First and foremost, toss any comparisons between cats and dogs out the window. Cats aren’t dogs, pets aren’t people and everyone is an individual. Trying to fit a cat into a dog-shaped box never works. While canines thrive on what world-renowned cat behavior and wellness expert Jackson Galaxy calls the “guardian-companion dynamic,” cats don’t necessarily find this sort of relationship comforting. (Galaxy’s book, Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat is absolutely necessary for any cat owner serious about understanding their cat.) Galaxy encourages people to become parents rather than trainers or disciplinarians when dealing with felines. We’re never going to get them to do exactly what we want. We can, however, provide our cats with environments and routines based on their specific needs to encourage the healthiest, most respectful relationship possible.
1. Don’t become an alpha pack-leader
Unlike domesticated canines, who evolved alongside humans for millennia to become a highly social species, felines prefer solo lifestyles. Big cats hunt alone. Cats have certainly become more social in the past couple of thousand years (as evidenced by them sharing apartments with us and using litter boxes), but they aren’t hard-wired to respond to dominant figures. Trying to be an alpha, whether through physical force, loud speech or a spray bottle for discipline will only push your cat away. It doesn’t lead to respect.