My dad is threatening to get rid of our cat

Spectr9l

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Hello,
This is my first post since I didn't really know where else to go for this problem. My cat was a very calm and behaved simese for the past 7 years. He is my favorite animal I've ever owned. For about 6 years, he had no problem with eating just cat food and regularly avoided any human food. About just a year ago, our vet recommended that we stop feeding him hard cat food and began to feed him canned cat food (for digestion issues). Ever since then, my cat started slowly begging for human food and my family would toss him a few pieces during dinner. Now if he ever sees human food, he just keeps meowing and meowing for it. He now has started to hop on our kitchen counters and kitchen tables no matter if we have food on it or not. He even licks dirty dishes. This all upsets my entire family but I can't stand the idea of losing him. He's been with me for a big portion of my life. Any advice is appreciated.

tl:dr my dad is going to get rid of my cat if he doesn't stop going on our kitchen counter and table.
 

neely

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Welcome to TCS! :wave3: You've come to the right place for support and advice. Does your cat eat the canned food at all? Have you tried other brands of canned food or a variety of flavors and textures? I sincerely hope your dad will let you keep your cat with the understanding that your family is the one who triggered this behavior. TCS has two helpful Articles on this very subject:
How To Keep Cats Off Counters And Tables – TheCatSite Articles
How To Set Healthy Boundaries For Your Cat – TheCatSite Articles

Please have your dad and the other family members read these two articles. Best of luck and please keep us updated. We will keep our fingers crossed for your cat and you. :crossfingers::crossfingers:
 

BBirdcat

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Sounds like a discipline issue, should never have started giving cat "human food". Maybe just don't let him in the kitchen when everyone is eating? That seems like the easiest solution and then if he still only eats human food, just go over and give it to him after everyone is done eating and the dad is gone.
 

Cat McCannon

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Hello,
This is my first post since I didn't really know where else to go for this problem. My cat was a very calm and behaved simese for the past 7 years. He is my favorite animal I've ever owned. For about 6 years, he had no problem with eating just cat food and regularly avoided any human food. About just a year ago, our vet recommended that we stop feeding him hard cat food and began to feed him canned cat food (for digestion issues).
Wet food is much healthier for cats. Good move!

Ever since then, my cat started slowly begging for human food and my family would toss him a few pieces during dinner. Now if he ever sees human food, he just keeps meowing and meowing for it. He now has started to hop on our kitchen counters and kitchen tables no matter if we have food on it or not. He even licks dirty dishes. This all upsets my entire family but I can't stand the idea of losing him. He's been with me for a big portion of my life. Any advice is appreciated.
Your family taught this behavior to your cat. Give a cat treats when he begs teaches him when he begs, he gets food. He needs to be re-trained and everyone has to be on the same page or it won't work- and the first thing that needs to be done, is to get your cat on a regular feeding schedule. Jackson Galaxy calls it Rhythm, Ritual and Routine. If food is being left out for him to graze on, that has to stop. Now.

In our house, we feed Belle three times a day. To keep her from our food, we feed her when we eat. In the morning around 6 or 7, I get up, brush Belle then play with her using a wand toy. After play, she gets her first meal of the day. Because of our irregular work schedule, we rarely get to eat breakfast that early in the morning. But we do eat brunch/lunch somewhere between 10am and noon. If we eat early, Belle gets a small snack. If we eat later, she gets a full meal. (If she gets an early snack, her second full meal will come later in the afternoon.) Her third full meal comes when we have our evening supper. I try to play with her before we go to bed and I'll give her another small snack.

NOTE: When I say small snack, I mean small. I don't want Belle to get to be a fat cat!

So, feed your cat when the family eats. Afterall, the cat is part of the family. DO NOT feed your cat from the table, no matter how much he begs. If someone wants to give your cat a dinner treat, it has to go in the bowl but even that should be avoided until your cat stops begging.

Now, here's where you need to step in and be your cat's advocate because I'd hate to see you lose your cat. If you want to keep your cat from licking dirty dishes, no dirty dishes can be left out. If you don't want your cat counter surfing, you have to make sure counter surfing is boring. Food must be put away immediately and not left out for the cat to get into. Give your cat other vertical spaces to explore. Place a couple of motion activated SSSCat cans that let out a hiss of compressed air. It won't be long before the cat decides jumping up on that counter isn't worth it.

Cats are slaves to their stomachs. Use that to your advantage. Start having your cat follow commands before giving them food. Once I have Belle's meal ready, I call her. I tell her "Belle come!" and extend a finger. She must touch her nose to my finger. When she does, I click my tongue (it's like using a clicker during clicker training. It lets her know she's done what I asked.) then tell her "Belle follow" and carry her dish to where she'll be fed. Since we feed her in her cat condo or on a window sill, I tell her "Belle, jump" and point or pat where I want her and she jumps up. I click my tongue, set the dish and tell her "Belle eat". Then, I sit down to eat my food.

