Why We Shouldn’t Yell at Our Pets

I learned the hard way that losing my temper and yelling at my cats doesn’t help them stop bad behavior; it makes them fearful and can make them lose trust. When we first adopted Scooter, a small black cat who is only about four years old, it wasn’t easy to get the other (and older) cats to get used to him. When Scooter would approach one of the cats to play, they would hiss at him and run. It takes time for pets to get comfortable with new pets.

Of course, the inevitable happened; Scooter would approach the other cats and they would either swat him or run from him. When this happened, I would scold the cat that swatted. This did nothing but make all the cats scared. It may sound funny, but I realized that all I was doing was scaring both the swatter and the swattee.

When a new pet comes into a house with already established pets, there is always a learning curve and a lot of getting used to the new pet. For our four older cats, Scooter was an outsider and a pain in the tail. It takes time for the older cats to get used to a new cat, especially a young one. Poor Scooter just wanted to play, but the other cats weren’t having it at all.

When I saw Bailey (who was my mom’s and dad’s cat) swat Scooter, I just lost it. I yelled at him and swatted his tail. Of course the poor thing was terrified and went into hiding. It was then that I had one of those “ah ha” moments: my yelling and swatting was not helping; it was teaching Bailey to be afraid of me.

After I had a good cry over it, I stopped yelling and swatting. I even apologized to all my cats and promised that I would never ever yell or swat them again. (And I know what you’re thinking: ‘oh SURE they listened!’) But I’ve kept my word. Although the four older cats are getting used to Scooter these days, there is always a small dust-up here and there. When I see or hear it, I just say (not shout) “hey, hey—that’s enough.”

Our pets have no idea why we are yelling at them; all yelling does just making them scared. If your dog likes to chew on your leather slippers, put them in your bureau drawer. If your cat just loves to knock your doo-dads off the living room table, then put them somewhere else where the cat can’t get at them.

It does no good at all to yell and tell them that they are bad dogs and cats; they seriously do not have a clue why you are yelling at them. Yelling will just make the pets scared of you, nervous and afraid.

Make sure that your pets have playthings that they like. I’ve never owned a dog so I’m not much help to you on that one. But cats absolutely love catnip toys. We always have “stinky fish” (check them out on Amazon) which are stuffed with catnip. There are also “kicking sticks,” which are long cotton tubes which are also stuffed with catnip. Cats go nuts for them and will amuse themselves for hours. Those plastic “jingle” balls are fun for them as well. Often the cats will play so much that they end up taking a long nap afterwards.

And as for Scooter fitting in with the others; it’s happening. Of course there will be minor dust-ups now and then, but as the months go by, our other cats are becoming more tolerant. I learned the hard way that bullying and yelling and swatting do nothing; all those things only make the cats scared and afraid. I don’t yell any more, and I don’t swat their tails anymore. When a little dust-up happens, I just say “hey now, that’s enough, kids.” Then I pat them and tell them what good kitties they are—now that’s something that they really understand.

Lesson learned: please don’t yell at your pets or swat them.



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