look at possible medical reasons e.g. cystitis causing peeing on the carpet.

You just accept it and learn to live with it because it is part of respecting your cat. That may seem like an extreme point of view but it suits me and it ensures that the relationship is entirely equal which supports animal rights, and that pleases me.

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