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Cat misbehaving to get attention?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I am pretty sure that Ozzy (our 11-month-old kitten) misbehaves on purpose to get my attention, and I am surprised it took me this long to figure out.

He will climb on Shawn's desk and mess around in the papers, then if I don't notice, he starts meowing loudly. I could never figure out what he was doing, as this behavior seems pointless and always gets him in trouble. Then, a few weeks ago, I realized that that IS the point. Just like with a little kid, negative attention is better than no attention. (He does this a lot when I am working from home.) This is the same cat who, if he decides he wants to be held, will jump into your arms without warning, whether you are sitting or standing.

Any ideas on how to break this behavior? Can I maybe forestall it by giving him "attention breaks" before he asks for them on the days I work from home?
post #2 of 4
Yeah, you got it. A scolding is better than being ignored. Just like a little kid!!

I agree with your idea of "attention breaks" (and I like that term, too). Some attention, affection, playtime, treats. But then couple that with ignoring him when he does the undesired behavior. Of course, you need to do thorough cat-proofing to get away with that, because he'll definitely try to destroy something to get your attention!!
post #3 of 4
Too funny! 2 of my bottle feds do that also. Koko misbehaves for attention and Muddy jumps into my arms without warning.

I don't give Koko attention when she acts up. She is reminded of proper behavior then ignored until she is a behaving again. I play with her using her favorite toy - a feather boa wand.

On the other hand, Muddy is such a well behaved cat that I just give in to him when he asks for attention. If I don't pick him up when he asks, he either just jumps up in my arms of trys to trip me if I walk away. If I'm busy, he just gets flung up on my shoulder as I go about my business. You can train them to shoulder ride unobtrusively if you persist. They like the attention and you are free to do what you need to do.
post #4 of 4
Buffy does it too. She gets plenty of attention, but she loves getting into trouble even more. I have suspicions that she likes the sound of us gasping in terror (which can come from varying events, from hearing something shatter while you're sleeping to reading the paper and having the paper explode in your hands because the cat pounced underneath it like a blanket). When she does something bad, she always gets this look on her face like she's expecting something. When she broke the snow globe last week, she looked right at me, back at the globe with her head tilted, and back at me. And I swear she was smiling. lol
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