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Help! My cat is a terror!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I adopted an 8 week old kitten back in September. My roommate adopted his brother, but had to give him up because she wasn't around enough to take care of him. But my kitten is a terror!! I know that he's only 9 months old & will act like a kitten, but he doesn't learn! He likes to climb up into places that are lethal to him and my stuff! I've tried to cat-proof the house as much as possible. I tried to teach him the "No" command by saying "No" once & then squirting him with water if he didn't listen & saying "No" again so that he would get the point. It hasn't worked! I spend my summers and vacations at my parents' house, and since the baby is all grown up, their house is most definitely not child/kitty-proof. He's already broken 3 plants & a couple of picture frames. He gets into EVERYTHING - the dishes in the sink, the curtains, my laptop. My parents suggested giving him up, but I just don't think I can! I wish he could be an outdoor cat, to get his energy out, but it just won't work out with my living situation. Please help!
post #2 of 12
Welcome to TCS! I'm sure you will get TONS of great advice here, but I'll jump in with a few suggestions of my own.

First, STOP spraying him with water. As you've noticed... it doesn't work!

Another quick solution I'd suggest is to place your breakables in a box and put them away. Pictures can be hung on a wall which prevents them from being knocked over, plants can be put on tables or the floor instead of shelves. This is a temporary solution until you can teach him to not break your things!

PLEASE don't give him up until you've tried some of our suggestions, and PLEASE don't make him an outside cat! You two can definitely live happily together. Coming here was a good idea... we'll have lots of ideas for you.

To me, it sounds like he's bored. Does he have a cat tree/scratching post? Most petstores sell them for a reasonable price, and depending on the size of your house, you may want more than one. Put it by the window so he can climb up and watch the birds! Do you have lots of cat toys for him? I have a 4 month old kitten that loves plastic mice, crinkle balls, those plastic rings with a ball inside, etc. Also, get some interactive toys like a 'fishing rod' type with a feather on the end, or an elasticy string with a furry mouse on it (if you hang that one up, remember to put it away if you aren't home so he doesn't asphixiate himself). Interactive toys are the best way for him to get out that extra energy he uses to explore your apartment!

If you fill his life with the kind of stimulation he needs, he won't need to be climbing all over the place nearly as much. I'd especially recommend a good cat tree that will satisfy his curiousity and climbing needs all in one!

The interactive toys are GREAT at parties. My friends love to get my cats jumping and twirling. And I'm sure the cats enjoy being the center of attention! Plus they get nice and worn out and can't wait to find a lap to collapse on.

As far as keeping him off the counters, you can buy these machines that puff out air when they sense motion which startles the cat, or you can get some soda cans filled with pennies and line your counters with them. It will be noisy enough to keep him down!

And finally... what's the little rascal's name?
post #3 of 12
That was some great advice, he is just a little thing and he has to learn how to do things.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
I feel like I've been training him FOREVER with NO improvement at all. When I say "No" he just stares at me, while still doing something bad, until I make an attempt towards him - whether its standing up, or reaching for him. There is no place to put breakables, he climbs on EVERYTHING.

His name is Trey. It started out as Trea, because I adopted him as a girl, but then was told by the vet that he was definitely a boy - way to go Humane Society!

As far as toys go, I have about 20 different types of plastic balls with balls inside. I also have 2 of the carpet covered base toys with the spring & ball on the end. He's got about 5 little catnip mice, and a stick with strings & flowers attached to the end. He plays with all of them, but only if I play with them first. He was definitely better behaved when there was another kitty in the household, but it's definitely not feasible for me to get him a playmate right now.

Thanks for your advice - keep it coming! I'm open to anything!
post #5 of 12
Remember that he's just a baby still... and you wouldn't look at a five year old child and say "Why can't you entertain yourself?" Neither has reached the time in their life where they calm down and act 'mature'. My best suggestion is just to enjoy this kitten time while you have it! It might sound crazy now, but you will miss it one day.

Remember that if your training isn't working, it's not the cat that has a problem, it's the training methods! Luckily there are LOTS of things that you can try.

Put those breakables in a box and pack them away for now. You don't want them to be casualties to Trey as he learns what not to get into, and that way you can focus on what methods to learn to teach him, and not which of your precious valuables he's knocking over!

Saying "no" doesn't really work on cats. It can make them fear your voice, too. And if he only stops when you move toward him, he will figure that he can get away with it when you aren't there! One thing I do with my cats to instantly stop a behaviour is clap my hands once, loudly, then look away like it wasn't me. They'll associate whatever they were doing (eating a plant, or some cables, climbing on the counter, etc), with that scary loud noise and that will stop the behaviour. Don't overuse this, though! If you do it for every little thing you don't want him doing, he'll become really paranoid and jumpy.

