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Training or Retraining a Cat

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
My husband had his cat for 2 years before we got married. He never set any boundries with him. I mean NONE! Now that we are married, that does not settle well with me. In my house, cats do NOT sleep in the kitchen sink or on the stove. Cats do NOT get to climb on every last surface possible. Cats do NOT get the house rearranged to suit their needs better. I really am tired of picking up broken dishes (but he was curious and wanted to see what was in the cupboard) mopping up water and having to disinfect every surface before, during and after making a simple toast! Any suggestions on how to curb his behavior?? PLEASE!
post #2 of 13
First off, what are your expectations for a cat? Have you ever had or lived with one before?
Many people expect them to be trainable and wanting to please you like a dog does. Cats are not dogs. They pretty much only listen if it suits them. However, this doesn't mean that they can't learn what NO means.

You need to look at the lighter side of this a bit Think of it this way, now you're living with two guys - you're husband and the cat. Joking aside, cleaning surfaces before and after food preparation is just good sanitary practices.

It's very unlikely that you'll be able to stop the cat from getting up on the counters completely, you may be able to keep him down when you're there and discourage him from laying up there all the time. One thing that will help is to get him his own tall cat furniture, preferably a cat tree that's taller than the counter tops are. Put it in a good spot that will let him survey his "territory".
The kitchen sink might be a little easier. Booby trap it leave some water in it as a surprise, wet paws and legs won't harm him. For the cabinets, try some baby locks or stronger magnets to hold the doors shut.


As for rearranging the house to suit the cat... Minor changes are part of life, whether we have cats and dogs, or real children, some compromise must be made.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
i just wrote a nice long explaination and my computer froze so I lost it. When I have the time, I will try again!
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyssyfur View Post
My husband had his cat for 2 years before we got married. He never set any boundries with him. I mean NONE! Now that we are married, that does not settle well with me. In my house, cats do NOT sleep in the kitchen sink or on the stove. Cats do NOT get to climb on every last surface possible. Cats do NOT get the house rearranged to suit their needs better. I really am tired of picking up broken dishes (but he was curious and wanted to see what was in the cupboard) mopping up water and having to disinfect every surface before, during and after making a simple toast! Any suggestions on how to curb his behavior?? PLEASE!
Sorry ,but I have to ask....when you say "in my house",do you mean your hubby and his cat moved in with you, that you all three moved into a different place,or did you move in with them? And you have to remember...it's not just "your house" now,right? Do you have a spare bedroom you could keep him in while cooking? That could solve that problem. Cat's learn what NO! mean very easily...you could keep a metal can of coins to shake whenever you see him going somewhere he isn't supposed to. And since you say the cat belonged to you husband...you could always make HIM clean up after the little explorer!

I can assume you have never lived with cats,right? Welcome to the cat world!
post #5 of 13
While cats are not as easy to "train" as dogs, it's not a hopeless cause to teach them some basic manners. I have retrained adult cats to use a scratch post so it is possible. Strange_wings had some good advice about the cat tree and booby trapping the sink.

Cats are motivated by "what's in it for me?". The easiest and most successful way to change a cat's bad behaviors is to redirect them to something that is pleasurable to them at the point that they are doing the bad behavior. To the point of the cat tree in the kitchen: they like to be on high counters, but if you give them something a little bit taller in the area, they will like that even more. It's sometimes challenging to find the positive to replace the negative, and you have to be creative about it.

If you are to be successful, everyone in the house needs to be persistent at redirecting the behavior. So when you see the cat on the counter, give it a firm NO, then place the cat on the tree, praising them once there and perhaps giving them a little snack. You have to do this 100% of the time when you see the behavior, otherwise they won't pick up on it.

The best thing I've found for cabinets are either very strong magnetic latches or baby latches. Or give them a little cave type bed for the area and drop treats in there regularly.

Good luck!
post #6 of 13
Everyone else who has posted has given really good advice, especially MOM's point about your cat being motivated to adapt to the new behavior by being offered more tempting and attractive alternatives such as a taller cat tree in the kitchen area - where he can be comfy and lay there and still be part of the activity and see what is going on, from his own kitty area.

The main thing is that when you want to take away old behaviors from a kitty (the same as with a small child) you need to substitute new attractive rituals and behaviors. This is like the Nanny911 show since working with cats and dogs is not unlike working with toddlers- except unfortunately we don't speak the same language so a lot depends on trying hard to understand their needs -and vice versa.

