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I don't know what to do about Gizmo.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
He's driving me crazy! He is the most needy cat I have every seen. Background info, he was bottle fed, and was the runt. We didn't think he would survive so I spent extra time with him. Now, he is going on 2 years old, and still insists on my attention ALL THE TIME!!!

I sit at the computer, he first claws my leg, then jumps in my lap. He won't lay down in my lap, he insists on pacing back and forth, clawing at my face when I'm not giving him my undivided attention. I'm watching tv...he sits on the arm of the couch and if I'm not petting him, again, he claws my face. I have holes in my jeans and t-shirts from him climbing up me. It was cute (and painful) when he was a kitten and liked to climb up my jeans and t-shirt onto my shoulder, but he is now 16 lbs!

I posted this same problem about a year ago, but things haven't gotten any better. When I put him down and say "NO", he looks at me like he's heart broken, then gets back up and starts pawing even harder.

I've tried to push him into a laying position so I could just pet him, but he isn't satisfied with that. He is neutered, and I do trim his claws when I can, but as soon as I touch him, even if he is asleep, he won't stay still so trimming is an on going process.

Is there anything that can calm him down??? I know I allowed bad habits to form when he was a kitten (climbing up my back for one), but how do I break him of this? I've done clapping my hands, squirting water (he loves it), making loud noises....

I love Gizmo, but I just wish he didn't want to be literally IN MY FACE all the time!! I can't give the other cats lovins because he won't let them around me most of the time.

Any suggestions???
post #2 of 10
First, soft claws on those little daggers until you can remedy the situation.
Try feliway, or rescue remedy and see if they'll have any effect.

Honestly, I've bottlefed a lot of kitties, but they usually end up more independant once they wean than kitties who were raised by their moms.
post #3 of 10
only thing i can thing of , is when he wont lay down,to let you pet him,
is put him down and ignore him?
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by theimp98 View Post
only thing i can thing of , is when he wont lay down,to let you pet him,
is put him down and ignore him?
I've tried that...he jumps right back up on the arm of the chair and starts pawing at my face again. I've tried Feliway but it hasn't made any difference. It's just VERY annoying. I don't know why he is so needy.
post #5 of 10
Can you put him in another room?
Would he be distracted by a toy?
post #6 of 10
I'll move this to our Behavior forum so that it has a better chance of being seen by our behavior experts.
post #7 of 10
I'm no credentialed expert, but I have had lots of cats, including a clingy one or two, so for what it's worth - it's worked for me:

You are letting Gizmo have too much control (I know, it's hard to ignore someone pawing your face!). It's going to be hard because he's been at it for so long, but the behavior modification technique here isn't clapping or water guns, it's INGORING him except for when YOU choose to give him attention.

My Clinger was named Nathan. Like Gizmo, he was in a multi-cat family, and, like Gizmo, he didn't care: he just wanted my attention full-time & was prepared to do whatever he felt necessary to gain it.

First of all, I tried to fool him into thinking I was in charge. I would call him (he was there already) and then look at him like he'd just arrived, and say, "Good Nathan!" and fuss over him. I would fuss over him ONLY after I called his name. The purpose of this was to get him to associate ME saying HIS name with positive attention.

The rest of the time, when he was climbing my leg or keeping me from reading a book, I just gritted my teeth and IGNORED him until he stopped the undesirable behavior. If he was just meowing or patting my arm, I'd keep on doing whatever I was doing. If he was causing actual damage or pain, I would silently relocate him to the floor. And (at first), the INSTANT Nathan stopped the undesirable behavior, I'd call his name and fuss over him.

Once he seemed to get the idea that he had to wait for his name to be called before getting the positive attention, I started to increase the time between the Ignoring/Putting Him Back On The Floor event and the Calling His Name And Fussing event.

Also, keep on with the practice of saying his name and fussing over him, even when he isn't behaving badly!

So, the process in steps:
(1) Associate you saying his name with him getting positive attention. Say his name and fuss over him when he isn't expecting it (I used to wake Nathan up from a nap sometimes!)

(2) Negatively reinforce ANY attention-getting behavior initiated by him by ignoring him. Don't punish, just ignore. For self-preservation reasons, this includes silently picking him up and putting him on the floor.

(3) Positively reinforce him when he stops his attention-getting behavior by saying his name and fussing over him. (Note, by saying his name, you are taking control of the reward.) Use this reward immediately after he stops his behavior, and

(4) Slowly increase the time between ignoring his bad behavior and rewarding him for stopping it.

Never stop the practice of saying his name and giving him the loving he needs! But, by increasing the time between ignoring his needy behavior and your rewarding behavior, Gizmo should come to know that you WILL give him loving...under YOUR conditions, not his.

