do time outs work??

laine

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Sep 5, 2007
Messages
33
Reaction score
2
Location
Fl
When my kitten Bender acts up i lock him in the bathroom for a few minutes to either calm him down or make him realize he is in trouble, does this work???



He doesnt seem to learn from this type of punishment though, he usually just destroys something in the bathroom while hes in there (like rip up toilet paper).
 

coaster

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
May 28, 2005
Messages
5,174
Reaction score
7
Location
Wisconsin
I find timeouts useful for calming down over-excited or fighting cats. However, "a few minutes" is way too short. It takes a cat hours to calm down. Timeouts can be used for behavior modification, but not discipline. And they have to be long enough, and absolutely 100% consistent. If you give a timeout sometimes for undesirable behavior, but not every time for the same behavior, then it'll be useless. Using a timeout to make a cat "realize he's in trouble" doesn't work, because a cat doesn't know trouble. You're the one being troubled, he's just being a cat. But he can learn what behaviors please you and what behaviors displease you, and you can use the timeout to teach him that. By giving him attention that he wants when he does a good behavior, and denying the attention he wants when he does an undesirable behavior, the timeout is a motivator to avoid the undesirable behavior. It doesn't work as well in cats as it does in dogs and people, and it takes a lot longer, but usually you can modify behavior to a certain extent. Since it does take so much effort and commitment, you'd best decide which battles you really want to fight, and which you'll just let him have. You can't win 'em all.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

laine

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Sep 5, 2007
Messages
33
Reaction score
2
Location
Fl
haha good advice, i figure he will hopefully grow out of most of his issues, but for the rest of them i will lock him up for a good amt of time. thnx
 

erinca7821

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Joined
Jun 21, 2007
Messages
275
Reaction score
2
Location
New Jersey
I've never done a time-out persay, but when Seamus would get really rambunctious or scratch me and I've had enough, I raise my voice and tell him "NO" and clap really loud and then ignore him and keep telling him "NO, GET AWAY" loudly with the clap when he came near me... he'd get the hint and go to another room (usually under the bed) and relax for a little while... there seems to be a recognition that he's done something that I didn't appreciate because his demeanor changes when he goes away... almost like a little kid he walks with his head down and looks upset... Sometimes I feel bad and go talk to him calmly a few minutes later or he comes back calm and rubbing his head all over me... and I'd give him extra positive feedback so he knew it was all better. Now he just associates the loud noise with "I'd better stop" and calms himself down before playing again.
 

siggav

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 26, 2007
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
21
Location
Scotland
I've done timeouts back when Nikita was younger and more out of control and would sometimes work herself into a frenzy and start attacking my feet.

The only way to make her stop then was to give her around half an hour timeout so she could calm herself down. I think it's most useful for doing stuff like that, helping cats calm down when they've gone completely out of control.
 

urbantigers

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Apr 30, 2006
Messages
2,175
Reaction score
6
Location
UK
Imo it depends on the cat. Time outs worked very well with Mosi when he was younger. Sometimes when he'd get very naughty or go over the top taunting Jaffa (esp at bedtime) putting him in time out for a few minutes worked wonders. He really seemed to understand why he'd been put in time out. When he did something naughty I would calmly and wordlessly pick him up immdiately (no eye contact) and place him gently in the living room/kitchen (not a small area) and shut the door. To begin with he stayed out there 1 minute for every month of his age. He wasn't in a confined space but he was shut away from interaction with myself or Jaffa. It gave him time to calm down and so long as it was done immediately following the naughty behaviour he seemed to understand why he was being shut out there. He'd then be allowed out of that room and would invariably be a good boy and not go back to what he had been doing. I don't do it now and I wouldn't do it with Jaffa because I don't think he has the right temperament for it (before I got Mosi it never occurred to me to do time out, it just seemed like the right thing with Mosi).
 

mschauer

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 17, 2007
Messages
6,234
Reaction score
1,734
Location
Houston, Tx
Originally Posted by Laine

haha good advice, i figure he will hopefully grow out of most of his issues, but for the rest of them i will lock him up for a good amt of time. thnx
Exactly what behavior are you trying to correct?

I agree with others, timeouts work best if you only use them to calm an over stimulated cat. Cats aren't as interested in pleasing their owners as dogs are so I think they are unlikely to respond to a timeout with "oh what I did made her unhappy with me, I better not do it again". Cats live to please themselves, not us.
 

lady neeva

TCS Member
Kitten
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
4
Reaction score
2
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
I've found that they do work with my cat Keiran to an extent, but you need a very cat boring place and quite a bit of time for it to have any sort of settling down effect.

