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destructo-cat

At my old apartment, the paper towel roll originally hung underneath one of the wall cabinets, over the counter, in the kitchen. Nimiel ignored the roll most of the time, but then one day I came home to find she'd torn all the towels off. After that, I discovered a magnetic towel holder that I could put onto the refrigerator door. That worked perfectly, as the top of the refrigerator was one of the only places inaccessible to her - she probably could have jumped there from the kitchen counter, but so far as I know, she never tried - and there wasn't any other way for her to get at the roll.

Here in the condo, however, the refrigerator is much more accessible. I put the holder on the hallway side of the refrigerator; there's a medium-high set of shelves across from it, but it didn't look like she'd be able to keep her balance on the shelves and reach it, or reach down from the top of the refrigerator. Once again, she ignored the roll for the past few months. Today though I came home to discover all the sheets from the half-full roll on the floor, where she'd clearly torn them down. Now, I've noticed that the roll has tended to undo a couple sheets simply from the slight breezes of me walking by, so I thought it was possible there'd been some dangling sheets and that was what caught her attention. Whether or not that's the case, it's clearly too late. I decided to try reorienting the roll vertically and putting a fresh one out; about an hour later while I was eating dinner, I heard some noise that made me get up to check, and sure enough, she'd jumped up a bit from the floor to grab at the roll. So that's clearly no good anymore, now I'm going to have to buy some kind of holder that I can screw into the inside of a cabinet door, or at least just keep the roll in a latched cabinet.

This makes me very angry and frustrated. The larger issue seems to be that she's looking for entertainment, but the only things that seem to really occupy her are things she can destroy or "kill". Her favorite toys, the only ones she'll consistently play with at length on her own, are small plastic fur-covered mice with rattles. After playing with one for a while, eventually she'll tear and eat the fur off the mouse; fortunately she doesn't seem to actually want to eat the plastic body, and also fortunately, even after "killing" and "eating" the mouse, she'll continue to enjoy playing with the plastic rattly body. The problem with these mice is that they're easily lost underneath the oven, the refrigerator, the washer, and a few cabinets and shelves. I bought her a double-sized one once, and it's still kicking around here; she really doesn't play with it, presumably because it's larger than she likes. Likewise, she won't play with the rattling twine-covered ball, and hardly plays with the small twine-covered rattling mouse I recently bought. She'll chase either if I toss them for her, and bats the mouse a little bit on occasion, but it really doesn't hold her attention.

I also tried buying her a furry catnip-laced toy on an elastic cord, that I could hang from a doorway. The first time I let her play with it, it was great, she spent a good hour or so with it while I was packing for my Christmas trip, and eventually went off to rest, if I remember right. The second time, she spent all of five minutes before she'd torn off and eaten the four fur strips dangling from the toy, which I believe is where the catnip was; since then when I've put it up, she's played a bit and gotten bored fast.

I can and do keep buying the small fur-covered mice that she obviously loves, but I can't afford to buy enough to avoid regular fishing trips under the appliances, and I don't really want her eating lots of that fur all the time. I could buy a few more of the twine-covered mice and just wait for her to give up and play with them, but I don't really believe it'll work that way. I really don't know what else to do to give her entertainment.

And of course the problem isn't simply what to give her for toys, the problem is that I'm worried she's just going to start literally tearing into other things, like the furniture. She's also been pretty constantly going after the tree; while I believe half the time it's just because she knows it gets my attention (and how I was supposed to avoid forming that relationship while keeping her from attacking and harming the tree is beyond me), I'm still somewhat amazed I haven't yet come home to discover half the branches torn off and leaves eaten. Then what about the various important papers I have waiting in my file trays for me to deal with? Do I need to put them into metal boxes now, before she gets bored enough to tear them all up? She's pawed at them before. Or the books on my shelves?

Yes yes, I'm ranting and probably blowing things out of proportion and I should just calm down, whatever. This is my journal, and I'm angry and frustrated and feeling very powerless. And before anyone says anything stupid like "don't ever have children," at least children develop intelligence and you can hope to reason with them, to teach them how to behave well. As far as I can tell, I can never teach her not to do things, I can only teach her to run when I yell, and I can only lock up all my stuff in containers she can't possibly open or claw and bite through.

Oh wait, maybe I'm not blowing things out of proportion after all: I almost forgot to mention how, back some time in early January, I came home from work to discover she'd been tearing at the metal mesh covering the rangetop ventilation fan, probably eating bits of the mesh as well. Now what the FUCK am I supposed to do about that?! I did catch her doing it a second time one night, just as I was getting to bed; I yelled at her, held her up to it and swatted her nose (as I understand, nose-swatting is how mother cats teach the kittens). I think she's left it alone, but I'm not sure, and again, did I even communicate anything as substantial as "don't mess with that when the human is around"? And it's the fucking rangetop ventilation fan cover - I can't put it somewhere she can't get to it, and how could I keep her from tearing at it when I'm not home?

