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Out of control Cat!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I need some advice. My cat is almost 2 and I can not control him. He is always on counters, tables. He pushes everything off of them and he has broken my glasses and even kitchen appliances. He has been eating everything in sight including wires, ties holding the wires, fringes on my throw pillows, shoelaces, brake lines on my bicycle. In addition he has been tearing the couch up and then pulling the stuffing out of the cushions and eating that. The list goes on and on. His latest thing is after using the liter box (and mind you, it is clean), he takes his "remains" and pulls them out of the liter box and then plays with it! He has plenty of toys to play with and does this whether I home a lot or not. I have tried the "no scratch" spray, citrus around the wires, using "time out" as a way of telling him it is wrong (as recomendedy my vet). Please help!! I love this little guy but I have never see anything like it!! Any thoughts?
post #2 of 16
Bandit, I'll move this to Behavior where our experts will be sure to see it.

Good to see you posting.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I will get the hang of it yet! Hopefully I will get some advise
post #4 of 16
I'm sure the experts will chime in, but I'd start with Feliway diffusers.
post #5 of 16
One thing I know is make sure you aren't rewarding him for these things without realizing it, does he get extra attention? Do you feed him right after to distract him?

There are things you can put on counters so they stay off, like tape etc. And the citrus smell works ususally, I put real lemon juice in areas I don't want my cat to go to.

Cats are like kids in many ways, they like to get a rise out of you sometimes. Don't let him get the upper hand.
post #6 of 16
What kind of food (normal that is!) does he eat?
post #7 of 16
And is he neutered?

I would suggest a book for you to pick up- Outwitting Cats by Wendy Christensen-
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
I feed him Cat Chow. A combination of the Indoor formula and the regular Cat Chow. He was eating too much of the Indoor formula and putting on a little weight so my vet told me to mix it. And he is neutered.

I will have to look into that book. But when he does do it, I give him a firm "NO" and sometimes he stops other times he just stares at me with a look like he does not want to be bothered!

Besides the annoyance factor. I am concerned because he keeps eating so much stuff and getting sick from it.
post #9 of 16
Even negative attention can act as a reward. It is tough, yes. He sounds bored, first of all, and could possibly benefit from a playmate. You may want to buy one of the cat videos to distract him from some of his other play areas. As well, you may want to arrange your furniture to allow him high, perchy areas where he can get to and won't damage things. If you can purchase one of the tall multi-leveled cat trees -floor to ceiling are ideal. Cats like to be up and on various levels so he will definitely climb on things. The objective is to make it easier for him to climb on the things you want him to climb on rather than on the things you don't want him on. Does he have a cat tree? There is a product that he would probably enjoy called CatWallks - I will try to find the link - it is a series of carpeted surfaces that attach directly to the wall and allow the cat extra room to run and climb.

Cover your wires with some type of a protective surface. I have found the foam pipe insulators available at a hardware store to be cheap and very effective, although they don't win any marks for beauty:-). Still, they are easy to use and readily available.

The other thing to do is to ask your vet about pica. This is a tendency of an animal to eat non-food items habitually. It is usually related to some sort of a nutritional deficiency. Cat Chow is not one of the better foods so you may want to check out one of the premium foods. They are more expensive but also provide a better quality of nutrition.

I think you will definitely find the book of interest, and I hope that the above might also be of some help. I know it can be very frustrating when a cat thinks you are their personal toy and demands your attention in inappropriate ways. A buddy may divert his attention into more appripriate play areas, or you may end up with a disrespectable duo.

Good luck

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks, those are some things I will look into. I am unable to get a playmate for him. My apartment lease only allows for one cat and although it is a good size apartment, I think two in here might get to be close quarters. but the Cat walk or tree sounds like an excellent idea.

You mentioned that a negative attention may be a reward...should I just ignore him when he does something wron?? I hate yelling at the poor little guy anyways.
post #11 of 16
Yelling doesn't work. It's counter-productive. Redirecting him to something like an interactive toy, or just playing with him on a scheduled time frame will help.
post #12 of 16
Yes, yelling doesn't work - that is negative reinforcement. He is getting attention from you.

When he does something wrong, divert him or interrupt him. Do it quietly, do it without saying anything except 'no', don't reward him by giving him attention. If he keeps doing it - and he probably will because he has learned that it gets attention- then give him a time out by himself in a room - 10 minutes should be plenty. You want to find ways to let him know it isn't working. You will also have to be prepared to spend time with him playing interactively and giving him attention - rewarding him - when he is being good and well behaved. So, lots of good postiive reaffirming attention when he is good, and ignoring him but not letting him continue when he misbehaves.

You will also want to cat proof your place as much as you can for the time being. He does sound like he has lots of excess energy so re-directing him or distracting him into something that is allowable will work. You want to make it more pleasurable for him to do what you want him to do than to do what you don't want him to do.

Good luck
post #13 of 16
I know one thing that works if you catch him in the act- I have a small spray bottle I fill with water, and I squirt my cat when he gets into something or is doing something I don't want him to do. It's better though if you do it when he isn't looking at you. That way,he doesn't know where the water is coming from. He stops what he's doing very fast. My mom and dad also have a cat. My dad doesn't even have to squirt her any more. She just sees him pick up the squirt bottle and it's enough to stop her. It may
take several tries though. I hope this helps!
post #14 of 16
When the cats were scratching on furniture I covered those ends with heavy duty plastic and they left them alone. Can you try plastic or aluminum foil on the counters. Or I thought a can filled with marbles or something like that which makes alot of noise if knocked over??
Do you play with a Cat Dancer with him???
post #15 of 16
Something that works for me is to fill a small spray bottle with water, and when my cat is getting into something or doing something I don't want him to
do, I squirt him when he isn't looking. He stops pretty fast.If you squirt the cat when he isn't looking, he doesn't know where the water is coming from.
You might have to do it several diifferent times though. My parents have a cat,and they squirt her with a water bottle when she's doing something.
Now they don't even have to squirt her- as soon as she sees them pick up the bottle she'll stop what she's doing. I hope this helps!
post #16 of 16
I definitely agree with the strategy that instead of bothering with corrective actions or discipline, for each "problem" try to re-direct him into a productive activity using positive re-enforcements.

Climbing on surfaces --> buy him a big cat tree or catwalks (here is the link I think Kathryn meant: -- look at the first picture of six planks attached to the walls and two cats lounging on them.

Eating a bunch of weird stuff --> feed him quality food

Breaking a bunch of stuff --> cat-proof your home and give him disposable toys (Nano will latch onto a large catnip mouse with all four paws, scratching and rolling around and really rough-housing with it -- she tears one apart each week)

Damage from claws --> provide scratching surfaces (either that special rope wound around cat trees or even a simple toy like TurboScratcher)

Hyperactivity --> games like Cat Dancer or TurboScratcher to take the edge off

When your cat scratches on the TurboScratcher instead of the couch, or uses the cat tree instead of the kitchen table, dole out a treat or two to let the cat know he did the right thing. That is more effective than splashing water on the cat whenever he uses the couch or table but doing nothing when he uses the TurboScratcher or tree.

But also mix it up. While I do some high-action games, Nano and I also enjoy "quiet" time where I sit on the couch reading and she lays nearby purring or taking a quick nap. I don't do this when she is calling out or whining for attention. I wait until she is quiet, then I go get her and we settle onto the couch together.

If you just block off bad habits, then your cat will treat it as a game and create new ones to compensate. Try to resolve as many of them as you can by providing positive alternatives. I'd save the citrus sprays and cans of marbles and squirt guns for either critical situations or for the last few bad habits you can't correct.
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