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Thread: Help! My cat is driving me nuts!

  1. #1

    Help! My cat is driving me nuts!

    I'm hoping someone can give me some advice - I've about had it. This is a long one............

    This past summer, at the end of July, we adopted a stray cat - my son found it. We guess it was about 6 months old at the time (so about 1 year old now). My DH never wanted a cat but I took pity on the thing and convinced him to take it in.

    She's driving us crazy! She jumps on the counters CONSTANTLY, is very defiant ("make me!") and is basically a little "rhymes with witch". Sure, some of that is to be expected with a cat, but it's not getting any better as time goes on and in some cases, it's getting worse.

    As for the counters - our main course of action is spray bottles - she doesn't like being squirted with water and usually stops what she's doing, but often, 2 seconds later, and she's back at it. We've tried saying no and yelling - doesn't work. We've tried calmly picking her up and shutting her in the basement for a "time out" - doesn't work. She's been in the basement 3 times already this morning for jumping on the counters - each time I let her out, she's back on the counter in less than 5 minutes. We try to keep food covered and put away, but when we're cooking or serving dinner, we often have to shut her down there because we can't trust that we can turn our backs for 5 seconds. She's spending an awful lot of time in the basement these days - I feel bad and that's not what I want, but at least it gets her out of our hair and it doesn't hurt her.

    She's also started to dart outside after months of showing very little interest in the great outdoors. We had her front paws declawed (I know many are not fans of this practice but for many reasons we felt it was for the best) and we live in an area where coyotes are not uncommon, so we don't want to just let her out. I kind of wish we could let her out - maybe she'd be better behaved when she's inside if she could roam outside all day. We have our little tricks for keeping her from getting out, but she does slip out anyway. It's hard when you have a dog you need to let in and out all day. I can tell she wants to be out there with the dog!

    One of the bigger issues........for the most part, she does NOT like to be handled. She'll make motions to nip you (but most of the time does not put teeth on you and even if she does, it's not very hard) if she's not in the mood to be petted (which I've read is not uncommon for cats but it's annoying and makes people nervous). She's come to trust me and doesn't do it so much to me anymore, but she makes other people nervous - and rightly so. We can pick her up if we have to without too much commotion but not in any kind of cuddly way - she's gotten a bit better about it than she was at first, but still can be very feisty if we pick her up. She's horrible when we go to the vet - she hisses and growls and they have to drop a towel over her to hold her down. The vet's office LOVES our dog Bailey, but he's put our cat on the every 3 years plan because she is so uncooperative! I pray she never gets seriously ill or injured - I have no idea how we'd be able to treat her or get a pill down her.

    I'm worried about some of the aggressive behavior. She doesn't seem mean, it's more feisty than mean - and the vet agreed (he felt she acted out of fear in his office), even after what she put them through in the office to get her vaccinated. One example of aggressive behavior - she has this very annoying habit of running in and out of your legs as you are trying to feed her. If you accidentally step on her or bump into her - how can you not???? - she bats at you and gets all mad. She'll even bat Bailey in the face if he gets anywhere near her while we're getting her breakfast or dinner around. Like I said - rhymes with witch! It's funny in a way but also very annoying! Then yesterday she did all of that but then also nipped my husband as he reached down to get her bowl. Not acceptable or funny.

    If this kind of behavior gets worse or she gets to the point where she actually bites instead of nips, we will be forced to get rid of her - biting is NOT something that is negotiable or something I'm willing to tolerate at all. I feel more comfortable around her now than I did at first and she seems to trust me and doesn't try to nip me very often anymore, but my oldest son still doesn't really trust her and most guests don't either, which is a real shame. I warn most guests to limit their physical contact with her, just in case.

    She makes our dog nervous. They get along for the most part but when she gets in her moods, he gets nervous, probably because he can't stand it when we get mad at anything - it makes him nervous if I grumble at my computer! He will often retreat upstairs to get away from her which makes me feel bad for him. He was here first and is the sweetest, nicest dog ever and he should feel comfortable in his own home. On the other hand, he IS a major wus about just about everything and needs to learn to stand up for himself, so part of it is his own fault!

    She does have some good points, don't get me wrong. She is very good about using her box. She's not finicky at all - she'll use any kind of box or litter and will eat any kind of food we put in front of her. She can be affectionate and cuddly. She's fun to play with and even though she's not fond of being handled, she's very sociable - she likes to be in the middle of things and around us all the time and will regularly climb up on our laps and cuddle. (But she makes us nervous because she'll sometimes bat at or make motions to nip if we try to move while she's on our lap or if we try to pet her.) She and Bailey have fun chasing the laser pointer around the house - she's not afraid to get right in the middle of any rough play and it can be a lot of fun to watch. Given all of this and how generally sociable she is, it gives me hope that she can be a good pet but then I she'll turn around do what she did to my husband yesterday and that makes me think it's going to get worse, not better.

    I feel crappy because so much of the time I don't like her which makes me feel guilty too. I do try with her - I talk nice to her, play with her and can and have felt genuine affection toward her but she always ruins it by doing something to piss me off and then I'm back to not liking her.

    I don't see any way out of keeping her, so I really want to try to make this work. Besides the fact that it would devastate my son if we got rid of her, I doubt we'd find anyone to take her in given her personality. I can't shove her off on the ASPCA - given the way she acts at the vet, if she acted the same way there, she'd be signing her own death warrant. I'd like her to have a chance but I'm running out of patience.

