Bonjour, Most Esteemed and Knowledgable Kitties!
Hi! My name is Figo! I look just like Sinéad! My human mom wrote to you a while ago (before I was born) to ask how she could make her little apartment in Belgium safe for me (even though she didn’t know it was for me, because I didn’t exist yet, hee!) Anyway, I love my new home! I’ve been here for a little over four months now, and my people are just great! They buy me all the best food, and lots of toys, and this really beautiful deluxe cat tree with a penthouse where I can just sleep for hours and hours. My cat mom was a stray cat wandering the countryside, and I was born in a barn with my three brothers and one sister, so I feel really really lucky to be a posh city cat. I have a collar and an electronic chip and even my own European passport in case I have to travel anywhere in the EU!
In exchange for all this coolness, I help my human mom do everything around the apartment! I’m all there when she sweeps the floor, does the laundry, and tries to eat her food, and I even keep a close eye on her from the bathroom sink to make sure she brushes her teeth just right. I’ve trained her to carry me around, help me do “big stretches,” and to play Throw with my furry mousies in no time at all!
However, I have this problem. You see, there are times when I go into what my people call “rebellious teenager mode.” I do things that I know to be bad, just to get attention. For example, when my people sit down on the couch to watch a movie instead of paying attention to me, I give a mighty squeak to get their attention, then I leap onto places where I know I’m not supposed to be (like the kitchen table or the countertops.) I stare at my people until they come to shoo me, and then I make a mad victory dash around the apartment because I just have so much energy! I don’t really want to be a bad cat, but sometimes having people irritated at me is better than being ignored, you know… ? des^$-zaeç) … Okay, that was me trying to type, but I think I’d better let mom do it again. She also wants me to ask you why I pounce on her face every single time she lets me in the bedroom for sleeptime snuggles, no matter how much she tries to tire me out with the Thing on the String in the evening before bed. I end up having to sleep on my own in my cat tree every night! What’s up with that? I’m only 6 months old, maybe I’ll grow out of this craziness, but maybe there are some things mom can do to help. Please help!
Figo (and Stefanie)
Siouxsie: Figo, you lucky little guy! We’re so glad you’ve found such a wonderful home. We remember answering your mama’s question and thinking what a wonderful caretaker she was going to be for the cat who found her.
Thomas: What you’re going through is part of the normal “kitten crazies” stage of development.
Dahlia: I just went through that stage myself, so I know exactly how it feels to be all giddy and awake and wanting to play constantly. I still like to play. I actually fish the mousies and glittery balls out of my toybox and bat them all around the house. Mama thinks it’s awfully cute when she comes home and sees the toys all over the place. But then again, Mama always thinks I’m cute because I’m so small and delicate, and she calls me her baby girl and pets me and cuddles me and makes me purr ….
Siouxsie: Stuff it, Shrimpy! We’re here to answer Figo’s question, not for you to brag about how cute you are.
Dahlia: Mama! Siouxsie’s being mean!
Thomas: Could you two be quiet? I’m trying to take a nap over here!
Dahlia: You can’t take a nap! We’re writing the column now!
Siouxsie: Come on, Thomas. Do your part.
Thomas: Oh, okay. I’m not going to be able to sleep with your caterwauling, anyway.
Dahlia: Anyway, Figo, as Thomas said, this stage of development is perfectly normal. Your mama is just going to have to be very consistent about her insistence that you stay away from places she doesn’t want you to be, like the counters.
Siouxsie: First of all, your mama can try the distraction method. When she sees you getting ready to jump on the counter or the table, she can get out that Thing on a String toy and play with you. That way you’ll be able to use up some of your energy and get good attention instead of bad attention.
Thomas: We all know it’s a lot more fun to play and get petties than it is to get yelled at and chased, right?
Dahlia: Of course, your mama’s not going to be able to control what you do when she’s not home — so just make sure you only get on the Forbidden Places when she’s not looking! That’s what I do.
Siouxsie: Yeah, me too. I never open the refrigerator when Mama’s home, but whenever she goes to work, I pull it open and see if there’s anything I might like to eat in there. This week, I pulled out a whole pound of turkey meat and ate it! (Well, of course I graciously shared some with Thomas.)
Dahlia: And I was outside all day and I hardly got any!
Thomas: And then the day after that, there was the tuna sandwich and the cream cheese … *burp*
Dahlia: And I didn’t get any of that, either!
Siouxsie: Well, Dahlia, it’s not our fault that you choose to go outside and play instead of sleeping all day and being naughty like a normal cat.
Thomas: Anyway, that distraction method tends to work really well with younger cats, and you get positive reinforcement for doing things that your human wants. Or at least, doing good things when your human is looking.
Dahlia: We assume that your mama has had you neutered, since she’s been taking such good care of you in every other way. And we’re sure she doesn’t want her tiny apartment to smell like cat spray.
Siouxsie: In order to keep you from jumping on her face at bedtime, your mama can do a few little extra things. A great way to get a kitty to sleep is by combining play with a little food. She can play Thing on a String with you about half an hour before bedtime and then give you some food when she’s done.
Thomas: You know how we cats love to have a good nap after we’ve eaten!
Dahlia: Your mama shouldn’t feed you extra food when she does this. She should divide your daily ration in such a way that you get the same amount of food, but you get a helping just before bedtime. If she fed you more, you might get fat and that wouldn’t be good for your health.
Siouxsie: Our mama reads in bed for a little while before she goes to sleep. That’s a great time for us to get petties and relax so that we can sleep when she’s ready to sleep. I generally get right in between Mama’s book and her face so that she has to pet me and pay attention to me. You might try that trick if your mama likes to read before bed.
Thomas: I hop into Mama’s bed for my evening petties, too, and then I settle down at the foot of the bed next to Dahlia. We go to sleep curled up together once we’ve gotten our fair share of the love.
Dahlia: Mama also makes sure that our home is very quiet and mellow at night so that we settle into the rhythm of having a calm, relaxed evening together with her. We love to sit on her lap when she watches movies or plays on the computer.
Siouxsie: So, Figo, we think that your mama should play with you whenever she thinks you’re about to be naughty, and that she should make sure the evening hours are very relaxed (except for your pre-bedtime play session).
Thomas: A little nibble will help you relax and have a nice sleep, too.
Dahlia: We hope this helps, Figo. And once again, congratulations on your wonderful home!