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Cats running my household!

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I don't know what to do, cats are literally running my household. I have never had a pet in my entire life until about 5 years ago when I adopted my first cat so I am very new to this and really unsure of what to do since I have read so many conflicting things. Many websites say to squirt, while many websites say not to. But what AM I supposed to do then, if not to discipline?

Anyways, after my first cat we soon decided to get him a playmate for when my boyfriend and I would be at work during the day. It was working out very nicely and then about 2 years ago I found two abandoned kittens and decided to take them in. So I now have 4 cats and they are all exhibiting behavioural issues and I don't know what to do. They ALL scratch the carpet even though I've bought them 2 scratching posts and a pad. I see in the sticky regarding this that you say to use tinfoil and other things to wrap your couches in, but there is no way i can cover my entire floor with something! One of the cats also shreds door frames from scratching. I have been trying to put them on the scratching post every time I see them scratching, but it doesn't seem to be helping at all...

Another issue I have is with cat aggression towards one another. My oldest has become new best friends with my youngest so needless to say the second oldest is feeling resentment since he and the oldest used to be best friends. Now they are getting in CRAZY fights...and I mean CRAZY....My one cat literally sounds like he is being murdered he is screaming so loud and they've even gotten serious injuries from these fights such as a large scratch to the eye. Luckily it healed over fine, but being a student with not much cash flow, I don't want to be having to bring my cat to the vet all the time due to fights within my household!

I also have a problem with them knocking things off tables. If I leave a glass of water on any counter or even on my night stand, they will knock it over and spill it all over the floor. The same thing happened with a little fishy I got! My landlord found an abandoned fishy in one of the apartments after he found out one of the tenants fled. He was going to flush it, but knowing I was a pet lover, he knocked on my door and asked if I wanted it. I took him in and we had him for a couple weeks and he was absolutely thriving in his new environment, but I came home one day to find my cats knocked him over and killed him! I was so distraught because I felt like it was my fault I feel like I should have put him in another room, but then how am I supposed to enjoy seeing him!? I also received flowers from my work for administrative assistant's day and they knocked them over and ravaged them in the night!

I seriously don't know what to do, my cats are destroying everything. I can't have any nice things anymore. (my cats even chewed up my $400 prescription glasses in the night) grrrr!! The thing is they know it is bad, they don't do it when I'm around (except for the fighting and carpet scratching) but they do all this stuff when I'm not home so I'm not there to stop it and on top of that I never know which cat did! Please help me!
post #2 of 23
Wow, that's quite a bit to deal with. I've never had truly destructive cats or ones that wouldn't at least eventually learn to deal with each other so I'll just handle the last part.

With so many cats in your home the more dominate ones are going to make a beeline for your table, counters, and higher spots whenever they can. Some of them being younger cats they're naturally going to be into anything and everything. The only solution is to simply keep these surfaces as cleared off as possible and don't leave anything unattended. None of us have found a way to make cats stop pushing things off tables, for example. Cats like to watch stuff fall. Using plastic bottles to drink from solves the water tipped over at night problem.

Eyeglasses and other valuables should go in a nightstand drawer or in the bathroom with the door shut. If you can't do either get a heavy jewelry box or some sort of wooden box that latches to go beside your bed.

If you ever plan to get fish again get a least a 10 gal, put it on a sturdy table/surface that can't be tipped and use a lid with locks. That's the only way with to definitely keep rambunctious cats out.


Cat trees may help by giving them their own high perches. Scheduled playtime (though it might take a couple people to do this) to wear them out. Some people have luck with using feliway diffusers and bach's rescue remedy.

As for squirting them with water. Do you honestly think it would work when you have four cats to keep up after? Possibilities of accidentally squirting a cat in the face/ears aside, you'd have to walk around with a squirt bottle constantly in hand and it still wouldn't teach the cats what they're doing wrong. (thus making you a little crazy and making your cats become more distrustful of you)
Maybe look into soft claws for the scratching issues.
post #3 of 23
I would seriously question the wisdom of someone who had never had a pet, even as a child, to plunge into multiple cat ownership this way, but what is done is done.

Get some good cat behavior books. CATS FOR DUMMIES and THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO LIVING WITH A CAT would be my first two suggestions; your vet (you DO have a good relationship with a vet, don't you?) might suggest more.
post #4 of 23
Welcome to TCS!

