Sunday, January 09, 2005

Prisoners in Our Own Home

Yesterday my fiancee Liz put into words the downside of having our boys. She said "I feel like a prisoner in my own home." In a way, she is right. We must constantly watch what we do and don't put in the livingroom (the main room of our one-bedroom apartment). Our bedroom is a pile of things, including 4 chairs, that were hastily removed from the livingroom after the cats got into them or started destroying them.

When we leave the bedroom, we have to be extremely careful because teh boys are often waiting outside the door and will make a mad dash into the bedroom as soon as we open the door. In theory, it would be nice to let them in, but like I said, the room is the place where we put all the things which are dangerous to cats that we removed from our nearly-empty livingroom.

Each day, the boys find something new to explore. The pull the fabric off the bottom of chairs and we have to take the chairs away for fear they will end up swallowing string. They start wrestling against a desk and we worry that they will knock the desk over. Yesterday, Arthur started batting at the closed livingroom windows. We think that he saw his reflection in them and thought it was another cat. But I was worrying that he would break the glass.

Half of our books are unavailable to us; they are stuffed under the couch in our attempt to keep the boys from running under the couch and hurting themselves on the sharp metal bars down there.

We can't put salt shakers or napkins out on the diningroom table, because the boys would end up chewing them or hurting themselves with them. We may even have to remove the stereo from the livingroom, because they think that the speaker mesh is a scratching post.

We love the boys more than anything, but this is pretty frustrating right now.

16 comments:

socidoc said...

Hi Avram,
Gee, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the only one reading these posts these past few days! I know, there's a lot going on in that big ol' world out there, but what could really be more important than caring for our fuzzy children/aka kitties? *shrug* I dunno...

As for the stereo speaker covers, I've decided those will just belong to the cats. My two cats have two scratching posts and they *still* use the stereo speaker covers. Hey, I realized long ago that I couldn't be comfortable putting every single thing away, under or behind, so that the cats couldn't get to it. I think... and of course I haven't seen your place, so I'm not an expert by any means on your life... but I do suspect that you might just be a teeny bit over the top here with protecting the cats. If they swallow a little string... so be it. I really hope I don't get blasted here for saying this, but I think it might be kind of like having a young child. You simply cannot protect them from everything and neither can you protect yourself, or your stuff, from everything they might do to you or it. I dunno. Maybe you oughta just learn to chill just a teeny bit?

Not a criticism at all! You are great kitty parents. But as you have said, you are getting a bit too stressed out. You'll need to relax a bit if you are going to share your small space with your kitties happily. Maybe put some stuff in the cupboards, but don't worry about most of it. I doubt very seriously the cats will go 'thru the window glass' unless they took a flying leap and just jumped right out the windows.

Hope this doesn't seem harsh, but I hope you'll all learn to live together and relax just a little!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the above comment. I thought my husband was overprotective with our kits, but you have him beat by a longshot! Take the books out from under the couch and give the boys someplace to hide or chill. I understand why they aren't allowed in the bedroom, but why aren't they allowed in the bathroom? As long as you keep the lid down, what trouble can they get into? And even though it is frustrating to have your things destroyed, they'll grow up soon enough and you'll miss their kitteny antics. Oh, and Treble roto-paws the windows (he waves goodbye to us), and he has never broken one (knock on wood).

Terri

Anonymous said...

Just a thought... After having dogs and cats for most of my life, I've sort of learned to live with stuff the animals have wrecked. A nice throw can strategically cover the corner of the couch that the cats have scratched. The coffee tables that the little dogs nails have scratched look vintage ;)

As far as protecting the house from the animals and vice versa, I've more or less, given up on that too, along with the concept of having a perfect house. I've never lost a pet (and I've had lots over the years) to an accident or an injury.

Our newest cat has an annoying habit of knocking anything that moves off the table, counter, etc., but, everything seems to end up under the stove, for some strange reason and I check there for my missing stuff and usually find it.

All that said, having the companionship of my animals is worth it :)

Alison

Avram said...

No doubt it's all worthwhile in the end, but it's frustrating. We don't want to find out what happens if the boys rip a staples off the bottom of one of these chairs or if they swallow a long piece of string they ripped off. So the amount of furniture we can have is less and less.

As for the bathroom, we had an exterminator spray for roaches in there a few weeks ago and I am worried that some of the poison may be lingering on the floor. What if the boys stepped on a sprayed area and then licked their paws?

Thumper said...

If it's been more than 3 days, don't worry about what the exterminator sprayed. They don't use pesticides that leave residue harmful to animals (at least in CA...it's illegal. I only know this because my father in law used to be one.) If there's any question, scrub the floor. Then keep cleaners and stuff locked away, the toilet lid closed, and open the bathroom to them.

