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So Close to Giving Kari Away :(

March 18th, 2012 at 10:21 am

I am getting so frustrated with Kari (my cat). She is scratching at me and digging her claws into me in the morning to get me up to feed her (even before her normal wake up time.) Then I'll be sitting in my chair at the computer minding my own business, and she'll start scratching at the side of the chair until she makes contact with my arm. Or, like what's happened twice this morning so far - she'll jump up on my lap and start attacking my feet/legs - clawing and biting. I put her in her kennel the first time (all the while she was digging her claws into my hands and biting) then let her out after awhile. Five minutes after I let her out, she did the same thing over again.

Monkey (Siamese cat I had for nearly 10 years who died in surgery) was never like this!! He never bit me - I don't recall him ever putting his teeth on me. He did scratch me, but again, I don't recall him digging his claws in like this.

I really don't know what to do with her. In taking her in, I feel like I made a lifetime commitment, but I am worried that one of these days she's going to bite me hard enough where it breaks the skin ... and I'll have to get medical treatment for it.

I felt so bad last night ... as I was heading to bed it was really, really dark. I was going slowly because I didn't want to accidentally step on Kari ... but I somehow managed to step on her. I turned the lights on as quickly as I could get to them and sat on the floor calling to her softly. She came over and seemed to forgive me. Then as I was getting up, she ran off and humped her back/raise hackles. Frown Frown

I am having to keep a bag twisted and tied through the upper cupboard handles so she can't get inside them. (She figured out a few weeks ago that that is where I kept her dry food, and managed to get inside and tear a hole in the bag. Ever since she's been obsessed with getting inside that cabinet.)

I've tried to laugh off most of her idiosyncrasies, but the biting and scratching have gotten worse, not better. She is part Siamese and about 10 months old and was spayed in November. I'm her second home - the first person who had her was in the process of taking her to an animal shelter - supposedly because she'd discovered she was allergic to cats. I'm not so sure that was the whole story now.

I'm not really going to give her away ... I'm just feeling really, really frustrated and the option of giving her away seems like an easy solution (one I won't take though, because like I said, when I took her in, I made a commitment.)

I'd really like some suggestions on what to do to make this situation better. I've even thought about a pet therapist$$$ Sigh. My coworkers call her the demon cat just from a few of the stories I've told them (and seeing my arms and hands ..)

23 Responses to “So Close to Giving Kari Away :(”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I wonder if she just needs more attention. You are gone all day at work. Another cat? I keep our cats in the basement at night to keep them from waking me up before I'm ready to feed them.

    I feel your frustration and wish you the best in making your decisions regarding her care.

  2. frugaltexan75 Says:

    More attention? Maybe ... but the thought of adding a second cat to the mix... ergh!

    I let her out of the kennel, and now she is calmly sleeping on my lap. It's almost like she is bipolar or maybe manic depressive?? Can cats have those behaviors??

  3. Looking Forward Says:

    Aggression in cats is pretty downplayed compared to dogs, but it does happen.

    Just from what you describe in your posts I see a young, very active cat, who is bored and needs more stimulation/adventure. I think she has figured out a very effective way to get a reaction from you by using her claws to make you jump. She's obviously very smart and motivated when she's trying to get in the cupboard. Plus what a great way to eat up all those boring hours. Google "cat enrichment". You can make toys from all sorts of things. One cool "toy" is a ball you can put food in (Roll-a-Treat, Kitty Kong, etc.). I have a feeling Kari will figure that out quickly and love it. Another option would be to let her be an indoor/outdoor cat. Not ideal, sure, but it does provide stimulation and an outlet for activity.

    Additionally, I put food down for my cat at night. I have never had any of my cats wake me to be fed. You might try putting food down at bedtime?

    Bottom line: I would run her little butt off and give her so much to do that she begs to be left alone. Wink
    Good luck!

  4. ceejay74 Says:

    For the scratching/biting/trying to wake you up, I would keep a squirt bottle of water nearby and squirt her right in the face whenever it happens. For the places she tries to get into, fill a squirt bottle with vinegar and douse the crap out of whatever her target is.

    That's what we did to minimize Noodles's whining, clawing and jumping on counters. He's still a vocal kitty and can be mischievous and disruptive, but the water always calms him down or makes him go away, and vinegar keeps him out of places we don't want him to go.

    Oh yeah, and the treat ball worked when Noodles used to wolf his food down too quickly.

    Catnip treats and mechanized toys are good forms of amusement. Our cat also loves things that skitter across the floor; his faves are those red-and-white plastic-wrapped mints.