Sounds like my household. A few suggestions to try:

1) LOTS of play time - invest in an interactive wand toy, like Da Bird - 15 mins 2x a day.
2) Toys - buy a variety - split them up into say 3-4 large ziploc bags - rotate the toys around. 1-2x a week I pick up all my toys & bag them up, then put out "new" ones. Cat flip every time!
3) Feliway - yes, the diffusers can be pricey, but it can help calm them down some.
4) Scratching - I love & my cats love the turbo scratcher - toy & scratcher all rolled into one! Are there specific places they scratch? Like one kitty focuses on one spot on the carpet, put a turbo scratcher there. One kitty likes one wall - put a scratching post there.
5) A good scratching post is one that enables them to fully stretch out to scratch - I discovered my scratching issues greatly decreased when I got a 5' post, wrapped sisal rope around it...then the kitties could have a good stretch/scratch!
6) SoftPaws nail caps - will prevent the kitties claws from doing damage.
7) I have one kitty who is fascinated with gravity. She loves to push things off high places. I strategically place cat toys on dressers, tables, shelves, etc for her to push off.
8) They now also make interactive cat treat balls, I have no experience with them - but some have had success with them.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zane's Pal View Post
I would seriously question the wisdom of someone who had never had a pet, even as a child, to plunge into multiple cat ownership this way, but what is done is done.

Get some good cat behavior books. CATS FOR DUMMIES and THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO LIVING WITH A CAT would be my first two suggestions; your vet (you DO have a good relationship with a vet, don't you?) might suggest more.
WOW, you sure know how to make a newcomer feel welcome by down talking them. Maybe you can give me some social skills afterwards, too? All my cats were abandoned...I figure they would be better in my care than being put down, am I right, or am I right? Especially considering one of them was only 2 days old and had worms, they would absolutely NOT have been able to give him the individual care and attention that he needed to survive and they would have euthanized him immediately. I didn't mean to have this many cats, I'm not a complete idiot like the tone of your post leads me to believe that you think. I'm just a caring individual who's heart strings were plucked the moment I saw their cute little faces in a SHOPPING BAG BEHIND THE TIRE OF A CAR!
I have read a lot on cats since I've gotten them, but like I said, there are so many conflicting opinions it's difficult to know which of them is the right one to follow. That is why I am asking here, to see a multitude of opinions from a variety of cat owners because the same thing doesn't work for everyone.

Thanks for the suggestions to everyone else. I will definitely be trying out a few new toys and I guess I'm going to just have to make a conscious effort to put away anything I don't want destroyed. Another thing I was thinking is maybe they're going for the water glass because they want fresher water? I'm going to try giving them fresh water 4 times a day instead of two to see if that works because I'm totally against drinking out of plastic bottles like the first suggestion! (sorry, it's just a thing I have..although I guess I could use a glass jar)
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zane's Pal View Post
I would seriously question the wisdom of someone who had never had a pet, even as a child, to plunge into multiple cat ownership this way, but what is done is done.

Get some good cat behavior books. CATS FOR DUMMIES and THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO LIVING WITH A CAT would be my first two suggestions; your vet (you DO have a good relationship with a vet, don't you?) might suggest more.
I don’t agree with the above at all. You are a wonderful person and I wanted to thank you for opening your home and heart to animals in need. There are far too many homeless animals out there and its great people like you sacrifice some of your sanity (lol literally it sounds like!) to home these babies.

So you don’t have experience, well you do now! I am sure some people here will have some wonderful advice for you. I for one don’t have much, I did want to ask one question... I don’t know if you had motioned it but are they fixed?

As for knocking stuff down, I don’t think that’s fixable. We have four animals and just like new parents childproof a house, our house is totally animal proofed. Unfortunately we don’t have anything on tables they can knock down, vases, flowers, figurines (which sucks because i love that stuff). We have a stash of boxes of pens because they are always missing. Anything that is easily knocked over is nudged against a wall so it’s harder to move. We basically have nothing breakable. Things like our eyeglasses are stashed away, we keep the computer room door closed. I can go on and on, but our cats never break anything because our house is so (boring lol) animal proof it doesn’t give them a chance.

I wish you the best of luck, and thank you for giving them a chance, a lot of people would have just given up and sent them away or outdoors.
post #7 of 23
First, thank you for opening you heart and your home to these 4 cats. I have two and have had cats my whole life and I often feel overwhelmed by them... I can only imagine how you much feel.