The older they get, the less you'll feel like a prisoner--mostly because you'll be able to open the entire house to them. And you should at some point...like babies, initially you have to be ultra-careful and cat proof their living areas, but like kids, sooner or later they have to be taught what they can get into and what they can't, and then cut loose to explore.

And like having kids, you're still going to worry and have all the what-ifs going through your head, but you still have to let them grow up. And having done both, cats and a kid, I understand the feelings...

Start with letting them have access to the bathroom. It's not a dangerous place for cats if you keep the chemical stuff locked away and keep it clean. They love toilets but you can keep the lid closed (we had to do this for the first 6 months with Max, because he's basically insane and used to have a keen interest in toilets...)

Once you get comfortable with that, give them limited access to your bedroom--only when you're in there and awake. Once they're not so curious about it, it won't be as big a deal to them, and by then they should be old enough that the destructiveness has passed, and you can let them have access to it all the time.

And personally, I'd leave the stereo. If you catch them messing with it, clap your hands very loudly and say "no." It does scare them, but it's not cruel. It's teaching them boundaries.

Wendy said...

Perhaps I am just a neglectful mother, but I've never worried about cats eating string.

I had a cat who was a wire-chewer. One day I discovered a long piece of Christmas ribbon in her stool.

Cats have not been domesticated for very long - through history and the Middle Ages they mostly they were kept as mousers, out in the barn or granary and not fed by people. They are fully evolved for survival in a barn or field, where heaven knows they chew on many "dangerous" things.

And, as parents will attest - so do babies! Cats are perhaps better adapted than humans in vomiting up things they shouldn't have eaten in the first place. Otherwise, they usually will pass them safely.

socidoc said...

And P.S. Avram... I've got a large 'kitty condo' built by a friend perhaps 15 years ago, which all 3 cats I've had since then have used... and there are staples in there (some of which have definitely come undone over the years), there is that fiber-string from the carpets... my cats have thoroughly chewed, clawed and run around and thru that condo, especially as kittens, and not one of them has had any problems from swallowed string and/or staples (and I do believe they probably have swallowed both over the years). As all the previous comments indicate... you need to chill... keep an eye on your boys, but don't obsess. And please! Let them get under the sofa! And in the bathroom! They need a little room to move, room to hide in and some privacy too! :-)

Jenn said...

Being a first-time cat owner myself, I have gone through the same things that seem to be making the two of you feel like prisoners. Timothy has got to be one of the craziest cats I know. He gets into everything and is constantly trying to get at/eat Tangie, our canary. We went through the "kitty-proof" stage but have since re-evaluated what needed to be protected and it has made living with a cat much easier.

I had closed Timothy out of my bedroom (it was filled with things that he could hurt himself with or eat like perfume, etc.) and he would fight and pound on the door to come in. Eventually, I picked him up and brought him into the room. Do you know, he turned and went right back out?! I know I'm no expert but maybe if you physically pick them up and bring them in, it might show them that they aren't missing anything. It's usually just out of nosiness that they want to get in there in the first place. I say, cover the four chairs with a blanket or something so that they aren't tempting to them. Out of sight, out of mind :)

Take your books back! Let the boys under the couch as a place to hide. They won't eat the springs or bars. If they hurt themselves, they'll learn not to go there on their own. Timmy learned the hard way not to go near the front door (got his tail caught...ouch!)

Don't let these little boys rule the way you live :) It took me some time to learn that's what I was doing with Timothy. Once I chilled out and stopped chasing him away from everything and squirting him with water, he chilled out too...well as much as a crazy cat can! LOL!!

Oh and the speaker thing...good luck with that. Maybe they make some kind of speaker cover that's indestructable? I don't know but it's worth looking into. Oh and I should mention Timothy has eaten a staple. He found it in the garbage next to the computer and licked it up. He had it in his mouth but before I could catch him...down the hatch it went! And then about two seconds later, it came right back up the hatch...onto the living room floor. Good times. I don't know if we were just lucky or what but that was the last time he ever ate a staple.

William said...

Don't get too disheartened. I'm still rambunctious and I'm almost 2. My mom said to give this link to you. It might be helpful.

http://www.ahanm.org/Information/BehaviorHelpLine/cats-Aversives.pdf

Just so you know, she tried the orange peels with me to try to keep me from scattering dirt from the plants but I just thought they were added toys. So, see? You'll have to experiment to see what works for your boys.

P.S. We enjoy your blog a lot!

Anonymous said...

