Its Okay to Spray a Cat With Water, if You Do It This Way - Archie Cat (2022)

Its Okay to Spray a Cat With Water, if You Do It This Way - Archie Cat (1)

Spraying cats with a water bottle is very common advice, but is it actually okay?

It is okay to spray cats with water, but it’s not always the most effective solution to their misbehavior.

Spray bottles will get you immediate results, but after spraying the cat you must address the root of the problem. Do this by encouraging good behavior and discouraging or ignoring unwanted behavior. More permanent deterrents can also help.

For example, you can’t spray your cat every time they jump onto the countertop because you’re not always around. Therefore, your cat will still climb up there when you’re sleeping or at work.

But if you place a permanent deterrent, such as double-sided sticky tape on the counter, your cat will stop going onto the counter permanently.

Of course, these deterrents should always be humane and should never hurt your cat.

In addition, you may purchase a cat tree for the kitchen and encourage your cat to climb that instead using catnip, toys, treats, and encouragement.

In this article, I’ll explain when you should use a spray bottle, when you shouldn’t, and how to get your cat to listen without a spray bottle.

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Spray Cats with Water as an Immediate Deterrent

Spraying cats with water works as an immediate deterrent, but is less likely to be effective long-term.

For instance, it’s perfectly fine to break up two fighting cats if needed by spraying them with water. But if all you do to manage their fighting from then on is to spray them when they fight, it isn’t going to work.

This is primarily because you aren’t going to be around to consistently spray them with water every single time it happens. You also aren’t addressing the root of the problem, which is why the cats are struggling to get along.

Instead, in this situation you would need to separate and reintroduce the cats. You may also need to give the attacking cat more play time, for instance.

In short, spraying cats with water is a quick fix if you need them to instantly stop what they are doing. It’s not cruel or inhumane—but in most other situations, it is ineffective.

It also comes with the unintended consequence of damaging your relationship with your cat. You don’t want them to see you as the one always spraying them with water!

Spraying Cats with Water is Typically Not Effective

Its Okay to Spray a Cat With Water, if You Do It This Way - Archie Cat (2)

The problem with spraying cats with water isn’t that it’s cruel or inhumane, but that it’s ineffective in most circumstances.

In general, punishment will only teach your cat to avoid punishment, not the action they’re being punished for.

In basic terms, they’ll stop the behavior while you’re around—but when you turn your back, there they go again!

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For instance, I had this happen to me when the litter of cats I’ve raised were very young. They all knew that being on the counter wasn’t allowed when I was awake—but one night, I woke up and walked into the kitchen to find them all gathered up there.

Of course, they scattered in all directions upon seeing me.

They were smart enough to avoid the spray bottle by waiting until I was asleep to misbehave. Who knows how often they had counter meet-ups at midnight!

Punishments can also be incredibly detrimental to relationships. If your cat begins to associate you as the person who sprays them with water, they’ll become resentful and may not like you very much!

So if we want our cats to associate us with good things like pets and food, and we want them to actually behave, rather than become sneaky about their mischief, what can we do?

In the next few sections, I’ll give you some alternatives to deter and redirect your cat’s behavior. These should work as a more permanent solution.

Spraying Stressed Cats can Make Behaviors Worse

Its Okay to Spray a Cat With Water, if You Do It This Way - Archie Cat (3)

If your cat is displaying behaviors caused by stress, such as litterbox avoidance or fighting with other cats, spraying them with water can make their behavior worse instead of better.

In these situations, you will need to address the root of the problem. Stay calm while looking for a solution, even though these situations are often frustrating and stressful to us humans as well!

Any change in behavior should first be addressed by a check-up at the veterinarian to make sure your cat is in good shape. This is especially true for litter box avoidance problems or spraying, which is often caused by health issues.

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Your veterinarian can also help to guide you in addressing the behavior if it is behavioral. They may suggest things like adding litter boxes to your home, changing the style of your current boxes or litter, or scooping the boxes more often.

If your cats are fighting or one is attacking the other in a non-playful manner, separate them immediately before more damage is done to their relationship or one of them seriously hurts the other.

Then begin the reintroduction process. This can be lengthy, but as someone who’s gone through these steps, it’s worth it in the end!

Redirect their Behavior

It’s much easier to redirect a behavior than to stop it completely. In some instances, this is the only way you and your cat will live happily together.

For instance, let’s say your cat is scratching your brand new couch. You have to stop this before they shred it to pieces!

But if you expect your cat not to scratch at all, that’s never going to work. Scratching is instinctual for cats.

Some people may turn to declawing in this instance, but declawing doesn’t just take a cat’s claws—it’s an amputation surgery that takespart of your cat’s toes as well.This inhumane process doesn’t just take your cat’s natural scratching instincts from them, but will also lead to health problems throughout your cat’s life.

