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Behavior Correction Checklist

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
(fair warning, this is a long post, the first part is history, feel free to skip or scan to the end)

Well It looks like I got to do alittle work with Mai Sai. Since I got him he has been a very active cat, and one of the things he does is play with everything, like "attacking" a pen, or chip clip (or other hard object). I figured it was just kitten behavior and he would grow out of it.

Well today I came home to find that he had eaten half of my research paper I need to turn in tomorrow. This isn't as big a deal as it sounds, I have saved and can print it up again (thank goodness!). But Oliver (my cat I had to leave home with my parents) had a habit of eating not only paper, but books. This behavior is one of the reasons I couldn't take him with me, my room mate wouldn't put up with it (though to be fair, he has other behavior issues and there was the fact we knew he and Tess didn't get along). So given my history with Oliver, I started looking for other signs. I found that he had left bite marks in a bookmark (one of the nice ones, a photo covered in thick plastic) and bite marks on the blinds. Now I haven't seen him bite on paper or the blinds or whatnot, but I have seen him "attacking" the hard objects I've talked about before. I can only guess the rest happens when I'm gone.

I am 95% sure this isn't a teeth problem. He just went in to the vet for a check up about a month ago and I payed alittle extra for a indepth check up. I don't know what could have happened between now and then that he would get a problem, and not show any other signs, or do this in front of me or my room mate.

Clearly I need to start working on this. So I am trying to make a checklist, and I could really use some help. I would like to start with the "nice" ways first (those that would be the kindest on the cat) and work down if that doesn't work. I'm going to list the ways I know of to work on this. If I'm missing something, please let me know, and let me know what would be the best order to work down.


A can of compressed air, sprayed near but not on them

A can of coins, shaken when they are doing what they shouldnt

Double sided tape on things he shouldn't touch (though I dont think this would work with this problem as well)

Covering the area in foil (same as above)


Not alot, but its a start. I have set up a can of coins both upstairs and downstairs...
post #2 of 14
The biggest problem is that he's doing a lot of the stuff when no one is home. For that, the double sided tape usually works. One thing you could try is playing with him before leaving, hoping he'll get worn out. Also, they have things that you can put treats in, or just leave them places he has to look for them to give him something to do other than destroy your possessions.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wyatturpsmom View Post
The biggest problem is that he's doing a lot of the stuff when no one is home. For that, the double sided tape usually works. One thing you could try is playing with him before leaving, hoping he'll get worn out. Also, they have things that you can put treats in, or just leave them places he has to look for them to give him something to do other than destroy your possessions.
The idea of playing before I go out is a good one, I'm going to have to try that, thank you , Sadly sometimes I have run out at high speed, but I can do I best to avoid that.

I thought about double sided tape, but well, that wouldn't work well on alot of things (like paper or books) since if I try to take it off, it would probably rip, but I could try it with the blinds.

I would love to find the toys with the treats in them, do you have any idea what they are called?
post #4 of 14
I couldn't find exactly what mine was, but I did find this.

http://www.petfooddirect.com

The product is !Go!Cat!Go! and it's $1.99 for two of the balls.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wyatturpsmom View Post
I couldn't find exactly what mine was, but I did find this.

http://www.petfooddirect.com

The product is !Go!Cat!Go! and it's $1.99 for two of the balls.
thank you so much
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by othie View Post

I thought about double sided tape, but well, that wouldn't work well on alot of things (like paper or books) since if I try to take it off, it would probably rip, but I could try it with the blinds.
I just raise my blinds in the smacking prone windows. The like to lay there and look out and it's less likely that they'll try to crawl through them. (Kit thinks she can get outside that way. She's not the smartest cat.) There are devices that you can put on counter tops, etc. that beep annoyingly when the cats cross the little bean they fire. You might try looking at some of those.

With one of our cats we can "growl" at him and he'll chill. Friday is the absolute worst offender because he doesn't care if he gets in trouble. Very early in his life I realized I could either perpetually say "NO" or I could pick a few hard and fast rules and get over the rest (or just adapt like with the blinds.) For us, no cats are allowed: anywhere we prepare food or eat, to claw on furniture, rugs, etc., to play so rough that someone gets hurt and they are not allowed to even look in the dryer. Everything else is relatively fair game. I cannot in good conscious say that all my rules are adhered to but they're mostly adhered to when the cats realize I'll bust them.
post #7 of 14
I like to use positive redirection rather than negative deferrals for training. Teach a cat what they should do, rather than punishing when they do something they shouldn't do. It's not a lot different than teaching a child in school. If you asked a child what 2 + 2 is and they answered 5 and you punished them for it without telling them the answer, they would never learn the correct answer of 4.

When you catch your cat doing something wrong, give them a NO, but then give them an alternative that they enjoy. If they are chewing paper, replace it with a toy. I realize that you have to catch them in the act, but they ultimately learn the right things to play with. In the mean time, don't leave papers or books laying around.

Remember, cats are motivated by "what's in it for me?".
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
I like to use positive redirection rather than negative deferrals for training.
I like this method too. In our house we joking call it "changing the subject."
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by howtoholdacat View Post
I like this method too. In our house we joking call it "changing the subject."
Very nice! I'll have to remember that one!!
post #10 of 14
I like the post about Friday. For the first 6 months of his life, Chandler Ray was known as "GD it Chandler Ray" because he got into absolutely everything. "NO" just meant he should roll over and look adorable and start purring. I, too, had hard and fast rules that I'd adhered to, until Chandler Ray. Most of them went out the door with him. I still have a few. When Lilly-Rose joined us, because of her personality and size, I started feeding her on the counter. I just have to clean when I'm going to prepare food. In the long run, for me, it's worked out well.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by wyatturpsmom View Post
I like the post about Friday.
Ha, ha! I've a whole blog about Friday's antics! See below my sig.
post #12 of 14
I think there might be some non-behavioral approaches, given the voracious sudden appetite for paper. Call your vet and ask if there are any dietary deficiencies or illnesses that would cause this. The solution might be something like a high-fiber diet.

Another strong possibility is that the cat is obsessing over paper because he's bored and has energy that isn't being used. I'd make sure he has long play sessions every day, or get him another active cat for a playmate. Maybe find or make a toy that simulates the crinkliness of paper. If he had a crumpled up ball of paper to play with, or a pile of tissue paper, he might be so attracted to that he'd leave your books and important papers alone.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmylou View Post
I think there might be some non-behavioral approaches, given the voracious sudden appetite for paper.
Is the paper thing new? I read it as he'd always done that. Seti shreds paper too.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by howtoholdacat View Post
Is the paper thing new? I read it as he'd always done that. Seti shreds paper too.
well for this cat, its a new thing. He was always very playful and made a toy out of anything, but this was the first time he attacked paper. My other cat back with my parents, Oliver, loves to shred paper (and books and cardboard ect), Oliver was gotten when he was about 2 years old, we think. (another shelter baby). So I was afraid this is how it got started before he was given up.

Thank you all for your suggestions. they were all good ones. I love the idea of the toy with the treats inside of it.

Do you really think I need to take him in to vet? My vet is very good, but pretty costly, a check costs about $65. I could take him in, but I would rather be sure I need to first, it would mean not giving two people christmas gifts this year....
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