Never, ever, punish a cat, no matter what.

IndentYou can't punish a cat for doing something wrong because they don't do anything wrong. Cats use instinct and training to decide how to behave. A cat knows her instincts are never wrong, so you can't punish her for that. Maybe you have inadvertently trained your cat with some bad behavior. You can't punish her for doing exactly what you trained her to do!
IndentPunishment can only make your cat afraid of you. She will just continue to do annoying things when you are not watching. Real behavior changes require positive reinforcement.
IndentYou also never want to make your cat's home feel hostile. Things that surprise your cat with a hiss, a balloon pop, or a mouse trap like snap are hostile. They make your cat insecure and trigger instincts that can lead to bad behavior. Security is the most important aspect of your home to trigger the good instincts that make your cat easy to live with.
The first rule of cats: A cat will continue to do something unitl you give her something even better to do.
IndentSo what can you do? The first thing you will always want to do is offer up a different choice in behavior. If your cat scratches your couch get a scratching post. If your cat jumps up on the kitchen table get a bar stool just for her. Think about what your cat needs or wants and give her a good alternative.
IndentAfter adding an alternate choice in behavior you can make the wrong choice less desirable, never actively hostile, just uncomfortable. You can put Sticky Paws on your couch to discourage scratching. You can put aluminum foil on your kitchen table and counters when not in use to discourage counter surfing.
 IndentInstead of a water filled squirt bottle try using an old soda can with some pennies inside to shake and get your cat's attention. Then use a toy as an acceptable alternative to the behavior you interrupted.
Molly is happy being up high.
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Copyright 2011 Don Wells.