We use a closet (walk in variety, it's pretty good size, and it's empty) and he's usually kept locked up for about 30-45 minutes. We haven't had to use it for months thought. He used to have a real problem with aggressively attacking our ankles and feet. When he didn't grow out of it by a year and a half old (obviously we were saying NO and such the whole time), we went with this method. It worked, he hasn't attacked an ankle in months.

But you need to be consistent... towards the end, we actually had to start hunting him down because he'd do these hit and run attacks because he didn't want to be closeted. Probably be easier with a cat who isn't a 13.6lb pile of slippery smooth silky fur lol.
 

mschauer

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 17, 2007
Messages
6,234
Reaction score
1,734
Location
Houston, Tx
I retract my earlier statement.


I can see how they might learn to associate a particular behavior with being put in a closet if you were very consistent about it over a long period of time.

I'd still be interested in knowing what behavior you are trying to correct though. I would think you would have to be very selective in what behavior you try to correct this way. If you put him in a closet for a variety of reasons I wouldn't think he would get the idea.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12

laine

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Sep 5, 2007
Messages
33
Reaction score
2
Location
Fl
Originally Posted by mschauer

Exactly what behavior are you trying to correct?

I agree with others, timeouts work best if you only use them to calm an over stimulated cat. Cats aren't as interested in pleasing their owners as dogs are so I think they are unlikely to respond to a timeout with "oh what I did made her unhappy with me, I better not do it again". Cats live to please themselves, not us.
The behavior i am trying to correct is his "rage" he will be going crazy chasing the other cats or something, and run across my lap top, or my face or something, he jsut needs to know where he can and cannot run around
 

coaster

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
May 28, 2005
Messages
5,174
Reaction score
7
Location
Wisconsin
Well, that's not rage. That's what many cat owners call "psycho-kitty" and most cats do it to some degree or other, more so when they're young. Putting this cat in time-out to settle down is an excellent way of handling it. Just lengthen the time to 30 minutes, and take away the toilet paper (or use a different room where he doesn't have anything to rip up.)


Two of my three cats go psycho-kitty pretty regularly once or twice a day. And the other one who doesn't had to be put on Prozac for a behavioral problem. So I'm guessing that going psycho-kitty is a useful way for a cat's nervous system to burn off accumulated stress and nervous energy.
 

sofiecusion

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 20, 2003
Messages
1,757
Reaction score
4
Location
Wisconsin
I put Chevy in a time out for stalking and pouncing on Summer when she's giving off obvious signals that she doesn't want to play...If she tells him no and he stops, I don't do anything. However, if she tells him no and he doesn't stop even when she is walking away, its a timeout. He plays too rough. I only give him a time out for like 5 minutes. He has to be out by us and follows us, so putting him in the bedroom and shutting the door is a big thing for him. He does it a lot less now. Consistency is the key.
 

xlpooper

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 8, 2007
Messages
3,405
Reaction score
857
Location
South
He is just a kitten, let the poor thing shred the TP.
 

carlycorday

TCS Member
Kitten
Joined
Nov 6, 2015
Messages
1
Reaction score
1
This will get my hiney kicked at any cat lovers' site for certain. My cat is an adopted critter, surrendered to Humane Society by previous owner who claimed "moving" as their excuse. I learned the probable real reason: Kitty BITES.

He is an already-declawed, neutered male, supposedly age 4-5 yrs. He is fluffy, with green-gold eyes, a uniquely gorgeous pair of eyes they are, with markings that suggest eyeliner coming to an exotic point, simply precious! He is a red-gold angel with only a couple of tabby stripes, only near his face. The rest of him is long, soft, blonde teddy-bear fluff. To see him is to long to pick him up and pet him and commit your life to him. He is as sweet as he looks! Except that he bites me.  He doesn't allow petting, or picking up, or acts defiance or negligence on my part such as waiting too long to get the window drapes opened all over the house for him. He bites me while I do it! He's mad, he'll have me know! He adores me, I think, by the way treats me the rest of the time, but who knows with a cat?

I broke him of getting up on kitchen cabinets by first clapping hands sharply and no, then the next time, time-out in his own lavishly appointed bedroom which contains everything he loves, always-clean litter pan of ample size (he's a big boy), food available in a dispenser in case of time outs, an always fresh, HUGE double water bowl, a bed, two big windows facing different parts of the yard outside, a view of the woods, because we live in the country.

