What are we doing wrong??? Help!

Theifindi

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Hey everyone!
We have two cats, who we dearly love. Bugg (8yoM) and Zeus (2yo M)
They get along about as well as any pair of brothers; occasional squabbles when Zeus wants to play but Bugg does not, and just as many cuddles and shared grooming.

Bugg is quiet, affectionate, and very shy. He loves his family but strangers are a no-go, he'll hide until they're gone. He doesnt play very often and more or less naps like 22 hours a day. If there's an open lap somewhere, he's there. He was a rescue and my wife has had him since he was like 5mo. He was weaned and fixed too early, so he tends to nurse blankets and overgroom, but it's not serious enough to effect his quality of life or anything.

Zeus is also a rescue, but was weaned and fixed at the proper times. Introducing him to Bugg went well, and Bugg actually came out of his shell a little with someone to play with. Zeus is very energetic and curious, and loves playing fetch or with a laser or other toy. Hes the kind of cat who runs out the door because outside!!!! But then realizes the outside world is scary and he needs his mom. Hes very talkative, and has a bit of separation anxiety (hes our cat raised in quarantine. Most of his life, there's always been someone home.)

So heres what's going on:
Our cats are allowed pretty much wherever they want to be. Kitchen counters? No problem. Furniture? Of course. On top of the fridge and cabinets? Sure. What they're not allowed on, under any circumstances, is mine or my wife's desks. We have expensive computer equipment, and our cats like to chew wires and knock things over, as cats do.

And of course, this is where Zeus wants to be more than anywhere else.

He jumps onto the desk, onto the computer tower, and then tries to get even higher, all the while knocking things over and hard resetting the computer.

We've tried everything to stop him. Strong citrus scents (ignored), tin foil draped across the top (ignored), cardboard blocking the desktop (jumped through or climbed over), loud noises when he jumps up like clapping or barking his name (hesitation, and then ignored), distractions like toys or cuddles (ignored), shutting him out of the room (he screams incessantly to the point where hes hoarse and claws the carpet, which is unacceptable because we live in an apartment and we'll have to pay for that eventually), putting him in his cat carrier (stresses him out way too much), spraying him with water (works initially but he just comes right back and tries again), blowing air at him with a can of air (safe distance, just for the hissing noise- its ignored).

He has a cat tower and plenty of other places to be high up at, the tower is maybe 6 or 7 feet tall and is located in a place where he can see quite a bit of the apartment from the top. We play with him to tire him out as much as we can, which is often the evening but occasionally the morning too. They get fed twice a day in slow-feed bowls, a half cup in the morning and a half cup at night (vet's orders).

I work from home, and my desk is next to my wife's.
I feed the cats at around 7:30am, start work at 8am. Pretty much around 8:15am every morning, Zeus comes in and immediately attempts to climb up onto her computer tower. I shoo him away. This goes on incessantly for about 3 or 4 hours. It's starting to affect my work; I cant keep getting up to stop him. I do a lot of customer service phone calls, and if I'm on a call and he gets up and hurts himself or breaks something while I'm on a call, I dont know what I'd do.

What are we doing wrong? What are we missing here? Is he just doing this for attention? Any suggestions? Help!
 

susanm9006

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I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. I think the cats simply like being near you and the climbing is fun. Have you tried moving the cat tree near the computers? The other thing you can try is buying some kind of motion activated toy that shrieks, sings or wiggles when it senses motion and set that on top of her computer. If it is sufficiently loud and scary it may only take a couple times before the cat won’t go near the computer and you can turn the toy off (so you don’t go insane).
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Here is the thing - you let him on top of every other climbable place - he doesn't know the difference. It is hard to allow a cat to get up on top of everything BUT one or two things, and expect them to understand. (Sometimes, older cats figure it much easier than younger ones!)

I would suggest what was said above - setting up trees/perches/climbing places right by the computer tower(s). Maybe even some sort of shelving above the tower(s) that allows him to go up one side and over top and then down again on the other side? If you think it would help, and you don't mind, give us some pics of the issue area, and maybe someone will come up with some ideas for you.

Btw, the spraying water rarely ever works, and can actually backfire, so give up on that particular 'discipline'.
 