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( 6 have written — Write )
bandtechiegeek
Feb. 21st, 2006 01:56 pm (UTC)
you could have her assassinated


...

maybe?

we're having similar although less intense problems with the cat at my apartment; she's only recently decided that jumping up on the kitchen counter and places up high is a good idea for her, despite us discouraging that from day one. she never used to jump up to the kitchen counter or the stovetop (i'm just waiting for her to burn herself and decide maybe the stove isn't so good). now she does it all the time despite repeated attempts to really discourage her from it. i've taken to spraying her repeatedly with the force of the kitchen sink sprayer, but it's still obvious she gets up there at night when we're sleeping because i keep finding counter items on the floor.

unfortunately it's just another part of having a companion animal...they don't have any concept of why we have the things we do in our house; as far as they're concerned, they're out in nature and doing what they shuld be doing.

maybe you should just hide a tape recording of yourself periodically yelling angrilly as if you're actually there. that'd probably be funnier than effective.
philaros
Feb. 21st, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, in my old apartment I didn't bother discouraging her from getting on the kitchen counters because I knew I couldn't win that. In the new place though she is allowed to get onto the refrigerator and upper cabinets - because again, it's not practical to try keeping her off - but she's only allowed on the counter in transit from the refrigerator to the floor. Of course she'll still get up on the counters even when I'm home, but I do chase her down right away when I notice. I've also been thinking she might burn herself on the stove, but she seems too smart for that, and usually I'm right there anyhow so she's already staying off.

maybe you should just hide a tape recording of yourself periodically yelling angrilly as if you're actually there. that'd probably be funnier than effective.

Well, that made me laugh, at least. Maybe I could hook up a webcam and set up a mic at work so I could yell at her remotely...
parkbenchzine
Feb. 21st, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
ok, you need a laser pointer and something to make it move... do you have a crystal? like on a mobile... maybe the rainbox colored casting it will make will keep her interested... all in all shes a cat. I think you should get a toughter toy. : ) we always gave Gene the toys from happy meals. and he was a demon. What else can you do. Shes got the attention span of a gnat. another cheap toy, is crumped aluminum foil. its shiny, and it'll roll on floors.. string or ribbon is always cheap and good. we find giving ribbon to Morgan and having her run around with it, will keep daisy busy for hours. she can't decide if its worth getting the string, but having morgan attack her... its a constant battle in her little brain. usually she can't help but try and get the string.
philaros
Feb. 21st, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
I think you should get a toughter toy. : )

Did you miss the whole long paragraph where I explained how she doesn't like the tougher toys, she only likes the destructible ones?

Also, string and ribbon isn't a good idea, apparently if they eat string it can get tangled in their intestines and really hurt them; even if that doesn't happen there's the unpleasantness of the cat having string hanging out its ass - this happened to her once already with a long blade of grass. Stupid cat.

Laser pointer/crystal mobile idea isn't bad though. She definitely loves trying to catch shiny reflected lights.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 23rd, 2006 01:03 am (UTC)
apparently citrus and mint are repulsive odors to cats. i'm sure they are to you, too, but maybe you can spray the metal grate with breath freshener. there are also sprays called 'bitter apple' and 'bitter orange' that you can spray on plants, usually, to repulse cats. i know from experience that raw onion makes kharma dry heave. if all else fails, find a way to leave a cut onion near the oven vent. cats will do what they want to do. jezebel is determined to drink the water that drips from the radiator, which i'm sure is chock full of metals. i put onion powder in the bowl that catches the drips, but i think jen cleaned it out because she thought it was dust or something. jezebel is also so determined to sleep on our bags that she figured out how to get into the cabinet we store them in. anyway, your only option is to cat-proof your place as much as you can; loud hissy fits are pretty much meaningless to cats (although when i've had them, kharma does mope afterwards).

according to the internet: You can also try some homemade repellants such as coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, fine pepper and citronella oil all of which are repulsive to cats (and, as an added bonus, some bugs, too, such as mosquitoes). These deterrents can be placed around outdoor furniture, flower boxes, bushes, trees and gardens to deter the cat.

strings are okay if you're monitoring her, but not if she's left alone. you have an especially feisty, high-maintenance cat. maybe you can do what jen's aunt does and construct play-palaces from old tissue boxes. she'll have a place she can explore and tear to shreds.
philaros
Feb. 23rd, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)
I love orange juice and lemonade, citrus isn't a repulsive odor to me, silly. Although there's a citrus spray that people WAY OVERUSE here at work after using the bathroom, so actually I might not be too keen on that after all - smells like freakin' Fruity Pebbles. Mint's not really a repulsive odor either, I just don't care for the taste (which I associate with toothpaste). Using a spray like that is worth a try, I'm sure - actually I think maybe she was first attracted to the grate after I'd fried chicken the night before, I think maybe it just smelled yummy to her.

The cut onion might be good too, if she doesn't decide it's a fun toy to bat; I could get a magnetic hook to use to suspend it.

I'm not sure just how elaborate you're thinking in terms of play-palaces constructed from tissue boxes, but you've reminded me that I finally threw out the two paper grocery bags she's been playing with and forgot to put out a new one or two for her.
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