There were some setbacks - the behavior modification wasn't linear, but if Nathan slipped, I would return to the stage in the process he last had success with. It takes time, more so because it is habitual for Gizmo, but sensible and consistent behavior on your part will eventually be reflected in his behavior.

Whatever program you decide to go with, I wish you and Gizmo the best of luck!
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cat52 View Post
I'm no credentialed expert, but I have had lots of cats, including a clingy one or two, so for what it's worth - it's worked for me:

You are letting Gizmo have too much control (I know, it's hard to ignore someone pawing your face!). It's going to be hard because he's been at it for so long, but the behavior modification technique here isn't clapping or water guns, it's INGORING him except for when YOU choose to give him attention.

My Clinger was named Nathan. Like Gizmo, he was in a multi-cat family, and, like Gizmo, he didn't care: he just wanted my attention full-time & was prepared to do whatever he felt necessary to gain it.

First of all, I tried to fool him into thinking I was in charge. I would call him (he was there already) and then look at him like he'd just arrived, and say, "Good Nathan!" and fuss over him. I would fuss over him ONLY after I called his name. The purpose of this was to get him to associate ME saying HIS name with positive attention.

The rest of the time, when he was climbing my leg or keeping me from reading a book, I just gritted my teeth and IGNORED him until he stopped the undesirable behavior. If he was just meowing or patting my arm, I'd keep on doing whatever I was doing. If he was causing actual damage or pain, I would silently relocate him to the floor. And (at first), the INSTANT Nathan stopped the undesirable behavior, I'd call his name and fuss over him.

Once he seemed to get the idea that he had to wait for his name to be called before getting the positive attention, I started to increase the time between the Ignoring/Putting Him Back On The Floor event and the Calling His Name And Fussing event.

Also, keep on with the practice of saying his name and fussing over him, even when he isn't behaving badly!

So, the process in steps:
(1) Associate you saying his name with him getting positive attention. Say his name and fuss over him when he isn't expecting it (I used to wake Nathan up from a nap sometimes!)

(2) Negatively reinforce ANY attention-getting behavior initiated by him by ignoring him. Don't punish, just ignore. For self-preservation reasons, this includes silently picking him up and putting him on the floor.

(3) Positively reinforce him when he stops his attention-getting behavior by saying his name and fussing over him. (Note, by saying his name, you are taking control of the reward.) Use this reward immediately after he stops his behavior, and

(4) Slowly increase the time between ignoring his bad behavior and rewarding him for stopping it.

Never stop the practice of saying his name and giving him the loving he needs! But, by increasing the time between ignoring his needy behavior and your rewarding behavior, Gizmo should come to know that you WILL give him loving...under YOUR conditions, not his.

There were some setbacks - the behavior modification wasn't linear, but if Nathan slipped, I would return to the stage in the process he last had success with. It takes time, more so because it is habitual for Gizmo, but sensible and consistent behavior on your part will eventually be reflected in his behavior.

Whatever program you decide to go with, I wish you and Gizmo the best of luck!
Wow, that makes so much sense! Thank you so much, I will definitely start doing that. So, even if I have to put him down 10 times (without acting angry or irritated), then call him back for lovings after a period of time, he will actually get the idea eventually? Because, right now I have scratches on my face where he was just trying to get my attention. And, I admit, I cringe when I see him come in the room because I know what it's going to be like.

I will definitely try this method. Thank you!!!
post #9 of 10
You'll do great! And yeah, ten times or twenty, whatever it takes. Oh, and don't say his name except when you are ready to pay attention to him - let him associate his name only with the good things...and be sure to "call him back" quickly (at first), too, because otherwise he'll just keep repeating the unwanted behavior. What I looked for with Nathan at first went something like this:

> undesired behavior
> me ignoring
> undesired behavior
> me ignoring
.
.repeat as necessary until
.
> Nathan starts to take a brief break to reflect, scratch, whatever
> me immediately saying his name and petting him

I'm trying hard to remember, but I think it took about a month to turn Nathan around. It was while I was on summer vacation, back in the days dinosaurs roamed the earth.
post #10 of 10
That sounds so much like my cat Shadow. She hurts me when I don't pay attention ot her and she's walking on my chest when I am in bed. OUCH. I've learned that if I don't pet her she will keep clawing. But if give her a few pets and then pat at my chest a dozen times she understands that I won't pet her again UNTIL she lays down.

Also, when she is an extreme bug I hold her like a baby. She can't get her claws into me then and she is grateful for the attention. Otherwise she would be pacing on my lap, might as well have her stationary.

Not sure if this will help but I understand your situation. I am actually really attached to Shadow partly because I can hold her like a baby, BUT there are times I just want to sit and eat dinner without her claws in my thigh or her on my lap.
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