I just got my new kitten about eight weeks ago. I love him to pieces except I cannot seem to make him quit biting and clawing me. Even when he is happy he want to attack. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I just got my new kitten about eight weeks ago. I love him to pieces except I cannot seem to make him quit biting and clawing me. Even when he is happy he want to attack. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I just got my new kitten about eight weeks ago. I love him to pieces except I cannot seem to make him quit biting and clawing me. Even when he is happy he want to attack. Any suggestions?

l said...

first, to anonymous-kittens bite. allow them a nip now and then. if they get rough or attack, walk away. "say no bite," and walk away. they'll get the idea.

We have 3 new ones, in addition to our 12 year old chow female, 4 yr old lab, and our 11 year old mouser. Bianca and Alex are about 6 mos. old now. Nick is 4. the kittens are nuts. A christmas tree was a memory this year- just getting the lights up around the house was a nightmare. but, they are kittens, and are quickly growing out of this stage. Learn to relax a little, they are strong, resilient, and will be ok.

Anonymous said...

as the parent of a 4yr. old and a 10month old i truely understand where you are coming from.my 4yr.old has calmed down quite a bit since kittenhood.junior use to throw himself into our walls,i even had a vet question me on a bruise on his chin .if i didn't have a witness the vet would have thought i abused my "son".when i got my "daughter" alivia ,junior got his second wind back. my alivia likes toilets ,ice cubes,showers and climbing on everything.she will not take NO for an answer.she bounces off walls too. i baby proofed with junior,considering i didn't have much when i brought him home.with my livers i tried to babyproof but she wasn't having it she claimed it .i still yell at them to not climb on the table,they still look at me like i'm nuts,liv try's to mess with my books ,she's eaten the jackets off my books so i just removed them tillshe grows up or developes a taste for something else.my jun grew up to fast, i not going to get crazy over stuff. i knew what i was getting into when i brought my "son" and"daughter"in my home. like human babies,they grow up all to fast.humans live longer too .all the more reason to enjoy your boys.when my kids get to playing to fast and hard i just yell "you break it your dead meat" they calm down for a few seconds look at me and start up again ,kids! as for the fur oh,my gosh! if you ain't wearing it,you're eating .chill out and enjoy your boys before you look back in regret.their lives are so short.

Anonymous said...

as the parent of a 4yr. old and a 10month old i truely understand where you are coming from.my 4yr.old has calmed down quite a bit since kittenhood.junior use to throw himself into our walls,i even had a vet question me on a bruise on his chin .if i didn't have a witness the vet would have thought i abused my "son".when i got my "daughter" alivia ,junior got his second wind back. my alivia likes toilets ,ice cubes,showers and climbing on everything.she will not take NO for an answer.she bounces off walls too. i baby proofed with junior,considering i didn't have much when i brought him home.with my livers i tried to babyproof but she wasn't having it she claimed it .i still yell at them to not climb on the table,they still look at me like i'm nuts,liv try's to mess with my books ,she's eaten the jackets off my books so i just removed them tillshe grows up or developes a taste for something else.my jun grew up to fast, i not going to get crazy over stuff. i knew what i was getting into when i brought my "son" and"daughter"in my home. like human babies,they grow up all to fast.humans live longer too .all the more reason to enjoy your boys.when my kids get to playing to fast and hard i just yell "you break it your dead meat" they calm down for a few seconds look at me and start up again ,kids! as for the fur oh,my gosh! if you ain't wearing it,you're eating .chill out and enjoy your boys before you look back in regret.their lives are so short.

Anonymous said...

I need HELP!!!!, I am on the verge of leaving my husband, and my once "nice" home, and all of my once loveable cats. My husband is disabled, and I have had two back surgeries myself. I still work hard and come home at the end of the day hurting so bad that I can hardly walk.

Everything that I have worked hard for is tore up or scratched, even my new car. I put them out and they have even tore up all of the window screens, I can't even open my windows to get fresh air from my stinking house. They have used the carpet so many times that it is ruined to the point that it has to be taken out. I blame my husband for their behavior because he loves them, and they keep him company. But, he has them spoiled and lets them get away with everything. When they get on his nerves he just goes to the bedroom and lies down.

When I get home, no sooner than when I walk in the door, I get so angry and stressed it causes arguements between my husband and I. This is getting to the point where I am thinking that our cats are more loved and have more freedom than I. I have a little room that I stay in that is a little den with a television and my laptop. We can't even have friends or family over, I don't want anyone over because it is embarrassing.

Our cats are not kittens anymore, and it is just something that has gotten out of hand and I don't know what to do. I can't afford to get them all nuetured and or spayed. I do love my cats, but there is a limit to everything. I need help, advise, comments, tips, anything, please.
I truely am a prisoner in my own home.
Thank-You so much.