Breaking Bad Habits…. Can You Teach an old cat new tricks?

By Brooke Stevenson Dec 19, 2016
Breaking Bad Habits…. Can You Teach an old cat new tricks?

Recent discoveries in science and neurology have educated us that our brain is ever changeable and plastic. So does this mean that we can change our cats’ terrible and embarrassing bad habits? Well, this week I tried to do just this. My cat is a cheeky 6-year-old domestic shorthair called Jukka. I have had Jukka from 8 weeks old and in my early cat parenting days, I was a shocking single mother.

He physically and physiologically walked all over me…I let him.

So being driven crazy by his terrible habits, I tried to test re-training him. Was it possible?


1.    Jumping on my kitchen table

This is one of my biggest “pet-peeves” of all time. Jukka knows this drives me crazy. So I decided to try and look into a few options to stop this terrible and unhygienic bad habit (before no more of my friends accept a home-cooked meal from me).

To begin with, one lesson to break any bad habit is consistency. So every time my kitty jumped on the bench, I put him out of the room . . .. This did nothing.

So the next night, I put baking paper around the kitchen countertops… this did nothing.

Then. I finally found what makes him more frustrated than using a water pistol (my absolute last resort) STICKY TAPE. I put a length of double-sided tape around the outside of the tabletops; he jumped up once…then didn’t again…for 3 days.

- Mind you, I have had to apply this again later in the week, obviously. However, this method worked.


2.    Weeing in my pot plant

This flaw I can understand. He has a litter box, the plant box if filled with dirt and looks a little like a litter box and he is allowed to go to the toilet outside.

This was a surprisingly fast fix, after one day of digging he stopped. It was an old wives tale (or so I thought) but using a few drops of tea tree oil in the soil.

The smell must have been a little over powering for him, stopping him from wanting to dig around there.


3.    Putting his paws in my water

I know as a cat owner, I am not alone. My cat constantly drinks from my glass. As soon as I put a glass of water down, he immediately puts his paw into it. As I am writing this very article, I am questioning how many glasses of water he has “pawed” without me realizing… a scary thought.

Regardless, this has been a long-standing pet peeve of mine. So I decided to try a few different methods. One was using a drop of tea tree oil in the water, but he obviously could smell it too strongly in the water. Cat:1, Me:2.

Second attempt, I put tape around the outside of the glass. He did get stuck on the glass for a total of 2 seconds, before unsticking his whiskers and using his paw instead. Cat 2: Me 2.

Third and final attempt, this is a logical step. Use a bottle. I have to accept, he isn’t perfect. However, if I want to guarantee he won’t tamper with my water then I need to just use a bottle.


My week in review:

I was a little concerned how fast we managed to overcome some of my cats’ bad habits (that have been a nuisance for a while). However, old habits do die-hard. Over my week of consistent discipline, he jumped back on my kitchen countertop.

I suppose I have to accept having sticky tape around my bench-tops for a while.


Login to leave comments


Follow Me!

Necoichi Official Site - We develop excellent cat products that are both functional and beautifully designed to help your cat live a happy life with you