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Discussion Starter #1
As a few of you already know from another thread of mine, my wife and I recently got our first pet together (Maya).

We've only had her for two days, but already we can tell that she's sweet, lovable, and a holy terror at times :) To be honest, she's not bad at all, but there are a few behaviors that I would like to nip in the bud before they do become a problem...Some have been asked about here before, but a few of the threads I have seen were over a year old, and some messageboards get ticked for resurrecting dead posts.

#1 Scratching/Climbing Furniture
I have seen a few solutions for this posted in a newer thread, however I do not feel that many of them are applicable to my situation. We bought her a scratch post that we place her near when we catch her scratching furniture, but I have yet to see her play with it on her own.

When we do catch her in the act, and place her near her post, she often jumps down as soon as we let go of her and runs right back to where she was, unless we distract her with a different toy. Distraction is nice, but I would like her to associate the post with scratching.

Questions about the post/scratching.
- Is the post good? Or does she not have enough room to stretch while scratching? Should we get a straight post?
- Should I put catnip on it to promote her to play with it? She is only 8-9 weeks old. If she's too young, how do i promote the behavior?
- Any specific sprays that people recommend? I read someone suggest Bitter Apple, but I only saw one type of spray at my pet store and it was $40 :yikes That's quite a bit for something that I might spray once if it doesn't work.
- Do you recommend returning the kitty condo and buying several cheaper varieties of "scratch toys" in various sizes/layouts to see what she likes?
- If I try the spray bottle, will she equate me with getting sprayed in the face? Or will it make it difficult to bathe her (due to fear of water) if that is ever needed?


#2 Where She Sleeps
We have only had her for two nights now. The first night, we caved and eventually let her in the room (yeah, we're pushovers). However, last night we kept the door shut. My wife almost caved after a few minutes, but I convinced her to count the mews and made a deal that if she did it over 100 more times, she could cave if she wanted. She stopped at 53 by my count :)

Cute story, but anyway, when I woke up in the morning she was sleeping behind the toilet. I'm all for letting her sleep wherever she wants if she's not causing problems, however that is not exactly the cleanest place for a kitten to sleep. Not to mention that it's no fun to have bathroom floor rubbing all over you in the morning.

Also, we could close the bathroom door I suppose :lol:

Questions About Place of Sleep
- Any suggestions to promote a specific place? We made her a little bed with blankets that she goes in at times to relax, but has never taken a nap there

#3 Whining in the Litterbox
She uses the litterbox, and has yet to "miss" in the two days that we have had her. However, she often whines the whole time that she is arranging the litter just how she likes it. It has never gone more than a few hours without being changed as we thought that might be it, but it doesn't seem to be.

Normal? Suggestions? Don't Worry 'Bout It?

#4 Paper Balls
She loves to play with wadded up paper balls. Chasing them and pouncing, smacking them around, etc (Thanks for the suggestion forums!) However, this morning while playing before I left for work I noticed her starting to use her mouth on the paper, normal play activity I imagine.

My question is if that is safe for her? Or if it is something that I should put away when we aren't home to watch her? I imagine that paper would pass through pretty easily...but I'm not sure. If they were foil, I would definitely put them up.

That's it for now, I'm sure that she will bring MANY more behavioral questions up in the next few days.

Thanks in advance. You guys have already been great and a wealth of information.
 

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I'll try my best to answer what I can-congrats by the way!