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Theifindi

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I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. I think the cats simply like being near you and the climbing is fun. Have you tried moving the cat tree near the computers? The other thing you can try is buying some kind of motion activated toy that shrieks, sings or wiggles when it senses motion and set that on top of her computer. If it is sufficiently loud and scary it may only take a couple times before the cat won’t go near the computer and you can turn the toy off (so you don’t go insane).
Thank you! Zeus is a pretty brave boy, but that might just work! And moving the cat tower is a great idea; the room is a little small, but I think there's definitely enough room here to try it. Maybe I can convince her to let us move it in here and see how tomorrow morning goes....

How about double-sided tape? I've used that to stop cats from scratching where they shouldn't and to discourage them from jumping up on places I don't want them. There's actually a product called Sticky Paws for that purpose: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007I08FI4/?tag=thecatsite
Ah! I'll have to ask her and see what she's okay with putting on her desk, but it's definitely worth a shot! Thank you!!!

Hi. Here is the thing - you let him on top of every other climbable place - he doesn't know the difference. It is hard to allow a cat to get up on top of everything BUT one or two things, and expect them to understand. (Sometimes, older cats figure it much easier than younger ones!)

I would suggest what was said above - setting up trees/perches/climbing places right by the computer tower(s). Maybe even some sort of shelving above the tower(s) that allows him to go up one side and over top and then down again on the other side? If you think it would help, and you don't mind, give us some pics of the issue area, and maybe someone will come up with some ideas for you.

Btw, the spraying water rarely ever works, and can actually backfire, so give up on that particular 'discipline'.
That's totally fair; the difference might be something a dog could understand, but maybe we're just expecting too much of him. Thank you for that!
Because it's an apartment I don't know what kind of shelving we could do; Zeus is a hefty boy and I'm afraid if it isn't a permanent fixture of some kind it would perhaps increase the peril. I'll absolutely include some pictures, it certainly can't hurt!

Yeah ^^; I stopped after the second time, actually, it obviously wasn't working and I was afraid of damaging the computer. Zeus also has a habit of following people into the bathroom and trying to climb in the shower with them (even though he's not all that sure of water as a concept); we have a feeling he might actually enjoy water if he decides to ever give it a chance. ^^;
 

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Places become interesting with you there. Minish was crazy about the kitchen counter when I prepared food. I gave her a stool of the same height and trained her to stay there so she could join me without any mess. But it takes a lot of time not because the cat learns slow but because they are quite stubborn.
Perch near the computer towers plus sticky tape on the equipment (so he can't pass onto the tower) seems to be the best solution. Or, If you have the space on the desk, you can put a small cardboard box (like shoebox or its lid) on it. Since cats can't resist boxes, it takes few praises and corrections to make him stay inside. Thats how I wrote my PhD dissertation.
Otherwise it seems that locking him out of your work area is the only solution. You can't count on toys around etc for him to entertain himself over long hours. You said it didn't work to lock him out but if he is placed outside with Bugg and a plenty of toys before you begin working, he may accept it as a new rule and adapt. Of course patience is needed for this option too.
Good luck
 
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Theifindi

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20210420_133941.jpg 20200829_174151.jpg

Heres the area we're talking about. He goes from desk to tower and then tries to get to the shelf with the sword above it, but there's not quite enough room and he hasn't really figured it out yet.
And of course I couldnt resist adding an image of the lil stinker himself. Being cute gets him out of pretty much all trouble, haha ^^;
 

minish

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Since there is no room for a cat tree, you can give him the shelf that's a little higher from the desk (with the wooden box). Create a step for him to jump if it's too high. You can put your tshirt, his pillow or an open box as I suggested for him to chill there.
This can easily be done over the weekend, evenings, etc when you don't work. Encourage him to jump and stay on that shelf with treats or toys. You can even hang down a string fixed to the upper shelf so he can entertain himself. Give him a few paperclips to push down and watch etc. But he will probably watch you as you do magical things there. Don't forget slow blinks ;) it's lovely to have a silent furry workpal
 

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How much of the stuff on those shelves HAS to be there? I am thinking of using, or 'tweaking', that shelving as a stair step set up for him to get to the top - away from the tower. I know, I know - a whole lot of changes to accommodate a goofy stubborn adventurer, but it seems that's what we do as cat lovers! If he could get to near the top (and look down on you) he might just be happy with that set up!

Feeby is too old to do too much nutty climbing/jumping, but I have a Iron Mountain storage box beside a chair beside a workbench beside a bare-top chest of drawers to enable her to reach the window. I am in that room with her, but this set up keeps her from bugging my computer/work area! It's not that big of a room either!
 
