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Punky the seemingly undisciplinable kitten

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Good morning all...

I come to this forum bearing news and salutations from a new owner of a kitten whom based on her recent seemingly evil behaviours, however interesting and indearing, just got named by me, despite a week of indecisiveness. Punky is my baby girl calico, and I love her muchly.

However, she Punky is punky, as I'm sure all kittens are at her age (about 8-12 weeks I presume) and this is especially apparent when I go to eat. While her hunting skills get plenty of practice at play time, and while she's trying to catch flies (her new favourite pasttime), she seems to think that the food that I am eating is worth hunting, no matter if it's donuts, fettucini alfredo or hotdogs. Today when my friend, a person who is much more avid with animals (and who admittedly enjoys indulging Punky's natural 'fight' by playing rough with her. However, we got a pizza to share, and when we started eating the pizza, Punky became fairly insistent that she get some, by climbing our legs (while standing), climbing my back (full claws extended) and scouting vantage points to acquire the food. No matter the number of times I put her on the floor or removed her from the situation or even placed her near her food dish, staring right at it... she always came back, and was always more insistent than before.

Eventually I had to confine her inside a laundry basket where she mewed, trying her best to convince us that we'd violated the geneva conventions on kitty prisoners. My friend and I felt terrible for doing this, but we enjoy not being mauled because we're eating

However, this long story isn't over...

Later that night, when my friend was gone, I had some more of the pizza, and this time Punky was full bore ravenous... she hopped on my bed where I was sitting and came running at me at full speed, and claws extended did some minor damage to my legs... making it to the dish with pizza, she proceeded to drag it, wherein I proceeded to employ my newest toy, the spray bottle... she hesitated, but continued nonetheless... I sprayed her about 4 or 5 times, and she backed off.

Sadly I think she may have built up a tolerance, because even later that evening I gave her a little test while having a midnight snack... I sat down at my usual spot with my plat of pizza, and she came at me, a little less agressive, but still managing to get to the pizza and drag it. I sprayed her and she continued to drag. I think I managed to spray her about 10 or 15 times... and she was unfazed. *sigh* I think she ENJOYS the spray bottle! Once I was done eating my food, she was the cute and cuddly girl I've come to know, though soaked to the bone...

I just dont get it... I thought cats hated water?

Oh well, the laundry basket works well, as long as the UN Pet inspectors keep their nose out of my affairs

If you have any disciplinary suggestions that dont feed into cat agression, and involve me not getting eaten alive by my beloved companion, they would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you.
post #2 of 11
The laundry basket is the best idea (at least until she gets too big for it to work). The main idea is that you never want to reinforce aggressive behavior. Once you learn her pre-aggression cues (perhaps a twitching tail or dilated eyes -- each cat's cues are different) the instant you see the pre-aggression cue you can put her in a quiet place (basket or bathroom) for a few minutes. Eventually she will learn that if she is aggressive she has to sit in this boring room.

You can also use a distractor. Keep a little furry mouse or wad of paper or other fun little toy you can toss. This will distract her and will re-direct her aggression toward the toy and away from you.

Also, never ever play with her using your fingers or toes as "bait". If you wiggle your fingers or toes for her to attack, you will be teaching her that it is not only okay to attack people, but that it is a great was to interact with you. Only play with her with toys not body parts!

Good luck with your little tiger!
post #3 of 11
I wonder if she's been "trained" to expect table scraps from being fed at the table. Conversely, if she was a stray or feral born, scavanging human food would seem fair game.

Lotsocats gave you great advice... I'll just add one more possibility that helped up with a feral kitten who had been starved and had human food issues... we divided up her wet food into three meals (she had kibble continuously) and fed her at the same time that we ate our main meals. Although this wasn't a cure-all (she once stole a whole raw turkey as an older cat, LOL!), it did help control the tendancy for the most part.
post #4 of 11
I have one of these plate- stealers right now. McGilly will jump into the middle of our plates, seemingly out of nowhere and grab what she can before making her escape. I have started putting her into another room with her sister when we eat and closing the door on her so we may eat in peace.

