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I grew up with cats, and since living on my own, I have had cats. I don't have children, but I've always treated my cats like semi-independent toddlers. Cats (and dogs), like children, don't understand punishment after the fact.

My mother was unnecessarily cruel, to us, too. I remember one of the cats peed on a place she wasn't happy with. When she noticed, she went and rubbed the poor girl's face in it! My reaction to a cat making a mistake? You can't change what's happened, but you can find out why that behaviour is happening. Peeing away from a litter tray is often because of illness, or them showing unhappiness with their environment. And cats can be trained, with positive encouragement (and various sprays) to do more of the things you want, and less of the things you don't.

Yet, you can easily see it - those that treat animals badly, treat humans badly, too. It's generally the people in charge that need to change their behaviour to their charges, not the pets or children themselves.

And I learnt all this by understanding behaviours that I didn't like towards myself.

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