Learning Cat.

This pretty much sums up my current living situation:

I have described myself as a dog person. Dogs are dependable, trustworthy and loyal. I know what to expect from dogs. I understand their language and their behavior, and I’ve come to expect the love I provide my dogs will be returned to me three-fold, at least. I get dogs. I understand them. They make sense. I know what to do when they’re bad. I know how to discipline them, how to take care of them, how to let them know what, exactly, I expect from them.

But the cat. The cat is a cat. She’s different. Her behavior is not any sort that I could ever try to understand, nor predict. You pick her up, she purrs and then, without warning she is biting and clawing and ripping at your flesh with her devil-cat teeth. In the night, she attacks our feet and sometimes our faces. She thinks fingers are personal play things. She bites ankles and toes and has an amazing talent for walking across keyboards and selectively hitting keys that corrupt and destroy computers. She lurks beneath chairs and couches, waiting for you to pass so she can launch herself, full speed, at your feet and then scamper off to some undisclosed kitty lair.

She went from this cute, fuzzy, little baby kitty:

To this box-eating, broom-chasing, razor-blade factory of hatred and orange fur:

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS CAT. She sticks her feet in our water glasses, begs worse than any dog I’ve ever had, chases the dogs around the house, attempts to commit suicide on a daily  basis by sticking her cat body into Sadie’s food bowl while Sadie is trying to eat and by chewing on any sort of cord she can get her little orange and white paws around. She stalks us. She climbs pant legs, attacks our arms, hair and feet when we attempt any sort of floor-bound exercise. She wakes us up with incessant meowing after she’s been banished to “her” room (my office) in the middle of the night after several failed murder attempts against Andrew and I. She knocks things over for sport – especially water glasses and small, important things that shouldn’t be knocked over – and has a deep love of hairbands, whether they’re on the table or around my wrist, this cat DOES NOT CARE, she will bite at them irregardless of their proximity to my body.

I like to tell her, when she gets all homicidal-like, about that one time when I saved her life, about how I bottle fed her and did not sleep for weeks because I was so obsessed with keeping her little bitch-ass alive that I would wake up in the middle of the night, convinced she was dead, and use my cell phone as a flash light to check on her tiny sleeping body in the cat carrier next to the bed. She does not care. She is not thankful. She acts like we’ve never, ever, ever done anything nice for her and that any small charity on our part was deserved because clearly, in her kitty opinion, she is the best thing since sliced fucking bread.

And she’s smart. She knows she’s got to at least provide a little bit of love to us if she wants to remain a spoiled brat-cat. So she purrs at us, and licks our faces sometimes, and snuggles up at night and takes glorious kitty naps spread across our laps, and she makes us laugh all the damn time. She makes the house fun. We love her, really, even though she always reverts back to devil-cat mode.

I knew she would be a cat. I held no grand illusions that she would stay little and adorable forever. I knew she would grow up. What I did not know is that she would turn into a homicidal maniac hellbent on spending all her waking hours attempting to destroy us, terrorizing all the non-kitty contents of this whole entire house.

Send help. And advice on how to survive kitten attacks. Also, band-aids.

30 thoughts on “Learning Cat.

  1. Awwww itty bitty kitty all growed up!!! Haha. Remeber though, even though she is bigger now, she’s still a kitten (much the same way that my bosses 12 month old akita is still a puppy…as I remind myself when she eats my lunch), and she’ll probably be all crazy for a few months yet, but she should calm down. Hopefully.

    This is my favourite thing…. it’s been circulated lots in emails.
    http://livejamie.com/post/25285828/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-cat-and-dog

    1. I LOVE that! I’ve seen it before and it’s spot on. The dogs spend the whole day excited about their FAVORITE THING. They’re so, so easy to please.

    1. She does rough-house a bit with the dogs but I definitely think being separated from her litter mates at such an early age has made it tougher for her to understand how much force is necessary when playing with others. I so, so wish we could have captured more from her litter and given them homes (although maybe not all with us!).

      1. When Sergio was a kitten and he did something he wasn’t supposed to, Ryan would pick him up by the back of his neck and it totally calms him down. It’s how the momma cat picked up her young, so maybe sometimes you can try that if you can even get your hands near the cat without having it bitten off?

        1. That works, as does blowing in her little cat face when she’s being particularly crazy. Also, snapping seems at her seems to work too. She hates the noise. It would be easier if she wasn’t so damn cute.