Most of the destructive behavior you describe sounds to me like they are bored. You've gotten lots of great tips about extra toys and scratchers. My one clawed kitty like to scratch carpet too (Horizontal instead of vertical) so I got a few scraps of carpet remenant which is pretty cheap and laid that over where he was scratching the carpet and now he uses that.

As for the dissention among them I don't have any good ideas unless you can separate them but that might not be fair to them either. My two fight occasionally as well but no one has been seriously injured or I might consider rehoming the younger of them... Realistically, I'd try my best to separate them because the idea of rehoming either of them is too heartbreaking.
post #8 of 23
The more cats you have, the more you have to protect your belongings, as issues get exponentially more challenging the more cats you live with. I know - I live with 10.

I've had to retrain myself first. Put your water glasses inside your sink. Never leave them on a counter. And if you want water by your bed at night, invest in a container with a lid. Don't leave things they will play with out - tuck them into closets and drawers.

A scratch post is a wonderful thing, but have you shown them how to use it? When you see them going after carpet, give them a firm NO, then pick them up and carry them to the scratch post. I rub their paws on the post to show them, and will kneel on the floor next to them and rub my fingertips on it also. If they use it, they get a treat. Move the scratch posts closer to where they are scratching as a reminder. Get the floor turbo scratchers and place them on top of the places where they scratch.

Read the sticky on introducing old cats to new. There is an excellent bit of advice about using Vanilla Extract to make all the cats smell the same (dab it under their chin, at base of neck and base of tail). When one of mine goes to the vet and no longer smells like the others, I use this to calm them all down. This alone can with stop or cut down your cat aggression a lot (and its inexpensive).

And always remember: cats are all about "what's in it for me?". Unlike dogs who respond by pleasing their master, cats please themselves. Find activities that make it fun for them (e.g. the suggestion about putting their toys on counters to knock off) and stick with those.

Good luck!
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissSarah View Post
WOW, you sure know how to make a newcomer feel welcome by down talking them. Maybe you can give me some social skills afterwards, too? All my cats were abandoned...I figure they would be better in my care than being put down, am I right, or am I right? Especially considering one of them was only 2 days old and had worms, they would absolutely NOT have been able to give him the individual care and attention that he needed to survive and they would have euthanized him immediately. I didn't mean to have this many cats, I'm not a complete idiot like the tone of your post leads me to believe that you think.
Don't take the suggestion of Dummy series as an insult. Those are great books! Welcome to the forum!
post #10 of 23
Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate, with these kitties.

There is great advice on here by people with much more experience then me, but being a bit of a closet basket case I'll try to relay some of my personal psychological side of kitty ownership.

By looking at some of the homes that people have on here, there are obviously those that are able to have very nice things and still have multiple kitties. Honestly, I don't know how they do it; namely, I don't know how they keep a nice home as a priority! I am truly envious of their ability to live life for themselves AND their cats. I stopped giving a damn about nice things a long time ago, and focused everything on more space/playthings for my cats, because that's what made me happy (and because as a perpetual bachelor, I never really cared about my home aesthetics). You might find yourself in the same situation, in time. Like with children, your life will be less centripetal and more focused on that which is outside of yourself. You'll learn when and where to put things before you leave your home, when and how to handle your fighting kitties, and that sort of thing.

I never had cats growing up (my mother hated them), and was a total numbskull when it cames to their behavioral patterns, but I've found that things really do tend to work themselves out. Personally, I abhor the notion of spraying them with water. I personally feel that, short of being destructive, if you're not ready to have your kitties take over your household somewhat (letting them jump on tables, counter tops, cupboards, etc.), then you shouldn't have one. Let them be cats. But that's just my opinion.

I've also found that they tend to pick up on your anxiety (I'm an anxious mess at times, and learned the hard way), so the more you can relax and spend individual play time with them, it may help as well. Can't hurt, anyway.

Remember, RELAX! Enjoy them! They may do crazy things, but it's not out of malice. It's just kids being kids.

Good luck!
post #11 of 23
I do agree a cat tree would help keep them entertained. I got mine from Armarkat on eBay. Both my boys love it and it keeps them busy for hours. The Turbo Scratcher is another great suggestion. They're $12 or so at a pet store. Instead of spraying with a water bottle, get some compressed air from an office supply store not to spray the cats with, but the hissing sound scares them away from whatever trouble they're into. A bird feeder outside a window works too. As far as them breaking things, you basically have to just "cat proof" your entire house. Hide away your valuables and don't put anything breakable in a place they can reach it. Good luck
post #12 of 23
Welcome!!