Ask yourself what motivated the cat to do his old behavior? In the kitchen when he laid on the counter or in the sink he wanted to be up with the people and hang with them at their level.

In the cupboards he probably was bored and wanted to play - so that means he needs some toys, preferably a stick with a string on it and a toy at the end of it, that he can chase around, or a laser light to wear out his energy and curiousity. And he NEEDS play sessions at regulated times.

Cats are creatures of habit and ritual. If we do not give them structure and activity that is suited to our routine, they will make their own. My advice is to structure his play sessions to suit your routine, so long as you make sure they are around the same time each day, and that you follow them the same as you would with a child. Like a child your kitty will not be perfect but he will adapt to the new routines.

As far as stopping the old behavior, if NO does not work (someone also mentioned a jar of coins and that is extremely effective too!) I use a water spray bottle to keep my kitty off the kitchen counter when there is food around. Some people do not recommend this, because the cat will associate YOU with the water bottle and will avoid you- unless you are really committed to winning his love and you are sure to set up the play routines and give treats when he does the right thing, and indeed to substitute the other attractive things that MOM mentioned in her post. I would try the other things first by all means. If you DO resort to the water bottle along with strong NO's, know that after one or two sprays you only need to show them the spray bottle.

Finally, like the others who posted, I accept that the cats live here too and it is likely when I am not home they will roam in the places they are not supposed to be around. It sounds like your hubby more or less hung with your kitty like a roommate and was more of a pal instead of being a father/parent to the little guy.

You could make this little kitty boy a happy little boy indeed if you take an interest in him and his new routine: buy him some flat cardboards (at PetCo or PetSmart) to use for his paws and sprinkle catnip on them so he knows they are his and put them in what you would like to be his territory; get him some kitty beds or mats and place them where you want him to sleep (but preferably high up- lots of cats sleep on the backs of the upper sofa cushions and it would be good to have one or two mats there).

Buy his toys - little cloth mice, the string and stick, some of those colored crackle balls and make a great show of introducing them to him and using his name a lot and what a good boy he is. When you play with him, egg him on with lots of "get it!'s" and he will indeed respond.

For his litter box, get the "astro turf" mats they sell at Home Depot and use those so that he will not track litter beyond where you want it to go.

You don't have to explain about this new situation you find yourself in. It is probably something you didn't expect but just the fact that you have signed up to this forum and are asking for advice shows that your heart is in the right place and you are ready to be proactive and make this a win-win situation for everyone.

Good luck and please do post back on your progress. I am hopeful that your new little boy and you will be best buddies and he will be very happy with you as his new mommy.
post #7 of 13
Oops I almost forgot- I saw in your post that you said you are tired of mopping up water. Are you saying he plays with the water in his water bowl?

If this is the case, you need to get one that is weighted down. They have these at the pet stores. Or get a Drinkwell fountain where he can lick it from the stream like a water fountain.

This is one situation where you do not want to use the "NO" word since you don't want him to avoid drinking water.

It sounds like once again, he may be playing with the water in his bowl or elsewhere, out of boredom. Regulated play sessions can help stop this activity since he will be looking forward to the play times. Don't be surprised if he starts bringing you his string or other toys.

And you might hear your hubby say he isn't interested in play. Most kitties are definitely into play but they just haven't had it in so long it needs to be reintroduced to them, and/or it hasn't been the toys they like-!
post #8 of 13
Try using to empty soda cans fillig them with a few coins then tying long string to each one so it looks like a tight rope, place it on your kitchen counter so when the cat jumps up he will knock it down with a loud bang and he will scare him self, once he has done this a few times he should stop attempting to jump up, you may need to leave it up all day and night.
Cats are naturally inquisitive and try to get into everything, my cat, Mellow is always trying to get into small dark spaces and explore, give your cat some places he can explore, like a paper bag or old box, it may keep him busy for a bit.

Try this link for more ideas on stopping cats on counters http://www.thecatsite.com/Behavior/2...-Counters.html
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbB View Post
As far as stopping the old behavior, if NO does not work (someone also mentioned a jar of coins and that is extremely effective too!) I use a water spray bottle to keep my kitty off the kitchen counter when there is food around. Some people do not recommend this, because the cat will associate YOU with the water bottle and will avoid you- unless you are really committed to winning his love and you are sure to set up the play routines and give treats when he does the right thing, and indeed to substitute the other attractive things that MOM mentioned in her post. I would try the other things first by all means. If you DO resort to the water bottle along with strong NO's, know that after one or two sprays you only need to show them the spray bottle.
Good post Barb!

