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HELP! Behavior problems...counters & shoes

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Here is some background: I adopted 2 young cats about 8 months ago (both females, spayed). Their names are Pip and Squeek and they were litter mates and have never been separated. They are both almost 1 year old (the shelter guessed their birthdate was in August).

So my two little devils have been driving me crazy...

First off, they absolutely love to be on the counter tops (which I'm obviously not fond of). They have almost gotten burnt a few times trying to jump up onto the stove while I'm cooking which in turn makes me jumpy. The secondary annoyance is they jump up and try to steal food that is on the counter. The only solution I've found is to keep a spray bottle on the counter in view while cooking to deter them (which I dislike doing because they start to avoid me after a few squirts).

When I'm not home to deter them, I've tried covering my counter tops with double sided sticky tape, orange/citrus oils, apple bitters and "traps" to scare them off - they are resilient and have actually come to like the taste/smell of the citrus and apple bitters (I rubbed apple bitters onto my kitchen blinds because they were chewing them and I found that one or both had licked off all the places I'd sprayed and chewed the blinds even more). I no longer leave any food on the counter as they will literally eat anything (so far they've stolen breads, chocolates, garlic, and some other strange foods) even though they are not hungry - they've done this immediately after I've just fed them dinner.

Second, and this is really the one that drives me crazy - they have recently begun chewing on my shoes!!! I'm at my wits end on this one - they can demolish a pair of shoes in less than five minutes (my most recent pair were destroyed this afternoon in the time it took me to walk from the front door to the kitchen and microwave some food for LITERALLY 90 seconds and come back) - chewing on any straps and eating them (I have yet to find any chewed pieces so I can only assume they are swallowing them).

I have a small shoe cabinet for both my shoes and my fiancee's but there simply isn't enough room to keep ALL the shoes in the closet at once - often a few pairs get left out because there is no space. Now my sneakers have managed to hold up against them but my dress shoes are taking the most abuse - they have literally eaten a total of 6 pairs of shoes. I dont' know what to do to break this habit - I've thought about rubbing/spraying my shoes with something that tastes bad to them, but the citrus oils and apple bitters I already know they don't mind.

Can someone please help me with these problems? I hate coming home and getting angry at them - I've been really stressed and tired from their bad behavior. I'm almost ready to give them to a friend who has expressed interest in either one or both of the cats. That would be my absolute last resort but I'm literally going crazy and getting mad at them constantly!! Please somebody, if you have any advice - I'd really appreciate it! I'm about ready to snap!
post #2 of 14
I think you've already found working solutions for your counter problems: don't leave food out, spray bottle deterrent while you're cooking, and let them do what they want while you're gone.

The shoe issue is what's really bugging you, and it would me, too. Shoes are expensive. Certainly more expensive than buying a making yourself a larger shoe cabinet or keeping the shoes inside a closed closet or cabinet where they can't get at them. It just takes a little more effort and discipline on your part and that problem will no longer exist.

I really don't think you're going to alter your cat's behavior in either of these issues so it's easier to just alter our own. We're supposed to be smarter than cats; we're supposed to be able to outwit them, aren't we? Well......don't take so long thinking how to answer that.....now I'm getting worried.
post #3 of 14
When cooking or preparing food, you can 100% ensure that no injury will come to the cats and no harm come to your food if you would take but a short moment to confine your cats to a cat-safe room somewhere other than the kitchen. Please make sure they have an adequate litter box, food and water, a bed and toys before confining them.

As for the shoes, I am deeply sorry if this sounds trite, but the best way to stop a cat from chewing on shoes is to take away his access to shoes.
post #4 of 14
That's an even better idea (and what I do myself) ---- except for the part about the shoes ----- my shoes are so grungy even my cats won't touch them.
post #5 of 14
When Nikita was a kitten she loved chewing on shoes so to solve it I hid all my shoes away. There's a small bathroom next to my front door so I just put all the shoes in there and kept the door closed. It was rather stupid having lots of shoes in a bathroom but it kept them out of reach of the cat and the bathroom is close enough to the front door so it wasn't too much of a hassle.