Instead, you would fix your cat scratching the couch by providing several types of scratching posts in the places where your cat likes to hang out. Perhaps you place one right in front of the couch, and then move it gradually to a more convenient place once your cat is scratching it consistently.

When your cat claws at the furniture, gently move them to the scratching post instead. You can also apply catnip to the post to make it even more appealing.

This is a simple scenario, but you can apply this practice to almost any problem behavior. A cat who jumps on counters may need a more appealing kitchen perch. If your cat eats your houseplants, give them their own cat grass to munch on.

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Once you have a place to redirect your cat’s behavior to, it’s time to make it super appealing for them! Sprinkle some cat nip around. Add toys or other activities to the area.

After you’ve given your cat this wonderful alternative, you can begin the next step: adding deterrents to the place you don’t want them to be!

Use Consistent Deterrents

You can’t stand guard forever to stop your cat from doing what they aren’t supposed to. You have to work and sleep!

This, along with damage to your relationship, is why you shouldn’t depend on spraying your cat with water.

Instead, use consistent deterrents that your cat won’t associate with you. There are plenty of options, from double-sided tape to scent deterrents to motion-activated devices that direct a burst of air at your cat.

Let’s go back to our example of a cat jumping on a counter. If they discover that they are met with something unpleasant every time, like a burst of air or sticky tape on their paws, they’ll eventually learn not to jump up there in the first place.

I’ve heard that you can then remove the deterrent, and your cat will still avoid the counters. However, this process has never worked for me.

Everyone’s experience is different, but my cats seem to need a permanent deterrent as they’ll try again every so often to see if things have changed. Maybe they’re just extra-stubborn, or maybe you’ll find this to be true for your cats as well.

The best thing about these deterrents, aside from the consistency, is that our cats typically don’t associate them with us, but with the action they’re performing. It acts almost like a natural consequence that they seek to avoid, rather than a punishment doled out by us.

Writer: Katelynn Sobus

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I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio

References

  1. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/litter-box-problems
  2. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cat-marking-territory
  3. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/declawing-cats-far-worse-manicure
  4. https://www.paws.org/resources/problems-with-declawing/

FAQs

Is it OK to spray cat with water? ›

Spraying your cat with water can have long-term negative effects. On top of the physical discomfort, spraying your cat with water doesn't actually teach your cat better behaviors and could end up seriously confusing her.

Should I spray my cat with water when it bites me? ›

4. Spray him! It's simple — when your cat bites or scratches, squirt him with a spray bottle or small water gun. The only problem: It needs to be done consistently and directly following the incident, or the cat will not learn to associate the two events.

Can you spray a cat with water to discipline? ›

Our team of vets agree that using water bottles to discipline cats isn't the best course of action. According to Dr. Dwight Alleyne, “Spraying cats with water can create a negative association with humans. As a result, they may become more anxious or even aggressive over time.”

Is spraying your cat with water animal abuse? ›

Spraying a cat with a little water isn't painful but it can cause some cats some mild anxiety. Still, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's cruelty but that's going to depend a lot on the individual cat. Some cats won't care at all and a handful will even like it!

How do you teach a cat no? ›

Teach NO to Your Cat - How and Why - YouTube

Do water hurt cats? ›

Whichever method you choose, it is important to encourage your cat to drink water. While many may think milk is a good substitute, it is only a myth, and can even cause digestive problems with your cat. Getting your cat to drink water is just as important as feeding her a proper nutrition.

Can I spray my cat with vinegar? ›

Straight or diluted vinegar can be sprayed around the edges of a garden, and on plants, fences, posts and garden decor to keep cats away. Concentrate the spray on areas that the cats frequent or that you particularly want to protect.

Do cats understand no? ›

Cats don't understand the word “no.” Therefore, the way you say it to your cat is crucial. When disciplining your cat with the commands, use a firm, authoritative tone and don't change the way you say it.

How do you calm an aggressive cat? ›

Give the cat its own space.

After an aggressive episode it's best to let the cat decompress and calm down on its own. Don't interact with it until it has calmed down and it comes to you for interaction or attention. You may even want to keep it sequestered in a room by itself with food, water, and a litter box.

How do I tell my cat no? ›

Simply say, "No" when it engages in a negative behavior. If your cat stops the behavior when you ask, reward it with treats, a toy, or praise. If your cat does not listen when you say "No," try adding a small clap as well.

How do you make my cat stop biting me? ›

If you are playing with your cat and he does manage to bite a part of your body, firmly say "no," and then withdraw from the play session for a few moments. If every time your cat's teeth touch human flesh, playtime ends, your cat will quickly learn to stop biting. Never yell at or hit your cat for play biting.