Questions about the post/scratching.
- Is the post good? Or does she not have enough room to stretch while scratching? Should we get a straight post? For a kitten it is probably plenty of room to stretch--I notice with my kitten and past kittens that they tend not to stretch quite like an adult does when scratching
- Should I put catnip on it to promote her to play with it? She is only 8-9 weeks old. If she's too young, how do i promote the behavior? Honestly besides taking her to it when she scratches inappropriately there isn't a whole lot you can do to encourage--if you have a toy on a stick, you can play with it around it, or a laser light on it to encourage her to be around it and pounce on it perhaps
- Any specific sprays that people recommend? I read someone suggest Bitter Apple, but I only saw one type of spray at my pet store and it was $40 That's quite a bit for something that I might spray once if it doesn't work.I've seen bitter apple spray around here for like $4-$7 a bottle, so perhaps worth the investment
- Do you recommend returning the kitty condo and buying several cheaper varieties of "scratch toys" in various sizes/layouts to see what she likes?Ultimately she needs more than one place to scratch ideally in areas where she sleeps, as they tend to like to scratch or mark when they get up from napping or sleeping. I have made my own with carpet remnants--my cats prefer the rough back side of carpet, so with some scraps of wood and carpet I very inexpensively made some scratch areas both horizontal and vertical
- If I try the spray bottle, will she equate me with getting sprayed in the face? Or will it make it difficult to bathe her (due to fear of water) if that is ever needed?You don't want to spray her in the face as water in the ears could cause problems, however the key is for her to not really see you with the bottle, so she doesn't know where the water is coming from. My boys have never had an issue with relating me to the bottle but they know the bottle means they need to stop their actionand anymore I usually don't even have to spray just have to pick it up. Bathing them isn't going to be fun regardless of whether you have used a spray bottle or not--unless they are like my Jack who just loves water.

Questions About Place of Sleep
- Any suggestions to promote a specific place? We made her a little bed with blankets that she goes in at times to relax, but has never taken a nap thereThe best way I've found to promote them to sleep somewhere is encourage them to not sleep there. Chances are if its a place you don't want them to be, it will become their favorite. Mine have beds they use on a regular basis but they chose them first and then I made them theirs so to speak

She uses the litterbox, and has yet to "miss" in the two days that we have had her. However, she often whines the whole time that she is arranging the litter just how she likes it. It has never gone more than a few hours without being changed as we thought that might be it, but it doesn't seem to be.

Normal? Suggestions? Don't Worry 'Bout It?

I would worry about her whining in the box, this isn't normal. It could be that she is just constipated but I would check with a vet about this. Have you noticed her struggling to go to the bathroom at all? welcome to cat ownership!

My question is if that is safe for her? Or if it is something that I should put away when we aren't home to watch her? I imagine that paper would pass through pretty easily...but I'm not sure. If they were foil, I would definitely put them up.
I wouldn't leave them out while you are gone--it would probably pass easily but its not a habit you want to start her on.

Good luck and if you have any other questions just ask!

Leslie
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for such thorough answers. After about 5 calls, I was finally able to find a vet that had an opening tomorrow in the evening...and to make it better, I didn't know at the time, but they are a very reputable vet in the area. I will probably change to the cat clinic once they are back from vacation however.

Anyway, she doesn't seem to be having trouble "using" the litterbox. All comes out ok as far as I can tell, but I don't exactly have a lot of experience watching cats #2. We snagged up her latest sample to take with us to the vet tomorrow.

Also, is there a bitter apple for cats? I found it at a nearby mom n pop pet store today, and they only had it for dogs, and they told me that it was more to stop chewing and biting than for keeping cats off things.
 

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You're welcome. I was a first time kitten owner once too, and I know how crazy it can be! I also have an 11 week old kitten myself right now and alot of that kitten crazy stuff is coming back to me!

I'm glad she's going to the vet to get everything checked out, that will give you peace of mind!

You can use bitter apple to discourage wire chewing and that sort of thing--we use a snap of the fingers in our house to let the cats know they are doing something they shouldn't and they respond well to that, some respond well to a clap of the hands or kittens sometimes respond to a hiss, momma cat would hiss at them for doing something wrong.

Leslie
 

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The Bitter Apple for dogs is what I use. One taste and the twins left the wires alone. 8O
 

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I would like to add a few things:

The spray bottle. I never found a way to use it without the cats knowing who was controlling it, so it just became an extension of me saying "No" and being able to enforce it. I would tell them no, or get down, or stop that...and if they didn't listen and heed my warning I could pick up the squirt bottle and squirt them from a distance without having to walk over there to make them. They learned quick and eventually only had to see me reaching for the squirt bottle or just shake it at them. I rarely use it nowadays. It has become my fabric spritzer when ironing.
The only time it is really used on the cats is when one of our allergic friends comes over. If he just holds the squirt bottle in one hand, the cats will stay off of him. His wife loves our cats and she snuggles and scrubbles them. Before they leave she washes her hands and uses the roller-tape to remove cat hair so *she* doesn't give her husband breathing problems.