    I'm just so frustrated! I've always wanted a cat and I know there are good cats out there but this is definitely not what I had in mind. I resent her because my husband has never wanted a cat and I am certain she is the last cat he'll ever allow in this house - she's doing a great job of reminding him of all the reasons he didn't want a cat to begin with.

    It's also hard because I'm so used to a dog who wants to please and who is very trainable - I just don't know how to deal with her. She obviously couldn't care less about pleasing us and doesn't respond to any kind if discipline. We can forcefully tell her to get off the counter and she'll just look at us defiantly. She'll even take a lot of spraying and get fairly wet before she'll finally jump down or stop the offending behavior.

    I expected some of this of course - young cats will be this way, just as young dogs will - but in some ways she seems to get worse as she gets older, not better! Well, some things have gotten better but the jumping on counters, one example, has gotten much worse.

    This is very long and I really appreciate anyone who has had the patience to read it all. I'm venting but also looking for any advice on how we might be able to coexist with this creature. Help!!!

  2. #2
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    Have you considered a Scat Mat?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Gumbeaux View Post
    Have you considered a Scat Mat?
    I did take a look at those but I'm a bit skeptical. For one, it seems like we could really only use them when we leave the house or when we go to bed - I can't have them on the counters when we're here and using the kitchen. For another, we'd have to buy quite a few to cover all our counters. She even gets in the sink! Can't put a scat mat in there! I'm just afraid that if we don't have complete coverage, she'll be smart enough to figure out the places where she CAN jump up and then we'll have spent a lot of money for nothing.

    I definitely haven't ruled them out, I'm just not sure if they'd work. I'd have to hear from other who have used them and try to figure out the logistics and such.

  4. #4
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    My heart goes out to you, I took in a stray cat also. I don't have any experience with scat mats, but aluminum foil worked well on the sofas and counter tops. Don't need a lot, just enough to surprise her when she goes where she isn't allowed.
    Ours HATED to be held, but with time, she learned to trust us. She also wanted in on all family activities without being held. She is now a beautiful lap cat. It took us a year for her to not "nip" (not biting) us. I started with gently scratching her back each day, then added head. Eventually I can give her head to tail a sweep and she comes back for more. At 13, she is not keen on her paws or belly being rubbed, but I am ok with that.
    When she goes places she shouldn't, I make a quick hiss and lightly push her back-end with something, not my hand so that she doesn't associate me with what is pushing her. That took a while but now just the same hiss, she stops what she is doing and moves on. She was a stubborn "witch" also.
    Our cat still wants to go out but we have large fox in the area and have been known to attack cats and small dogs! We keep her inside but it took a while for her to get it for the most part.
    I know that there are many cat experts in this board who can offer more advise. The hiss and push really helped us with behaviors that were frowned upon.
    I can't use my laptop without her on my lap!!
    "There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

  5. #5
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    I had a cat that liked countertops, and I deterred her somewhat w/ aluminum foil, a soda can, and a bunch of dimes.

    Many cats don't like the feel of foil. I ripped off sheets, very slightly crinkled it, and taped it to counters when I left the house. For when I was around the house, I used a soda can w/ a few dimes in it--I'd wait for her to jump up, then vigorously shake the can to scare her. If I grabbed her, it was somehow positive reinforcement. If I chased after her, it was absolutely positive reinforcement! It actually did help. But, if I was leaving something she was interested in on the counter, I'd err on the side of caution and put her in the basement.

    I have adopted two declawed cats, and they both use their teeth more than other cats I've had--they seem to sub nipping for swiping w/ claws.

    FWIW, her behavior sounds completely cat-like to me. She's just really young still. Some cats are wilder than others. I have one that doesn't like to be held or pet on her back. We just deal with it. She does cuddle on laps and sleeps w/ my son (whom she is crazy about). Good luck!
    As the arc of history bends towards justice, it's a new, more progressive day. --Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, 11-07-12

  6. #6
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    I have a different point of view. It sounds as though you have made herculean efforts to integrate this cat into your family and it just hasn't worked. I wouldn't keep her; there may be a cat rescue association you can contact instead of the SPCA, but if she's as unsociable as you describe I can't imagine why anyone else would want her either. We have a barn cat who doesn't come inside, so I'm not especially sentimental over felines, and I would simply find another place for her, even knowing that she may not be adoptable and may end up being euthanized. Your son would just need to deal with the fact that the cat hasn't helped her own case at all and it's not fair to the dog, you, your husband or your guests to have to be so wary in your own home.

    I always figure that there's a tacit social contract with pets: food and shelter for decent behavior and some sense of appreciation for the care they're given. You're not getting that, and I wouldn't wait until she really hurts someone.

    Just my take on it....
    Chacun à son goût!

  7. #7
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    Hey Alysha, see my avatar? I'm still telling Spot to stop!!

    I've had more cats than I can count on both hands, over a very long time, and some are just easier to deal with than others. It's their nature, and not easy to change the way they are hard-wired. Especially since you say she was a stray. Who knows what she had to deal with in the time before she came to live with you. By the time you got her, it was ingrained.

    There are a few things that might help, though, but no guarantees since each cat is so very individual (and that, I think, is part of why we love them so -- even the ones who "rhyme with witch").

    One of the things you can try is the Feliway product line. The herbs tend to be soothing to the cats and not affect humans. I've read and heard good things about the products that you plug in and use kind of like air fresheners. I've used the Remedy Rescue for one of my cats who loves people but hates the other critters. I would put a few squirts into the water dish, and it did seem to mellow her out a bit.

