Paw's Corner: Cat’s bad habits are hard to break

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  Paw's Corner: Cat’s bad habits are hard to break Paw's Corner: Cat’s bad habits are hard to break Q: My boyfriend regularly allowed my cat, Baxter, to jump onto the table during dinner and would feed him right from his plate. We're no longer a couple, but Baxter is still with me, and he insists on jumping onto the table and begging for food. How can I break him of this habit?
-- Janine, Reno, Nev.

A: It can be tough to break a bad habit in a cat, especially one that was allowed to persist for so long. You may never be able to completely train Baxter to stay off the table or to not beg for food, but you can discourage such behavior.

Don't feel guilty about doing it, either. Baxter likely will yowl pitifully at you as you eat dinner without him. But don't allow him on the table at all.

How do you do that? When the cat moves to jump onto the table, either hiss at him or shake something at him that will frighten him slightly. Many owners use a can of pennies, which rattles loudly when shaken. Others simply wave a rolled-up newspaper at their cat, and that's enough to make their pet stop the aberrant behavior.

Repeat this hiss or penny-can shake each and every time he tries to climb onto the table. And whenever Baxter stays down through the whole meal, or immediately after you finish eating, shower him with praise.To make this even easier, try feeding Baxter shortly before your dinnertime. If you're unable to do that, insist that he stays off the table and never gets away with that behavior with you or with guests.

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