If I may make a suggestion? Please put the water bottle away. If you are indeed spraying this kitten for long periods of time and it is not going any good, then seek other ways of getting this kitten's attention. Try taking an empty soda can, put a few pennies inside, tape up the opening and shake it at her. Don't allow her to *score* by dragging off your food even if you think it is cute that she tries. I would also ask if she has been wormed recently? What are you feeding her? Perhaps what you are feeding her is not the right food for her and she needs more sustanance. As already pointed out, don't play rough games with her or allow anyone else to, this will only increase her aggression over time. Actually putting her in seclusion while you are eating will work even if she yowls.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much for your help. I think I'll stick with the seclusion... it's hard to not notice the agression because even when she's sleeping and she smells food, she'll be all over me in seconds. She does mew like a madkitty though... nothing vicious, just sort of a solemn sad mew that I have to turn loud music on to drown out.

I'm not sure about the food issue. I got Purina Kitten Chow because I know the brand name well, and it's made for kittens. I dont have any soft food for her right now, but I will pick some up when I am grocery shopping tomorrow.

ooh, an angel smilie
post #6 of 11
may I just ask the background on this calico kitty? Where you got her and if you know anything about her at all? Was she a feral kitty? Her attitude towards food is a typical feral kitty mannerism.
post #7 of 11
What is it about female cats and people food? All the male cats that I've lived with just ignore people food, except ice-cream, but all my female cats love to come and see what we are eating. Ronnie has a thing about cheese - take your eye off the cheese at your peril - many a time I've turned back to the sliced cheese to find it has disappeared and a very happy Ronnie has been licking her nose nearby.....

The laundry basket seems to work at the moment and as Punky gets older she will learn to keep her claws to herself. Lotsocats is so right with her advice - don't make it a seem like a game or exciting for the kitten - just put her somewhere dull and don't talk to her, or she will continue to do "naughty" things as it gets your attention.

Good luck with Punky, and please let us know how things are going.
post #8 of 11
Flim flam, the tables are turned in my house. My 2 girls don't have an interest in people food but my two boys are right up there being little beggars. Fortunately mine aren't aggressive like formulawons are(thankfully since they are 10 and 15 pounds).
I'm sorry to hear you have a problem with your kitten, but listen to the people here and they will direct you in the right way. They are my lifeline some days!
post #9 of 11
My guess is that this kitten is hungry!!

Kittens feed frequently, and need to obtain calories all during their waking hours. Moist food may just be your answer. If you put down just a small amount from a can several times a day I suspect she will gobble it right up.

Gradually train her to eat before you do, and I'll bet she will stop trying to take your food.

Since it is also a possibility that she has parasites or other issues, you might also want to take her in and have the vet do a thorough kitten once-over exam and appropriate treatments. He can also recommend a good quality food and feeding amounts/times for you.

I'm with Hissy - I don't like the spray bottle approach unless I have a situation that really calls for drastic measures. I use a washed-out soda can that I've dropped a couple of coins into ... it makes a horrible racket and instantly stops the behavior.

Now, that being said, please determine that what you interpret as inappropriate behavior IS actually inappropriate. In many circumstances, there is usually a pretty valid reason for the behavior, and in this case - I think your kitten is just plain old hungry!! Try the moist food routine before you prepare your own meals and see if that doesn't help some. I won't guarantee it, but if you are consistant and establish this as a routine without giving in, then it usually works.

Best of luck,

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
If I understand my definition of feral correctly, you're referring to unhumanized kitties who have fended for themselves in the wild. If this is the case, then my baby is definitely NOT a feral kitty... she is actually fairly tame EXCEPT when I have food, wherein she's quite full bore ravenous. Whereas when she runs up to me and sits on my lap, her claws are retracted and she is all touchy feely, when I have food, she comes at me claws out and climbs anything near or attached to me in order to achieve a proper vantage point to get the food.

She might be hungry though. I know if I had to eat that junk day after day, with the promise of occasional treats, I would be craving less compressed food. Would moistening the food help some?

But for the time being I will enjoy my short meals with a kitty confined to the laundry basket.

Ooh a bunny
post #11 of 11
If she was "raised" in an outside environment, even with human contact, she may still just be programmed to go for any food available. A friend of mine had some farm cats who would literally eat anything given to them, even though she kept a big bucket of food outside for them. These cats were absolule lovers of any and all human attention, so they weren't feral per se, but their attitude toward food certainly was!

Being as young as she is, she just needs to figure out that she doesn't have to eat everything edible in the house.
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