Why do cats hate water? ›

One suggests that because the species evolved in dry climates and had little exposure to rivers or lakes, water (except for drinking) is an element they are unfamiliar with and thus avoid. More likely, however, cats don't like getting wet because of what water does to their fur.

What's spraying for cats? ›

What is spraying? Spraying is the deposition of small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces. In most cases, the spraying cat will back into the area, the tail may quiver, and with little or no crouching, will urinate.

Are cats scared of water bottles? ›

People put out large plastic green lemonade bottles, half-filled with water. This was to deter cats. This may sound like an old wives' tale but it seems to be extremely effective.

What words do cats understand? ›

Cats usually understand around 20 to 40 words. Some understand as many as 50 words according to scientific research. They can also learn and identify their names. However, it may be more appropriate to say that cats distinguish and associate words with certain things rather than understanding them.

Do cats like sleeping in the dark? ›

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research. Although we often describe them as nocturnal, cats are actually crepuscular, which means that they prefer dusk and twilight rather than complete darkness.

Why do cats not listen? ›

Explanation of Why Cats Don't Come When Called

Why don't cats listen? This answer most likely stems from the same reason that cats are so independent. Cats are generally very independent compared to dogs. It appears that cats do not look at people as a protector and are not affected as much by separation.

Why do cats lick you? ›

For cats, licking is not only used as a grooming mechanism, but also to show affection. By licking you, other cats, or even other pets, your cat is creating a social bond. Part of this behavior may stem from kittenhood when your cat's mother licked to groom them, as well as to show care and affection.

Do cats like to be bathed? ›

However, bathing cats can be quite a challenge as most of them really dislike baths and they can find the experience very stressful. That said, there are rare occasions when bathing your cat is unavoidable, in which case there are ways to make the experience more comfortable for both of you.

What smell do cats hate? ›

As a general rule, cats are sensitive when it comes to smells, but there are a few scents they hate that might just surprise you. They can't stand citrus and as much as you might love the smell of fresh herbs, cats hate rosemary and thyme. Banana and mustard are a big no-no too, as well as lavender and eucalyptus.

What is toxic to cats? ›

Some of the most toxic food for cats include onions & garlic, raw eggs & meat, chocolate, alcohol, grapes and raisins. Avoid feeding your cat table scraps, especially around the holidays, as these may contain potentially toxic ingredients.

Can I spray my cat with vinegar water for fleas? ›

Either is fine, though some people feel their pet prefers the scent of apple cider vinegar. Just know that cats may not stand for any vinegar being sprayed or wiped on them. Creating your flea spray is as simple as diluting the vinegar with water. Some people recommend mixing equal parts vinegar and water.

How do you talk to your cat? ›

How to Talk to Your Cat - YouTube

Do cats like when you talk to them? ›

Yes, cats like being talked to and there are scientific studies that back it up including a study by Japanese researchers at the University of Tokyo. It revealed that cats can understand their owner's voice and they pay attention when talked to.

How long does a cat stay mad at you? ›

Unlike dogs, whose memory span lasts only five minutes, cats' memory works for 16 hours. Accordingly, cats may stay mad for up to 16 hours, but generally, it takes a few hours before they forget and forgive.

Do cats get mad at you? ›

One of the first subtle signs that your cat is mad at you is when you see her tail placed low, swishing quickly back and forth from side to side. Whenever you see the tail twitch, stop whatever it is you're doing that is upsetting her, give her some space, and back off for a while until she calms down.

How do you tell if my cat is mad at me? ›

Signs of an Angry Cat
  1. Growling.
  2. Avoiding their favorite toy.
  3. Hiding and refusing to come out.
  4. Ears are flattened back and sticking out.
  5. Biting when you try to pet them.
  6. Twitching tail.
  7. Refusing favorite meal.
  8. Purring*

How do you know when a cat is angry? ›

Angry
  1. An angry cat will be rigid, with tail held out stiff and straight or curled around and under their body.
  2. They will act very differently from usual – they could be silent, hissing, spitting or growling.

Can you hurt a cat's feelings? ›

Shouting at the TV when your cat is curled in your lap is a guaranteed way to hurt your cat's feelings. Don't be surprised when they get up and leave. Making loud noises shows you don't always respect your cat's sensitivities, and it could cause your cat to avoid spending time with you.

Do cats apologize? ›

But as it turns out, science shows us that cats are much more complex and emotionally attuned than we give them credit for. They may not say sorry the same way a human would. But they do apologise, in their own way.

Do cats understand when you call their name? ›

Cats May Recognize Their Own Names—but It Doesn't Mean They Care. Yes, your cat probably understands when you're calling its name, a new study finds. But it may just choose not to listen. A team of researchers found domestic cats respond more strongly to their own names than to other words in a series.