    As far as the counter jumping, I don't know if you can do much about that. Cats, especially ones that did not grow up around people and others in a "pack", tend to want to be higher than the ground for safety and security reasons. A friend of mine had a cat that was always on her furniture backs, tops of dressers, cabinets, counters, what-have-you. She didn't start out that way, but when she was a few years old they got a Lab puppy who loved to chase her, and from that time on stayed on the "upper level" of things. So that may be something you are just going to have to accept and work around. You can continue with the squirt bottles and even try other methods, but she just sounds like one of those cats who need to be "above the fray".

    And a hint for picking her up or even trying to calm her if she tries to do the bite thing (which, by the way, is her way of telling you to stop doing what you're doing). If you grab her by the scruff like a momma cat does with her kittens, it should help calm her a bit. For some reason, that's a natural tranquilizer for cats. Even better to give a little shake once in a while whilst holding her scruff. In fact, I have DH do that when I have to clip my cats' claws because they hate it so and I'd never get it done otherwise (a tip I learned from a vet).

    Wish I could offer more helpful solutions, but I'm afraid it's a lot of being the independent nature of the beast. Like the old saying goes, you call a dog and he comes running. Call a cat and she says, leave a message and I'll get back to you when I'm good and ready...
    ~ ~ Leslie ~ ~

  8. #8
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    Oh my heart goes out to both of you. As much as I love cats, they can certainly be a challenge.

    Aluminum foil works wonderfully. So does sticky-back tape.
    You have to keep the counters free from food. Our cats won't even touch people food even if we put it in their cat bowls and let them try it. They are much older now and this is how we trained them from kitten-hood.
    If the counter is kept totally free of edible food, the few times they go up (and they will at night when no one is around), and they see there is nothing there, they stop being interested.

    You also have to remember that your cat is in all psychological aspects, A KITTEN. They love to play and challenge and drive you nuts. They need to be played with just like humans, dogs, etc...
    Touch is individual to all cats, so you have to find a happy medium and go slowly.
    I don't know if cats "get" a time-out.
    If you have the spray bottle, continue with it. It takes time and sometimes the cat thinks you'll give up with it. Maintain the spray caution.

    Our cats are indoor-outdoor, but we left their claws. Cats can be very sneaky when they want to get out, so you need to be very observant when the doors are being opened.

    Also, you may try positive reinforcement so that when he is in the kitchen and not on the counter, you talk sweetly to him (they do understand tone of voice) and maybe find some catnip to give him. I'd say snacks, but cats can get fat quickly.

    Best to you. Don't give up on the little guy.

    Editing to add that sometimes cats want their alone time, but often (and with ours) they want to be where you are...EVERYWHERE. If I am working in the kitchen, they want to see what I'm doing. I've trained them to understand that they get attention everywhere BUT the kitchen and when I walk in there now, they know they will be ignored and in the way. They don't always keep out, but more so than before. I also do not feed them in the kitchen. Their bowls have always been far away from there so that they do not associate the kitchen for food.
    Last edited by wallycat; 01-16-2011 at 10:42 AM.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  9. #9
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    You've gotten some good advice, and I agree with those who say it sounds like your cat is being a typical cat. I have a small animal welfare organization and have fostered dozens of cats over the last few years and know a thing or two about cat behavior. The ones who are less than 2 years old, especially the ones who didn't live in a house their first several months, sound just like your cat. In fact, I have two fosters right now who are around a year old that misbehave terribly at times, although truly, they're just being kittens....I just keep after them with a squirt bottle and make certain areas, like the counter, less inviting for them. (And I make sure I wipe everything down before I cook!)

    As far as your cat being interested in the outside, that's a tough nut to crack when they have lived outside prior to becoming indoor cats. When the weather gets nice, she very well may make your life a nightmare by begging to go outside all the time or constantly darting out. Microchip her and also put a collar with a tag on her so that if someone finds her they can contact you to return her.

    On the biting, I have both read and heard from my vets that declawed cats often become biters, so you may never be able to tone that down. Although as the cat gets older, chances are she'll bite less. Then again, she could bite more if she grows up into a cranky cat.

    The best I can offer you is keep at it, and eventually she'll settle down with age, probably around at least 3-5 years old. If you can't wait for "eventually," you might attempt to rehome her to someone who has the patience and doesn't mind cats on the counter. I agree with you that her chances in a shelter are very slim, and rescues are full right now so it would be a long shot to get her into one.

    I prefer older cats myself - younger cats are too crazy! - and while I love cats, if I had the choice, would never adopt another one that is younger than 5 years old. I've learned, though, that with cats, you often don't have a choice in the matter.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
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    But how can the OP keep the counters free of food when she has to use them to prepare meals? Do they just eat out all the time? And what about the effect on dog, husband, and guests? It seems like a very difficult situation with only a potential and not a certainty of having an acceptable companion animal a couple of years down the road.
    Chacun à son goût!

  11. #11
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    I am so sorry to hear what you are goung thru, its frustrating and I have been there a on few of your examples. The coins in the can works great. My current cat was a stray that liked to jump on the the counters. I would keep the can on the counter and as soon as she jumps up. I only had to do this about a month.

    My prior cat I adopted from a rescue. Boy did he try us with getting out. I think that was why he was given up, the escape artist. I signed an agreement that said he would be an indoor cat. That just didnt happen, once I started letting him out, we were all happy. I would bring him in at night and he had no probelm with that. He was also like your cat in the maniac of going to the vet, that won't change and we were also on the three year plan. The shots really do last that long.