He never jumps up on countertops now, after a couple of time-outs to show him what I meant, each a little longer than the last, a few hours, not days. Since he won't let me pet him, I've stopped letting him get up on my lap and knead me all over my poor stomach and chest before lying on me, so he may not lie on me at all. But I am his pal as he is mine, and we both know it. Nothing is too good for him.

And because I've timed him out several times for biting, he deliberately offers me his beautiful long bushy orange fox tail to pet to my heart's content. He walks back and forth, mewing and rubbing against my ankles, giving me that swishy, pretty tale to love. We are great friends.

The biting got less and less frequent, but yesterday he tore it once and for all. I was lifting him off of my bed so I could go to bed, and he turned his head and BIT ME, refusing otherwise to budge. I let out an infuriated howl of disappointment and chagrin. He ran like hell. I closed the doors to all the rooms until he chose to appear meekly in the hallway to ask me with his posture, "OK, what do we do now?" I replied by picking him up, putting him in his room and shutting the door. This time-out will be not his first day-long and night-long imprisonment for biting me, but this one will be longer.

You cannot show a cat what you mean with 2 hours of time out and kitty treats in the time-out room! Cats DO TOO know what trouble is! Why do you think they run like hell right after they do something forbidden and they hear the familiar gasp from you? THEY KNOW. Don't be dumber than a cat! Me, I'm suffering as much as my cat is by this deprivation of each other's company. Today he meowed, and it sounded like the tiny plaintive whimper of a starving kitten (he was only put in there last night.) I pitched my sandal at his door, making a good hard noise, so he'd quit it for both our sakes. Not another peep so far. HE KNOWS.

And no, you excuse-makers, he doesn't bite me because he's sick or hurting somewhere. He's an active, bounding, happy kitty, he chases bugs, zips around the house, lies in wait for spiders under the washer and fridge, and he is ALWAYS THINKING, keeping constant tabs on me, you can see it in everything he does. He's in a power contest with his human, and by biting me, he keeps losing the whole war, after winning almost every battle.

One time, he bit me on the face and I bled. After he bit me last night, I took a look at the hand he'd bitten. His teeth had left a scratch by my snatching my hand away from all of his front teeth, top and bottom (he rarely just nips, he sets those teeth IN you, all of them). My hand, when I looked at it, shocked me with what an old, weak little hand it was, wrinkled with age and misshapen from arthritis (I'm 65). It can't go on.

[Sorry this post is THAT long, but man, this is the hardest website to join I have ever encountered. It took at least 25 minutes of re-trying. Most sites like that, I give up on, often to find their acceptance message in my email inbox days later despite the many ERRORS I could not get past when I tried to sign up. What they do is, they tell you what you did wrong one error at a time! When you've finally corrected all the errors, that's when you forget to re-check the privacy agreement, and off you go again. Firefox offering to "save my password" puts the icky icing on the cake, because of course I clicked YES to that 15 minutes ago. AGGGHH. True, I am due for a new computer. Mine is an 8-yr-old laptop and has turned slow this past month.

But this post, this thread, all the other sweet kitties and loving humans, are especially important to me. I'd like to sign it Old Lady at Wits' End, but I don't feel I'm at my wits' end really, because hell no, I am not going to be dumber than my cat. :) ]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Spookyandsammy

Spookys human
Alpha Cat
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
606
Reaction score
306
Location
mass
Spooky has been in my room since I've gotten her long story one day I will post about it. She gets into it with sandwich growls and hisses and finally I got sick of it and put her in her carrier for a few mins she was telling me off but I'm trying I would never abuse her she's like my kid but I've had it I want a refund a divorce 😂
 

ArtNJ

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
2,548
Reaction score
2,835
I agree with the first two response posts: they generally do not work, but they can be used to calm down an overly excited cat.

I believe cats need an immediate and very clear stimulus to link with a negative behavior, like an immediate "no!" If you have to carry the cat somewhere and they have to realize they are trapped, that doesnt sound like it should take a long time, but I think it is still not immediate enough to make the link. That is why I tell people, if you are going to use a squirt gun (and I know that is controversial) then make sure it is in the specific area that needs to be protected like the kitchen table and that you don't have to run for it, because if you have to go get it, the link won't get made.
 

Spookyandsammy

Spookys human
Alpha Cat
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
606
Reaction score
306
Location
mass
I use the word no and clap my hands or make a loud noise to get her away from whatever she is doing. It's frustrating when she just wants tests you all the time I i know cats were put on this Earth do do that and she does a damn good job at pressing my buttons
 
Top