  5. frugaltexan75 Says:

    LF,

    You are probably right - she is extremely smart. She knows the commands off and sit (though will only obey when I have food in my hands.) She probably is bored. I knew they had kongs for dogs, but not for cats. I have toys scattered around the house for her, but will look into those you mentioned. As far as doing the outside thing - no way would I feel good about that. There are tons of wild dogs/coyotyes etc. around here. Plus she's never shown any interest in going outside.

    I do give her a little food before bedtime, just a handful. I've always read it's better to give dogs/cats food at prescribed times, so they see you as the provider of food. But maybe she'd be happier/less neurotic if I just did the free feeding thing. Thing is, even in the morning when I feed her a portion of wet food and a fistful of dry food, as soon as I sit down to eat my food, she's right there looking at me as though she's starving ...

    I guess I could try giving her her morning portion at night??

    Thanks for your suggestions.

  6. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Thanks CeeJay,

    Maybe I could give her a treat ball thing at night, so she has to work at it to get to all the food?

    I'll look into mechanized toys too.

    When she scratches at me in the mornings, I try to give her no reaction .. but she keeps getting more persistant. Maybe the water bottle would work ...

  7. Looking Forward Says:

    I wouldn't "free feed" where the bowl is full all the time. I would just give her a portion of her daily amount at night.

    Istead of ignoring her in the morning you might try this: "Oh Kari you're waking me up because you must want to go to your crate (or get locked out of the bedroom or someother thing she does not want to do)." You do it all happy like and you play "stupid human". Remove her from your room and don't feed or play with her. Nothing fun or exciting. Just act like you think what she wants is to go to her crate or closed in the bathroom. After several reps (maybe a week. Or 10 days.) of this she'll figure out that waking you up leads to the opposite of what she wants.
    Just be 100% consistant.

  8. Looking Forward Says:

    Oh yeah, you presume she is watching you eat because she's hungry.
    Don't you think it's just as likely that she watches you because it's interesting? I mean, we don't eat at all like they do. Smile Or because you have trained her to a few commands, she's waiting for you to ask her to perform something.

  9. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Any chance she shows any signs of diabetes? In humans, type 2 diabetics can feel painful, driven hunger even when they have recently eaten.

  10. frugaltexan75 Says:

    LF,

    I like that idea of putting her in her kennel when she bugs me in the morning .. don't know if I'd be able to go back to sleep with her yowls of protest, but maybe she'd get the idea soon enough ... hmm... I think that'd work a lot better than the water bottle, because she doesn't seem to mind getting wet (she'll jump into the tub when I'm taking a shower - presumably to check on what I'm doing) Smile
    Oh, I'm pretty sure that when she watches me eat it's because she wants my food. She's grabbed food out of my hand before, and swatted at food in my hand then ran off with it, etc. She's gotten better about that because every time she does it, she goes in her kennel. Now I just pretty much have to go "unh unh" or hold my hand up, and she'll back off. Like just now I was eating an egg salad sandwich. She was getting too close for comfort and I held my hand up. She backed off to the chair next to me staring at me. As soon as I broke off a piece of the crust and threw it, she was off lickety split, gobbling it up.

    Joan,

    I don't think so .. unless she had it from the day I got her! She has consistently been a food crazed cat since day 1.

  11. skydivingchic Says:

    A note on discipline. We have a bunch of those air duster cans spread throughout the house. Like the ones you use to blow dust off computers. We call them the "air guns of death". The cats hate them. We squirt them with a blast of air when they are doing something they shouldn't. Now we don't usually even have to actually squirt it, just pick it up and point it at them. Once they see it pointed in their direction, they stop immediately.

  12. Jenn Says:

    A second cat did help us, although we weren't actively looking for one when we agreed to take him in. Our cat used to bite/claw our toes to wake us up in the morning. It really hurt, even through covers. Now that there are two of them, they scamper around in the mornings, tackling one another, and wrestling. Then for the rest of the day, they're normal lazy napping cats. Maybe cats are just especially spunky in the morning!

  13. ceejay74 Says:

    frugal, you might want to try the water bottle -- Noodles doesn't mind getting wet either, but he seems to hate the spritz of water in his face! skydiving, we have the same experience with the water bottle now: If he sees it, he generally backs off of what bad thing he's doing. If I have insomnia and need to go in the living room, I just set the water bottle next to me. That's enough to keep him from trying to convince me it's early-breakfast time. Smile

  14. baselle Says:

    Morgan used to do that also, but I wasn't able to figure out how to train her to stop before she died. V.I. had inappropriate litter box usage for awhile, but we resolved it by positive reinforcement. She did what we wanted (use box) she gets something that she really, really wants (Greenies). I'm thinking that you are providing inadvertent positive reinforcement. Kari bites you, you feed her (or pet her/give her attention/etc). Which is good - she wants your attention and she loves you. Smile I would look at automatic feeders like the ones you would set up if you were traveling. You set the timer, food would appear at specific times NOT linked to you waking up or you setting food down. As far as petting and play, as soon as the claws come out no petting, no play.

