By: Jeremy Alden
It is not safe to use a Nerf gun of any variety to discipline a cat because of the risk of injury.
A Nerf gun is a toy; therefore it is not made to be used for the purpose of shooting cats or other animals. I suggest that you look at other types of toys or perhaps a rolled-up newspaper which would serve as an equally effective method of correcting misbehavior while also being much safer.
Cats, like dogs, can be trained to avoid certain undesirable behavior to their owner through the use of positive reinforcement.
In other words, if your cat misbehaves and you provide her with some sort of reward for doing something you would prefer she do instead such as sitting or coming when called, then she will likely know that it is better to do what you want than not.
How can a nerf gun hurt a cat?
Nerf guns are made of plastic and rubber. Over the years, Nerf guns have increased their power (measured in FPS - feet per second). This increase in power has resulted in a number of reports that cats have been injured by the darts fired from Nerf guns. Most injuries involve a dart striking exposed skin, e.g. the head or shoulders.
When you fire one of these Nerf projectiles, it is launched at relatively high speed and can cause serious injury to your cat if she is in the way of the dart. While a Nerf gun might make an excellent training tool for dogs, it is not safe to use on your cat because of the risk of injury to her.
The injury risk to the cat's body
The cat's body parts are something to consider when deciding if you want to use this type of training method. It isn't just the risk of injury through dart penetration, it's also the risk of her being injured in a physical altercation (see below) or psychological trauma.
The cat's body is small and its weight is typically under 12 pounds. Considering that their body bones and organs are much smaller in comparison to a dog, you are risking damage to internal organs and bones.
Also, cats have a high center of gravity compared to dogs so if they fall backward or sideways from the force of impact, there is a great risk of damaging their spines with potential paralysis.
It's no different than when playing baseball; it's better not to hit someone who can't take the same level of impact as someone larger (or less sensitive) because the risk outweighs any potential benefits.)
The cat's feelings (their psychological safety)
Cats feel things differently than dogs do. Dogs want affection and attention and if they don't get it, they typically act out with behavior issues . Cats on the other hand tend to prefer solitude and peace.
It's unnatural for your cat to be forced into close proximity with people and other animals she doesn't want to interact with (especially when they're being "punished"). While a trained dog can learn to adapt, this is not the case for cats.
When you add in the high risk of physical injury, it becomes even more important that you consider another form of discipline instead of using an object that was never intended as a weapon for use against any animal - including cats.
In addition, as I already mentioned dogs like affection while cats prefer solitude; if you continue to force your cat into situations where she doesn't feel safe or comfortable then there is also a risk of psychological trauma which could have long-lasting effects on her behavior.
Is it bad to shoot cats with Nerf guns?
As a rule of thumb, it is not safe to shoot any animals, especially a cat with a Nerf gun. Nerf guns discharge darts at high-rates of speed which can cause severe damage to animals.
Other discipline options instead of using a nerf gun.
There are numerous other options to discipline your cat without using a Nerf gun that would teach them a lesson. Many cat owners have found success through:
1. The use of water guns or squirt bottles (which are much safer than a Nerf gun) such as the Cat Dancer and many other styles on the market that they can chase after, catch and then paw at to make it squirt again.
Some cats also love playing with water from the sink faucet or even getting sprayed with water from a spray bottle. This method of a squirt bottle or squirt gun may not be as effective for all pet owners because you do need to spend time up front teaching your cat what this toy is (and how not to get too wet).
Also, an important safety note when using ANY spraying toy is to ensure it doesn't point directly towards your face or any part of your body (as this can cause a direct impact).
2. Toys you make on your own. If the Nerf gun is too much of an attraction for your cat, then try making some homemade toys yourself using things found around the house. You could create a toy using an empty toilet paper tube or even something as simple as some string and a ping pong ball wrapped in paper.
Try wrapping it up with some sticky tape and throw that to her instead. (This is similar to what we did when training my dog; the type of toy I am talking about is explained at the bottom of this article.) This way she will get used to you throwing things at her which causes them to bounce towards her body. When you use a Nerf gun, she has no idea what it is and why it is being fired at her.
3. If you can remain calm during the discipline process then your words are probably more powerful that a Nerf gun could ever be.
It's very easy for people to get overly excited when they were trying to punish their pets because this isn't something they enjoy doing in the first place. But if you can remain calm while speaking to them, then you will get much better results than using an object like a Nerf gun which creates your own excitement in performing the activity (regardless of how much it actually stresses or upsets your cat).
4. Consistency is key . Just like with human children, consistency is key with training pets. Be sure to enforce the same punishment for any inappropriate behavior in a consistent manner. If you have ever earned a "time out" from your parents as a child, then you know how frustrating it can be when they don't follow through with consequences that were promised if you didn't behave yourself.
The same thing is true for pets. They need to know what will happen if they perform this type of action again and how long or short of a period of time they will be punished for their actions. Even dogs respond better to consistency than objects like Nerf guns; just make sure you stick to similar punishments no matter what animal is involved and whether its big or small.
5. "Time outs" are also an effective tool when disciplining your pet. You may notice that most pets have a favorite "napping spot". If you can recognize this spot, then in the future if they do something bad and are getting all upset about it, tell them to go lay down there for 5 minutes (or another amount of time) until they calm down.
This is an effective method for dogs as well but with cats it's more difficult because they like to sleep anywhere on their terms so I wouldn't use this one as often or with any major infractions; just for minor stuff.
6 . Cats love attention just as much as dogs do. When you feel she has performed an unwanted action which did not merit punishment , give her some affection instead and allow her to sit in your lap while you pet her. If she is getting too rough with the affection, then tell her to stop and walk away for a bit until she calms down again.
Then repeat step 6 about 5-10 minutes later as many times as necessary. To make training your cat easier, remember that they really crave attention from their owners so make sure you spend some time every day showing them love and affection.
7 . You can also "dancing" or moving around with her in fun, non-aggression way...then when she gets tired of it move on to another activity like playing with a toy or feeding her something yummy!
8 . Finally if all else fails, take your cat outside into your yard regularly. Cats are naturally more comfortable around nature and being outside is an excellent way to give them plenty of exercise while giving your house a break from their fur!
There's no reason why you can't teach your cat tricks like they do with dogs; especially with the right type of toy. Just remember that cats are much more sensitive then dogs so be extra cautious when using toys which produce loud sounds or objects which may hurt them.
9 . Finally, if all else fails try purchasing a "scat mat" for your home. These mats have static shocks on it used as a form of discipline for unwanted behavior in pets. This works best if you catch her doing something bad on camera first and then show her the footage (when she least expects it) and then turn on the mat for a few seconds to discipline her.
This is very effective if you are able to catch it on camera, as well as long enough to record it while she's doing the exact action that you want her to stop doing.
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Is it Safe to Discipline a Cat with a Nerf Gun?
So be sure to remember these tips when training your cat with an object like a Nerf gun (which will only create frustrations in the animal and are border line breaking animal cruelty laws) instead of disciplining them with something more natural like a water bottle which can provide positive results!
If you ever have an issue with your cat, always seek veterinary care.
About the Author
Jeremy is the founder of Dart Dudes, the leading resource for parents looking to pick up a Nerf toy for a child. He grew up with his four brothers and two sisters where there was always a Nerf war taking place.
With a focus on safety, Jeremy has helped thousands of parents help chose the right Nerf toy for their kids or grandkids. He lives in California with his wife and family. Learn more about me. - You can email me email@example.com