Good for you for having so many cat toys! I'd definitely suggest going to a dollar store and picking up some of those interactive toys. The ones with feathers on a fishing rod will wear him out REALLY fast and you can swing it around while reading or watching TV (though its fun to watch him jump too!). I always kick the cat toys around for them or toss the toy across the room for some chasing. It doesn't really take you away from what you're doing, but it gets your cat playing (toys are more fun for cats when they are moving).

DEFINITELY get him a cat tower. Something that he can physically climb on and get off the floor. It doesn't have to be 8 feet high (they can get really expensive and huge!), but if it gets him off the floor it will save your sanity. It's in their nature to climb! You can either have him climbing all over your house, or climbing on his tower... your choice.

Please let us know what you've tried of our suggestions and how they worked!

PS: Same thing happened with Pixel, our newest cat. We thought it was a male, but turns out she's a she! You'd think that identifying the gender of a cat was Vet School 101.
post #6 of 12
Everyone has given you some great advice...Do you have a backyard or a patio?? Cats do live longer healthier lives inside but I do give mine some playtime in the backyard..When he was young I supervised for about an hour and then he would come in..Now that their older they just sun for a couple hours and come in..Maybe that would help release some energy (he sounds bored). I feel for you, I just went throught this with my dog.. Don't give up Trey will come around. Good luck..
post #7 of 12
One thing struck me reading your notes - I think you're trying to use dog training methods (to some extent anyhow) on him, and they don't work. You have to catch a cat doing something good and reward them for it, rather than punishing them for what to us are 'bad' things. It's called positive reinforcement, and is more effective than teaching 'commands' and definitely more so than punishing. Simply removing a cat from where you don't want him IF you're very consistent can also help, as will distracting them with toys, etc. Cat-proof your place til he grows up - remove small enticing objects that he can get into, and give him things he can (like toys). Play with him a lot, which is what cats love, rather than just leaving toys around, and understand that kittens don't have any concept of right and wrong, good and bad the same as we do, and if you punish them, they see only that, and don't relate it to whatever they were doing - unless they made a big mistake that was noisy and scared them - like pulling down something heavy that broke - then they run and hide.
post #8 of 12
I think that you are really trying to be a good mom, and you have been given some wonderful advice here.

He is just a little thing, so maybe do like others have said, put up your valuables for now, Trey will settle down sooner or later.

Just enjoy his playfulness, they are so much fun when they are this way.
post #9 of 12
I think the cat-tree advice is great, not too sure about lining the counter with coins on cans but I find shaking one at Radar and Sonic when they fight certainly works

I'd enjoy this period in the cats life as they tend to slow down and be less playful as they get older. Remember that Trey is a kitten and try to accept that his behaviour won't always be brilliant but if you show him love and positive reinforcement yours is a relationship that will last the life of the cat

Now- where are the pictures?
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'll definitely look into a cat tower. Thanks for the advice.

I started clapping at him when he does something wrong, but it doesn't seem to phase him - any techniques, haha?

I do have a balcony, but it runs the length of my building, with no separators. We're not supposed to have animals at all, so I have to keep him hidden while the management is on the property during the days. So letting him outside to play is pretty much out of the question.

As far as using dog training methods - I've always had dogs!! I guess it just comes naturally.

And putting up the valuables - it works here at home, but my parents house is the one I have problems with. They wouldn't have any decorations if I packed up everything that's breakable!! I've got a couple of months before I'm home for the summer, so hopefully I can tame him a little more before I get there!

Also, have you guys got any opinions on letting Trey sleep with me? When we had two cats, we always just left them in the living room & shut our doors at night. My mom suggested letting him sleep with me, to calm him down some, but he wakes up every morning around 4, 5, 6 and wants to play, so I put him out into the living room & go back to bed. I've got to get my sleep, or I'll be a monster at work/class. Do you guys think that letting him sleep with me affects his hyper-ness??
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

As requested, a picture. He somehow managed to climb up on my computer & completely shut it down while I was in the shower.
post #12 of 12
Awww... he's such a little sweetie! A tuxedo kitty like my Pixel!

I'm glad to hear that you're trying some things with Trey. Make sure that you are consistent! If clapping isn't startling him away from something dangerous, I've heard of people shaking a can with coins inside. Maybe that will work?

If you want him to be able to sleep with you at night, you'll have to deal with the ocassional early AM wake up call! If it were me, I'd give him a good exausting playtime about 30 minutes before bed, then leave your door open so he can sleep on your bed if he wants. When he gets too rambunctious, gently pick him up, give him a pat, place him in the hall and quietly close your door. He'll start to connect bedtime with quiet time... hopefully! You can also wake him up during the day when you are at home so he won't be too hyper at night.
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