How do you "train" a cat?

(43 Posts)
willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 10:07:33

So, one of my cats is a demon. She walks on everything, jumps on everything - kitchen sides, tables, up the curtains (although now she's bigger, she falls off them). We chase her off the sides and table when we see her doing it, and she knows she isn't meant to be there - I can tell by the way she looks at me, and scampers off if I happen to come in when she's on the side....

Yesterday she knocked over something reasonably valuable (of DP's) by trying to jump at it. It's an electical item, and we don't know yet if it still works or not. DP is mightily pissed off. He's also pissed off with me as he thinks the cats should be trained, like a dog might be, not to jump on things, on sides etc. He also thinks I was not sympathetic to him being so pissed off when the cat knocked this thing over. I said I was sorry (although I didn't break it myself), and that of course if the thing didn't work any more, I would replace it for him.

I should add the cats were mine before DP moved in. They are 18 months old, so fully grown. It's only one of them that is a problem in this way. The other one behaves like a normal cat, she lies around sleeping in the sun rather than constantly trying to jump/climb/knock things over.

I should add, DP being pissed off about this is a bit of a trigger for me - a previous partner of mine hated my previous cats so much that I ended up giving them away. He didn't last long after that as I massively resented him for it (amongst other issues). So I feel protective of these cats.

So my question is, can we train a cat not to do these things? If so, how? The only thing I can think of is to shoo her off things, and keep doors shut so she doesn't go into eg. the lounge and destroy things.

Any ideas?

taptonaria27 Tue 23-Feb-16 10:09:58

Train your partner not to leave things where they can't be knocked off by the cat?
Seriously, it's nigh on impossible afaik to train a cat

VimFuego101 Tue 23-Feb-16 10:11:13

Cats aren't really trainable. They think they own you and try to train you. They hate citrus so I spray lemon spray to deter them from certain areas. They also hate silver foil so I put layers of that on the kitchen counter for a few weeks and they don't jump up there any more.

cozietoesie Tue 23-Feb-16 10:34:03

I have mainly Siamese and they can be trained. I don't fancy your chances with other breeds though.

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 10:43:00

Thanks. These are just domestic short haired, bog standard cats. I have had numerous cats throughout my life, and have never "trained" any of them! I do keep doors shut so they don't sleep on my bed etc, but I don't want to live in a house where all the doors are shut!

Taptonaria, unfortunately this is a thing that stands alone, it's not that he left something lying about. I do understand he was pissed off, as it's an expensive thing, and it's part of a system that he's spent years developing (think surround sound type thing).

I didn't know they don't like citrus, so might try that one.

This one definitely thinks she owns us rather than the other way around!

stumblymonkey Tue 23-Feb-16 10:46:07

You can train them not to walk on certain surfaces but not on ALL surfaces.

I trained mine not to go on kitchen surfaces by telling then 'NO' and shoo-ing them off and/or spraying them with a bit of water from a plant sprayer/watergun.

They occasionally sneak up when I'm not in but now generally avoid them.

However it is in a cat's nature to want to be up high where they feel safe. They are not the same as dogs. If you tried to train them to not go on any surfaces you will end up with cats that are nervous, unsettled and they will probably start to associate being unhappy (shouting/water) with YOU rather than getting up on surfaces.

Personally I would never get rid of my cats for a man. They are family and I wouldn't get rid of them any more than a child.

I would strongly tell him that you come as a package...you love your cats and he needs to accept them and the fact that they are not the same as a dog. Accidents happen with any pets, if it wasn't a cat knocking something off it would be a dog chewing something. He needs to not leave valuable things in places they can be knocked off and if he does then it's his fault, not the cats.

stumblymonkey Tue 23-Feb-16 10:47:51

X-post. I see it was something that wasn't just left lying around but still...it's not the cats 'fault'.

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 10:54:26

Stumblymonkey, I think along the same lines as you. I wouldn't get re-home my cats for a man ever again.

I also feel that the thing is a thing, it can be replaced, but the cats are part of the family, and as daft as it may be, I love them. They mean way more to me than any possession. The way I see it, the cat was just being a cat.

What surprised me most was that DP is an animal lover too - he has never been anything but kind to the cats before (he wasn't unkind yesterday, just pissed off), he has also had cats before, and he has added his dog to the family when he moved in!

cozietoesie Tue 23-Feb-16 11:00:02

It's OK in my view to be momentarily T'd off - I would criticise myself if I broke something valuable - as long as you don't dwell on it. As family living spaces, houses should be 'proofed' to the common denominator, really, so not the cat's fault in any abiding way.

potap123 Tue 23-Feb-16 11:01:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

potap123 Tue 23-Feb-16 11:04:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 11:18:34

Yes, I agree it's fine to be pissed off. The problem is he's still pissed off today, and I think he really does think a cat can be trained like he trained his dog (who is beautifully trained and a delightful dog, it has to be said). He was talking about us both being consistent. If that means shooing them off stuff, then fine. But I fear his expectations are a bit too high.

