Cats And The Power Of The Spray Bottle

By Category: Cat Deterrents, Training Cats
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Does spraying a cat with water work? Ummm… If you want him to be afraid of you, sure, it works great. But there are more effective ways to keep him away from places where you think he doesn’t belong.


Spraying a cat with water and getting him soaking wet is never a good idea.

Spraying your cat with water is a good way to make him afraid of you.

Does spraying a cat with water work, Thomasina? My cat insists on getting on the sofa. I spray him with a spray bottle, and he does it anyway. And to make things worse, now he seems to be afraid of me. What’s wrong with him????
— Frustrated

Hi Frustrated…

I’m sorry you and your cat are upset with each other. Spraying a cat with water rarely works out the way the humans want it to.

Really, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your cat. But he must be wondering what’s wrong with you! He has no idea why you keep aiming that weapon at him and getting him soaking wet when all he’s doing is trying to take a nap.

Cats don’t have a strong sense of personal property the way humans do. We think of things as “ours,” not “yours” and “mine.” So when you’re not using the sofa, your cat doesn’t see any reason why he can’t sleep on it.

Maybe you could give him his own little corner of the couch. If you put a soft throw or cat bed in the spot that’s okay for him to use, he’ll probably sleep there, especially if you sprinkle his special place with catnip.

Why The Spraying A Cat With Water Theory Is All Wet

Cats don’t respond well to punishment, mainly because we don’t see what we’re doing as “wrong.” If no one else is using the sofa, it makes perfect sense for us to sleep on it. We like to be up high, and the kitchen counters are up high, so why shouldn’t we sit on them? You might think our feet are dirty, but they don’t seem dirty to us. 

It’s true that you can use spraying a cat with water as a training tool. But what it trains the cat to do is stay off the sofa or counters when you’re around. Since your cat associates you with the spray bottle, he thinks it’s safe to sleep on the couch when you’re not looking.   

As you discovered, spaying a cat with a spray bottle can also make the cat afraid of you. He doesn’t understand why you’re spraying water on him. All he knows is that you’re pointing something at him that gets him wet. Since he doesn’t like being wet, it’s safest to just stay away from you.

If you really want to use that spray bottle, do it from someplace where he can’t see you. Then he won’t associate getting wet with you. 

Alternatives To The Spray Bottle, If You Really Must

Here are some alternatives to spraying a cat with a spray bottle.I can tell you from personal (notice that I did not say “purrsonal” here!) experience that the Catscram electronic deterrent really works, and I’m still mad at our neighbor for putting one in my favorite flowerbed.

I’ve heard from other cats that ScatMats work, too. Or secure some bubble wrap to his part of the sofa for a few days. He won’t like the sound when his claws burst the bubbles and will learn to stay away. You can also use Sticky Paws or double-stick tape. Forget about tin foil though, Your cat will just move it out of the way.

Really, though, my human and I have found that the happiest way for cats and people to live together is to learn to compromise. If you give your cat some of the things he really wants, like a corner of the sofa, he’ll let you have some things to yourself, too.


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