How to Tell a Cat "No" and Get It to Listen - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
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How to Tell a Cat "No" and Get It to Listen

Valerie has three cats that often misbehave. Over time, she's learned to communicate with them so that they'll listen.

Cats often like to go where they're not supposed to. Learn how to get them to listen.

Cats often like to go where they're not supposed to. Learn how to get them to listen.

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.

Use a Water Bottle or Spray Gun

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 They Misbehave

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

shon on June 01, 2020:

I tried the hissing thing and she actually listened

Christinevl7 on June 10, 2019:

My 1 year old feral listens to me. I don't have a fence but she is allowed to go outside with my extremely close supervision. When she goes too close to the property line, I say "Sophie, back up." She does it! Once she's back to the safe spot, I always tell her "Good Girl" so she knows she did good.

Amy on February 28, 2019:

I have tried these methods before but my cat is too smart. He goes into maximum overdrive and I cannot stop him, but thanks for the ideas. I appreciate it!

Justin on December 18, 2018:

I have an orange male tabby cat and he is destructive and will not listen to anything I have two other cats and I’ve disciplined them once and they follow directions good but no matter what I try he will not listen I have to take all kinds of measures to protect my belongings because of him wondering if anyone has any advice cause if his behavior doesn’t change I’m going to be forced to get rid of him I’ve had enough and tried everything I know to do .

Buddy AKA trouble on April 05, 2018:

Have a Russian blue kitten he thinks the water bottle spray is a game he likes to be sprayed actually attacks the bottle

Serenity on December 06, 2017:

But loud sounds work well

Amanda on November 30, 2017:

Hello, thank you for the advice, but I have read on sites by vets that say spraying your cat with a water bottle may cause them to link that certain event with you and bite or claw. I will still try the hissing tip though because on the same site it said to ¨speak their language¨. Thank you have a great day

Serenity on November 22, 2017:

My cat is a midget cat and his name is whiskers he doesn't listen. None of these methods work.

Anonymous on October 15, 2017:

Why dose my cat sit beside me with his back turned away from me?

Haydee on September 01, 2017:

I am a mother of two 7month old tabbies and i have to say for brothers these two are nothing a like. My orange tabby gets himself into so much trouble at home my husband is out of patience and doesnt know what to do anymore and neither do i. Can someone please help me

Katie on March 31, 2017:

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!

Owen on April 01, 2016:

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

gman on January 14, 2016:

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

william winkleman on October 18, 2014:

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

Valeriebelew on October 13, 2014:

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.

Franke on October 13, 2014:

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

valeriebelew (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on June 16, 2012:

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.

valeriebelew (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 30, 2010:

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

msorensson on July 30, 2010:

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 (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 30, 2010:

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

Eternal Evolution from kentucky on July 30, 2010:

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 (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 29, 2010:

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

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on July 29, 2010:

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

valeriebelew (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 29, 2010:

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

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on July 29, 2010:

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

valeriebelew (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 29, 2010:

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

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on July 29, 2010:

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

valeriebelew (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 29, 2010:

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

Varenya on July 29, 2010:

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 (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 29, 2010:

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

Sophie from United Kingdom on July 29, 2010:

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) :).

beatriceflores from Providence, RI on July 29, 2010:

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 ;).

valeriebelew (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 28, 2010:

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

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on July 28, 2010:

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

TheManWithNoPants from Tucson, Az. on July 28, 2010:

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)

valeriebelew (author) from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on July 28, 2010:

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

zzron from Houston, TX. on July 28, 2010:

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