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Please Help!!!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi there
I don't know if anybody out there can help me, but my husband and I are on the verge of returning our adorable Henry to the rescue home where we adopted him from if his behaviour dosen't improve.
We got Henry nearly 4 years ago from a rescue home when he was about 2 years old. He is an adorable little boy and has a wonderful personality but he is really naughty and his behaviour is getting worse. Every morning he wakes us about at approximatley 5am, banging and picking at the door of the kitchen where he is shut in. He also opens the fridge and freezer and helps himself to whatever he can. In addition to this, he breaks ornaments and often goes schizo. I have tried everything, I can think of including barracading the door and letting him have the run of the house at nightime. Instead of picking at the internal door, he comes into our bedroom and trys to open the wardrobe door in an attempt to wake us up. We have recently moved house and his behaviour is just getting worse. We are really at our wits end with him and finding it hard to cope with such little sleep. I love him to bits and don't want to have to make the painful desicion to return him. Can anybody please help.
Sorry for the long post!!
post #2 of 7
Your boy sounds like a smart little kitty!

Most of the time when cats do this they are really bored, or have separation anxiety and want your attention, or both. And any attention you give your kitty when he is trying to engage you at 5AM, reinforces his behavior, unfortunately- even if you are negative, he will still be happy with that negative attention because he is not alone and he has your attention.

The fact that you moved recently is definitely not good, because that would indeed cause him additional stress and discomfort to be away from you in the new house. Also unless it is a brand new house, there could be smells from a past pet that are disturbing him.

Is his feeding time in the morning or at night, or both? If you feed him first thing in the morning, I would suggest changing that routine and feeding him before bedtime- some good wet food, something he really likes. And if you have to give him something in the morning, make sure it is not his favorite, i.e. it needs to be very routine so he is not thinking about it at 5AM.

It sounds like he gets hungry at night (or just bored?). In either case, you could try putting his crunchies in an empty yogurt container with holes punched through, so he can bat that around to get his food in little bits and to occupy his loneliness.

Make sure he has a night light in the kitchen- enough so he can see, but not so much that he cannot sleep soundly. Just like people, kitties need to sleep in the dark. They see better than us in the dark but they do need some minor light.

I have foster cats in various rooms in my house, and I have found that playing soft music on the radio in their room- just enough to drown out the "people noise" from other parts of the house- is both calming for the kitties and keeps them from hearing me and crying for me constantly. I think this is something you should try in your kitchen.

I am guessing you have a cat tree or an area in the kitchen where your Henry has his bedroom- his scratching cardboards, toys, bed, food, and all that? If not, or if it is on the sparse side, you might want to make his space there very attractive with these different items. If he is in a space that is furnished more for people than him, he will be frustrated and try to use your things instead of his things.

The most important thing is to put a lot of structure into Henry's day so he feels secure and does not think to invent his own structure. Build in play sessions, especially at night before you put him to bed, so he is tired and so he can dream about what fun he had with you, along with whatever other little kitty adventures he had .

I would not stimulate him too much in the early morning with anything, as you do not want him anticipating the wet food or the play session at 5AM.

For the fridge, you will want to use double sided sticky tape to keep him from pawing the door open. I am not sure if there is a certain place he puts his paws but you get the idea.

It sounds like you are not considering adding another pet. That is also a possibility since he does sound lonely and anxious by himself.

While you are implementing all this, you will want to muffle his noises so you can sleep at night and do not engage when he calls for you in the middle of the night. Put pillows or whatever necessary to shut your room off from his cries.

Let me know if this helps or if you are already doing all of this. I hope it makes a difference for you .
post #3 of 7
First you could try putting an alarm on the fridge when it is opened to scare him and play with him more in the day so he is more tired at night
post #4 of 7
Get one of those kiddie refrigerator locks for the fridge. They're designed to keep small children from opening the refrigerator, but it would work for Henry.

I agree about the play sessions. Maybe he's just needing some bonding time. Playtime is great for that! If at all possible, I think adding a playmate would be a wonderful idea for him since he seems lonely.

post #5 of 7
I just want to reinforce something Barb said (she had so many good points I'm afraid it might not get the notice it deserves) -- the reason cats continue doing these things that annoy us is because they're getting something out of it. Most likely attention. He knows he's getting to you, and he'd rather have you mad at him that have you ignore him. So the very behaviors you don't want him to do are getting reinforced. The only real solution is completely ignoring the undesired behavior. And since it's been working for him for this long, it's going to take a while for him to relearn that it doesn't work.

Is there another room you can put him in at night that doesn't have anything he can get into? Preferably a room with a window and a window perch? His favorite cats toys. Also litter and water, of course. If he scratches trying to get out, you can protect the door with poster paper or kraft paper, and you can protect the carpet with carpet runner.

I've learned that when bringing a new cat into the house it takes about a week for them to get into the rhythm of the household. But that's when enforcing it from day one. So I think you can expect this will take longer -- maybe two or three weeks.
post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by stephanietx View Post
Get one of those kiddie refrigerator locks for the fridge. They're designed to keep small children from opening the refrigerator, but it would work for Henry.

I agree about the play sessions. Maybe he's just needing some bonding time. Playtime is great for that! If at all possible, I think adding a playmate would be a wonderful idea for him since he seems lonely.
1. Getting those refrigerator things to kiddie proof them was my first thought too! Make sure his area is completely "naughty cat proof" so he can't cause any damage/trouble in there.

2. Don't give into his whinings! Do what you need to so you ignore his pleas (soundproof your room, close the kitchen door AND your bedroom door). When we only had Cat, she was pretty annoying with the meowing at the bedroom door. We worked pretty hard at making sure she got zero reaction from us when she meowed. Cat eventually figured out that meowing wasn't going to get her anywhere so she may as well be quiet and wait for us.

3. Consider getting a second cat (if he sounds like he'd be receptive to this idea). Getting our second (Milo), was great for Cat. She was a lot more patient and a lot less attention starved. There's no more meowing at the door in the morning or when we're coming home after work. She still greets us at the door, but she's no longer dependent on us for attention.

4. As for decorative items, we don't have anything breakable within reach to the cats. It's all either behind (glass) doors or they can't get to it (we have a bookshelf that they can't actually get up on - too many books on the shelf they can reach then everything above is too high).

Good luck!
post #7 of 7
People here have given some top notch advice. I just wanted to add that the kiddie locks on the fridge are a good idea. The first thing I thought when I read about that was I hope he doesn't accidentally shut himself in the fridge. That's a scary thought.

If I read your post right you recently moved? That always helps my cats invent new methods of disaster. You might want to try the Feliway Comfort Zone diffuser. Amazon has a good price on it.
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