To add to the spraying with a water bottle: I have one, but haven't used it in about 11 years (story later). There are a couple more problems with using the bottle.

First of all, you can actually cause physical harm to your cat if you get it in their ears. Water in their ears can lead to all kinds of problems. If you do spray, people recommend not hitting the cat with the water, but squirting it in front of them to make them pause. Once distracted, you can redirect them to a more positive behavior.

Secondly, some cats could care less about water. If yours is playing with water, a squirt bottle probably isn't going to work for you.

And last, if the cat looks at it as a threat, they can actually attack you. I had a cat do that to me about 11 years ago. That's when I retired my bottle and found better ways to manage their behavior (and for those that know my household, yes, it was Stumpy).

I find a hiss or a sharp intake of breath works just as well as the bottle.

The other argument that I'll use against the water bottle is this: Imagine you are a young child just starting school. Your teacher asks you "what is 2+2" and not knowing, say five. She screams NO and punishes you but doesn't bother to tell you the right answer. Not only will you not learn anything, it will frustrate you in the process. The squirt bottle is the punishment without the right answer. I can only support its use if not sprayed directly on the cat followed up by redirecting their behavior to something positive.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello
This is the 4th time I have written this post but because of user/computer errors, it has been erased. So I am kinda tired of writing the same thing over and over again. If something doesn’t make sense, let me know ok?

Leo (the cat)
-Indoor only cat
-Only cat for a year, had his owner’s (my husband) complete attention the whole time, very very very needy
-Hated me when I first moved into husband’s apartment (pooped on my side of bed, peed on my belongings) but since has made peace with me and loves me to death
-Has tons of toys but doesn’t play with any of them. He likes toys that are interactive, move independently, noiseless and are feathered .
-doesn’t have any cat furniture but is allowed on all furniture, sleeps in bed with us or on his special blanket on the dresser, has a basement that he loves to play and explore in and all the windows a cat could ever want
-isn’t allowed on kitchen countertops, tabletops, shelves, bookcases or things attached to walls
-doesn’t take no for an answer ex. I am making a sandwich, leo jumps on counter. I pick him up, say no and put him on the floor. He jumps up again, I do the same thing but put him down in another room. He does it again, I lose my temper, yell at him and he jumps down. I start making my sandwich and leo jumps on my back and sit on my shoulder. Repeat.
-water doesn’t phase him a bit…. Loves to drink out of cups and then plays with them when he is done drinking ( even if water is still in there)

Me (the human)
-had cats all my life but they were indoor/outdoor cats and very indepentant
-only one who tries to enforce the rules
-I play with leo, I sleep with leo, I scratch leo, I groom leo……
-not good with needy people or animals
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Oh and yes, it is OUR house..... my husband is constantly reminding me of that ehehhehehe
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbB View Post
It sounds like your hubby more or less hung with your kitty like a roommate and was more of a pal instead of being a father/parent to the little guy.
Yes! you hit the nail on the head!! That is it exactly Now Leo want me to be his play buddy and I just want him to be a cat (aloof, independent, anti-social)
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyssyfur View Post
-doesn’t take no for an answer ex. I am making a sandwich, leo jumps on counter. I pick him up, say no and put him on the floor. He jumps up again, I do the same thing but put him down in another room. He does it again, I lose my temper, yell at him and he jumps down.
I read this much and saw the next part was coming:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyssyfur View Post
-water doesn’t phase him a bit….
You are describing how my Stumpy was when he was between 18 months and 3 years old. The most stubborn cat that I've experienced in my life. This was the cat that when I used the water on him, he would grab the bottle from my hand then bite me.

Part of me is smiling because you have one of those cats who is probably highly intelligent but also stubborn as the dickens. The other part of me knows that if you remain persistent with your redirection, that eventually he will mellow down with age and will probably become one of the most loved cats in your life.

My cats pick up on a lot of small queues from me because I use them all the time. It one of them begs for food, I simply put my hand in front of them and give them the 'uh uh uh" cue (don't ask me how to spell the sound I make). If they persist they get a lite tap on their nose. Often I simple use their name in my stern "mom" voice. It is uncanny how they pick up a tone in your voice. Sometimes I just point a finger at them and say "no".

Keep doing what you are doing and ask your husband to respect your wishes to do the same.
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