NOTE: Yes, experienced cat guardians shamelessly bribe their cats with food to reward good behavior.

We keep her carrier out all the time and sometimes she'd fed in their. This makes it much easier to get her into her carrier when we take to the the vet or outside for a bit.

I also give her commands before giving her a treat. At the moment, I'm working on "Belle sit."

Belle obeys at her own pace. When I tell her "Belle come" she'll come and rub my legs for a minute before she touches her nose to my finger, no matter how hungry she is. She'll completely ignore my command to sit and try to get the treat from my finger for a solid minute before she realizes she'll have to do what I say before I give up the tasty morsel.

To get your cat to stop meowing, you need to ignore the noise and reward the silence. Sometimes you can reward the silence with play or a treat. At first, when your cat is quiet for 10 seconds, reward him. As time goes on, let the silence stretch longer and longer until he stops.

tl:dr my dad is going to get rid of my cat if he doesn't stop going on our kitchen counter and table.
Bottom LIne: The family has taught the cat bad manners. Explain to your father that you're willing to do what it takes to change your cat's bad manners, but you also need his help to get everyone teach your cat good manners. But you have to keep your end of the bargain and put in the work. (You can probably tell I'm a father :))

Let us know how it goes!

NOTE: What works for us with Belle, works for us. You and your cat are different creatures. You'll need to figure out what works best for you and your cat. Still, cats are creatures of habit and thrive with a healthy, loving routine. A large part of that routine is knowing they can trust their guardians to have the cat's best interest at heart.
 
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Caspers Human

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Ever since I was a kid we had strict rules about sharing food with pets: Humans first. Animals second.

If one of us kids wanted to share food, we had to save it on the corner of our dinner plates then, after we ate, we could put it in the dog's/cat's food bowl.

This way, pets know that they can have their share in due time and it keeps them from begging at the table.

"Counter surfing" is kind of a separate issue but, if the cat tries to go onto the dining table while people are eating, you should clank your spoon against the edge of your plate or your coffee cup or something then say, "Uh-uh-uh! No! Get down!"

If the cat doesn't listen, don't give him any treats then pick him up and put him down from the table.

If the cat DOES listen, give him pets and praise then, after you're done eating, maybe an extra bit of food in his bowl for being a "good kitty."

The problem is that EVERYBODY in the house has to obey these rules and enforce them equally, the same way every time. If even one person in the house doesn't enforce the rules, your cat won't learn what the rules are and how to obey them.

Here's your "out" to prevent your dad from forcing you to get rid of your cat:
Have a family meeting or an honest discussion with Dad. Write the rules down on paper.

1) No feeding from the table.
2) Humans first. Cats second.
3) If you want to share food, it MUST go in the cat's bowl.
4) If the cat jumps up, warn him once. Verbally scold him and put him down if he doesn't listen. No treats!
5) If the cat listens and learns the rules, an extra treat might be in order.
6) EVERYBODY uses these rules with the cat, ALL OF THE TIME.

Tell Dad that you will enforce these rules with your cat, starting immediately. Ask you Dad to tell everybody else to do the same.

It's not fair for you to have to enforce the rules on your cat if nobody else has to!

It is PATENTLY unfair for your dad to force you to get rid of your cat when you enforce the rules but he doesn't.

If everybody starts enforcing the rules for your cat, today, I bet that, within a week, he'll start getting the idea.
If you keep it up and stick to the rules like glue, I bet your cat will have learned how to behave in a month or two.

But you HAVE TO be like Robocop or else the cat won't learn!
 

danteshuman

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Tell your dad that cats like dogs need training & consistency! I would suggest motion activated air canisters on the counter or sticky tape to train your cat to stay off the counter. That or the remove/scold method that teaches the cat to only go up there when you sleep! 😉 if you do the scold method you can try using a penny can.

The food? Feed the cats no people food or only in their food station. Make sure the people food is cat safe! Again the whole family has to enforce this or it will not work!Your dad needs to set the rule. Maybe a 1-5$ fine for everytime anyone feeds the cat people food (or from the table.) The money can go in a cat jar towards a new cat tree or scratcher.

I rarely give my cat people food but when I do it is a tiny nibble. He did want twinkies when I very rarely bought them. In that case because sugar is bad for cats; I substituted it with cat treats instead. He prefers the cat treats; so you can try that!
 

di and bob

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For a while, and if they will let you, place some clear plastic carpet protector nub side UP on the counter. (has little nubs on the back to hold it in place)You can get it online almost anywhere. The nubs will hurt his feet (but not injure him) and teach him not to go there. It is easy to move and will only be temporary until he learns. Your mom can just put it in another place when she wants the counter. I would make sure the cat is fed BEFORE meals so he isn't so hungry, and you could always lock him in your bedroom until the meal is done. You could get something like deli-shaved turkey (non-fattening and nutritious) to give him a small snack when you lock him up and he wouldn't feel so abandoned.
 
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