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Help, this cat is tearing us apart!

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Hello all. I and my girlfriend recently got a kitten. Now, don't get me wrong, I like cats and thought this would be a great idea. However...

We live in a one bedroom appt, and thus the cat had to be kept in our bedroom since that was the smaller area to 'kitten proof'. We didn't think this would be a problem, except that now when we goto bed, the cat seems to be on opposite sleeping cycles from us and wants to play well into the morning. By play, for some reason, the cat likes to attack our feet, scratch at the bed, claw at the walls, etc. Never seems to want to use her cat toys or posts, just seems to want to annoy us. This has gone on for days now, and I'm running out of steam. I came home the other night at 4am after working a 15 hour straight shift at my job, to my warm comfy bed... and my sharp, edgy kitten. Needless to say, constantly being awoken and having to try and correct the behavior with water sprays, verbal commands, etc is taking its toll, leading to huge fights between us.

The water spritzer idea that many people suggested to me simply doesn't seem to work very well, but hell, nothing we've done seems to.

This is not the only problem, however. During the day, the cat also enjoys jumping from the bed directly onto our legs, and digging the claws in, causing great pain for both of us. Once again, water, verbal commands don't seem to work.

My girlfriend seems to think that verbal commands and the water aren't working, but its only been a few days! I still think that theres hope with the operant conditioning theory of training animals, reward the good, punish the bad. She simply wants to concentrate on the 'reward the good, ignore the bad and eventually the cat grows out of it' theory. To me, that seems ridiculus. If you don't quash the unwanted behavior when it starts, it will continue until adulthood, then you've got a 10-20 pound animal landing on your leg, not a 500Kg one.

Anyway... anyone have any suggestions on... any of it? Please...
post #2 of 40
don't blame a cat for acting like a cat.
1. learn to clip her claws, then when she pounces it wont hurt.
2 get a cat tree/condo climbing thing for the bedroom so she can jump and play on that. spray it with honeysuckle or catnip to attract her and in her waking hours play with her on it.
3. play really hard with her during the day so to tire her out more. cats are not up all night they are most active at dawn or dusk.

your GF is absolutely right. rewards and redirection will lead to an emotionally healthy cat. Also consider some kitty proofing in the rest of the apartment so she can roam freely in the night. she wont be a kitten forever but trying to make her act like a dog or a child will fail. good luck.
post #3 of 40
I agree with everything Abigail mentioned, plus you may want to give her a little food or a treat before bedtime. some of this is kitten behavior that she will grow out of eventually.

Here is an excellent article about disciplining cats:

http://www.thecatsite.com/Behavior/4...-Dont-Mix.html
post #4 of 40
Quote:
don't blame a cat for acting like a cat.
1. learn to clip her claws, then when she pounces it wont hurt.
2 get a cat tree/condo climbing thing for the bedroom so she can jump and play on that. spray it with honeysuckle or catnip to attract her and in her waking hours play with her on it.
3. play really hard with her during the day so to tire her out more. cats are not up all night they are most active at dawn or dusk.
Really excellent response that should come as an "Owner's Manual" with every kitten.
post #5 of 40
I have never confined a kitten from day 1. Granted, some are more mischievous than others, and you should do some kitten proofing. One reason you may have a lot of night time activity is that kitten is getting bored in one room. Let her explore. Also, the water bottle is not an appropriate form of discipline.
post #6 of 40
Thread Starter 
Okay... well.. the water bottle is a no-no then, I guess. But as for the 'triming her claws so it doesn't hurt so much' thing, thats not really the problem. I want to stop the behavior itself, not the pain that results to me, though that would be a nice byproduct. Its *really* annoying when at 4am a kitten decides that its time to jump up and down all over the place, calws or not. What would some other possible training methods be that could result in the cesation of the unwanted behavior if the water spray is out? Perhaps some other form of verbal command?
post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abigail
don't blame a cat for acting like a cat.
1. learn to clip her claws, then when she pounces it wont hurt.
2 get a cat tree/condo climbing thing for the bedroom so she can jump and play on that. spray it with honeysuckle or catnip to attract her and in her waking hours play with her on it.
3. play really hard with her during the day so to tire her out more. cats are not up all night they are most active at dawn or dusk.
1. Already stated in the previous post
2. We HAVE several tree-condo thingies, and she plays on them during the day just fine, its the nighttime problem that we have, with the pouncing on our feet/hands/goins/faces/other body parts.
3. No, she actually sleeps about 3 hours a day, max. I've clocked it. She'll sleep for 2-3 hours around 6-11pm, then be up the rest of the day/night. Its crazy. And driving me so as well! ;-)
post #8 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb25
I have never confined a kitten from day 1. Granted, some are more mischievous than others, and you should do some kitten proofing. One reason you may have a lot of night time activity is that kitten is getting bored in one room. Let her explore. Also, the water bottle is not an appropriate form of discipline.
Right, well, the problem is that its a three room appt. Bathroom (not appropriate place, is it?), kitchen open into dining area with open living room, and a closed off separate bedroom. The computer, television and home theatre are set up in the living room as well, thus there are power wires and speaker wires running ALL over the room that she loves to chew on, and we're afraid that she'll either pull something heavy down ontop of her, ruin the very expensive equipment in the room, or kill herself by chewing through the wrong power wire. We're trying to acclimatize her to the room, but she just can't get away from those cords, so we keep having to remove her from the room when she gets too dangerous for her own good.