Why does my cat grab my leg and bite me? ›

Cats use those gentle bites to gain our attention or to show us love and affection. However, there's a fine line between stimulating play and aggressive behavior. The latter is called pet-induced aggression. Some cats have negative associations with being touched.

Why does my cat grab my hand and bite me? ›

Your cat may grab your hand and bite it since she wants to play. It is instinctual among cats to simulate hunting behavior, and your hand is an easy target. A safer way to simulate hunting instincts is by playing with your cat. Take time to play with her for 20 to 30 minutes daily to keep her active and healthy.

What does it mean when a cat bites you hard? ›

While cats love nibbling, they will bite you hard to start playtime or to seek your affection. So what does it mean when a cat bites you hard? Also called as 'love bites', hard bites from cats is also a sign that your kitty wants to communicate with you.

How do you discipline a cat for biting? ›

How to Discipline Your Cat - Best and Worst Ways! - YouTube

How do I tell my cat no? ›

Simply say, "No" when it engages in a negative behavior. If your cat stops the behavior when you ask, reward it with treats, a toy, or praise. If your cat does not listen when you say "No," try adding a small clap as well.

How do I get my cat to stop doing something? ›

Correcting Unwanted Cat Behavior
  1. Texture: Sticky paper, aluminum foil, heavy plastic or a plastic carpet runner (knubby side up) can be placed in areas you want to be off limits. ...
  2. Smell: Citronella, perfumes, solid air fresheners, citrus, aloe, eucalyptus oil and oil of wintergreen are all aversive smells to cats.

How do you make my cat stop biting me? ›

If you are playing with your cat and he does manage to bite a part of your body, firmly say "no," and then withdraw from the play session for a few moments. If every time your cat's teeth touch human flesh, playtime ends, your cat will quickly learn to stop biting. Never yell at or hit your cat for play biting.

How long does a cat stay mad at you? ›

Unlike dogs, whose memory span lasts only five minutes, cats' memory works for 16 hours. Accordingly, cats may stay mad for up to 16 hours, but generally, it takes a few hours before they forget and forgive.

Do cats remember abuse? ›

Cats have incredible associative memory, particularly when it comes to things that have hurt them. Cats have a very good long-term working memory, and they can recall certain acts of abuse and misbehaviour for a long time.

Do cats know when you're mad at them? ›

While cats may not distinguish their actions, they know when you're mad at them about something. They pay attention to their owners' emotions. Cats show different behaviors when their owners smile at them. So, they pay much more attention to a positive attitude than a negative one.

What smell does a cat hate? ›

As a general rule, cats are sensitive when it comes to smells, but there are a few scents they hate that might just surprise you. They can't stand citrus and as much as you might love the smell of fresh herbs, cats hate rosemary and thyme. Banana and mustard are a big no-no too, as well as lavender and eucalyptus.

What words do cats understand? ›

Cats usually understand around 20 to 40 words. Some understand as many as 50 words according to scientific research. They can also learn and identify their names. However, it may be more appropriate to say that cats distinguish and associate words with certain things rather than understanding them.

Can you hurt a cat's feelings? ›

Shouting at the TV when your cat is curled in your lap is a guaranteed way to hurt your cat's feelings. Don't be surprised when they get up and leave. Making loud noises shows you don't always respect your cat's sensitivities, and it could cause your cat to avoid spending time with you.

Do cats understand no? ›

Cats don't understand the word “no.” Therefore, the way you say it to your cat is crucial. When disciplining your cat with the commands, use a firm, authoritative tone and don't change the way you say it.

Do cats cry? ›

Can cats cry tears? The short answer is yes, cats' tear ducts function the same way humans' tear ducts do, but they don't cry emotional tears from sadness or pain. While cats do “cry out in the sense that they may vocalize (meow, yowl, etc.)

Do cats hate smell of vinegar? ›

Vinegar. Most cats hate the scent of vinegar, and it can be used as a safe deterrent just about anywhere. Vinegar smells strong to humans, but usually the scent tones down as it dries. Cats can still smell it, though, which makes it an effective deterrent.

Why do cats lick you? ›

For cats, licking is not only used as a grooming mechanism, but also to show affection. By licking you, other cats, or even other pets, your cat is creating a social bond. Part of this behavior may stem from kittenhood when your cat's mother licked to groom them, as well as to show care and affection.

What does it mean when a cat bites you then licks you? ›

Cats lick and bite people as a way of calling their attention to something, be it asking for affection or asking it to stop. The bottom line is that your cat wants to tell you something, and according to the context and their body language it is often one of the things we explained above.

Why does my cat grab my leg and bite me? ›

Cats use those gentle bites to gain our attention or to show us love and affection. However, there's a fine line between stimulating play and aggressive behavior. The latter is called pet-induced aggression. Some cats have negative associations with being touched.

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