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Theifindi

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We love building stuff in this house, so I'm sure we can make something work! Y'all's ideas have been awesome! I'll post a pic of what we come up with; there's not a whole lot we wouldn't do for him. XD He's a handful for sure, quirky and mischievous and weird; I call him "awful" like it's his name and when we say "the evil child" we all know who we're talking about, but end of the day he's so sweet and funny and a little ball of fluffy light, wouldn't trade him for anything. <3

Thank you everyone for helping with suggestions; we really wanted a solution that would work for us and him, and I think we've got a fantastic place to start here. Much love and many hugs!
 

game misconduct

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you could always lock him out of the office soon as he jumps where he isnt supposed to be he will cry and complain the first time or to but will gradually connect being put out of the office each time he jumps onto the pc i did that with graycie jumping on counters while i am cooking dinner into the bedroom she goes behind a closed door now i dont need to do that she knows to keep out of the kitchen and off the counters while i cooking but i still cook with one eye on her at all times though just like i know she is all over where she shouldnt be when nobody is home :lol:also since you like building stuff why not build one of those tunnel systems they have at like chuckie cheese or macdonoalds kiddie playground but cat sized and hang it from the ceiling
 
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Tobermory

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Ah! I'll have to ask her and see what she's okay with putting on her desk, but it's definitely worth a shot! Thank you!!!
It doesn’t have to be there permanently. lt’s more of a behavior modification aid. Once he learns that the surface is sticky, he’ll stop jumping up there and you can remove it. Of course, you’ll have to do it again periodically because every few weeks he’ll probably look at it and go, “Hmmm, I wonder if that sticky stuff is gone?” :lol:
 

Mamanyt1953

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My son, whose cat LOVES his desk beyond all things, bought a set of the shelves you see below. He had a friend cut the legs off to 1.5". That's high enough to clear the keyboard, low enough to make reaching under not so attractive. When he has to get up and leave the computer, he sets the shelves over the keyboard to keep his cat from doing untold damage (said son is a cloud architect). Works like a charm. This particular shelf is extendable, from 16"-32", so could actually protect an entire desktop from marauding paws when you have to step away for a bit.


1618966786650.png
 

She's a witch

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the difference might be something a dog could understand, but maybe we're just expecting too much of him
just to clarify, it doesn't really mean that Zeus doesn't understand that he's not allowed in there, he may very well know you don't want him there, but he may, well, not care about it :) dogs have very strong urge to please their humans (from evolutionary perspective they always needed partners in hunting, so it's important for them to keep great relations) but cats don't have that need at all (since they're solitary hunters in nature) and they simply may choose not to do what we want them to do, even when they know exactly what that it. It doesn't mean that their ability to "understand" is worse than dogs'. You got great advice here, you need to find a way to make the designated area more attractive to him, so reward him with treats when he's there rather than on the desk, and every time he is when he's not supposed to be, just gently move him to his area, and repeat, without emotions.
 
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Theifindi

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Hey all!
So when my wife got home, we talked about all our options. The cat tree didnt really fit where we were trying to make it fit, so that was out. ^^; We went to the pet store and this is what we came back with.
1619108233776590117850479101696.jpg
It's a jute box, so satisfying for scratching, and it makes a nice footstool for my wife when shes at her desk. When shes not, it goes on her chair and sits by me. My wife also found some calming treats that she really wanted to try, and not only does Zeus love them, but they do work to calm some morning zoomies when we cant play with him to work them out. We also got some new toys for the boys, because we're suckers like that.

We've been reinforcing the box with toys for now since we dont have any normal treats on hand (whoops on our part), and he seems to really love it. The box itself has become a toy. Hes not too fond of going inside it, but perching on top and attacking it is the best thing since canned tuna.

This morning, after a treat and some playtime, he tried jumping up once. So I picked him up, put him on the box on the chair, and pulled it over to my desk. We played for a bit more, and then he zonked out and was asleep for about two hours before calmly wandering off to explore and probably annoy Bugg.

We'll probably still get a tray or something to put over the keyboard as an extra measure until he loses interest in jumping up there, but for now we have an extra happy cat. Thank you guys for all the suggestions!

Heres our sweet boy now; in the armchair that is also next to me lol.
16191087062477809847424090504812.jpg
 

Mamanyt1953

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I've said before and will continue to say, the best way to get a cat to listen to "no" is to give him a "yes" right after. "No, not this, but this instead!" He now feels like he's a part of it all, and even has his very own "manager's seat!"
 
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