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Unread 10-17-2009   #1 (permalink)
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Default Unwanted Behaviors in Cat

Hi there. I'm new to this forum. I will soon post in the Say Meow section to tell you guys a little about myself, but first I wanted to post in here.

I did want to mention that I am part of a gecko forum. I have 15-20 geckos currently and am on that forums every day. I have learned an incredible amount from there, so decided to look for a cat forum in hopes to learn more about cats, too.

I have always loved cats, but never really had to address any major problems with them before.

I am only 21 and finally have my first 2 cats of my very own, in my own home. The first one was rescued as a stray kitten by my father. He found the kitten in a bush where he was trying to hide from crows that seemed to be trying to catch him. The kitten walked right onto his hand when he reached in the bush, and he brought the kitten home. He then called me and asked me to take the kitten because he couldn't take any more animals in. He thinks the kitten is very special and pretty much loves him to death, but he doesn't have to live with him and tolerate his behavior on a daily basis. Anyway, I took him in and named him "Ingo." He LOVES attention, and will do pretty much anything to get it. This includes constantly jumping on my lap when I'm trying to work on my laptop (digging his claws into my thigh in the process) and headbutting me and meowing at me constantly, jumping onto tables and counters and knocking things onto the floor, banging cabinets and climbing inside of them, shredding toilet paper and paper towels, stealing things from trash cans, etc. He also exhibits very jealous and possessive behaviors. And I don't mean possessiveness over me as much as objects or food.

Here is what happened today:

I brought home food from work and was eating it while watching TV. I had the food sitting in a to go box on the arm of the couch. Ingo walked along the couch behind me and grabbed the top of the sandwich while I was giving attention to my dog. He ran off with it. Didn't know he had it until I heard growling when my dog was going to see what was happening behind the couch. The cat growled when I approached him, and he was still holding the bread in his mouth, but not eating it. I was afraid to touch him, so I splashed him with water. I had to keep splashing him until he dropped it, and that didn't happen until I chased him out from under the bed and from under a chair.

This doesn't only happen with food. He once took a tissue out of a garbage can and when I tried to take it from him he bit me pretty hard. It shocked me the first time because I've never seen a cat behave this way.

More background on the cat:

I took him in when he was probably two months old or so. This is my best guess. I thought he would have been young enough to tame. I've taken in stray kittens before, but the other two were so young that I had to bottle feed them formula. Those two are angels.

He is not yet neutered (this will be happening early next month) and is approximately 5 months old. He is not declawed because I refuse to do so. I have done my research and have a moral issue with it. I accept the fact that claws come along with the cat. He is a 100% indoor cat again, due to my personal beliefs and a bad experience in the past with another cat getting outside.

My other cat in the household was adopted from a local humane society, and he is a sweetheart. Much calmer, much less demanding of my attention, much more your stereotypical cat (or at least what I am used to!).

I did read around a little on this forum before posting, and from what I gathered, I should not compare the two cats and appreciate them for who they are individually. I should also maybe give Ingo more positive attention (when he is being good, of course) so he doesn't have to try to get my attention by exhibiting negative behaviors. Does this sound right?

I would still very much appreciate a lot of feedback

I really look forward to being part of this forum!
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Unread 10-18-2009   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Lauren, I think you are doing everything right for Ingo - he obviously had a stressful start to his little life and his behaviour is reflecting that, he may have had to fight for food before he came to you and hasn't managed to let go of that as yet.

I'm sure you will find he settles down more once you have had him neutered, but in some cats stealing food is just something they do, no matter what their background. My old cat Ben had a lovely life from the word go and never wanted for anything - but you could not turn your back on a plate of food when he was around. He once stole a slice of lamb off my dinner plate right in front of me and growled at me when I went to him
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Unread 10-18-2009   #3 (permalink)
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You could also try a 'Feliway' plug in from your vets and also try 'Bach Rescue Remedy' they may help calm him down.
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Unread 10-19-2009   #4 (permalink)
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Hi Lauren. I think due to his hard start in life Ingo may still be worried that his supply of food might run out (another member of this forum calls it 'food anxiety') hopefully with time and your love he will calm down. He certainly sounds like a lively little kitten, I'm pleased he has found a caring home with you.
You're right that all cats have completely different personalities, I have two who I have had since kittens and they are like chalk & cheese. They don't often steal food but my elder cat has done occasionally & will growl if I try & take it off her. I guess it's just their instinct to protect it.
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Unread 10-19-2009   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks so much for your responses. I try to be patient with Ingo but it's really hard sometimes. Today we came home and discovered that he had torn into a brand new loaf of bread and eaten parts of like a third of it. It really is like he is only interested in doing the things he's not allowed to do.

