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Disciplining the Begging Kitty

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  • Disciplining the Begging Kitty

    I still have the pleasure of fostering a gorgeous black 20 week old kitten that I posted about previously. He gets along fabulously with both my pit and our other adult kitty and is such a little cuddle bug. But man, is he ever The Devil!! Said very lovingly of course.

    The kitty's background is unknown, but he is most likely a stray although his weight really wasnt too bad. Unfortunately, he thinks he is just dying for food all of the time. Any food left anywhere (in containers, bags, drawers, cupboards) is fair game. He will eat his way through a bag or container to get to the food. Needless to say I have had to kitten proof a few cupboards and I keep stuff "hidden" in the microwave or oven. Kitty's are not allowed on the counters and kitchen table and that is very slowly sinking in (Yay!), however I cannot eat in peace ever. He will even mug my pit for her dinner so he is separated.

    My dog is not allowed to beg, and I can eat at my coffee table and she isn't allowed to look or sniff at my food...I wish kitty could leave me alone as well. He will climb up your leg, jump you from behind, whatever it takes to steal your food. He is slowly learning that "ACH!" means stop what you are doing, and is also learning to stay off the coffee table, but I'm getting tired of being mugged for my food. Yes, I can lock him up in his kitty bedroom but I would like to stop this behavior in hopes that it will make him easier to adopt.

    Should I discipline him? How? Or just put him away and make sure he eats when I eat? Remember, he is a foster so I want to do right by him so he has a better chance. This guy is pretty darn hard headed and has been scruffed a few times for climbing up my legs (claws out, ouch!), I don't want to hurt him but I'm constantly fighting for my food. A spray bottle with water doesn't affect him at all. Scruffing him (removing him from my leg by picking him up by his scruff and sending him on his way) also doesn't deter him and I can't tell you how many times I have accidently kicked him when he runs under my feet and he just doesn't care. I need a Boss Mare to come knock him into place Or maybe positive reinforcement instead of negative?

    ETA: This kitty is not mean or really attacking in any way. He is very very sweet but just doesn't understand that my food is really mine and I don't share well.
    Last edited by MtyMax; Jan. 3, 2013, 11:19 AM. Reason: ETA: More info

  • #2
    Well, I thought I had a suggestion for you til I read that he doesn't seem to be deterred by the squirt bottle.

    Another thing I've seen work is a pop can with some pennies. Shake, makes a startling noise. But he may be more motivated than the average kitteh.

    Maybe clicker training? Since he's food motivated, maybe you could clicker train him to hang out on a mat/towel/rug?
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

    Comment


    • #3
      Buy a nice ripe navel orange, the kind with the really thick peel. It's full of oil, and if you pull a piece of the peel off, fold it in half and squeeze you'll get a tiny spritz of very pungent citrus. Cats hate it. Combine that with your verbal AH! or GIT! or TSST! and I bet you'll make your point.

      I've also resorted to a finger flick/snap on top of a pushy feline's head. Doesn't do much more usually than make them blink and go 'Oh! Were you talking to me?' but a few repetitions and they eventually get the point.

      I'm also not very delicate about removing them from the table. I don't throw them or anything, but it's definitely an unceremonious scoop and drop, or a moderately forceful shove.

      Comment


      • #4
        My new guy is the EXACT same! He'll sneak into cupboards (I'm having to put the dang baby-proof things on!), try to steal the dog's chews, all kinds of frantic *NEED* of food. FWIW, I free feed dry so there's always kibble and he gets canned for breakfast. I keep hoping he'll settle down, but it's been 2 months now and nothing has changed at all. If he wasn't so dang cute, he'd be annoying as hell!

        I attributed his behavior to growing up almost exclusively in an adoption center (Petsmart) and not getting the mama-cat/mama-human butt kicking he needs. But he ignores all discipline. It just seems to roll right past him and he carries right on with his nefarious ways. Sigh...
        Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

        You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.

        Comment


        • #5
          Add a bit of lemon juice to your water bottle. I think is was suggested to me by another poster on here, when the orange devil cat was just a wee thing.

          Worked like a charm!

          Comment


          • #6
            cats don't really respond to "discipline" or corrections very well- they tend to not learn much from such things other than to be afraid, which is why many people think cats are hard to train. They do, however, respond extremely well to positive reinforcement. So what the cat wants is food- what you need to teach him is an acceptable way to get what he wants, which is food.
            Do you have a clicker? cats catch on very quickly to clicker-training. Use a clicker and bits of food to teach him that if he goes and sits on a particular mat, he gets food. Feed him his meals on the mat to drive home the lesson that food comes to cats on mats. Then put the mat right next to you next time you eat, and repeat the lesson- if he's on the mat, he gets food, and if he's not on the mat, he gets nada and perhaps also gets your ACHH noise. Once he's figured that out, you can start giving him less and less food per minute spent on the mat, and also start moving the mat further away from you. The goal being a cat who, when he sees you are eating, he runs to sit on his mat in the corner and waits while you eat, and then when you are done you give him a tidbit on his mat.
            Cats are highly trainable if you use the right strategy.
            Alternatively, get a small dog crate, and put him in there with his own meal while you eat so he can't practice bad behaviors like climbing on you and begging.

