Can you set boundaries with cats? Facts and FAQ

Last updated on: October 17, 2023 by Crystal Uys

young cat owner playing with her pet at home

As much as we love our feline friends, they can often send us to the brink of madness with their curious behavior. Whether it’s disruptive nighttime activities, being woken up by a hungry cat scratching your face, or an attention-seeking cat bothering you while you’re working on your computer.

These issues can affect your relationship, but if you could set boundaries, it might make things easier. Well, you can! Although it may be easier said than done, you can set boundaries with your cat, which we’ll explain in detail in this article.

Setting limits for cats

Many cat owners struggle with behavior problems with their cats and wonder if they can set limits that their cats will understand. You can set boundaries with cats, but as with humans and dogs, deciding boundaries requires understanding your cat’s nature.

It is your responsibility to understand your cat and what he likes and dislikes.

By setting boundaries with your cat, you can avoid situations where you become frustrated with your cat doing something natural.

These may be minor behavioral issues that aren’t necessarily bad, but can cause interruptions in your routine or lead to frustration, such as waking up in the night or jumping on counters. It’s perfectly okay to have your boundaries and you can set boundaries with your cat to improve your relationship.

fluffy cat sitting on laptop keyboard
Image credit: Sophiecat, Shutterstock

Reasons to set limits for cats

Setting boundaries with your cat is essential to establishing and maintaining a good relationship between you and your feline friend. As cat owners, we can very easily become frustrated with behaviors that are completely natural for cats, but setting limits can prevent us from reaching our limits and becoming frustrated.

Boundaries help create an environment where your cat feels safe. If your cat feels safe, it will have more time to take care of itself by eating, sleeping and playing alone. Boundaries also work both ways.

Your cat will also have boundaries that you need to respect, such as not forcing him to sit with you or be held. Boundaries are also especially important if you work from home, as your cat can become very disruptive. Setting boundaries can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

cat rubbing its body against the owner
Image credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can a cat be trained?

Cats can be trained as long as you let them know you are in charge. Cats can learn to sit and follow commands like a dog, but they are more difficult to train. By training your cat and teaching him what he can and cannot do, he can become a well-behaved companion.

Ideally, you should start training your cat as early as possible. Positive reinforcement should be used to keep your cat motivated, and avoiding punishment-based training will prevent this. stress and the possibility that your cat is afraid of you.

How do I set healthy limits for my cat?

To set healthy boundaries with your cat, you need to understand their temperament and personality. You should be able to recognize their limitations and work with them.

First, you need to think about what matters. Trying to force your cat to do something won’t work and will also encroach on his boundaries, which can cause him stress. You also need to ask yourself if it’s worth it, as it can take a lot of time and energy.

Consistency and patience are key to setting boundaries. Setting a time to play, having a consistent feeding schedule, and reinforcing desired behaviors help set limits. Here are some tips for setting boundaries:

  • Set a time for you and your cat to play and keep it consistent so your cat knows it’s coming. You can also rotate their toys to keep your cat occupied and avoid boredom.
  • Remove your cat whenever he jumps on an area you don’t want him to be on, such as the counter or bed. With time and consistency, your cat will get the message.
  • Stick to a consistent feeding routine so your cat knows when it’s time to eat, which can prevent her from begging.
  • Try to dissuade your cat from your keyboard by offering him a comfortable bed nearby.
  • Cats are natural climbers, so provide perches and scratching posts to keep your cat from jumping on counters and scratching furniture.
cat playing on a toy attached to the scratching post
Image credit: Vadym_Hunko, Shutterstock

How to establish the right limits?

You need to do what’s right for you and your cat, so every cat owner will find different limits to set. Sometimes it takes patience and energy to set boundaries, so it’s important to consider how important and necessary they are; otherwise, it can cause even more stress and frustration.

You also need to consider your cat’s instincts and be realistic. For example, you can’t expect your cat to stop scratching furniture if you don’t provide a suitable alternative.

Sit down and think about the behaviors that displease you. They might look like this:

This list will be different for every cat owner, but once you have it, you’ll need to analyze it further and think about things like: Is this a natural behavior for cats? This can help you develop a plan and path forward and keep your expectations in check.


Setting boundaries with your cat can be done with a little patience, consistency and understanding. Setting limits is not about prohibiting your cat’s natural behavior but find a way for the two of you to live together happily and without frustration or resentment.

At the end of the day, your cat loves you and wants to be close to you. It’s worth finding a balance between respecting their boundaries and teaching them to respect yours. You can have a fulfilling and positive relationship with your cat by being consistent while setting realistic limits.

Featured image credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

About the Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *