She’s like a toddler, but one with claws and fangs who can leap six feet into the air.
Dubious Advice From The Internet
This is the first time I’ve had a kitten. When I met Eric, his black cat Spot was part of his dowry. She was about three years old and never, ever scratched furniture or jumped onto counters. Eric doesn’t remember what he did to train Spot, although he vaguely recalls that a spray bottle was involved.
I turned to the internet for advice. “Never raise your voice when your cat is engaging in the natural activities of scratching and jumping,” counseled a pet psychologist. “And absolutely never resort to spraying your precious fur baby with water.” I relayed this information to Eric, telling him that we are now “cat guardians” and that we don’t want anything to affect the “fragile bond” we are creating with Magnolia.
That Was Ridiculous Advice
That lasted about two weeks, during which time Magnolia engaged in her very own circus. She leapt up onto the counters, hunkered down on top of the refrigerator, and strolled along the tops of the upper cabinets. She bolted from the couch to the loveseat to the chairs, gleefully digging her claws into every upholstered piece of furniture we own. We gently removed her from each situation, firmly but quietly saying “no,” and redirected her attention to one of several scratching posts or toys.
We covered our furniture in cardboard and double-sided sticky tape. We put clear carpet runners with the prickly side up on our furniture and counters to try to dissuade her from jumping onto them. It was exhausting and it didn’t work. AT ALL. The only thing it did was make our furniture uncomfortable for us to sit on.
Crazy Cat People
I’ll tell you what does work. Making a loud growling sound while sharply yelling “NO!” along with a few other expletives, if desired. And the judicious use of a spray bottle. Plus lots of play time with us, her catnip stuffed squirrel, her rainbow-colored running tube, and a clutch of feathers on a ribbon that drives her absolutely insane and tires her out for a little bit.
And, of course, heaps of praise when she’s using her scratching post and resisting her innate desire to leap onto the counters. “Who’s a good kitty? You’re a good kitty! You’re the best kitty cat in the whole world!” She purrs and completely agrees.
All I have to do now is growl, and she meows back and usually stops whatever bad thing she’s about to do. If she’s still tempted, I grab the spray bottle and point it at her, without even spraying her. That almost always does the trick. (Do not tell me that if we have a cat we shouldn’t expect to have nice furniture. I actually read that on the internet, too. The internet is stupid.)
We’re still in training, but I think we’ve rounded the corner on kitty terrorism. (Maybe. She’s only six months old.)