            Comment


            • #7
              My Oliver begs when husband eats breakfast. Does not beg when I eat anything. Husband is quite convinced that this begging is MY fault, not his, because I very occasionally feed Ollie at the table. But I don't do so all the time, whereas Husband got in the habit of feeding Ollie at breakfast every. single. time. Reasoning with Husband doesn't work on this issue. Oliver comes to attention every time Husband starts cooking breakfast.
              What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                I defended my dinner last night. With a Clementine! Bwuahahahaha. It doesn't contain the juice that a navel orange does, but it worked well enough. I may try for a little lemon juice on my counters to keep him off those as well.

                Originally posted by saje View Post
                Buy a nice ripe navel orange, the kind with the really thick peel. It's full of oil, and if you pull a piece of the peel off, fold it in half and squeeze you'll get a tiny spritz of very pungent citrus. Cats hate it. Combine that with your verbal AH! or GIT! or TSST! and I bet you'll make your point.

                I've also resorted to a finger flick/snap on top of a pushy feline's head. Doesn't do much more usually than make them blink and go 'Oh! Were you talking to me?' but a few repetitions and they eventually get the point.

                I'm also not very delicate about removing them from the table. I don't throw them or anything, but it's definitely an unceremonious scoop and drop, or a moderately forceful shove.
                Wendy - The clicker training is a great idea. I do have one (for the dog but I never really used it) and I may give it a try. Kitty is smart, but very very driven for food. I HATE having to discipline him, because well it isn't working. It has worked on other cats, but not this one.

                Thanks for the ideas.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Is he actually hungry? Does he have free-feed dry food and he's been wormed?

                  IMO, you can't teach a cat anything if he has a direct conflict of interest. E. g. he's actually hungry and you want him to respect your boundaries with food.

                  You have a couple of choices.

                  Lock his recalcitrant butt up during your meal times. (Keep reading for a reason to do this.)

                  Or train him via a two-pronged strategy:

                  1. Ignore.
                  2. Open up the Gates of Hell if he mugs you. He should believe that he's going to die for 3 seconds if he gets into your grill for food. When he's scrambling to save his bacon, go back to Ignore Mode. Don't reach out to praise him.

                  IMO, he's at the Ambitious Kitten phase. That makes kamikazes of them. When he gets a little more maturity and the Wild Kitten edge comes off, he'll be more trainable because he'll be more "into" taking care of himself and making his life easy.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Funny thread!
                    I'm not a cat person but my daughter has one. Daughter is gone to college and of course cat is still here.
                    I have trained her not to jump onto the areas on which we prepare food: whenever she did, she'd get shoved off with a stern NO. It didn't take long, she hates being touched or yelled at.
                    Her other "thing" is to finish the dog's leftover breakfast. So, I say NO and spray her with water every time she eats the dog's food. She doesn't realize it's me spraying her. It took 2 "sprayings" yesterday, and today she hasn't been near the dog's food.
                    Good luck with your kitty! Begging is one of my big pet peeves in dog, cat, or kids. lol
                    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by wendy View Post
                      cats catch on very quickly to clicker-training. Use a clicker and bits of food to teach him that if he goes and sits on a particular mat, he gets food.
                      The cat on the mat! I love it! All apologies to Dr. Seuss, but it's Friday and I'm easily amused...
                      "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I second the "make sure he's not legitimately hungry first" thing. If he's 20 weeks, he needs lots of little but frequent meals throughout the day/night. Once my little guy was thoroughly dewormed and felt well enough to eat, he was constantly ravenous! He'd get canned kitten food four times a day, but always had access to kitten kibble and that helped him to chill out on the food neediness.

                        My beasties don't actually want anything that's on my plate, they just want to sniff it. Similarly if I'm prepping anything to cook. So, I usually let them sniff something and they leave me alone. I pick something I know they won't try to lick -- a wedge of onion, the vegetables (before I've put any butter on them) etc. The orange is a good trick too, just as long as it's done casually (let him come into his own punishment with finding it hideous to sniff).

