1. We recently adopted an adult cat from a shelter and he has started to claw at our hands. How do we teach him this is not okay?
First of all, try to figure out what causes the cat to claw at your hands. Some cats do this if you pet them a certain way or if they’re put in certain situations. Cats that get overexcited during petting can sometimes claw at you due to arousal, so if you notice a certain type of petting causes this, avoid doing it in the future. Never yell at the cat or do anything to startle it when the cat claws at you as this can increase the cat’s negative response. If the cat claws at you immediately get up and walk away and do not return to the cat until he or she has calmed down. Get a cat toy that is a “wand” – one that has a toy hanging from it by a string or rope. When the cat moves toward your hands to claw, take out the toy and distract the cat, and praise and reward the cat when it plays with the toy. The reward can be a food treat, or verbal praise, or more play with the toys, but avoid tactile praise. You need to continue to repeat this procedure until the cat learns that he will not be reinforced for clawing and will be left alone but will be reinforced for playing appropriate with a toy.