You've gotten some great advice about putting your glasses away at night and using a lidded glass also. My first cat used to knock EVERYTHING over. It was nuts. I can always tell when my cats are bored because they start getting into michief!!

Catnip is pretty good stuff. Throw it on the floor and let them eat it. They go nuts and then they take a hardcore nap. Have you tried a toy called da bird? It's a crowd pleaser!

Have you thought about a pet fountain. My cats love those. The water seems fresher to them and they are fascinated by the sound and movement.

As for the carpet....I don't know about that. I have a ton of stratchers. All different types and sizes and in diffferent locations. ReeRee STILL insists on using my area rugs. Its just something I love with. If you don't want them ruining the wall to wall maybe put down and cheapy area rug where they stratch?

Unfortunately we have to rearrange our living to accomadate our pets. Their behavoirs can't always be changed. Give it a try but don't be suprised if some behavoirs hang around. I happen to think it's worth it. I love my 3 little boogars!
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
Have you thought about a pet fountain. My cats love those. The water seems fresher to them and they are fascinated by the sound and movement.
I was going to suggest this a little while ago but by the time I went to post I forgot what I was going to suggest!

Definitely look into getting one or two fountains. Hopefully the cats just want a nicer water source and that will make them lose a little interest in your drinks.


Also, don't be so quick to knock using a plastic container or bottle (like a sports bottle that you can put in the dishwasher). My main worry with my cats is that eventually one of mine would knock a glass off and break it. I don't know about anyone else, but my luck would be that I'd be half asleep and step in glass. ... or fully awake and step in glass - I have no luck, honestly.


And don't be too upset. Most of us usually realize something: one to two cats means the person probably choose to get those cats. Three, four, ....eight, means we can't say no to a furry kitty face in need.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaloneysMom View Post
I don’t agree with the above at all. You are a wonderful person and I wanted to thank you for opening your home and heart to animals in need. There are far too many homeless animals out there and its great people like you sacrifice some of your sanity (lol literally it sounds like!) to home these babies.

So you don’t have experience, well you do now! I am sure some people here will have some wonderful advice for you. I for one don’t have much, I did want to ask one question... I don’t know if you had motioned it but are they fixed?

As for knocking stuff down, I don’t think that’s fixable. We have four animals and just like new parents childproof a house, our house is totally animal proofed. Unfortunately we don’t have anything on tables they can knock down, vases, flowers, figurines (which sucks because i love that stuff). We have a stash of boxes of pens because they are always missing. Anything that is easily knocked over is nudged against a wall so it’s harder to move. We basically have nothing breakable. Things like our eyeglasses are stashed away, we keep the computer room door closed. I can go on and on, but our cats never break anything because our house is so (boring lol) animal proof it doesn’t give them a chance.

I wish you the best of luck, and thank you for giving them a chance, a lot of people would have just given up and sent them away or outdoors.
Thank you Yeah, they are all fixed. I sometimes think that one of them may have been fixed later than he should have (he sprayed one time, the week before he was going to get fixed), but to be honest, he is the most mild mannered one, I think because he was abused he is scared to get into anything...he has JUST started letting me touch his head after 2 years..

I guess I had to learn the hard way about the expensive stuff getting broken. I just bought a new pair of glasses and have been making sure to stash them away EVERY night lol...
I think people are right in saying that they are probably just really bored. They do have toys, but most of them get demolished within a day.
And thank you to the person who mentioned cat nip! I totally forgot about that stuff!! That will probably wear them down to the point where I need to get them!
I also think one of the issues that I'm having is bad behaviour due to pissy-ness...I know it sounds crazy, but I have been noticing that my cats will do bad things (things they know I don't like) when I am doing things that they don't like! lol...like if I cuddle my oldest one too close (the one that doesn't like to be cuddled) he will immediately jump off my lap and start scratching the carpet.
I also know that my cats LOOOOVE to go outside, but I am completely unwilling unless they are supervised, so needless to say, they only get to go out maybe once a week when I have some spare time to sit outside with them. Could their bad behaviour be because they want to go outside and are angry with me for not letting them so they are lashing out?
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemykitty3 View Post
I do agree a cat tree would help keep them entertained. I got mine from Armarkat on eBay. Both my boys love it and it keeps them busy for hours. The Turbo Scratcher is another great suggestion. They're $12 or so at a pet store. Instead of spraying with a water bottle, get some compressed air from an office supply store not to spray the cats with, but the hissing sound scares them away from whatever trouble they're into. A bird feeder outside a window works too. As far as them breaking things, you basically have to just "cat proof" your entire house. Hide away your valuables and don't put anything breakable in a place they can reach it. Good luck
More vertical space is always good, IMO. Definitely hide anything and everything you don't want broken (I learned that the hard way). While it's somewhat pricey, a Feliway Diffuser may help calm things down too.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissSarah View Post
Could their bad behaviour be because they want to go outside and are angry with me for not letting them so they are lashing out?
I don't believe they are planning it out that way, no. But if you could make it safer (ie, cat proof fencing) for them to go out more often it would give them more space and things to stimulate them. That alone could settle the household down a bit.
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
: Catnip is pretty good stuff. Throw it on the floor and let them eat it. They go nuts and then they take a hardcore nap. Have you tried a toy called da bird? It's a crowd pleaser!