Perhaps putting some non-toxic bitter apple or something on the cords would help with this?
post #9 of 40
You could try the bitter apple or tabasco.
I wrapped the cords in cardboard cut from empty 24-pks of dr pepper and beer. She will chew on the cardboard, and you may have to replace it pretty often.
My apartment is set up similarly, but with two bedrooms. You should consider letting the kitten in every room during the day, and then locking her out of your bedroom at night (or whenever you're sleeping, as it seems youre on 2nd shift?). She will meow outside your door, possibly dig under the door, but if you ignore her long enough you will win. Whatever you do, don't open the door or yell or talk.
Zissou has a habit of deciding when I should wake up, but I absolute ignore it and pretend I'm still asleep, and then she'll go away for another hour and I can fall back to sleep. My roommate on the other hand will tell her to shut up, whine at her, pet her to try to placate her, etc, and then he gets woken up all morning. So, when you are sleeping, ignore her at all costs. Punishing her is a form of attention, which is what she wants, regardless of whether its particularly pleasant or not. You are awake, you are interacting with her, so she has gotten what she wants. If you play dead no matter what, she'll get bored and fall asleep.
If your kitten is really only sleeping 3 hours a day, she is a total insomniac and may have a medical condition. What are you feeding her?
post #10 of 40
I had a combat warrior at night and he grew out of it. I wish he would come in and play combat again! I agree with what everyone is telling you..
post #11 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirquacksalous
Hello all. I and my girlfriend recently got a kitten (at her urging). Now, don't get me wrong, I like cats and thought this would be a great idea. However...

We live in a one bedroom appt, and thus the cat had to be kept in our bedroom since that was the smaller area to 'kitten proof'. We didn't think this would be a problem, except that now when we goto bed, the cat seems to be on opposite sleeping cycles from us and wants to play well into the morning. By play, for some reason, the cat likes to attack our feet, scratch at the bed, claw at the walls, etc. Never seems to want to use her cat toys or posts, just seems to want to annoy us. This has gone on for days now, and I'm running out of steam. I came home the other night at 4am after working a 15 hour straight shift at my job, to my warm comfy bed... and my sharp, edgy kitten. Needless to say, constantly being awoken and having to try and correct the behavior with water sprays, verbal commands, etc is taking its toll, leading to huge fights between us.

The water spritzer idea that many people suggested to me simply doesn't seem to work very well, but hell, nothing we've done seems to.

This is not the only problem, however. During the day, the cat also enjoys jumping from the bed directly onto our legs, and digging the claws in, causing great pain for both of us. Once again, water, verbal commands don't seem to work.

My girlfriend seems to think that verbal commands and the water aren't working, but its only been a few days! I still think that theres hope with the operant conditioning theory of training animals, reward the good, punish the bad. She simply wants to concentrate on the 'reward the good, ignore the bad and eventually the cat grows out of it' theory. To me, that seems ridiculus. If you don't quash the unwanted behavior when it starts, it will continue until adulthood, then you've got a 10-20 pound animal landing on your leg, not a 500Kg one.

Anyway... anyone have any suggestions on... any of it? Please...
Hi sirquack!

Welcome to Kitty Kamp! You don't say how old this kitten is, but what you are describing is just typical kitten behavior. I would kitty proof your entire apartment and let this kitty explore and stretch her legs. All cats are not on "our" sleep cycle, if they were, there would be less cats abandoned by people, tossed outside or placed in shelter for disturbing our sleep. You can read about what I call the Night Crazies here:

http://www.thecatsite.com/Behavior/1...t-Crazies.html

Your kitten is not annoying you. It is possible that her scratching post isn't adequate for her to use. The reason that kittens and cats scratch on furniture and walls is because those objects are pretty much immovable. For the wall scratching, go and purchase some sturdy cork board and put it up right where the kitten is scratching. This is a great (though messy) claw activity for cats, they are pretty much drawn to it. If you don't want your cat scratching your walls, then put up layers of bubble wrap or aluminun foil where she is scratching. Also provide her with a sturdier post, by clamping down her existing scratching post so it doesn't move. Also look into the turbo scratcher and those types of scratching posts that hang on doorknobs or attach to your doorframes.

