How do you say "no" to a cat? Well, it's not as simple as it may seem. Cats are notorious for holding grudges, but that doesn't mean you should resort to negative methods of discipline. For instance, shoving their noses in their own mess won't make them understand. They'll just think you're being a jerk (which, let's be honest, you would be).
So, if you want to communicate "no" to your cat in the heat of the moment and be taken seriously, here's what you can do. Gently redirect their attention by moving their noggin so they face you, and then say "no!" in a firm but not yelling voice. After that, pick the cat up and gently place them on the floor. My cats have learned what "no!" means because I've consistently reinforced it. They know they only get one "no" before I get up and repeat the exercise.
Now, it's important to never let the cats win. Don't just say "no" and ignore their misbehavior. Cats can actually understand that they shouldn't do something if you consistently and promptly respond with a "no." The key is to be firm, but not mean, and to be consistent so that they know what to expect. And yes, you have to be willing to get up and calmly approach the cat to redirect their behavior.
But what if the cat has already moved on from the misdeed? Well, it's time for you to take responsibility. Get out your cleaning supplies and tidy up. After all, you adopted the cat, and even the best behaved cats can make messes. It's just part of the cost of having a cat.
Oh, and a quick side note: cats are much more receptive to positive reinforcement than punishment. They absolutely adore treats and food. You wouldn't believe how much they love it. So, use food to reward and reinforce good behavior. Trust me, it works wonders!
By the way, if you want to read more about cats and their quirky behaviors, check out MEWCATS. Happy cat parenting!