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We went through this with our oldest (of course, we go through everything with our oldest the younger one is just laid back) and we had 4 cats. We tried countless conversations/explainations and nothing we said ever got through to him. Then one day I just backed off, he was poking and pulling at the cat and I shook my head no and said "You probably don't want to do that" and he kept at it and the cat pulled away from him a bit and sort of growled a bit (Ghost would never hiss at him because he did once when he was a baby and he wasn't sure he really wanted J around and he cried and Ghost freaked out and licked at him and forever became his protector) in this sort of 'please don't mess with me, I don't want to hurt you sort of way' and Jason got that the cat didn't like that and stopped. Another time J told the cats to follow him and the two youngest did (who knew they'd listen) but Ghost wanted to take a nap so he laid there. J went back and grabbed one of his front paws and tried to drag him (I was too horrified to know what to say but hubby told him not to do it, blah, blah) as usual he ignored us, but Ghost pulled his paw free and swatted at his hand (claws in not out) and J immediately went 'Sorry' and walked off to play with the other two. So I guess my point is the natural consequences of provoking a cat got through to our son better than words, but with an older cat she's just going to avoid him. (We had one older cat but he was a 27 lb Maine **** with a huge head and huge feet--Jase called him doggen, cross btwn dog/kitten, because he refused to believe General was a cat I guess because of his size--and J just never crossed the line with him, so it wasn't a problem.) So that won't really work for you.

But I really think Jenne's seperation idea is a good one because it is a logical consequence that you'd drive people/pets away by mistreating them. Your cat already removes herself so maybe stating what's happening so it sinks in would help, like "Oh no, the cat doesn't want to play now because it hurts her when you kick. I'm going to go make sure she's ok." This may translate into something he gets if he ever goes to another room to cry/sulk (mine did a lot that's why I thought of it) or if you usually check him for wounds when he falls/hurts himself--plus if he sees that hurting the cat gets the cat your attention (at least temporarily) instead of him it takes away that reward if it's the motivator. But whatever you say when the cat leaves should be something he can compare to his own self so he sees that her reaction makes sense (sort of the idea of you shouldn't kick, because you wouldn't like being kicked but less blunt so he actually makes that connection for himself).
 
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