First and foremost you need to get her spayed ASAP. Some of these issues may resolve themself just by that simple act. There are a myriad of reasons as to why this needs to be done, and as soon as possible, and I will be happy to share any of them if you need. I am going to try to break these issues up so I don't go chasing rabbits and distracting myself
Whenever someone says they are having a specific problem with their pet I think that there are some questions you should ask yourself regarding the issue. It is how I deduce things as well.
Question one: Is there a medical problem (Your cat's hunger issue could be cause of a thyroid).
Question two: Is the behavior a normal behavior for a cat (i.e. scratching up furniture, which can be annoying, but the act of scratching in and of itself is a normal cat behavior).
If both of the answers is no then I immediately wonder about the amount of exercise and stimulation the cat is receiving.
1. Food obsession
- Her food obsession may come from her stray past. Was she experiencing starvation when you found her? I know many animals, and people as well, that have experienced starvation unconsciously live in fear of experiencing this again. I've seen the behavior your describing in many cats that have lived on the streets and went hungry (I am an owner of a cat suffering from food obsession due to starvation!). This tends to be more of a psychological issue that will need patience and understanding on your part.
Another possibility that can come with food obsession is one I believe is playing a role in your situation, especially based off of your other issues. How much exercise and stimulation are you giving her? Food obsession often occurs in cats that are not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation. A food obsessed cat can drive their owner crazy, however this tends to be a cat that is saying, "I'm very, very bored." The solution to this is simple. Enrich your cat's environment and and increase the amount of time you spend playing with her. She is still a kitten and is longing to play with you!
You should visit a vet to rule out the possibility of thyroid, diabetes, etc.
2. Desire to escape outside/looking out windows
- Cats love to look out windows and can spend a great deal of time enjoying this! It is mentally stimulating and not necessarily a bad thing. However, the way you described her behavior and especially what you did when you let her out (not a good move since she is unspayed) very much indicates to me that, once again, your cat is bored and is longing for stimulation. So she is seeking a different environment in order to fulfill that. Once again I recommend playing with her more and enriching her environment. Perhaps you can train her to wear a harness and leash and go for a walk? Many cats enjoy this, and it would be a way to stimulate/exercise her without her being left outdoors and in danger. You need to not
let her out when she is begging.
I also believe that the obsession to escape will decrease dramatically once she is spayed.
3. Scratching furniture
- Cats have scent glands on the bottom of their paws. When your girl is scratching your couch one of the things she is doing is marking her territory. One thing you can do is provide her with a cat tree next to a spot that she will love. I recommend in your case a window. This often becomes a cat's favorite piece and will become the object of their scratching affections. Bare in mind though that different cats like different types of things to scratch (carpet, card board, wood, etc). You might need to experiment to find what your cat loves. Encourage her to use her scratching post, and when she uses it to scratch reward her with praise and treats. I would avoid punishing her for scratching the couches. Scratching is an instinctual thing for a cat. She will associate your anger with you and not with what she is doing. You being upset will not stop her from not scratching when you are not around, and could possibly make her avoid you whenever around the couches. Yelling at your cat and loud noises can cause anxiety in her resulting in more behavior issues. Reward her positive behavior and she will seek to act it out. Like I said, scratching is an instinctual and natural thing for a cat, so she will scratch somewhere.
4. Litter box use
- I have found that, in cats, the use of litter boxes is half way taught/half way learned. Let me explain. By taught I mean that a mother cat shows her kittens where the box is and what it's function is, and will encourage them to go potty there. Kittens need their mother's stimulation to go to the bathroom so it is very natural that as they learn to go on their own it is done in the box. On the flip side though it is partially instinctual. A cat in the wild will not urinate or defecate where they eat and sleep. It is unsanitary, but more importantly it is unsafe. To do so would be to draw predators to their scent. They will always pick an alternative place to go to the bathroom. This is also why cats cover their feces and whatnot. They are covering their trail. A house cat naturally will be drawn to a box to use for a bathroom.
That being said, a cat that is not using their litter box is a cat that is trying to communicate something. Cats generally don't use the box for one of two reasons. First is for a medical issue. You cat could easily have something like a UTI. This would make it hurt to urinate. The cat naturally thinks that the box is hurting them. So they start peeing in other places, looking for a place to get relief without pain. You need to take your cat to the vet to rule out this possibility. I have heard of MANY cats peeing in tubs that have UTI's or other intestinal issues.
The second reason is for stress issues. There is a number of reasons I can think that your cat might be stressed. One is the fact that she has hormones raging that she can't satisfy. This is going to cause her a lot of frustration. Another reason could be if, what I said before, is true and she is bored. This is going to cause frustration and anxiety in her. Top that off with the fact that it sounds like you are frustrated with her as well, which she will feel. Once again, play may help. I would also recommend purchasing some Feliway. It has pheromones that calm and sooth, which can aid her on several of these issues. How many litter boxes do you have? If only one then there is always the possibility that your other cat has claimed that that box is his own and is not letting her use it. It is recommended to have 1 box per cat plus 1. So you should have 3. Also some cats are very picky about the condition of their boxes. Some won't use it if there is even one poo in there. Perhaps she doesn't like the type of litter you are using, or the type of box, or the location of the box?
Getting her spayed can greatly help this issue and possibly even make it go away. There are lots of options for getting low cost spay/neuter. I will find the sticky and link it on here.
Over all your cat is giving you some clear messages that she is trying to communicate to you that she is feeling bothered for one reason or another. Please do not get rid of her, she is trying to tell you. These are very fixable things. You need to play detective and try different things/watch her behaviors closely to get to the bottom of it. First and foremost take her to the vet and get her spayed. That alone will fix a lot. I personally do not like spray bottles and do not recommend the use of one.
Please let us know how it goes!