The Bitter Apple IMO, and other similar products really are only effective to use for keeping a pet from chewing/eating things it shouldn't. The BA works because it has an immediate, nasty flavor. I do not think it is effective for detering scratching, because their claws/paws cannot taste what they are doing, instead they happily claw away and then some time later, when they go to groom themselves, they've got this nasty flavor and they won't understand where it came from.

The whining in the litterbox. Watch her, and if she is eliminating okay, then I don't think there is anything to worry about. I have one cat, LuckyDuck(Louie) who talks when he is in the litterchest. (I have so many cats we built a litterchest, it looks like a hopechest at 2'x2'x4') Anyhow, he gets in there and digs, making small meows, chirps and mutterings. It is like he is talking to himself: I'm digging in the sand, this is a good hole! Oh, whoops, someone already went here. I'll just cover that back up and ... dig .... over .... here! Yeah! This looks like a good spot! Well, no, maybe I'll try digging here. Yeah. Yeah! This is GREAT! Awesome!
Then he is silent while he concentrates as he goes. He kicks some sand over it and then exits the litterchest flap like a rocket to "run-the-stink-off"!

Just in general about scratching posts, you'll have to work your way throughthem to find what your cat likes as far as size, shape, orientation (horizontal vs vertical) and material. Ours love an OLD carpet scratcher I sleeved in denim and the tall sisal fabric post. As for detering scratching furniture...it needs to be consistent, and constant. I like to use double-sided sticky-tape. It looks tacky as heck, but it works. Cats don't like their feet sticking and will teach themselves to avoid it. You can either put the tape on the fabric of the furniture, on fabric you just drape over the furniture or put it on posterboards that you then tape or pin to the furniture which can be easily removed before company comes over.
I like using the posterboard and tape for the kitchen counters and tables, too. Every time the kitty jumps up there, they encounter that nasty sticky stuff and will jump down. It also helps if you do not leave tempting foods up there. Even after my kitties have been 'trained' about the kitchen surfaces and I stop using the poster/tape, I still give the surfaces a wipe with a Clorox wipe before use because I don't know what they do when I am *not* looking and I just feel it is better safe than sorry.
heidi
 

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The Bitter Apple: I've only used it to deter chewing. I don't see how it would help with clawing for the reasons Heidi stated.

The Spray Bottle: It became a game. Cali would brace for it, close her eyes, but would NOT stop what she was doing. :? (It was actually pretty cute, but don't tell the twins!)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wow. Some really nice responses, and all are greatly appreciated.

I ended up not buying the Bitter Apple as we haven't had any problems with chewing things yet (just her toys which is a-ok with me).

We ended up buying packaging tape and doubling it back on itself, instead of double-sided (b/c of cost). It does seem to be working. Problem is she recognizes where it is obviously, and will climb up other places at times. Still 0 interest in her scratch post other than a neat way to get on the couch, and she used the 'hideout' 2-3 times yesterday.

As for the whining in the litterbox. It might just be play, it might not. Everything seems to be coming out ok, and she only whines while digging/moving the sand around. As you said about your cat, she is quiet while doing the deed.

One More Question: Crying/Whining
The only other thing that we'd like to get figured out is her loud crying. I understand that there is a time/place/reasons for it, however, I am having trouble figuring out what those are with her sometimes. When either my wife or I are in the room, she is fine. If we leave the room sometimes she has trouble finding us even if we're in the next room calling her name, so she cries...loudly. As soon as we peak our head around the corner, there might be one more cry, then she stops.

As you can imagine, this is only worse when we are in our bedroom. We don't really want her in there as she loves to walk on your face while sleeping (how do you stop that!!?? it drives me nuts). So, at night when we close the door, she cries..however, at night she tends to stop after about 5 minutes or so. So, we just wait her out.

In the mornings, she is by our door about 10 minutes before we wake up, crying. Unfortunately, we can't wait her out in the morning as we need to get up for work.

Any ideas? Or is it just b/c she's a kitten?

Once again, anything is appreciated. I will also be asking the vet this evening during her first visit.
 