    I would try the feliway plugs in that was suggested too.

    good luck

    Laurie

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by SusanL View Post
    I started with gently scratching her back each day, then added head. Eventually I can give her head to tail a sweep and she comes back for more. At 13, she is not keen on her paws or belly being rubbed, but I am ok with that.
    Yes, I've done a lot of the same and it has helped quite a bit. I try to get her used to different kinds of touching - loving and somewhat annoying poking and prodding in hopes that this would help with the vet or with other people who come in the house and won't know what she likes or doesn't like.

    What gets me is when she initiates the contact by climbing into our laps and then nips or swats when we go to pet her or even when we just readjust a leg or something. I just make her get down and ignore her and don't allow her back in my lap when she does that.

    Quote Originally Posted by leebee View Post
    I had a cat that liked countertops, and I deterred her somewhat w/ aluminum foil, a soda can, and a bunch of dimes.

    If I grabbed her, it was somehow positive reinforcement. If I chased after her, it was absolutely positive reinforcement! It actually did help. But, if I was leaving something she was interested in on the counter, I'd err on the side of caution and put her in the basement.

    I have adopted two declawed cats, and they both use their teeth more than other cats I've had--they seem to sub nipping for swiping w/ claws.

    FWIW, her behavior sounds completely cat-like to me. She's just really young still. Some cats are wilder than others. I have one that doesn't like to be held or pet on her back. We just deal with it. She does cuddle on laps and sleeps w/ my son (whom she is crazy about). Good luck!
    I think you're probably right about the chasing and grabbing. I didn't feel like that was a great way to go, but we did start chasing her out of sheer frustration and failure of other methods! I have also heard about declawed cats using their mouths more but she was pretty mouthy to begin with so it's hard to tell. And if she's just a normal cat, maybe the real problem is that I've discovered that I just don't like cats!

    Quote Originally Posted by RiverFarm View Post
    I wouldn't keep her
    I do appreciate your point of view but I'm not there yet. I mostly complained about her bad behaviors because that's what I need help with but there's enough good about her that I definitely don't think she's a lost cause. I just want to figure out a way to make this work before I DO get to the point of tossing her out on her you know what.

    Quote Originally Posted by syzygy View Post
    Hey Alysha, see my avatar? I'm still telling Spot to stop!!

    One of the things you can try is the Feliway product line.

    You can continue with the squirt bottles and even try other methods, but she just sounds like one of those cats who need to be "above the fray".
    Thanks for the herb tip. Sounds like something that couldn't hurt to try! She does like to be up high - I wonder if some kind of perch that was all hers would help? Something to think about....

    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    If the counter is kept totally free of edible food, the few times they go up (and they will at night when no one is around), and they see there is nothing there, they stop being interested.

    Also, you may try positive reinforcement so that when he is in the kitchen and not on the counter, you talk sweetly to him (they do understand tone of voice) and maybe find some catnip to give him. I'd say snacks, but cats can get fat quickly.
    We do try to keep food off and there's only one time I can think of that she actually got into anything - a stick of butter. But she'll lick a knife that was used or just get up when there is nothing there at all. She'll also climb in the sink and there's almost always something in there - it's a lot harder for us to keep the sink clear of all food residue but I suppose we could try harder. I do try positive reinforcement when she's being calm but yeah, no snacks - she's a chowhound as it is and a little chubby!

    Quote Originally Posted by KimK View Post
    As far as your cat being interested in the outside, that's a tough nut to crack when they have lived outside prior to becoming indoor cats. When the weather gets nice, she very well may make your life a nightmare by begging to go outside all the time or constantly darting out.

    I prefer older cats myself - younger cats are too crazy! - and while I love cats, if I had the choice, would never adopt another one that is younger than 5 years old. I've learned, though, that with cats, you often don't have a choice in the matter.
    We're usually pretty successful in keeping her from darting out by keeping a squirt bottle on hand - we squirt while we're letting Bailey out and that usually works. I really thought she'd be deterred by the cold and snow but she's gotten out several times since we got about 4 inches and she still tries to get out!

    That was my plan - to some day convince DH to agree to adopting a nice, older, calm kitty from the shelter. Didn't quite turn out that way.

    Just to temper all the bad with a little good, one cute thing she does is to let us know when Bailey comes back after we let him out. Sometimes we will forget to let him in and he's not smart enough to bark to let us know he wants back in but kitty does!

    Thank you all. It's made me feel a little better to hear other experiences to get a few things we might try to make it better. I keep hoping that some day we'll be at the point we can't imagine life without her but that day seems a very long way off at the moment.

  13. #13
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    I have had ... 9 cats in my life. I had no idea there were cats that didn't go on counters.

    All in all, it sounds like you have a young cat. Normal, irritable, moody, wants affection on her own terms and sometimes just a bit crazy.

    When she jumps on your lap and bites you when you go to pet her it is because she doesn't WANT you to pet her. She just wants to be on your lap. She's been trying to train you to figure this out with the nips.

    Honestly, I would back off on any punishment. Especially the time outs (for a cat?!??!!) and the chasing and water. You are only going to succeed in having a cat who is afraid of you. You don't know what she went through before you found her. I would concentrate on establishing trust. Let her come to you for affection. Don't push it. Don't force it. Don't swat her off your lap. If you really want to keep her, you have to get her to trust you.

    Then work on behavior - in maybe 3-6 months. Foil on the counters or other places you don't want her. Gentle things. Slow changes. And realize that a cat isn't going to be trained to do anything unless they want to be trained.

    To give you some hope, she will mellow out as she gets older. She's still in crazy kitten phase. But, some cats also get more moody as they age so it can be a trade off.