Your kitten sounds young, and her jumping on your legs is again typical kitten behavior, because she recognizes you as the momcat. She would be jumping all over her mom and her littermates. You might think about getting a second kitten at about the same age so the two can play together.

You cannot expect this kitten to behave and be programmed as you wish. You can learn to understand her world and her language and that will go a long way to bringing peace into the home. Also if you and gf are fighting this kitten will feed off this energy and respond "badly" she will have no other recourse because of all the negative energy in the air. She is not a dog, she does not know sit, stay, down. You have to be repetitive, patient and become her teacher. She should have stayed with momcat longer to learn about being a cat, now she is confused and it is causing unrest in your home. Don't get mad at her, don't punish her- punishment includes squirting with water-

Read Wendy Christensen's book Outwitting Cats. Wendy also writes a monthly behavior column for thecatsite you can find her column in the behavior section of the website not the forums. search the archives there, I am pretty sure Wendy addresses this type of issue several times.


Good luck!
post #12 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
If your kitten is really only sleeping 3 hours a day, she is a total insomniac and may have a medical condition. What are you feeding her?
I didn't mention her age before, but thought that perhaps that could have something to do with it. She's eight weeks old, and we got her at 7 weeks, thus she's only been seperated from her five siblings and mother for about a week, perhaps less.

We are feeding her (or trying to) "Hills Science Diet: Kitten Original" as this is what the owners of her mother were feeding them. We put out fresh water each day, with a small bowl of dry food and a small bowl of dry food with water added to soften it. She rarely eats all of it, even in a 24 hour period. She'll eat perhaps 8 or nine BB sized pellets and then lose interest in it, and won't eat more for hours, if at all. We're getting a little worried about it, but she seems happy enough and energetic enough that perhaps thats all she needs?
post #13 of 40
I would give her canned kitten food as well as mix the dry food with KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) kittens should really stay with momcat for 12 weeks, but they rarely do. People get tired of them once they grow out of the newborn, not moving all that much stage, and they push them out of the door before they are really ready.
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
Interesting! the previous owner took the kittens to the vet and the vet said that it was just fine for them to leave as soon as they were completely weened off of the mothers milk.

One problem with locking the cat out of our bedroom at night is that that is where her litterbox is, and really one of the only places that we can put it since we don't really want it in our living area if we have guests over or something. We'd put it in the bathroom, but its simply too small a space for such a large item. She's off at work right now, but perhaps I'll try and convince her that somewhere in the living room corner would be best.
post #15 of 40
When we rescued our cat(kitten at the time) we had the same problems but he was bugging our 4 year old. Needless to say we found a solution. At night time we would put him in the bathroom(small as it is) with his literbox, a few toys, soft blanket(just in case he got bored enough to sleep) and a night light(my daughter thought he would be afraid of the dark). The first few nights he cried but then he got used to it. After about 1-2 weeks he began sleeping at night and playing in the day so we were able to let him stay out of the bathroom at night. However he still likes to sleep on his blanket on the bathroom floor next to the baseboard heater when no one is in the bed. Good luck.
post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirquacksalous
One problem with locking the cat out of our bedroom at night is that that is where her litterbox is, We'd put it in the bathroom, but its simply too small a space for such a large item.
Buy a small litterpan. I know we had a small one about the size of a 9x13 cake pan for in the bathroom until he changed his sleeping habits and we could let him roam free. I know this is rather messy with litter trackings but once he changes his sleeping habits you can phase out the litter box in this location.
post #17 of 40
Thread Starter 
An edit to my previous posts, perhaps my calculations of her sleeping patterns were wrong, since i'm looking at her sitting on the armchair in the living room right now, and she's sleeping peacefully. Since we're both students, and have jobs, we're not here all that much during the day, so perhaps I was mistaken in the 3 hours. I'll definitely try playing hard with her before we goto bet, and I'll put a second litterbox out in the living area for nightimes when we lock her out here.

