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Serious Behavior Problems (long)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So here is my story. About 2 years ago I adopted Miss Lil' (hence the name). She is a wacko. I love her dearly but she has been a serious problem from the beginning. She eats everything in site: chews on wood, wicker, litter, plastic. You name it. She has been checked by a vet several times and she is physically okay. They think she may have OCD (obsessive compulsive siorder). She used to keep me up all night. I mean ALL NIGHT. I used to cry because I was so frustrated and couldn't get any sleep. She would break things all night to get my attention. I tried locking her out of my room but she would claw under the door all night. I have lead paint so I had to open the door. I was afraid she would lick her paws and get the paint in her mouth. Then I put her on medicine to calm her anxiety. It helped a little and I was able to sleep more. She then only work me 4 or 5 times a night. She is now down to doing this 3 or so times a night.
The real problem is that she does not behave at all. If I tell her to get down off the counter she will just keep doing it. The more I yell at her the more she does things. It's almost like it is more of a challenge because she knows I don't want her doing it. My vet tells me if I ignore her she will stop. Since her goal is just to get my attention (I give her tons of attention by the way). But some things I can't ignore. I don't want her jumpuing on the stove because it is dangerous. Also she constantly jumps on an end table and knocks a lamp over. I can't let her do that because if the bulb breaks she could cut herself, or worse, try to eat the glass. She is obviously a challenge. Please understand that she is also very loving and sweet, she is just crazy! I have consulted a behaviorist who told me to put her in her crate for the night. I don't want to do that because she is alone all day as it is and I don't think it is fair to confine her. Any suggestions?????
post #2 of 13
I can sympathize:-).

I think part of the key to this situation is in your last line "she is alone all day as it is". Cats are nocturnal creatures by preference. If there is nothing to counteract this natural tendency, such as lots of activity during the day, then all of the energy from the day has been stored up and needs to be released. Since all she has is you, she depends on you to play with her and to use up all of that excess energy. You, of course, are tired from working all day and plan to sleep. She is on the opposite schedule. Since you are not responding by dropping whatever you are doing and playing with her, she resorts to activities she knows will get your attention. Each time you respond to her activities she gets your attention - even if it is negative attention - so it receives positive reinforcement. Yelling actually doesn't help. Cats do not respond to punishment like children and dogs do. The way to train cats to do what you want is to motivate them to do what you want them to do - you make it easier to do the correct behavoiur than the incorrect behaviour.

First, there are things that you can do to catproof your house and even with the best behaved kitty that is a good idea. Is there a place to put the lamp that is safer than the end table? You can put 'sticky paws' type of double sided tape on surfaces you don't want her on - they won't work on a stove though, so this is where you have to be alert instead.

You need to do more interactive play with her - and yes, I know, I know, you are probably already doing a lot - but in her eyes, and according to her physical needs, it isn't enough. She needs more - especially at bed time. A minimum of 15 minutes, and preferably more of heavy running and jumping type of interactive play right before bedtime, followed by treats or a meal will help to let her relax a lot for the night. Invest in a laser pointer - she can run chasing it all over the place with you in one position. You may also want to invest in one of the 'cat videos' that you play on the tv with birds and bugs and little critters. Play it during the day while you are away so that she has something to keep her awake during the day. Do you have a window where you can put a bird feeder? Again, she will get lots of activity watching the birds and trying to jump at them through the window, especially in the early morning and evening. Finally, another viable alternative to consider is to get her a playmate. A companion kitten or cat, while a bit of work to get them used to each other, could well prove to be the best solution. They would be able to keep each other company and when you are not available, play with each other.

Good luck!

post #3 of 13
Originally Posted by Kathryn41
Finally, another viable alternative to consider is to get her a playmate. A companion kitten or cat, while a bit of work to get them used to each other, could well prove to be the best solution. They would be able to keep each other company and when you are not available, play with each other.

Excuse me while I recover from my fit of laughter. 3 of our cats have been adopted as "company" for the other cats. lol...Occasionally it works, but much of the time they ignore eachother. Still, I quite reccomend trying it, if for no other reason than having another loveable furball with annoying quirks

The latest addition to our household, Mimi, is also in to waking me up in the middle of the night. When she's bored and wants my attention, she finds plastic and gnaws at it.

I agree with Kathryn though, try and tucker her out before bedtime, and give her some treats afterwards.

And with the lamp, either find a new place for it, or mount it to the table, otherwise she will continue to knock it off

Good luck!
post #4 of 13
We got our second cat as a playmate for our first cat, because she was pretty terrible! Within a week of having two cats the problems were pretty much nonexistant.
post #5 of 13
I agree with Kathryn too about tiring her out.
What kind of attention are you giving her? You may be giving her lots of cuddle attention but she might need much more physical attention...
The laser pointer, a toy like Da bird or any fishing pole toy with feathers..Interaction is the key..

I hear you, believe me..I have an ACTIVE boy who is not comfortable unless he is checking out what is in every cupboard (I have childproofed them), walking along every surface, and keeping me up and playing.

I used to play with him as soon as I got home but if I can only have two play sessions a day of 15 minutes, they now have to be in the a.m and before bed..
Or, he will bang on my door all night and play around in my room..He is still settling mind you, but he really likes his physical exercise.