  14. #14
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    I can feel for you! I've had my share of 'mean little kitties'. I currently have an 11 year old Maine Coon who has been a pistol. He started at about 1 year old to try to get on the counters. What I used for him was double sticky tape. I would put two strips on the counters about 12" apart... I would actually use plain wide masking tape as it was cheap and fold the ends down to hold in place... also easier to take off. He would only try to get on the counters when I went to bed, so would put on at night,,, 2 nights was all it took for him to never try again... he has very furry feet and the tape was a great deterrent. Until he was 2 he would chase me out of the house, bitting at my legs and scratching me... he has since settled down 'some'..... if he doesn't want to be petted, he will try to bite... but he is who he is... i understand that. I feel like when I got him, I took him for good or bad and he is MY responsibility... my pets are family. Good luck and hopefully time will help...

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ChristyMarie View Post
    When she jumps on your lap and bites you when you go to pet her it is because she doesn't WANT you to pet her. She just wants to be on your lap. She's been trying to train you to figure this out with the nips.

    Honestly, I would back off on any punishment. Especially the time outs (for a cat?!??!!) and the chasing and water.
    I get that she doesn't always want to be petted and I respect that but sometimes she definitely DOES and it can be hard to figure out which is which. She's gotten much better about that and I usually know when she's in a mood, so that's not as much of an issue right now, it's more just frustrating and I wish she was not like that. But if she nips while I'm adjusting my legs or moving my elbow then she will be removed from my lap (usually I do it just be standing up so that I'm not using my hands - I don't want her to not trust hands - but sometimes I do brush her off if I'm unable to stand up) and not allowed back up. I'm not sure what allowing her to stay there would teach her?

    As for time outs - no, they probably won't teach the cat anything - I guess they are more for us than anything else. The other day I was sitting down and relaxing, reading a book by the fire. I had to get up 5 times to get her off the counter. She obviously had no intention of staying off the counter so I put her in the basement so I could enjoy a few minutes of relaxation. It may not be best thing to do but a little time for me to cool off is probably not a bad thing in the end. For times when I need to get dinner on the table or have guests over for a buffet or just want to read my book in peace and quiet, she'll likely end up in the basement if she won't stay off the counters.

    I'm afraid we'll have to disagree on the water. We don't generally need the water for the counters now - if we walk toward her, she will jump off. But we have not found anything that will keep her from running out the door like the squirt bottles do. We can't pick her up and hold her and we don't always have someone else around to distract her - honestly I can't think of another way to keep her away from the door.

    The frustrating thing is that we HAVE spent 6 months building trust and working with her. We didn't go straight to water or to yelling or any of the other methods - we tried many other things first and she doesn't respond. And instead of getting better, some things have gotten worse. When Bailey was a puppy there were frustrating times for sure but they steadily improved and we knew he'd grow out of it. I'm not seeing that here - some things have gotten better but others have gotten worse. Like the counters - she used to get up on them sometimes but now it's constant.

    Also very frustrating is the stuff like when she gets aggressive when we step on her - we are not kicking her - she gets under foot and then gets aggressive if we step on her. And yet she will NOT stop getting under foot and in fact, is worse about that lately than ever. I mean really, are cats really that incapable of learning because I would think she would not want to be stepped on!!??? Very, very frustrating!

  16. #16
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    If she has been an outdoor cat for her first 6 months, it takes time to learn indoors. And she is still considered a kitten...I know, I know...we raised 5 feral babies from one litter. OYE.

    My girl-cat (only female) will occasionally nip at me when she has had enough petting and it is hard to tell sometimes.
    Watch her tail. If it starts flicking/twitching, time to stop.
    I have tapped them on the nose if they try to nip and say NO loudly but not shouting.

    You never want to hit a cat, even though there are times you feel they deserve to be "spanked." Maybe get a foam log and use that to bat her so she doesn't associate your hand with pain.

    If you had no food on the counter when you were reading, I would have left her up there. She would get bored. She kept going up there because you kept coming in. She invited you to play ...I know, I know...
    so let her up there alone and only shoo her away when you are there working. They are smarter than people give cats credit.

    As for the door...can you put a small screen up that you can walk over? She will figure it out and eventually try to jump it, but it would be an easy distraction initially.
    Not sure how big your yard is; maybe you can have a small dog house out there incase she got stranded/needed a safe place.
    We pop our garage door enough to let only small creatures walk through.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  17. #17
    I second the 'hiss' to let her know she is doing something you don't like. Hiss as you hit her with the water spray, too.

    I have read that cats don't like citrus--try some essential oil or citrus cleaner sprinkled in the sink after you use it.

    Boot her out of the way if she is underfoot. You will have to be quick (and gentle) but just lift her with your foot and toss her a little way when she gets obnoxious. And hiss. And stamp your feet. You need to scare her a little to get her to stop doing whatever it is. (As long as you have a can opener, she will still love you!)

    Sometimes cats bite or scratch when being petted because the stimulation is too much--back off the petting the second that starts, and HISS. Cats
    'in love' bite and scratch each other, and that may be what is happening when you pet her.

    And, take heart. She really is only a kitten, and she will settle down some as time goes on.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    My girl-cat (only female) will occasionally nip at me when she has had enough petting and it is hard to tell sometimes.
    Watch her tail. If it starts flicking/twitching, time to stop.
    I have tapped them on the nose if they try to nip and say NO loudly but not shouting.
    Ana - If she's prone to nipping, do you think that tapping her nose or using our hands in any way would make her less likely to trust us to handle her? I've really tried to avoid using hands - though I will admit that if she nips, my automatic reaction is to shove or push or swat - just instinct without even thinking and I really try not to.