The thing I actually like about cats is that they can be unpredictable and a bit haughty. I like their "attitude".

cozietoesie Tue 23-Feb-16 11:38:09

Oh you certainly have to be consistent - if only about a few main things (we have three house rules for cats on which I am implacable) - but you can't have any family member going around and scared to move for fear of being yelled at. What would be the point of having them live with you then?

Even the best trained family member can have 'moments' as well. I include humans in that - how many times do people rush to do something for example and have an accident? Small perhaps but even so - if that Ming vase has been put in the wrong place and is sent flying, you only have yourself to blame.

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 12:05:00

Out of interest, what are your three rules cozietoesie? I already:

- shut them in the utility room at night to stop running up & down stairs
- shut bedroom doors so no sleeping on pillows leaving hair everywhere
- shoo them off kitchen surfaces and dining table

lubeybooby Tue 23-Feb-16 12:10:59

Give them places to go - high cat shelves, cat tree, make sure it's stable and they can get to it - if they are house cats, consider getting a catflap and letting them do their thing. This tamed my wild little one immensely

dcourtney Tue 23-Feb-16 12:15:27

Well to some extent cats can be trained, but it's limited and probably best to start when they are kittens. For example, with my cat who we got at about 12 weeks old, we have trained him to go to his cat tree for treats. That is his treat spot, he gets treats nowhere else. It's helpful because if we are going out and we don't want him to be trying to escape, we feed him a treat as we are about to go out the door. He's got so used to running to his spot when we get ready to go that we don't always need to actually give him a treat!

But then in other areas we aren't doing so well - he is SO bitey! He's only 9 months old and just wants to play rough, and nothing we've done has worked to stop him. I don't really see how you can keep him off high surfaces either.

Also your cat sounds like a perfectly normal cat to me - my cat is exactly the same. Mine has a really high prey drive, do you have toys and daily play with the cat? Playing for 10-15 minutes a few times every day would probably go a long way to reducing his disruptiveness, sounds like he might be a bit bored. I understand it can be hard to find the time (I am the same) but it might make a difference. And I'd highly recommend a good tall cat tree - if you have something as high or higher than the shelves your cat can be encouraged to use that. Cats like being up high, it makes them feel safe.

Good luck!

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 12:30:50

Boredom could be a factor. She is better in the evening, likes to sit with us, and be stroked etc. They have a cat flap and unrestricted access to outside.

Ho hum, looks like there are some things we can do, but ultimately the cat knocked something, it fell and broke. C'est la vie.

cozietoesie Tue 23-Feb-16 12:36:15

No going on kitchen surfaces.

No scratching unauthorised surfaces.

No biting in bed.

smile

That last is because I'm a sore trial to anyone, cat or human, in bed. I fidget. grin Interestingly, though, both that and the no kitchen surfaces seem to transmogrify in Siamese minds. Broaden a bit.

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 13:05:29

I don't have the scratching issue - they have never scratched anything inside, and use the fence in the garden.

It really is just the jumping on the kitchen side and knocking stuff over - the demon cat is forever jumping onto shelves. In 18 months though, this is the first thing she's actually broken - it's a bugger that it's DP's serious pride and joy.

cozietoesie Tue 23-Feb-16 13:08:28

A pride and joy might rankle for a few days even if you had broken it, I guess.

Has it affected his treatment of/attitude towards the cats, though?

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 13:22:50

No, he was the same with the cat as normal.

cozietoesie Tue 23-Feb-16 13:28:42

Maybe he's just railing at the gods then but will get over it. wink

He may even realise he's being unreasonable but just can't stop immediately because it was a pride and joy.

Do a quick check of the house and put the Ming in an attic if needed?

Outaboutnowt Tue 23-Feb-16 13:30:51

My mum has been trying to train her cats not to walk on the kitchen surfaces for 7 years now.
And it has worked - she has never seen them jump up for years. It's just the paw prints all along the worktops first thing in the morning that give them away!

Seriously I don't believe you can really train cats. The more you try to get them to do something, or to stop something, the more they think 'Fuck you' and do the opposite.

willconcern Tue 23-Feb-16 13:36:19

Fingers crossed Cozietoesie

Fluffycloudland77 Tue 23-Feb-16 17:30:42

Is this an expensive speaker balanced on spikes?

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