                        Mine satiate their curiosity then off they go to lie behind my feet to trip over.....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'll have to get a picture of mine someday. My table sits in front of a window and thus is a cat window seat. Every cat I've ever had, I have trained that they do NOT cross the line (visible leaf line) while I'm eating. I eat at the non window end, and they wait at the window end behind the leaf line halfway. Polite and mannerly cats who wait nicely get a nibble at the end only when I have finished and put the plate over onto their side. Cats who cross the line get FIRMLY evicted and get no nibble at that meal. It's worked for every last cat, including one the breeder was laughing at me saying this one would beat me, was a pure hooligan, and mugged her all the time. They do know where that line is. They line up behind it. If they are past the line and I start to prepare a meal, they get up and move behind it to wait before I even have to say anything. They also know that when I'm typing (which I do for a living), they must ask permission to jump into my lap and not just spring up and maybe whack another cat or the keyboard. Absolute consistency was the key in teaching them.

                          But on an interesting smelling meal, say turkey, I'll have all the cats there lined up at the line a few feet away from me. They know if they break, they are out of the treating for this meal. But the picture has occasionally reminded me of a starting gate full of horses lined up, just waiting for those doors to spring.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'd like to see the Leaf Line.

                            I had an illegal but quality Huge Slacker my senior year in college. He was keeping me company while I stayed in my dorm room and wrote a long honors thesis. He learned that the Desk Of Everything Important was the one off limits place there.

                            It was no problem. Evicting him quickly a few times was enough. Before he was fully trained, but had the idea, I could give him the "Really? You don't want me to come over there" look when I saw him contemplating it.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Dressagetraks? Pics, or it never happened!!! Must see! That sounds great!
                              A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                              Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I go to the store again when I get paid mid week, and I'll pick up some turkey to get everyone's attention. Usually, on not-so-special meals, I only have two regulars through the meal, HRH Rosalind and Coda, and the others just come at the end. I don't normally eat with my camera, either.

                                Meanwhile, though, here is the table in question, to set the scene.

                                http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/k...ps08b2e6be.jpg

                                And here is Rosalind during a meal. Note the line (and the halo).

                                http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/k...ps52164863.jpg

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'm sending my cat to you! He is absolutely a freak about food, and then he gets into stuff just to be an ass. The other day he got the top off an ice cream pail of cookies and I found a cookie on the floor in the other room. Otherwise he gets into cupboards and drags out muffin wrappers, etc. We have childproof latches on the cupboards with the bread, potato chips and now the brown and powdered sugar. If a piece of the bread bag is sticking out of the door he will pull on it so the bread inside gets smashed. Stop laughing, I have wanted to boot this cat out into the cold dark world so many times.

                                  He chewed the crap out of the ice cream style buckets that the dog chews come in, he's chewed through a bag of cat litter (that now gets crammed into another large cupboard) and bags of cat and dog food (also secure now). I can't leave suet out, or anything remotely edible. He's a few years old and the younger stray that showed up is so much better behaved. Yes, I know it's the evil older one doing it.

                                  The Sscat spray only works for so long, and I am leary about the scat mats. I really think he'd walk on them, and I would have to spend a fortune to cover everything with them. The lemon juice might work though, although I think he's so crazy that he might like it. I wish he just begged at meal times. I could handle that.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Alright, scene is set. Now....grab your camera and prepare a feast.

                                    Originally posted by dressagetraks View Post
                                    I go to the store again when I get paid mid week, and I'll pick up some turkey to get everyone's attention. Usually, on not-so-special meals, I only have two regulars through the meal, HRH Rosalind and Coda, and the others just come at the end. I don't normally eat with my camera, either.

                                    Meanwhile, though, here is the table in question, to set the scene.

                                    http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/k...ps08b2e6be.jpg

                                    And here is Rosalind during a meal. Note the line (and the halo).

                                    http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/k...ps52164863.jpg
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Haha! I was thinking of plant-type leaves, not table leaves.

                                      Looking at the "before" picture, I just want to point out that your cats are behemoth WALRUSES all flapped out on a relatively small rock. I can't believe they can all fit behind the Leaf Line.

                                      Being huge walruses, I see why you needed to train them.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        I have no idea if this guy is actually hungry when he is mugging me. He gets 4-5 small meals a day of either dry kitten kibble or a decent quality wet food. He has put on weight and is no longer ribby, but still lean. The little guy eats a good deal more than my adult cat.

                                        Also, free feeding isn't really an option. The adult cat will eat and eat and eat. Generally when I go out of town for an overnight trip, I leave a full bowl of kibble. Well, this adult cat will eat the entire bowl (about 2 days worth) in one sitting. Blah. Kitten is the same.

                                        I spend a lot of time working him him over the weekend. He can look but not touch and he seems to be getting it

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