Sammy was a stray, part Siamese cat that Mom brought home from school one day. When we got him, his tail was broken and he was a little jumpy so I think his previous life was rough. He had some particularly non-Siamese habits indicative of life on the streets. He was a little lax with his hygiene and would eat anything he could sink his teeth into. He managed to maintain his Siamese sense of entitlement and complete rejection of rules made by mere mortals. This is to say that he pretty much did whatever he pleased and showed no remorse when someone busted him for his bad behavior. Our other cat, Misty, only scratched the couch when she thought we weren’t looking and zipped away when she heard someone yell at her to stop. Sammy would just look at us, narrow his eyes a bit and continue scratching until we got close. He didn’t even bother to run away unless someone chased him.
The vandalism was annoying, but it was his consumption habits that got him into trouble. As I said, he’d eat anything and he completely ignored all prohibitions about jumping on the cabinet or table. In his world, any unguarded food was open game. Most cats would go after chicken or meat if they thought they could get away with it but Sammy would go after loaves of bread, packages of rolls, cheese, whatever. And he wouldn’t just eat one piece of anything, he’d take bites out of the middle, sometimes sampling each individual piece. We had to put the bread in the refrigerator and guard any food we planned to serve keep him out of it.
This sort of vigilance is hard to maintain, and every so often, he’d score some prime human food. Most notable, he destroyed a freshly baked pecan pie. Mom had baked it for a church potluck and had set it on the table to cool while she got dressed. Sammy found it before she got around to putting it up. He ate the whole pecans out of the middle, leaving noticeable indentations where the pecans used to be.
Our family has always opposed animal cruelty so discipline was usually pretty lax — startling yells, squirts from a spray bottle, that sort of thing. But when Sammy snacked on the pecan pie, Mom declared war. We brought in the hot shot (aka cattle prod) from the barn and the next time she caught him on the table, she zapped him. You should have seen him fly! And that did the trick. He’d still jump on the table or the cabinet, but all you had to do was make buzzing noises that sounded like the hot shot and he’d scram.
In retrospect, I don’t think I’d advocate this as a disciplinary method for cats. We didn’t think about this at the time. I’d worry that the voltage might cause a heart attack.