How To Discipline A Ragdoll Kitten: 7 Alternative Punishments

Ragdolls pick up on signals from their owners and learn a lot from how we react to them. If you put the hard work in with them early on, the way you train and raise them will lead to positive behavior for the remainder of their lives.

Ragdolls pick up on signals from their owners and learn a lot from how we react to them. If you put the hard work in with them early on, the way you train and raise them will lead to positive behavior for the remainder of their lives.

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take a disciplined approach at times. Ragdolls can be very stubborn and have a character that can naturally lead them into trouble!

ragdoll cat outside

Good training and discipline should never be confused with physical punishment and loud shouting. No cat reacts well to aggressive behavior, and in fact can mirror back anger with hissing and possibly even biting.

But don’t think you can’t punish your Ragdolls kitten. You can punish a Ragdoll, but not in the way you think. Instead you use discipline without anything that will hurt or scare them.

And this is exactly what I will explain today, with a guide that shows you how to discipline a Ragdoll, leading to a well behaved and happy cat. There is no physical punishment involved, and it never should be with cats.

How do you discipline a Ragdoll kitten without punishment?

As you know, Ragdolls are stubborn little characters meaning it can be a struggle to get them to behave well at the right moments. But, with patience, perseverance, and a consistent approach to discipline it is possible to reduce unwanted behavior,

You will need to:

  • Only ever discipline your Ragdolls at the point the problem occurred to help them relate the two actions.
  • Always use positive reinforcement after they have done something positive.
  • Be consistent with the way you discipline your Ragdoll including your body language and a firm tone of voice.
  • Never resort to shouting and hitting as this will get the opposite response to the one you want.

Ragdoll discipline tips

Use the following tips with your Ragdoll and you should never need to physically punish them. Not that you should ever hit a cat anyway!

1. Discipline them at the time of the offence

Ragdolls don’t like being left alone and can become destructive due separation anxiety. You might come home to find paperwork shredded, furniture torn, and shoes chewed up.

Whilst the temptation to shout might be you first response, your Ragdoll won’t understand that and correlate the angry owner with the shoe he destroyed earlier that day.

Ragdolls do have good memories, but no cat will be able to reconcile you punishing them for something that they did earlier that day. Their brains aren’t wired to work that way.

The bottom line is, unless you catch your Ragdoll being naughty in the act, there’s no point meting out punishment once that bad behavior has already happened. Instead you need to act in the moment and discipline your Ragdoll at the time with firm words and body language which are described in tip 2.

2. Use firm body language and tone of voice

Cats will pick up on the most subtle of changes in your body language and voice. My recommended Ragdoll punishment method is to use a combination of the two; a firm “no” command with your finger raised and changing your face to frown from a smile.

ragdoll cat staring

This is an effective way of disciplining a Ragdoll as they will hear the change in your voice and see the change in your face. And what’s key here is that you haven’t had to hurt them and lose your temper.

Disciplining your Ragdoll in this way will help to cement your position in the household as the alpha cat and pack leader. If you end up shouting and hitting all you are doing is becoming a threat to the cat, making them more anxious. This can only exacerbate the behavioral problems you wanted to eliminate.

3. Stay consistent with the discipline and training

It’s easy for cats to get confused so keep the way you act consistent and simple when disciplining your Ragdoll.

To give you a real-world example, let’s say you slap your thighs to get them to jump up to you on Friday to give them love. Then on Saturday your Ragdoll jumps up to stranger and puts his dirty paws all over their trousers… and you tell them off.

Your Ragdoll is getting mixed messages.

This mixed approach to training is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with your Ragdoll. When our cat was a kitten I would play fight with him in our lounge, encouraging him to nip at my hands. It was a fun game and didn’t hurt as he was so young. I should never have started this game though…

When my kitten got to 5 months old, the teeth were sharper and his jaw a lot stronger. But he still wanted to play the same game, but it was now a problem as you can imagine. I was telling him to stop, and he couldn’t understand why as it’s something I’d previously encouraged him to do.

You need to be very consistent with any Ragdoll discipline. If you stick to the same approach each time, results will come a lot quicker.

4. Use positive reinforcement

After you have disciplined your Ragdoll and are heading towards the behavior you desire, always reward them with positive reinforcement when they do well.

Cats can be trained to respond to a treat or the promise of a treat. Cats also respond well to just words of encouragement and praise each time they get something right.

If you’re training your cat to come back to you when off the leash, treats can work wonders. Withholding treats is a way of punishing a Ragdoll by showing them they didn’t quite hit the high standards you demand of them!

5. Take breaks and give them a timeout

You can also teach your Ragdoll good behavior by using verbal hints and time outs.

Let’s say you are playing with your Ragdoll and he nips at your hands. You can respond with a firm “ouch” sound, turn around with your back to your Ragdoll, then walk out of the room.

What you’ve done here is stop the very thing your Ragdoll wanted to do which was to have fun and play with you. The loud “ouch” also tells your Ragdoll they hurt you; cats will yowl when hurt, so we assume they correlate the sound to meaning pain.

ragdoll street

After doing this a few times, you can teach your Ragdoll that if they bite you or do something naught during play, then the fun stops. Time outs are brilliant ways to punish Ragdolls; 5 minutes probably feels like 5 hours!

6. Try using a squirt bottle or water pistol

Some Ragdoll owners use a water pistol to discourage bad behavior. It’s not something I’ve ever tried with my own cat, but many people say it’s a punishment and disciplining method.

All you do is give your Ragdoll a little squirt of water when he or she misbehaves, and use that firm “no” command and body language at the same time.

7. Use distraction methods

As a last resort, you can use distraction to stop a Ragdoll doing something bad. For example, my cat loves sticks. If I say the word “stick” he will drop everything he’s doing and run straight towards me.

When we’re out this can be really helpful. I used it last week when we were at our local park and my cat went to steal a sandwich from a young couple having a picnic. Before he get himself into too much trouble, I used the “stick” distraction and he bounded back to me.

It’s a classic distraction method and any type of distraction can work very well, if the discipline isn’t working or you don’t have time.

How you should NOT discipline your Ragdoll

To brings things full circle I wanted to reiterate all the ways you should not punish a Ragdoll.

  • Never shout at your Ragdoll.
  • Never hit or hurt your Ragdoll.
  • Never drag or jerk your Ragdoll on their leash.
  • Never chase after your Ragdoll.
  • Never rub your Ragdoll’s nose in their urine or poop.
  • Never use electric shock collars with your Ragdoll (legal in the US still).


Many Ragdoll owners will know how hard this breed can be to train. But if you stick with at it, it will be worth in the long run and save you a lot of problems in the future.

Just remember that Ragdolls don’t connect the punishment you mete out, with the thing they have just done. That can make it harder to get them to rectify any bad behavior, instead making them scared when shouting and hitting is used.

Instead use timely discipline and positive reinforcement. This is the best way to discipline a Ragdoll kitten and will result in a very happy cat… and owner!