Manic Moggie Manipulators

To control the uncontrollable, to manage the unmanageable, to fight where all hope is hopeless - that's what training cats is all about.

If your cat is doing things that annoy you, can you go where no mortal being has dared to go and change the cat's habits? It is possible, but you need to be a master in hand-to-paw combat and armed with sophisticated weaponry.

Cats which claw furniture, soil on the hand-tufted Persian rug, scratch their owners and steal food from tabletops can be cured using my Manic Moggie Manipulators.

Paws on Punishment

Most pet owners look at punishment as their first line of attack for annoying behaviours. If Claude claws the couch and you bash Claude's butt with a rolled newspaper, Claude will stop clawing the couch.

That's what most people think, but ask Claude and you get a different perception. He associates the butt bashing with you coming near him, not with the claw sharpening. Thus Claude learns to avoid you when you have the newspaper in your hand. While he may run from you and you thus puff your chest with victorious pride, I bet Claude will be back clawing the furniture again when you are not looking.

Punishment needs to be used cautiously as it can make matters worse.

A better method is to employ remote punishment where the cat thinks the object of abuse is the source of punishment but the rule is - don't hurt your cat.

The Commando Mouse Trap Technique

So, the first Devious Device in your munitions store is the mouse trap. We are not aiming to hurt the perplexing puss-cat - just to startle it. Set the trap and place it upside down in front of the couch - carefully. Now place a sheet of newspaper over the trap.

When Claude places a paw on the newspaper, the trap is activated and Claude is suitably startled and runs off! When Claude runs off, scoop him up in mock concern and comfort the poor startled puss-cat, rubbing his furry little face and showing him that you are the 'good guy' in this nasty, scary scenario.

Also cover the clawed furniture temporarily with aluminium foil, trim your cat's claws weekly and place a scratching post next to the abused furniture. Scent the scratching post with Claude's own body scent by rubbing his cheeks and feet with a damp, warmed face towel and rub this towel over his scratching post.

Masking the Surprise

In your armoury you will also have Devious Device No.2 - a roll of wide masking tape. If Fang steals food from the dining table, or kitchen bench, the masking tape could well solve the problem.

Make loops of tape about two centimetres long with the sticky surface on the outside and place these in strategic locations over the table and bench tops. Leave some tasty looking morsels in the centre of the sticky surprise so that Fang realises that food on benches is out of bounds.

Sonic Surprises

Ultrasonic devices are sometimes useful for cats. There are a variety of devices available from electronic stores designed to repel cats and dogs. They are harmless when used properly and cats appear not to be able to determine that the sound is coming from you.

If Snoozy jumps onto your lounge-room table for a sleep or if Schnapps has that evil, black-eyed look indicating he is going to latch onto your calf as you walk past, a one-second blast with the ultrasonic unit may repel the evil cat. In my experience, about 60 percent of cats (and only about 20 percent of dogs) are repelled by such a device, so check if you can get your money back if it doesn't work.

Also from electronic stores you will find a variety of movement activated alarms or visitor chimes. Some are quite cheap. If you are trying to establish when a cat is visiting a banned area of the house, such as an area in which it may be spraying or soiling, a visitor chime at the doorway to that room will alert you to Kitty's wee intentions.

Water Works

Of course, no anti-cat arsenal is complete without a water spray bottle, available for a dollar or two from the supermarket. These water sprays are extremely accurate and travel some distance. If Claude mauls Maude and you are abhorred, a quick spray when the pair is just starting to spar may be all you need to interrupt the brawl. Follow this by picking up the most aggressive manic moggie and 'timing it out' in the bathroom for a few minutes.

There is a sense of deep achievement in knowing that you have outsmarted your puss-cat. It happens rarely as cats are the masters in one-upmanship but armed with the Manic Moggie Manipulators you are more likely to succeed.

By Dr Cam Day BVSc - Last updated 16 November 2012

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