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How to Tell a Cat "No" and Get It to Listen

Updated on February 18, 2016
Telling a Cat "No"
Telling a Cat "No"

How to Tell a Cat "No"

Cat lovers know that cats are very different animals from dogs. While my dogs may attempt to outsmart me on many occasions, they usually shape up pretty quickly with a loud "No, bad dog!" But if I say "no" to my cat, I'm only minimally acknowledged, if that. Instead, the cat goes right on doing whatever it was doing.

So how do you get a cat to even listen, and more importantly, is there any way to get them to actually obey? Yes, cats can not only acknowledge the message, but change their behavior. Here are a couple of methods that work for me. No two cats are exactly the same, but just maybe these tricks will also work for you.

Spray Gun Method

It is really quite simple: Tell the cat "no" (expecting to be ignored, because you most likely will be). When the cat fails to acknowledge what you have just said, though he or she probably understands you perfectly well, immediately spray him or her with water. The cat will bolt from whatever it is doing, and eventually will obey better, especially if it sees you go for the water bottle. This method works for all three of my cats.

I always keep a spray bottle around when I am using my laptop. Last week I failed to do so, and now I'm using my desktop because Fluffy, the white cat, walked across my laptop with claws out and pulled three keys out. Not only do I have to pay for a new laptop keyboard, I will probably also have to install it myself, a piece of work. You can be sure I'll keep a spray gun around after this experience.

Hint: As I sadly learned, the cat will also take note of whether or not a water bottle is actually present. If not, you cannot expect the cat to obey you simply out of the goodness of its Christian heart, so always keep a bottle nearby.

Hiss Like a Cat

When the cat begins to do something you don't want it to do (such as approach your laptop or jump up on a cabinet where you are preparing food), look the cat in the eye and hiss, just as a cat does.

I tried this one recently, and wish I had known to do it last week. They jump back and cease their behavior immediately. What is even more impressive is that they don't return to test me again. This is what they call speaking their language, and doesn't require any gimmick or accessory.

I have noticed that when one cat annoys another, the annoyed cat will first look directly into the eyes of the cat who is annoying him or her, and look hard. If the cat does not back off at this point, the annoyed cat will hiss, and this usually gets the annoying cat's attention. This works with all my cats. They leap away from me quickly as if I actually have claws to attack.

Cats do a number of things to control the relationship, and some say they own you instead of the other way around, but if you want to be at least on equal footing with a cat, I'd suggest you use these tactics, as they are helping me even the score somewhat.

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    • zzron profile image

      zzron 7 years ago from Houston, TX.

      This was really good, but I don't have any cats, but if I ever do this will come in handy.

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Well zzron, it would probably work with a stray cat too. Thanks for responding to my site. (:v

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 7 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      There's a sound a parent makes to a small child that I can't spell. They make this sound to stop the kid in their tracks. I'ts like a drawn out ant. "AAAANT! Something like that. My cats respond to that, and the hissing that you mentioned. They also respond like ligtening to "SONOFABITCH!" espically if it follows something hitting the floor.

      good job Val (1)

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I usually throw something like a sock or a towel. They book.

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Interesting, you guys. I'll have to try some of these tactics if my cats ever get wise to the fact that i don't have claws. I'm really enjoying the comments on this hub. (:v

    • beatriceflores profile image

      beatriceflores 7 years ago from Providence, RI

      Cats... one of my favourite topics :).

      Well written hub with great advices.

      I would add only one thing: if you lift up your voice it is also working ;).

    • zsobig profile image

      Sophie 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice content, the spray gun method really works, especially if you start it when your cat is very young. For my cat it is almost the only method I can use since hissing makes her even more playful :).

      beatriceflores is right, since lifting up my voice can also make my cat calmer (for at least a few minutes) :).

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      I guess all cats are different. Raising my voice does not seem to have much effect on mine. Fluffy has finally leaned to acknowledge the word no, he he barely acknowledges it, and is back to his original plan in minutes. Thanks for the comments on my site. (:v

    • Varenya profile image

      Varenya 7 years ago

      Hi, beautiful hub, it made me smile! I have a little cub, a female six months old, very sweet as also very rascal! I've tried your methods, but after having feigned to obey, after some hours she return to do what I forbidden...feline behaviour: uncontrollable!

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      OH NO. Hope it doesn't happen to me. (:v

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      What you do works better than trying to "herd cats." Thanks for another great hub!

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      a cat ain't gonna be herded, dallas. Thanks for the comment on my site. (:v

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      You think because they will get their "felines" hurt?

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Thanks for sharing your sense of humor, dallas. Maybe that's it. (:v

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 6 years ago from San Jose, California

      I'm having a lot of trouble with my adopted feral kitten and my Big Cat--the water bottle idea sounds great!!

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Try it, GarnetBird, and tell me what happens. Thanks for commenting on my site. (:v

    • Eternal Evolution profile image

      Eternal Evolution 6 years ago from kentucky

      I have never tried the hissing thing but sounds like something i'll try. one of my cats, Baylin acts more like a dog than he does a cat lol

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Some cat breeds are known for that, eternal evolution. My dogs don't respond to hissing, but my cats do. Though last night while I was sleeping, they opened a package of uncooked noodles, and broke a glass container. Guess my tactics only work when I'm awake to use them. (:v

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 6 years ago

      ha ha ha..Wow.. what a great observation..

      I thought it was one of the impossible things to do, lol..Thank you for this.

      I do not own cats..I am allergic to their hairs but my friend does so I will alert her.

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      What can I say? These methods have worked thus far with mine. (:v

    • valeriebelew profile image
      Author

      valeriebelew 5 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Maybe I sound like an idiot to you, Tom, but you sound pretty emotional and mean spirited to me. My present cats stay outside most of the time. Perhaps you should let your cat be an outside cat. That beats being gassed.

    • profile image

      Franke 2 years ago

      I love my cat and all but some times she dosent lisen

    • profile image

      Valeriebelew 2 years ago

      Franke, that is the nature of cats. Getting them to listen if difficult, and takes a lot of work, but if you love cats you think they are worth it. And you seem to like your feline.

    • profile image

      william winkleman 2 years ago

      I" ll try that method because Ive tried everything I could think of.thanks again.

    • profile image

      gman 18 months ago

      These methods don't even work on my cat. He still defies me . I don't know what to do.

    • profile image

      Owen 16 months ago

      My cat Mitzy doesn't listen to any of these, now what

    • profile image

      Katie 3 months ago

      It helps me most when I hiss like a cat, at my cats and to use a spray bottle. I adopted a stray calico cat a few years ago and she is sensitive to any type of touch. She is a wild cat. Whenever I hiss at her or spray water at her, she gets scared and runs away. My other cat I have is less sensitive and is a people cat but whenever I hiss at her or spray water at her, she to will get scared and will run away. Thanks for the advice!

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