Have you thought about a pet fountain. My cats love those. The water seems fresher to them and they are fascinated by the sound and movement.
Some cats don't react at all to catnip; my Zane is one of them.

I got him a fountain, and he refused to drink out of it. I think that motion and sound scared him. (It was a rather loud one; I didn't care for it either, although I would have put up with it if he had taken to it.)

There are certain things we have to put up with if we are going to live with cats, and if we can't, we shouldn't have them.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zane's Pal View Post
There are certain things we have to put up with if we are going to live with cats, and if we can't, we shouldn't have them.
I think perhaps a little more "welcomeness" to our new TCS member is in order here.

I applaud you for taking the time to come here and ask questions. I also applaud you for taking in these kitties. So what if you never had pets growing up. Got to start somewhere, huh?

Don't take Zane's Pal's comments too seriously - we all have our bad days.

Good luck - and I agree with the above posters that extra play and stimulation might be what these guys need. They sound a lot like some kids I know.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by threecatowner View Post
I think perhaps a little more "welcomeness" to our new TCS member is in order here.

I applaud you for taking the time to come here and ask questions. I also applaud you for taking in these kitties. So what if you never had pets growing up. Got to start somewhere, huh?

Don't take Zane's Pal's comments too seriously - we all have our bad days.

Good luck - and I agree with the above posters that extra play and stimulation might be what these guys need. They sound a lot like some kids I know.
I ditto!
post #20 of 23
Welcome! Your kitties sure sound like a handful.

In addition to everyone else's suggestions I have a couple. I found the book Think Like a Cat very helpful. Pam Johnson-Bennett is right on with her ideas. My other suggestion is some toys that the cats can play with that are a little more than the usual toy-- www.esmartcat.com has some great stuff. We have the Peek & Play (the smaller puzzle box) and Bootsie's Bunkbed & Playhouse. I'd really like to get mine the Tick-Tock-Teaser. The toys were designed by Cats International, a cat behavior resource here in Wisconsin. Their website has some great articles if you want to go browse them.

Other toys that seem to keep mine busy (besides their cat tree) are track toys like the Turbo Scratcher, tunnels, and cubes.

I have a 1 yr old and 2 older cats (9 yrs and 12 yrs), so I try to keep the youngster busy with her toys to leave my 12 yr old alone. He tends to not appreciate wrestling matches.
post #21 of 23
Well, kitties can be a handful. And much of their behavior is instinctual, driven by demands we don't understand.

Some researchers have said that every addition cat we add to a household doubles the likelihood of behavioral problems, especially litter box problems.

But as a shelter volunteer, I'm glad you've adopted them.
post #22 of 23
I have five cats and more when I have fosters. And my large dog too! So I understand how they can be crazy, get on the counters, eat stuff up. There have been many good posts to help you but I do have something to add. In addition to the Feliway plug ins, you might want to try a calming remedy. I've used Composure Liquid by Vetri-Science and Calming Treats by Pet Naturals of Vermont. The treats are easier to administer and are less expensive than the Composure Liquid. I've had great success using the Feliway plug ins in conjunction with the treats in helping my cats behavioral problems. I still have some tiffs because cats will be cats. That's when I institute time outs. Those help out too.
post #23 of 23
I've never posted before, but I just had to say... no matter how fresh their water is, if mine is in a cup they always manage to spill it
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