    Good luck. Kari strikes me as a smart kitty. When you figure out the connections that Kari is making and stop them, getting her to make new habits should go fast.

  15. My English Castle Says:

    I am really enjoying this thread; we only have a pesky dog, but you all have such great ideas. I'm trying the water bottle on the dog tomorrow!

  16. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Thanks everyone for your ideas and suggestions. It's weird, after she has a couple episodes like this morning, she seems to know that I'm not happy with her and gets all lovey dovey. Most of the time she really is a very sweet/good cat. It just gets really embarrassing having students ask you if your cat is abusing you when they see all the scratches on your hands/arms. I don't play rough with her and never use my hands to play - always use wands or balled up pieces of paper or water bottle lids, etc. Then when I'm least expecting it, she gets crazy and starts attacking.

    One thing I think I need to do is be more consistent with giving her daily play/exercise. Maybe make that my first priority when I get home from work. I'm also going to def. look into some other toys for her to keep her busy while I'm gone. This is why I haven't gotten a dog, because I know my days can be SO long sometimes.

  17. LuckyRobin Says:

    Does she have a place to scratch? A scratching post or a cat tower or something? They are driven to sharpen their claws and if there is nothing specific for them to do it on, they do it on everything.

    I second the air blast, only make sure you don't do it too long because those cans get really cold. And I wouldn't aim for the face. A blast of that air in the eye can do damage with its force, but a blast on the body, or the offending paw, not so much. A mister tends to work, too, but then you end up with wet cat and wet whatever was near the cat.

  18. frugaltexan75 Says:

    She does have a scratching post, but I've never seen her use it. I probably should at some point get a cat tree or something like that - I'm sure she'd enjoy it. I need to get my extra bedroom organized, and then maybe I could put a cat tower/play area in it. Smile

    I'll look into the air blast thing - we have some of those at the school for our computers.

  19. patientsaver Says:

    I wouldn't leave a bunch of toys laying around on the floor. You should let her have one toy for a period of time, maybe a week, then take it away and give her a different one. Keep rotating them. Cats get bored with the same old stuff, just like humans. Plus, it's not enough to just leave them out and assume she can amuse herself. You need to commit to spending at least 10 minutes a day playing with her. Give her positive attention so that she isn't trying to get your attention in a negative way.

    Also, I would definitely research cat behavioral issues like the one yours is having online. It's not normal for a cat to be hissing or biting you and I wouldn't just try to live with it. I would definitely do some reading on that subject to try to figure out the cause of it. It sounds to me like the cat has trust issues and it may take some specific techniques (dare I say therapy?) to work things out. I wouldn't wait to see if the problem resolves on its own.

  20. patientsaver Says:

    Things like water pistols and air puff things will definitely work, but it will also make the cat even more distrusting of you. And it doesn't get at the root of the problem.

  21. patientsaver Says:

    Here's one link that discusses aggressive cat/behavioral problems. I'm sure there are tons more if you do a search.

    http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/aggression.html

  22. MonkeyMama Says:

    I just had to add that I have always fed my cat at night (before bed) because she used to wake up *really early* and wake us all up. After a decade I had almost forgotten that is the *why* of when I feed her - but the subject came up recently and we were talking about it.

    These days I laugh to think of my cat being spunky in the morning - but she is almost 15, and she gets to lay in bed with dh most mornings. The kids and I wake up super early, but I rarely ever see her up and about in the a.m. She knows we would never give her food though. If she were younger, she might appreciate the early play time, but seems she prefers to snooze these days.

  23. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Wow, I've had cats all my life (well from age ~5 to ~45 and NEVER had such a personality!! JUMPS IN THE TUB/SHOWER?? that is very very unusual. Taken together, and some alone, the behaviors in this cat seem off the chart.

    Look at it another way - YOU'RE LUCKY!!! You're probably the only one you know who'll have this experience ever!

  24. wisewoman Says:

    At 10 months old she's still a kitten....typical behaviour. Cat's are like children. They act out when they are seeking attention or bored. They need stimulation throughout their lives but especially when they are young. You don't know where she came from or the treatment she received. Patience......it will get better. You are both getting to know one another.

    Good luck.

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