I have no idea what a "Feliway" plug is. I will have to look that up
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Unread 10-20-2009   #6 (permalink)
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Hi and welcome! It sounds like Ingo needs socializing, is all, and that can take a long time and endless patience. It took about 18 months for me to socialize my Mazy cat, but totally worth it, she's a real lovey now.

No loaf of bread is safe with my Jennie girl, and she is over 3 years old!

I think you are doing okay. Get a spray bottle for water squirting, though that doesn't work for every cat. Don't let him bite you during play. If he bites or scratches, say NO Ingo, and turn your back on him and ignore him. Do this consistently, so he will learn. It may take time.

If he gets on you when you are trying to work and you don't want him to, pick him up and put him in another room. he will soon learn when to stay away.

A lot of the behaviors may go away as he gets older, but yes, giving him scheduled interactive Game time will help him feel more secure and burn off energy. If you devote the same time every day to just playing with him he will soon come to expect these Game sessions. Cats love routine.

The neuter will help too. We are anti declaw here so you wont get any arguments there!

You can find info on feliway and rescue remedy in my signature. I like to get these products at entirelypets.com, they have the best prices I have found. if you google entirelypets.com coupon, you can usually save a few more dollars with a coupon code.( I do not work for nor receive any benefit for recommending them, but have bought from them.)

PS how wonderful of your dad to rescue the kitten. The crows would have killed him and eaten him.


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Unread 10-20-2009   #7 (permalink)
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A lot of his behaviour may well be due to his age. My first cat was a very 'naughty' kitten. I soon learnt to shut anything away that I didn't want her to get, including food & ornaments if she was going to be unsupervised. Among other things she performed 'gravity experiments' (thanks for that term Gail!) on 1/2 a dozen eggs, stole & hid ornaments, destroyed every plant in the place (including a cactus) and opened the cupboard where I kept the cat litter, scratted a hole in the bag then spread it across the whole of the kitchen floor. She's five now & is much better behaved although she still likes to open cupboards & drawers and empty out the contents. It's part of the reason I love her so much. When I got my second kitten I was amazed at how well behaved she was.
Sounds as if you are going to have to put food out of his reach wherever possible. If he persists in stealing your food while you are eating or preparing it shut him in another room until he (fingers crossed!) learns not to do it. You probably already know this but I always feed my two at a different time to my mealtimes & never feed them titbits from my plate. They get plenty of treats but don't associate them with our mealtimes, I once looked after a cat who had to be shut out of the room everytime I tried to eat anything so I've always had that rule.
I've seen photos of Ingo on another thread & he is such a cutie I'm sure it will all be worth the effort in the long run!
Keep us updated on his progress, I love 'naughty kitten' tales!!
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Unread 10-20-2009   #8 (permalink)
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hallan, your cat destroyed a cactus? That is impressive. Haha.

He is definitely a naughty kitten.

Yes, my Dad LOVES this kitten. My whole family loves animals in general, but I think he liked him right from the start, as soon as he found him fighting off crows. We were all kind of shocked that crows would try and kill him.

Anyway, I love him, too. He is just a trouble child. lol. But he can be a real sweetie, too. He just loves to be the center of attention.

I never feed my pets human food, and definitely never while we are eating. I just figure that cat and dog food was created specifically to meet their needs, so why not just go with that? Ingo still knows when we have something tasty, though, and you'd better not avert your gaze from your plate.

I am seriously going to ponder this Feliway product. It sounds a lot like it's mainly for scratching and spraying though, doesn't it? And then timid behavior, like hiding, not eating, etc. This cat doesn't do any of these things. Do you really think it would help him chill out?
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