Why Cats Are Stubborn

It's not easy to win a war of wills with a stubborn feline.
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Compared with dogs, cats can appear indifferent to the humans in their lives -- even plain stubborn. A cat's refusal to heed your instruction may simply be a manifestation of the feline's independent spirit and individual personality.

Cats and Dogs

Most pet owners find it is easier to train their dogs than their cats. Although dogs can be stubborn, too, the dog's history as a pack animal makes it more likely to behave cooperatively. Much dog training focuses on getting your pooch to see you as the leader of the "pack" and striving to gain your acceptance and approval. By contrast, cats are solitary hunters that don't have the same need for your approval as a dog does. Cats are often extremely loving and affectionate, but their emotional relationship to humans is different than that of the unquestioning subservience a dog manifests. To a pack animal like a dog, subservience to the leader is an important survival tactic. Your cat, on the other hand, sees obeying your commands as optional.

Refusal to Come When Called

A common sign of stubbornness in a cat is a refusal to come when called. Cats are independent animals, but for their own safety it is important you train your cat to come when you call its name. Especially if you live by a road, you need to be able to call your cat in for the night. You can train your cat to come when called by always calling its name at feeding time. The cat will come to associate quick response to your calling with food and will have an incentive to come every time you call.


Cats like to know their surroundings. Change -- a new baby in the family, the appearance of today's mail on a countertop, or a new bedspread -- may make your cat wary and uncomfortable. She may attempt to control the environment by, for example, knocking the mail from the counter or urinating on the bedspread.

Behavioral Management

Understand the underlying reasons for your cat's stubbornness to make the behavior less aggravating. Most cats are not intrinsically trying to annoy you. Provide the outlets your cat needs for behaviors such as scratching and climbing, but place limits on those behaviors. Make sure your cat knows he can scratch his post but not your leather couch. Don't get angry with your cat, but redirect him to the post every time he scratches your couch. Once he's aware of the post, you can use a deterrent -- for example, a quick squirt with a water pistol -- to stop him from scratching your couch. Never hit or hurt a cat if you are annoyed with his behavior.

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