    Interesting idea about ignoring her if there is no food. The problem with that is getting DH on board - I doubt he'll go for that but if things don't improve, I'll try my best to get him to try.

    A dog house is a good idea - we do have garage doors we could leave up a bit if she gets out, so that might be enough. We also have a deck she can hide under. The screen or barrier would be difficult because that is the door where we let Bailey out and I know for sure HE would never jump over it.

    Quote Originally Posted by sparrowgrass View Post
    Boot her out of the way if she is underfoot. You will have to be quick (and gentle) but just lift her with your foot and toss her a little way when she gets obnoxious. And hiss. And stamp your feet. You need to scare her a little to get her to stop doing whatever it is. (As long as you have a can opener, she will still love you!)
    I'm afraid to use my feet to boot her because I'm afraid she will then fear my feet and lead to more "attacks". Even now if I stomp my feet I can see her get into "ready/fight" mode. I can tell you, this cat does NOT scare easily. The only thing I have seen her be scared of is the vacuum cleaner (hmmm.... ) and one time when she got out in the garage and I pulled the van in before DH could get her back in the house - she freaked and wanted back in the house!

    I still have faith we'll figure this all out, there are just days that I get so frustrated and want to give up. We have only owned one pet so far - our current dog, a golden retriever - and he is such a sweetheart and we love him to death. He's so wonderful that when he goes, I'll be very scared to get another dog because I'll be afraid he/she will never measure up. So given that experience, it's been a very rude awakening to deal with this alien creature who is so different and so hard to handle. It's not as if I didn't know that cats are different from dogs, I was just hoping we'd be lucky enough to get one who was easier.

    On a lighter note.........Speaking of easy to handle, this is my dream cat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm3dm5J5r0A But who knows, maybe he/she pees all over the house or some other thing....

  19. #19
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    I started to post to this at least twice now and I'm not sure where it has gone. Anyway, I would encourage a cat tower to give her an elevated place of her own. Especially with a large dog, it doesn't surprise me that she wants to get up on things. It's the nature of cats anyway, but more so when there ones larger than them roaming the floor.

    Also, try to think of her jumping up from her perspective -- if you are at the counter or the counter is a place you spend a lot of time, she may be looking to see what you are doing, to be with you nearer face level or just to try to figure out what is so important or interesting there. She's not used to cuddling but she's interested in being around and checking things out -- not all bad really. Just take time to redirect.

    Definitely learn to read cat body language -- a relaxed swishing tail vs a twitching tail, a face that looks more tense (the eyes and ears will tell you a lot).

    Also, not that this will be of great comfort, but in addition to the kitten to cat issue and the feral/outdoor issue, I have found that all 4 cats in my house needed a full change of seasons to really settle in. Is July too far away?

    BTW, I have 2 cats -- nearly 18 and 19 years old. The 19 yr old is sweet as always. The 18 yr old has mellowed, but she is still independent -- except for when she gets under your feet in the kitchen because she wants to be fed NOW, not the most affectionate cat, had to be sedated to get the last blood test done, and is generally full of attitude and high maintenance. She is a Maine Coon -- I think attitude is their middle name.

    Like Wallycat, we crack the garage door if they want to go out -- the Maine Coon still does, the other not so much, and we never leave them out late in the day or at night.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Beth View Post
    Anyway, I would encourage a cat tower to give her an elevated place of her own. Especially with a large dog, it doesn't surprise me that she wants to get up on things. It's the nature of cats anyway, but more so when there ones larger than them roaming the floor.

    Also, try to think of her jumping up from her perspective -- if you are at the counter or the counter is a place you spend a lot of time, she may be looking to see what you are doing, to be with you nearer face level or just to try to figure out what is so important or interesting there.

    Definitely learn to read cat body language -- a relaxed swishing tail vs a twitching tail, a face that looks more tense (the eyes and ears will tell you a lot).

    Is July too far away?
    Hi Beth. I agree - I will look at cat towers even though they go completely against my decorating style/sense. We have small rooms and it would drive me nuts, but probably not as nuts as her behavior so........

    Sometimes she jumps up in the stool near the counter to see what I'm doing and if she stayed there, it would be okay, but of course it always progresses to the counter.

    And yes, we are very attuned to the tail, ears and eyes. The tail was one of the first things I warned the boys about - wagging tail on dog=good, wagging tail on cat=evil. But when she's on our lap, she doesn't always give those cues.

    July is definitely not too late. We'll keep trying!

  21. #21
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    I've had cats all my life

    I currently have 5 cats, all of which were rescued, either by me or by a rescue foundation. It seems that 5 cats is my "set-point" because if I lose one, I always get another.

    First of all, please be aware that it is natural for cats to seek the highest point. I've had cats all my life, and also used to be a volunteer at the Cincinnati Zoo, so I have learned a bit about animal behaviors.

    In a lot of houses, the counters are the highest point so the cats go there. Frankly, my cats rarely get on the counters until I start to cook. I've learned to give them other things that are "more favorite" than the counters. For example, I have given them their own chairs and/or baskets that have soft blankets to keep them warm. Since cats sleep 20 out of 24 hours, they like these spots.