Now that we have adjusted to a tire him out routine, he is much more content to hop up beside me during the eve and cuddle...then we play..then bed.
He still wakes me up at 6 am but hey, that's why we have cats right ?

Good luck!
post #6 of 13
Your vet is correct. You are validating her behavior by paying special attention to her when she does these "bad" things. Instead, ignore her when she is being noisy and approach her for play when she is being quiet.

(I give Nano a five minute exception when I come home after being gone for more than five hours -- she is gonna go nuts from missing me and can't help it. But after that five minutes of special attention, it is back to normal procedures.)

Instead of all the screaming and yelling, try validating her when she does high-energy games. I will let Nano wrestle with a fake mouse for fifteen minutes and then validate her with a treat for an accomplished "kill". When I wake up, I will get her running on the Turboscratcher for a few minutes and then reward her with canned cat food.

Cat-proofing your home is also a good suggestion. Nano likes resting on an elevated surface, so I give her a big part of the kitchen counter so she can lay about. And cats are going to break things or knock stuff to the floor. I spent an entire day cat-proofing my apartment with Nano in mind, so now if something happens -- even if Nano were to injure herself -- I wouldn't feel guilty. I did what I could and there was no lazy negligence.
post #7 of 13
Sounds like my mom's cat, Flash. He's mentally deranged but lord is he cute! He gets up on everything & is a ball of fire most days.

You'll have to move your lamps where they won't get knocked down. Cat proofing... there has to be suggestions or a website somewhere on how to cat proof a house. My house has always been cat-proofed, I grew up with the darlings!

Another thing mentioned, your cat might need a companion. Mine keep each other mega-busy during the day and I have the furballs in each room to prove it. They ALL sleep very very very soundly at night, to the point I am not allowed to move 'at all' or else I disrupt the flow of cats on my bed.

Miss Lil may just be bored.

Re: jumping on the stove -- she will LEARN. When I brought Hammie home he was so energetic, curious as all get-out, and would NOT leave my side; especially while I was at that stove. Many times he'd jump right up on the hot burners & one time, he scorched his paws black. FINALLY he learned to NOT jump on that stove! Now when he walks across it going from one counterspace to the next, he walks 'around' the burners. Your cat will learn, too, after trial & error.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks you all for your responses. I have tried the laser toy. Man those batteries don't last long in that thing! I play with her a good part of the night. She loves the feather toy (the one that's like the fishing pole). I get her to jump up in the air to get the feather. I have cat proofed the house quite a bit. I have taken away most all things that are breakable. Threw out the plants that she would try to chew. I have to keep anything with fringe (like a scarf) away from her or she eats the fringe off. All plastic bags are kept out of her reach. I try to keep any stray litter off the floor as well so she doesn't "snack" on it. She still pulls books out of the bookshelf but that is no big deal. My mother suggested I get a heavier lamp. One she can't knock over, or maybe a floor lamp.

She was much better last night. I tried my hardest to ignore eveything she does. I actually bought a bird feeder to hang ouside the window for her entertainment, but I am on the second floor of an apartment building and couldn't figure out how to hang it up. I bought a pole to hang it from that I thought I could attach to the side of the building but it didn't work. I also bought one of those cat DVD's but it was damaged (I am just having no luck!). I will try to get another one. The apartment is filled with toys (A tunnel, a little tent, a cat gym, a turbo, a cat perch, several balls). There is no where left to walk! I know another cat would help but I really can't afford it right now. She has had several health problems and it has wiped me out financially. It wouldn't be fair to get another cat until I know I have the money to care for it fully. Eventually I plan to though. Every couple of months I take her to my parents house and let her run around with their cats and she has a ball! The spring and summer will be better. Once she can look out the window and listen to the birds. I love her so much but she is a challenge!
Thanks again for your suggestions!
post #9 of 13
Sounds like you are being pretty thorough. I was at the public library yesterday and saw they had nature videos and nature audiotapes. They also had a series about pets -- cats, dogs, etc. I can't remember the titles but it was marketed as a "baby-sitter tool" to keep your pet entertained. So if you are in temporary financial pinch, check out these freebies and see if they help in any way.
post #10 of 13
My two cats are completely obsessed with our fish tank as well- maybe getting some fish would help?
post #11 of 13
I too have cats that climb on everything in the kitchen, including the cooker. It has electric hobs (burners) and I have some metal covers that I keep over these to save the cats' paws from getting burnt if they step on these. Iknew a lady whose cat had to be put to sleep because it had burnt its pads so badly.
It sounds as though your cat has bags of energy - good luck with tiring her out!

post #12 of 13
Miss Lil',

I just wanted to say that I just bought a bird feeder at PetsM@rt. I, too, live on the second story of an apartment building. The feeder I bought has suction cups so that you can stick it to the outside of the window. It was also one of the cheapest there at about $4.00.

Good luck!
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you all. I will check out that suctioned bird feeder and the library for the DVD. I didn't even think to go there. I'm thinking I might get those burner covers for my stove so she won't burn herself.
This board is great. Thanks again!
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