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I think a lot of this behavior probably *is* because she is a kitten. How old is Maya, again? Anything under 6-8mo and she will probably exhibit some 'needy' behaviors, and exhibit more the younger she is.

The morning crying? Cats are *very keen* on "schedules" and once they pick up a routine, they not only learn it, they learn to *anticipate* it, too. If your alarm is set at a certain time each morning, she can learn when that is and she sets her own internal clock...but unlike you, she doesn't get up *after* the alarm...and there is no snooze button on a hungry kitten. :wink
People recommend NOT feeding kittens/cats the moment you get up, because they anticipate and will begin demanding earlier and earlier according to their schedule. It is recommended to feed them at least 30min AFTER you have arisen, so the cat doesn't associate being fed with the alarm clock, but with maybe...after the coffee is made, or after showers and/or getting dressed. Just don't *you* try to eat before you feed the kitten/cat, or you may be fighting them out of your breakfast cereal! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Heidi n Q said:
I think a lot of this behavior probably *is* because she is a kitten. How old is Maya, again? Anything under 6-8mo and she will probably exhibit some 'needy' behaviors, and exhibit more the younger she is.
6-8 months, eh? Well...she's approximately a whopping 9 weeks old and is all of 3 days removed from 19 "brothers and sisters" (owner had 4 litters near the same time all together). I'm sure that being needy and lonely is a part of it, but shouldn't she be able to smell us, or figure out where we are if she watched us leave the room? Or maybe she knocked herself senseless yesterday and isn't quite as sharp :lol: (story at bottom if interested)

I figured that was just being a kitty, but wanted to run it passed others with much more experience. I haven't had a cat since I was probably 13 years old (14 years ago), and even then it was an outside cat who didn't enjoy being petted for more than 5-10 seconds or it would scratch. I'm just a bit nervous as I just want to make sure to do this right and have a well-adjusted, sociable companion for the foreseeable future.

TV Story: Yesterday Maya figured out that she could easily fit behind our television where all of the cords are (TV, DVD, Wii, etc.) Obviously we don't want her back there, so I fished her out with a string and my wife started playing with her to get her mind off of being back there.

While they were playing, I moved the stand about an inch or two closer to the wall, so that it would be too small. Well, Maya obviously didn't know this and got bored with the string my wife had and wanted to go play with cables instead. She ran about 50% speed to where she got in before, except it was too small now. Thunk! 8O

Needless to say, she looked at the tiny space there like, "What the Heck!?". She turned around and tried it again..no luck. She tried 5 times total! Each time a little slower, until she let out a cry and gave up.
 

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Oh, I'm so sorry, but I'm :lol: at your Maya story! Poor, confused kitty! :lol:

Anyhow, as you can see by the behind-TV story, it does take her a bit of time to learn and figure things out. At 9wks old, she is still very much a baby. She won't really begin to feel independent until about 3-4mo old. ...about that age (and sometimes earlier) is when a mother cat begins weaning the litter so she can prepare to birth/raise the next litter. If the kittens have survived to 4-7mo old, this is their time to "do or die" and is a crucial cut-off point in taming and socializing ferals in most feral programs. It can still be done, but it requires much more time/effort on the part of the foster person.
I think your Maya is still just a baby and she will be more needy until she matures a bit more.
 

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My 10wk old kitten cries a lot as well. I think it's fairly typical. Kittens get lonely easily. Honestly I'd say you're lucky that she only cries for 5 minutes every night--Gadget cries and scratches at the door for about half an hour.

I can understand not wanting the kitten to associate water with punishment by using a spray bottle. Have you considered using a bottle of canned air? I haven't actually tried it but I've heard it works well for other people. I honestly wouldn't worry about her associating the punishment with you, so long as you're not scolding her constantly or in a frightening manner. Adult cats "scold" kittens on a regular basis, and it really doesn't affect their bond.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
ogdred said:
Honestly I'd say you're lucky that she only cries for 5 minutes every night--Gadget cries and scratches at the door for about half an hour.
I'm probably underestimating with 5 minutes, but to be honest, her cry is so little at the moment I start to fall asleep through it. It's my wife that it keeps awake (which of course trickles right across the bed to me :roll: ) I start to count her cries after awhile and its even better than counting sheep,although it does tug at the heart strings a bit!
 
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