Now she's older and not as interested in shoes so I can keep them out.
post #6 of 14
Or how about a shelf up on the wall SMALL enough so that there's no room for a cat to land on (presuming the shelf is covered with shoes).
post #7 of 14
Considering my cats can jump up on and land on a 2 1/2 inch wide window sill, that's pretty small for shoes. OK, I don't keep shoes on my window sills (imagine the neighbors talking) but that wouldn't stop at least one of my three cats -- he'd just land on top of the shoes, knocking them off the shelf in the process. Then they'd be right down on the floor where they're easily snacked on.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
I live in a decently sized one-bedroom apartment but since my fiancee moved in a few months ago, we basically doubled all our possessions. I'm still working on getting rid of some of our duplicate furniture/kitchen hardware, etc - but putting my things in a bathroom or shelf is just not feasible at this point.

As I said, we have a dedicated shoe cabinet - but when you live with someone who wears size 14 shoes - well - the space shrinks considerably. As for putting the shoes away elsewhere - that honestly isn't an option. I have extremely limited closet space but even shoving them into a closet wouldn't work as my cats are smart enough to have learned how to open the closet doors (all closets are on those rolling casters so it's really easy to open doors).

I realize that "taking his access away from the shoes" is ideal - but when you're extremely short on storage space (and bathroom space - I have one bathroom and it is around 4 foot by 5 foot large - as Siggav suggested) then what is there to do? I've already been keeping several pairs of my shoes in my car but space is running out in my trunk (I keep all my gym/softball/golf equipment in my car due to lack of space in my apartment).
post #9 of 14
My bathroom was around that size and it looked ridiculous with the shoes piled in there but fortunately I only had to do that for a few months. My cat eventually lost interests in shoes. Being able to just ignore it seemed to work best. I.e I'd been trying to teach her first not to go for the shoes but she just turned that into a fun game and started going for the shoes just to get the "game" started.

Anyway I don't really know what to advice you. It's very hard to teach cats not to do stuff since they don't really respond to negative reinforcement.

Here's a thought though, how about getting a rubbermaid with a lid you can dump the shoes in? It wont treat the shoes brilliantly but it should be better than teeth and claws. Might even take up less space that way since they won't be spread on the floor.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
I might try the rubbermaid solution - although I have no idea where I'm going to put that. As one friend aptly described my apartment - it looks like it's about to explode. I'm trying to talk my fiancee into moving to a larger apartment - hopefully increased storage will help our situation... until that point though I guess I'll use my car as more storage.
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by Siggav View Post
....fortunately I only had to do that for a few months. My cat eventually lost interests in shoes. ....
Yes, that may save you. Cats' interests change. I had a problem with cats chewing my shoelaces but after a while they stopped doing it. I have no idea why. It just started and then a few months later it stopped.

My theory is that cats look for ways to cause us maximum aggravation and as soon as we either find a solution to the problem by preventing them from doing it, or if we lose interest in the problem by just ignoring it, then they lose interest in causing it.

(OK, the real reason is they want attention; I just thought my theory sounded cool.)
post #12 of 14
Here are my solutions - I have encountered similar problems..

1) The cats are shut in another room while I am preparing food and cooking. When I've finished cooking I put pans of cold water on the hot hobs. When I've not got food out I don't mind if they go up there - they are cats after all, and there's really no stopping them unless you are watching over them!

2) Since the incident where I was late for work because Radar had thoughtfully chewed through my shoelace and then left it in place looking as if it were still in one piece (I swear the little horror was hiding behind the sofa giggling at me swearing!) I always put my shoes away in a cupboard or wardrobe. I am fortunate in that I have 3 built in storage cupboards though. If I leave shoes out and they get ruined it's my fault, many cats are fond of shoes for some reason. I remember Radar crawling into my shoes when he was little
post #13 of 14
Are you using the Bitter Apple spray? Is that what they do like? If not, then try spraying BA on your shoes - its stopped every cat and dog we've owned from chewing on shoes.

As far as the counter/stove/food issue - I highly suggest you confine them to a room when you are cooking/eating if they bug you too much - better safe then sorry.

If Charlie does too much begging, then he is sent down to the basement till we are done with eating.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
I dont' recall the actual brand of the spray I used but I think it was simply called "Bitter Spray." Bitter apple and cayenne pepper were the main ingredients in the spray but my cats seemed to really enjoy the taste.
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