  2. hahaha i love this, because your kitty reminds me of my babygirl at my parent’s house. it’s too bad she’s not yours, because my cat actually thinks she’s a dog – she plays fetch, does tricks, etc. it’s the funniest thing. add in the fact that she’s a tiny little runt that never really grew full size, so she’s always teeny tiny but can boss the older cat around like no other. she also used to um, pass gas when she was a kitten, RIGHT IN YOUR FACE, so now she’s earned the nickname “poopypants.” charming. but i love her. and i love when other people love cats, too!

  3. Kyra Kyra Kyra.
    Oh dear.
    Yeah, she still is a kitten. I couldn’t make it through the night with Ringo or Nibbles when they were her age, without being attacked in my sleep or hearing something crashing.

    She’ll mellow with age, for sure.

    Have you gotten claw clippers yet?

    1. We have not gotten clippers (but will!), but the vet trimmed her nails when she was under for her spay surgery. I think she realizes her nails are clipped and decided to increase the force of her bites to make up for the lack of complete razor-blade sharpness.

      And even when she’s being awful, she’s still the cutest little kitty I’ve ever met.

  4. Ash

    Funniest blog – or anything! – I’ve read in ages, T.!
    I’m sorry she’s being so, well, kitten-like. I’ve heard about these that might help with the claws:
    http://www.softpaws.com/

    I’m sure there are places you can buy them cheaper than this site, but they’re worth looking into.
    I suggest trying to think like mama-cat would – that’s the approach we always took with the canines. There was even a book called “Mother Knows Best” about dog behavior – there’s got to be similar info for cats. Maybe watch something on Animal Planet or NatGeo about lions and how they raise their young? They get pretty rough on them sometimes, swatting them when they go too far, picking them up by the scruff, but are really very tolerant.
    We have occasionally used a spray bottle of water on Dusty. It works. Sometimes.
    Mostly I think Kyra just has to learn that cats do NOT rule, no matter what she thinks!

  5. OMG girl be CAREFUL with the hair ties! My cat Tyson (who used to be a terror and is still a handful, but has gotten much better since we got a 2nd cat) used to eat hair ties all the time and then one night he kept throwing up and we took him to an emergency clinic and they had to do emergency surgery and removed about 30 from his stomach! He almost died! Seriously, don’t let her play with hair ties!

    Besides that, if you have the space you really may want to think about getting a 2nd kitten (or cat, maybe having a more dominant cat would be a good idea). Tyson was a terror – knocking things over, opening cabinets, attacking our feet at night, scratching, biting (he’s named after Mike Tyson), shredding toilet paper…) but we looked at some animal behavior websites that said he was probably acting out since he was bored (although, we didn’t have any other pets and he was alone most of the day) and lonely. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the tips on the hair ties – I hadn’t really thought about her eating them, mostly because she seems so hellbent on sweeping them into the air vents on the floor.

      Initially we were really hoping to capture another stray kitten in the neighborhood but when that didn’t happen we mostly abandoned the idea of getting another kitty. It’s something to still consider though.

  6. yeah i know nothing about cats or dogs but that video is amazing, haha. no idea how i hadn’t seen it before, but it’s pretty hilarious. good luck with the kitty!

  7. Jenn

    Hahaha okay from the water to the feet attacking to the hair band thing, I could swear you were talking about my cat Louie. HE DOES ALL THOSE THINGS. and if it helps at all, I’ve never had any other cat do them so I think it’s a face they’ll grow out of. I think of it as te cat version of the terrible two’s 🙂

    1. I’ve thought of it the same way – the cat version of the terrible two’s – I think the dogs went through an awful phase too, it’s just been a while and I’ve forgotten it. Hopefully time will mellow her crazy.

  8. Awww kitteh. My cat actually mellowed out as she grew up THANK GOD, but sometimes I just want to throw her outside and leave her there. She chews on everything and sometimes eats my hair ties (and subsequently vomits them back up) and meows all the time. But she’s cute and probably just bored in my tiny apartment and most of the time she’s very snuggly and lovable so I can’t get too mad at her. It was my decision to get her, after all.

    I also had her front-declawed which was the best decision ever. I know some people think that that’s inhumane but the way my vet’s office does it is better than the traditional method, plus it was done when she was spayed so it was all done at once when she was under. I still have to trim her back toes but it’s not that bad.

    Anyway my POINT is that my cat was a devil cat too when she was a teenager cat but when they hit, like, age 3, they calm down a bit. And when they get old, all they do is sleep and cuddle. (We’ve always had cats in our family – Dogs are another story. Dogs make me very uneasy. I don’t understand them and I don’t like being jumped on. I’m sure we can trace it back to a traumatic experience in my youth. I don’t know.)

    Also: cats are ungrateful bitches. That part never goes away.