    When I cook, they seem to get very interested in my activities and are prone to jumping up then. Partly, they see me reading my cookbook (which really piques their interest) and also I frequently have butter or eggs (which cats love). The act of reading (staring ) is interpreted by your cats as "hunting" or "a game". As for me, I just don't worry about it, because I clean my counters before I cook so there is no fur, so we're good. It also works if I give them a little butter before I start cooking because then they don't have to jump up to get it. I absolutely never feed any of my cats when they get on the counter or table because this rewards them. I work during the day, so I can't see what they do, and I assume they jump up. I don't worry about what I don't see. There are 5 of them, and 1 of me, and it would drive me crazy to worry about it.

    Kitties, both male and female, who had to fend for themselves when they are young are naturally more skittish. I have two like that right now, and they have lived with me for over 5 years each. They have gotten better over time, and have both become very loving over time. I have one male and one female that are very good lap-kitties (at certain times of the day), but hate to be picked up, so I don't do that. They are well-behaved litterbox-wise, so we're good. The Fel-a-Way collars seem to calm them. I've come to believe that each of them lost their mothers at an early age and have more anxiety than the kitties I've adopted that were socialized early at the shelter.

    As for wanting to go outside, I let my cats out on a nice day. Some people would say that I'm terrible for that, but both the cats and I are happier that way. They watch the birds (I have lots of feeders, it's like Kitty-TV) and they sit in the mulch. It is extremely rare for them to stray and they usually come in within 45 minutes. Your kitty will probably be better behaved if you let her out occasionally, assuming you're in a safe area. She can work off her energy there (she's still a kitten) and be calmer when she's inside.

    When I have a choice, I am partial to older cats, as they have calmed down a lot, your cat is entering "teenage" cat years and a lot of the behaviors will pass with time. It sounds to me that she had a stressful time before you took her in, and she's a "young teen". Think about how human teenagers behave -- it passes. You mentioned a lot of good things about her and I think that things will work out, especially if you give her a higher perch than the counters (near a window works especially well).

    As far as aluminum foil, every cat I've ever had is scared of it, but I've never tried it on my counters. My cats all run for cover when I take some off the roll. All of my friends have children and pets both, and we all have clean houses, no one's sick, so we just don't worry about it. I've gotten sick many more times from being around sick kids (strep throat is my nemesis) than being around animals (never, no matter what species)

    Even though I love animals, there have been times that I have been challenged by a particular animal. In the end, I was always glad that I stuck it out, because I got more from the creature than I gave it.

    Hope that been helpful for you!

    Good luck!

    Juli

  22. #22
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    Reread your post

    I reread your post about not being about to read your book because she kept getting on the counters.

    Not sure if you realize that you were rewarding her with attention. I had the same problem with a kitty many years ago that used to knock things over (which made me come running), when I stopped, he stopped, and he started coming to sit in my lap for attention. Positive reinforcement works for cats, and negative is useless. Only give positive, when the kitty is nice.

    Also as far as DH, I was shocked that my DH, who never had a pet, was way more attached to my kitties than me --Miss big-time animal lover.

    Juli

  23. #23
    Thank you Juli for all of your observations - they help.

    Before I launch into the rest - one question. Are your cats declawed? Our cat is (front paws), that's why I won't let her outside. Our neighborhood is safe as far as cars go - we live outside of town and on a cul-de-sac so no traffic to speak of - but we do have coyotes and the like. I did read that cats really defend themselves with their back claws, not so much their front, but I really thought you weren't supposed to let them out if they've been declawed.

    As for the counters - she does not jump up when we are right in the kitchen - she knows enough to know not to do that but if we turn our backs even for a second - there she goes. I hear her on the counters at night and I don't worry about it because I'm not about to tromp down the stairs in the middle of the night but I do feel like I need to let her know that I don't like it when I do witness it. It's probably a losing battle and maybe I just need to let it go, but I just can't get used the idea and I'm quite sure DH never will. But I will try to use methods that do not give her a lot of attention and therefore a reward. At this point simply walking in the room is enough, so maybe just a firm "no" and that's it.

    She's actually not skittish - she never backs down or runs away, but I think I know what you mean. I actually like that she's not skittish - I'd be more nervous if she was. The fact that she is not skittish gives me more hope that she really likes being around people and Bailey and will eventually be okay. A skittish or fearful animal, from what I've seen, read or heard, can be harder to deal with. The only time she exhibits fear with people is at the vet. And, well, Bailey acts like a doofus in his own way at the vet and people have their own hang-ups as far as doctors and dentists go, so I get it.

    Thanks again everyone. I just thoroughly cleaned the sink and counters after our roast turkey dinner, but I know she'll be up on those counters as soon as we head up to bed, if not before.

  24. #24
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    Thank you for your response, Linrusso! To answer your question, I've had at least 25 cats in my lifetime, as I am 53. Out of those 3 have been declawed, of those 2 were declawed when I got them, and I had 1 of them declawed 3 years into a challenging clawing problem. I wouldn't recommend it. Although each were good pets, and well-behaved in general, they tended to bite because they could speak with their claws. All of them were what I call "soft biters" that is they were never malicious and never broke the skin. They just didn't have any other way to communicate.

    Right now I have two declawed kitties, and I let out along with the other under "adult supervision" -- that is in the daylight. We have owls where I live and they can easily carry off a cat, therefore I only let my cats out when I can see them. My cats are older -- 5-10 years, I have 5 in this range, so the kitten stage is over. Females are more fiesty than males because their role is to hunt, think about lions.