Thank you all sooo much for the advice, perhaps with this knowledge, we can start living with our cat and even sleeping at night! (oh, how I wish I wish that will happen!)
post #18 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3angels
Buy a small litterpan. I know we had a small one about the size of a 9x13 cake pan for in the bathroom until he changed his sleeping habits and we could let him roam free. I know this is rather messy with litter trackings but once he changes his sleeping habits you can phase out the litter box in this location.
Awesome, that might work okay... I'll have to check around for one.
post #19 of 40
I can see you care a lot that your respond to the posts....one thing that is on my mind is that your GF needs to be with you in partnership with this. As Hissy mentioned, you cannot, cannot, cannot have s combat or stressful househould with a new little one in small quarters. She has no place to go when/if you ever argue and she will indeed think it's about her....and it is. When my Sasha was a kitten and I have had him since day 7 of his life as he was abandoned, I had a small house. I made sure he went everywhere with me, I scooped him up and allowed him to sit on my shoulders, cling to me, and played with him a lot. He loved string, he got a great workout from that. Aside from condo and toys, do you interact with your kitten 1/1? The kitten is adjusting - it might take about a month more. But the more you play and interact with it - and keep negative vibes OUT - the kitten will bond with you through playing and it will calm down a bit. Like an infant, it's acting out - you have to look at the more subtle behavior and entire environment you are subjecting it to. A happy, healthy kitty comes from a happy, healthy home, so do not give up, all this advice is right on! - and play with your kitten a LOT at regular times so it knows what to expect.
post #20 of 40
Cats are basically nocturnal animals, and that's why these night crazies they call them are so common. It's basically when they're hunting instinct kicks in.

I agree with the person who said he's not trying to annoy you. He's just being a kitten. And one that is used to having mom and brothers and sisters around anytime, so now he's looking for that companionship from you, his new family.

I think the idea of a second cat is one of the best. They can keep each other company and relieve you to sleep. They'll chase each other around at 3 am instead of jumping on you. lol Especially since you two are so busy and go to work and school. Sounds like you two are not there much for the ktten, and that can cause even more behavior problems down the road if they don't get enough attention and are left alone too long. Another cat is the perfect solution.

I might even consider adding an older kitten from a rescue place, maybe 8 or 9 months old to a year, who might be a little less kitten crazy and help calm down the little one. In retrospect this sounds to me like a situation where you might have been happier with an older kitten to begin with.

7 weeks is too early, most people believe 10-12, but the absolute minimum to take them away is 8 weeks, both for physical and psychological reasons. But that is water under the bridge, and the idea is to make all parties as happy as possible without them tearing their hair out!

I had that leg attack problem with Rocky big time. It got to a point where my legs from the knees down were nothing but bad scratches. He even used to leap onto my legs while I as walking by (and I'm in a 1 bdrm alo) and "ride" me around the apt. If I tried to pick something up, he'd want first dibs, and my hands were becoming just as bad.

What I found worked with my hand was to hold him back while I picked up something (he tried, but I'd hold him back firmly but gently) then I'd let go and go on about my business. Eventually he caught on.

The leg thing is two fold, I'd remove him with a stern NO, but I'd redirect it by danging one of his toys and play with him for a few seconds with a lot of positive verbal encouragement. Kittens have an abundance of energy and sometimes they need to get rid of the energy. He began to realize it was more fun not to jump on my legs and it worked too. I don't have to be careful now that I'll be attacked if I try to pick up anything.

The one thing I haven't been able to stop him from doing , but heck it's so cute, is he hands over the edge of my rocking chair and tries to reach and steal my straws from any drink I may have sitting on the coffee table. I usually move it just barely out of his reach, and it drives him crazy, and he won't stop until he gets the straw out. Doesn't matter if he has a million straws of his own. lol

Enoy your new baby!
post #21 of 40
I have also seen litterboxes that are inside of a wooden table looking thing. So that way you could have it in your living room but no one would know unless she just pooed our something. I would start with a covered litterbox fist and then look into something like that so she would get used to the litterbox being in an enclosed space like that.

Also, PetSmart has a litterbox that is completely enclosed so no litter gets tossed out when the cat digs. There is an enclosed ramp going into it along the side of the box with the entrance in the back. You might want to consider that too.
post #22 of 40
Regarding what I call the "litter winter wonderland snowfall" problem -- my guys kick it all over. I also live in a small apt, so have to be careful about keeping things here from not getting ruined by the cats.

One thing I do that I find is a real help is I keep the litterbox on a plastic boot try (you know, those things that you would put near the door to drop your boots on when you come inside). I have a Rubbermaid one, that has higher edges, so it is really like a tray.

That way any litter gets kicked onto that, it doesn't travel much because of the 1/2" or so edges, and I can just shake it into the trash or outside, and since it's plastic, it's easy to wash along with the litterbox.

One of my best investments.

