Dangerous & Unnecessary

Question:

My friend has a cat and when he gets into trouble or does something bad she either hits him hard on the top of the head or on the butt. Will this hurt the cat? He also squinches his eyes tight when he gets hit on the head? Can the hitting have any effect on the cat when he is hit on the head?

 

Dr. Nichol:

Hitting a cat is worse than unnecessary; it’s dangerous. This little fellow is at risk for concussion as well as damage to his ability to think properly. Any of us can have diminished intelligence from repeated head trauma.

 

Your friend needs to learn new skills for managing her cat’s behavior. A more effective method is to interrupt undesirable habits early in a behavior sequence. She can startle her cat when he shows the earliest body language suggestive of urinating in the wrong place or perhaps the beginnings of a predatory attitude toward his owner. Whatever the objectionable behavior, her cat will learn best if a loud noise not associated with her (a hand held foghorn instead of yelling) shocks him out of his naughty mindset. Violence is totally out of place and it doesn’t work anyway.

 

Harshness toward pets is an important warning sign. Many people have anger problems. Family members, including loving cats or dogs, can be the recipients of hostility that we would never vent on someone outside the home. Anyone without good alternatives needs healthy counseling. They can improve their own lives and hearts as they protect those closest to them. I’ll keep your friend and her cat in my thoughts.