    The more you say about this kitty, the more encouraged I am. It is great that she is not truly skittish, as often this gets ingrained, like "shyness". It sounds like she truly wants to interact but is unsure.

    it is highly unlikely that your kitty will never jump up on your counters. It is their nature to be up high, and they were created this way. She obviously wants to please you if she hesitates in any way. I had dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, etc when I was growing up, essentially any pet you could have in a city. I loved them all and cats and bunnies were my favorites. I read once that pets have the intelligence of kids that are 2-3 years old. That's how I treat my pets, and that's the level of expectation I have of them. The same as I have of the preschoolers in Sunday School.

    Juli

  25. #25
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    One more thought regarding cats and counter tops.

    I have a few of these "Snappy Trainers" that I've used on and off for years with various and sundry pets. They are basically big "mouse trap" type things with a large plastic flapper, and come 2 to a pkg. You set them and place them where you need, and when the critter touches it, it snaps shut while flipping high in the air and scares the "bad pet" so they don't (or are hesitant to) repeat the behavior, especially when the see the Trainer. It may take a time or two, but after that you don't even have to set it, and after a while when they no longer do the behaviour, you don't even have to put them out. I recently had to drag them out to put on my desk because I put a bird feeder on the window in front of my desk and one of my cats kept getting on the desk (and sitting on my keyboard) to get a better view. I had to set them for about a week, but now she's staying off the desk again. Occasionally I'll put an unset one out just to keep her on her toes. They don't hurt the cats at all, just startles them. I've used them for cats and dogs to keep them off furniture or away from certain areas, or to keep cats from scratching on things, and they've always worked wonderfully for me.

    Here's a short video showing how to set it.
    ~ ~ Leslie ~ ~

  26. #26
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    Forgot to ask a key question

    You didn't say if when you had the kitty declawed if you also had her spayed. At about 6 months the hormones kick in and they get the Female cycle and are very moody. if you didn't have your kitty spayed (which you probably did), I would recommend it.

    I had a kitty that was extremely tiny, we took her in as a stray. We thought that she was about 3 months old because she was so small, when we took her in and started feeding her well, she started singing "kitty songs" all night long. It was like having a baby in the house because we were up all night. I told the vet about it and took her in. He took a look at her teeth and said she was really 6 months old, and when we started feeding her well, her hormones kicked in so she was lookin' for love. In short, good food kicked her into heat. We had her spayed, and she forgot all her kitty songs.

    Juli

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by syzygy View Post
    I have a few of these "Snappy Trainers" that I've used on and off for years with various and sundry pets.
    Thanks, I will take a look at them.

    Quote Originally Posted by JuliN View Post
    You didn't say if when you had the kitty declawed if you also had her spayed.
    Oh yes, she is spayed. I guess I didn't mention it because I just assumed that's a given since I wouldn't consider NOT spaying or neutering my cat or dog. Especially after what I read about female cats if you don't - how they behave and how easily they get pregnant, etc, etc.

  28. #28
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    We've had great success with sticky tape for both furniture & counters.

    Those Snappy Trainers look awesome! Never seen them before.

    I always said I would never have a cat tree in my living room too.....but now I do. It's made a WORLD of difference for my cat (who is now 3 & still very rambunctious). I think they are a must-have for high energy cats. Worth every penny & the eye sore to have a good cat. He uses the tree to hunt birds & squirrels out the window.

    The foster parents who had our kitten before we adopted him taught him not to bite or claw. We bow to honor him all the time! Wish I knew how he did it. He tried to explain it to us, but I didn't quite follow. It's some game you play that involves reward for when the cat doesn't bite. It's amazing!

    Good luck!

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by lindrusso View Post
    but I really thought you weren't supposed to let them out if they've been declawed.
    I had a friend who had an issue with a cat peeing in her house. They tried everything to get her to stop and were beginning to think about having her put down b/c they couldn't get her to stop. The vet suggested as a last resort that they let her be an indoor/outdoor cat, despite her lack of claws. He said the main reason cats fight is for food, and if she has a known food source (both a bowl outside as well as food inside) she will probably run away from fights.

    That was close to 10 years ago. Lola is now a happy indoor-outdoor cat who doesn't pee in the house and has come home relatively scratch free.

    mary jo

  30. #30
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    You have gotten some great ideas here. FWIW, I have a couple of thoughts.

    Providing an "up high" for your cat that is somewhere other than the kitchen counter is a great idea. A perch that is just for your cat (such as a cat tree) is fine, and I do encourage this. You can also repurpose items you already have. A bookcase, entertainment center, or other tall furniture can be made into a cat area by putting a towel or blanket on top (if appropriate) and providing access. I am trying to think how to explain this. We have some tall bookcases that are next to a desk. The cat can jump from the floor to the desk, then to the top of the bookcase. Same idea with a small chest of drawers in our bedroom, and with the entertainment center in the living room. Oh, and the top of the fridge is also popular. After getting sticker shock from pricing cat trees, my DH built a cat tree for our living room and covered the base and the perches with extra living room carpet; it blends in fairly well. My two cats have six or seven "high places" around the house (other than counters or tables) and they use them often.

    I have never met a cat that did not get on the counters at least some of the time. Mine understand to get out of the way when I'm cooking and to stay off the stovetop. You might try giving the cat with someplace other than the counter to watch you cook, and reward it for being in that other place.

    Part of a cat's understanding of territory can include a sort of "timesharing" concept. For instance, a particular chair might be the territory of Cat A, but if Cat A is not in the room, then Cat B is allowed to sit there. I don't know if that is helpful information but it is something to keep in mind that cats will do with humans as well; the cat understands you don't want her to go somewhere, so it doesn't: at least, not where you can see her do it.

    I'm sorry I can't be more helpful and wish you patience and good luck!

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