Then again, check this out. I've been considering it for Rocky and Friends. LOL In fact, I think I'm going to post about this under behavior.

http://www.karawynn.net/mishacat/toilet.html

(If you don't read the whole article, at least scroll down to the bottom of it. The picture at the end is so cute).
post #23 of 40
Quote:
She's eight weeks old
Oooh baby- it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better!!

We adopted two brothers at eight weeks and must have said to each other at least 1000 times "I can't imagine having only one- he'd drive us nuts!" Their energy is as limitless as their need for play, and trying to keep a singleton kitten occupied takes more time than most working folks can devote.

Get another kitten.
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirquacksalous
Its *really* annoying when at 4am a kitten decides that its time to jump up and down all over the place, calws or not. What would some other possible training methods be that could result in the cesation of the unwanted behavior if the water spray is out?
trying to extinguish an instinctual behavior is not going to be possible. What you want to do is replace that behavior with somet hingthat is incompatible with playing and jumping on YOU>>>> hence the kitten needs something more interesting to jump and play on at 4 am....a kitten condo, toys, something thats interactive and very compelling. I have taken graduate classes in behavior change and know the basic tenets of reinforcement and punishment. Punishment is close to totally ineffective with a cat. what this kitty needs is a change in YOUR behavior ( because thats all you really can control).
post #25 of 40
hi. i had a similar problem w/ my cat. a couple of things helped....

since i was away all day, my vet told me to call my answering machine and blast a loud whistle to wake him up. because they sleep all day, they're usually rarin' to go at night. it did actually help. i also tried to play w/ him for at least 20 minutes a day. longer htat it may seem. as your kitten gets older, i bet that will help too...

good luck!
post #26 of 40
Hello, I'm very new to this forum and I'm here to learn! But I think I may be able to ofer some advice! If you want the kitten to sleep through the night - this is what worked for me and my extremly highly strung and anxious Tonkinese!

Every night when I wanted to go to bed I would say to him 'bed time - time for bed' and take him through to the laundry (which is a small room that can be closed off from the rest of the house) I would place him in his bed with a wheatie bag (warm) and a fluffy blanket and give him and pat and re-enforce 'bed time - time for bed'. His bed is enclosed - so its kind of like a little tent. Then once he lies down I give him a treat and say 'good boy'. In the laundry is a litter tray and food and water and some toys tied to the door handle etc. for a while a night light helped him to not meow during the night.

Any yowling I had to stop (because of flatmates) so I would repeat the whole process 3 times. If Cricket still howled I found that patting him lightly on the bottom with an old fish tank net untill he was in his house made him feel significantly ashamed enough to be quiet untill morning. But maybe you could think of something that smells irritating to your cat - or someting it dosn't particulary like the sensation of... you dont need to beat the cat - just gentle patting/tapping.

Perhaps if you dont have a room like a laundry.. you could place you kitten in the bottom of the hot water cupboard with the door slightly ajar - but not enough to escape? perhaps that sounds cruel... But I imagine it would be a secure place for a kitten, warm, quiet and fairly enclosed. Our hot water cupboard is quite large and I cant imagine any problems? As for a small litter tray - at the show I used a chinese takeaway dish to great effect!

It may help give you and your partner the space you need!
post #27 of 40
Hi, I have just gone through the same thing. I got my male cat when he was 6 weeks old and he was a terror! After I litter trained him, he had the run of the apartment with my other cat. Not only would he attack my feet during the night, he would lick and wipe his face all over mine. My only advice is that you have to wait it out. All of this stopped probably when he was 6 months old. I had to spray my face and ears with bitter apple before going to bed and keep my feet under a pillow while I was sleeping. I barely got any sleep! You have to think of her as a baby (which she is) and wait out the not sleeping through the night routine. Both of my cats don't sleep through the night now but they do leave me alone. They now leave me relatively alone until 6 am. I wish it was later, but I can deal with it! Good luck and don't worry, things will get better.
post #28 of 40
Hi, what's a hot water cupboard? We don't have anything like that over here... how does it work?
post #29 of 40
lol - Well its a cupboard in your house with the hot water cylinder in it. Its warm (and fairly large) think a large closet. Usually is has shelves for sheets and towels to keep them warm and dry - and in the bottom it has a large space (perhaps to store a vacume cleaner?) I thought of it because many cats choose to have their kittens in one because it is warm, dark and secure. I didn't realise it was spesific to this country! oops!
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Every night when I wanted to go to bed I would say to him 'bed time - time for bed'
I laugh at this only because I am imagining the look on the faces of my kitties if I were to try telling them to lie down and go to sleep.
Yeah, right Ma.

All we try to do is keep them awake in the 6PM to 10 PM slot.
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