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My kitty's behavior is driving me nuts!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have a 1.5 year old male orange tabby who has A LOT of behavior problems. I love him to pieces, and he really is a sweet boy, but he is needy and mischeivious, and a real pain in the butt sometimes. To set the scene, he is an only cat, living in a small studio apartment (AKA, not much room to run around) with one large window. Here are some examples of the bad things that he does:

1) He is always eating things he shouldn't be eating. Chewing electrical cords, shoelaces, hair ties, paper, jewelry, pretty much anything. **I now keep all of this stuff in closets or put away where he can't get to it**

2) He reaches through the little holes on the fish tank cover and takes the fake plants (and anything else he can get to) out to apparently play with them and chew on them. **I've tried duct taping the holes, but he takes the duct tape off**

3) He unplugs important things (like my alarm clock or fan) when I'm trying to sleep in order to try to wake me up. **i have duct taped this stuff into the wall, but he pulls the duct tape off with his teeth**

4) He lifts up the burners on the stove and lets them drop so they make a loud "slam!" noise to try to wake me up at night. **I have since covered all the burners with cake pans and heavy items so that he can't get to them***

5) He wakes me up every morning around 4 AM for no apparent reason other than that he seems to be bored. **I do play with him before bed, AND give him a bed-time snack, but he still wakes me up around 4 AM every day like clockwork.**

6) He has plenty of toys, but he will rip open any that have catnip or stuffing and proceed to spread the catnip all over, and then EAT the stuffing. I can only trust him with balls when I'm not around.

There are many other things, but the list would be waaay too long. He has a bed, a scratching post, toys, etc. I've even tried the kitty pheremone spray, but that doesn't seem to have any sort of calming effect. I love him like crazy, and he's sooo sweet. When I'm home and awake, he is either on my lap or next to me. When I'm sleeping, he's usually on the bed (unless he's got the "night crazies" or is trying to wake me up). Is his "bad" behavior something he will grow out of?? What can I do??

post #2 of 11
Welcome to TCS!

IMO, it all comes down to boredom. Since you are in a small studio apt, I take in a 2nd kitty isn't an option.

When you play with him for bed....how long do you play & with what toys?

Keep in mind he's still a kitten & will be for another 1-2 years.

I'd try a few things:
1) Play for 15 mins morning & night with an interactive toy
2) Try out Da Bird on him - gets my cats exhausted!
3) Rotate the types of toys he has - I have ziploc bags of toys - once a week I pick up the toys, bag them & open a new bag of different kinds of toys for variety!
4) Does he have any kitty furniture to climb on? What about anything like these nylon cat cubes you can find in Wal Mart?
post #3 of 11
Is he neutered? That can calm them down a little bit.
post #4 of 11
Sounds like he's bored to death! I know you don't have much room, but I would suggest a cat tree and a second cat.

post #5 of 11
I agree. He needs stimulation and challenges, one way or another.

A second cat? The apartment seems hardly large enough for one person and a cat. If you have two cats, aren't you supposed to have at least three litterboxes, widely spaced? How is that possible in such a small apartment?
post #6 of 11
I would like to respond to the problem with the fish tank since I have struggled with this too. The cat who messes with our tank is also 1 1/2 years old.

The solution I have arrived at which works for us for now has three parts to it:

1) I have put plastic carpet runner on the lid of the tank, points up, and taped it down in all areas which do not block air access for the fish.

2) The filter is the main attraction for our cat since I have a hang-on- back filter which tempts the kitty like a lovely waterfall. My husband came up with the great idea of using heat vent diverter, like you would use for a heat vent on the floor. This allows air to pass around the filter but makes it more difficult for kitty to get to.

3) we bought a cat water fountain for the cats to use for their regular water supply, hoping that this would give her the same enjoyment as licking water out of the filter.

I also remember that about the time she started leaving the fish alone more was when we got our cat tree. I don't know if this was related, but now she has a place to go in the room that's even higher than the fish tank, and I don't have to chase her down.

I have a 29 gallon tank with a solid lid. Even so, as our cat grows to adulthood, I don't really want to guess how much weight the lid will hold and come home someday to some horrific scene.I'm not sure what size yours is, but it sounds as if the lid is not doing much to prevent cat from getting in. If your fish tank is important to you, you may want to get a more secure set-up.

It sounds like your kitty is really creative in the spaz department. Of course try the other suggestions folks here have listed. It does sound like some way to deal with bored-kitty syndrome is called for here. I've just observed that the whole kitty vs. the fishies thing is not something that really goes away on its own.
post #7 of 11
Is he alone during the day and for how long? You can imagine that he sleeps during this time. Naturally when his meowmy gets home, he will do things to interact with you....to get your attention.

If you are at home with him during the day, don't let him sleep. Play with him before he eats his evening meal (hunting time to a cat) and then give him food (what he caught hunting, so to speak). That should cause him to sleep very well and out of mischief. I had a vet tell me to throw crumpled up pieces of paper at them to keep them from napping. Will not hurt them and they play with the paper. But then you have to clean up the pile of paper.
post #8 of 11
Oh he sounds so smart! I just love brilliant cats

Have you ever considered training him to walk on a leash outdoors? Or maybe a cat stroller?

I agree with the other suggestions: rotating his toys, keeping him awake during the day when you can.

I do feel your pain. I adopted Daphne as an 8 week old kitten to keep Sebastian company (and me!). I lived in a 350 sq ft studio at the time. I actually got used to being used as a landing/launching pad at night

Bless you for loving this rambunctious guy!

edit: Daphne just loves the wadded balls of paper. She will find the spiral notebook, tap on it or nose it or sit on it until I take a sheet out, wad it up and throw it.

Also, try to give your guy more vertical space since horizontal space is limited. Tall bookshelves, cat tree in front of the window. Can you attach a bird feeder outside the window?
post #9 of 11
Definitely sounds like boredom.........
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
To reply to some questions and suggestions:

He is fixed, yes.

I do have a birdfeeder outside the window, and he usually either sits in the windowsill or lies on the back of the couch to look out the window.

We always play fetch - yes, he plays fetch like a dog - for at least 15 min. before the bedtime snack. He especially loves the tops of plastic water bottles.

I am gone about 8 hours per day, 5 days a week - a normal work schedule.

I do try to keep him awake when I'm home, but sometimes it's easier to just let him sleep because he can be so annoying when he's awake!

I'm going to look into "Da Bird", and some new toys, and try rotating them, because he does seem to get bored when we play, and after a little while, he'll just lie down on the floor.

I'll definitely try a cat tree and/or another cat when I move into a bigger place!

Thanks for the suggestions - and keep 'em coming!
post #11 of 11
Your boy sounds like a wonderful cat! He's doing typical cat things that show he's intelligent and inquisitive.

My advice would be to try to play with him at least 3 times a day (when I worked full time, that's what I did--or at least twice).

It's easy because he gets you up early (my girl did that too). I used to play with her at least 20 min. before I left for work, usually some type of chasing game.

Also, be sure to leave toys around that he can get to during the day if he wants to play. My cats have always liked the small, furry mice.

Then I'd try to play with her when I got home from work. That often didn't work because she seemed to be in the middle of her nap time, but usually around supper time, she'd play for a while--and then before bed as well.

Fortunately, at the time, I had a two-level house, so if she was playing during the night, she usually did that downstairs and didn't disturb me, but as she got older, she almost always slept through the night in bed with me.
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