  9. Ah yes, Micky and I went through this stage. All kitties do, but when they grow up without mom-kitty to put them in their place, they’re much worse. (They also tend to bite more.) I highly recommend SoftPaws, unless she needs her nails to remind the dogs that she can take care of herself. Also, a spray bottle of water can be a beautiful tool. (A can of compressed air works well, too, but it might make the dogs anxious…?) It sounds like you’ve put her in time out when necessary, and you can use time out as a punishment for any time she gets out of hand. (Cats are very smart–just like dogs–so my philosophy has always been that if the behavior would be unacceptable to me if it were a dog, then I correct the kitty for it.) In my experience scruffing doesn’t work that well as a correction tool for bad behavior. Mom-kitty scruffs her kittens to move them around, but not as a form of punishment. It does help calm them, so it can be used as an instant time out.

    As far as the cords go, we also had that issue and I found a “kitty repellent spray” at the pet store that seemed to help. There are plenty of cats out there that chew cords, but my personal opinion is that orphan kitties do it a lot more than those raised by a kitty mom.

    Finally, if you don’t already have one, a laser pen light can provide hours on end of kitty play and exercise! And all you have to do is sit there and move the light around for them.

    1. Thanks for the SoftPaws recommendation – we will definitely be looking into that. We have used the spray bottle with some success. When it is not spraying her in the face, Kyra thinks its really, really cool to chew on it. She has no fear, this cat. The vet also told us that bottle babies are always the worst when it comes to behavioral problems since they didn’t have mom cat or sibling cats there to learn from growing up.

      And the laser pen is MUCH LOVED by both the dogs and the kitty.

  10. Our cat was like that when she was a kitten too. She really mellowed down as she got older. I remember that first year, I had to shut our bedroom door at night because she definitely did NOT understand the whole “I’m sleeping, so please don’t bug me” thing. She’d claw our feet and rub her little kitty face in our faces and pounce on us. I think it’s a good idea to tire her out, so I really like Alverna’s idea of the laser pen. She needs stimulation, and that should help chill her out after some serious play time. She’s definitely the cutest itty bitty kitty I’ve ever seen!

  11. I did this… twelve months ago with Charlie. Oh Boy.
    He still attacks faces at times, he still chases my feet under the blankets, he still launches attacks at me from unknown kitty lairs…. But he makes us laugh. He HAS settled. He’s gone from running laps around my bedroom at night to sleeping curled up on ‘his’ blanket at the end of the bed.
    Charlie eats my earplugs from work sometimes and vomits up yellow expanded globs of foam. Sometimes he falls off the windowsill. He still gets the ‘crazy eyes’ and the ‘tail flick of doom’ and it’s generally those times when you learn to just sit still…. and don’t make eye contact….. Like in Jurassic Park. They sense movement…. He will leave things well alone for months and then suddenly in a moment of cat-rage he will decide THAT little paris tower souvenir is EXACTLY the toy he has been looking for – while I slow motion fling myself at him to get it off him before he does what he normally does with toys and flick it under the linen cupboard door, never to be seen again.
    I wrap my arm in something, or pull my work jumper down over my hand and rough Charlie up when I get home of a night time. It burns off some energy. He expects it and I get in trouble off him now if I don’t do it…

    1. That is the thing about Kyra – she makes us laugh so hard that it’s impossible to stay mad at her for more than a few minutes. She’s just too funny, too silly, too damn adorable to really be angry with. And I love her so, so much.

  12. This is why I love cats so much! Such personalities 🙂

    It will get better. When we got Marley, he was 8 weeks old and JUST like Kyra is now. He would be the most adorable, precious ball of orange fuzz curled up on our laps and without a second’s notice, he’d turn into a spaz cat. The climbing? He did that. Up our legs during dinner, or any other time when food was even remotely close to us. I would say by 6 months he calmed down, and by 1 year, he turned into a lazy boy only capable of lifting his head at us if food is offered to him. They are so smart – sometimes I think cats are smarter than dogs because they know exactly how to play their humans.

    I think when they are this young and have this much energy, playing is really important because it wears them out. All of our kitties love laser lights – they run all over our floors trying to chase the red dot. Catnip is good too because once they are done they pretty much pass out for a few hours. Anything that has feathers is good too – Nala will bat around this little toy with feathers sticking out for hours and hours. I guess you’d have to be careful that the doggies didn’t swallow any little kitty toys, though.

    Oh, and the claws? They get better over time. Maybe you can get her a scratching post (they have the tall standing kind or the corrugated cardboard kind that kind of dulls their claws). If you can, get her to let you trim her claws now while she is young so that she will let you do it for the rest of her life. I wish I had done that with Marley because we can’t get anywhere near his claws to trim them now.

    PS – She is absolutely adorable! I could stare at her pretty kitty face all day.

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