Dealing with a new addition-specifically a hyperactive cat.
In December I decided that my long-time best friend and kitty companion, Bensen, needed a little brother. Since I have the great honour of working with Katie, we end up at the SPCA once a week to do viral testing on the kitties that come in! I was in the perfect position to get to know a lot of kittens and cats at the SPCA. I knew that I didn’t want a tiny baby kitten-it’s too hard to tell what their personality is going to be like. But introducing two adult cats can be pretty tricky. Bensen is a very chill submissive cat, so I was afraid bringing in another adult male cat that may potentially be dominant. So after about a month of looking into different options and making decisions I adopted the newest member of my family, baby Benjamin.
Statistically speaking, black cats take longer to be adopted if they do at all. Benji was really dark when he was younger, but now he’s getting in a very beautiful chocolate brown coat. He has beautiful emerald green eyes and is polydactyl (all four paws.) He hasn’t met someone that hasn’t fallen for him. That being said-they don’t have to go home with him at the end of the day. My new family member is so incredible, but let me tell you a little bit about the last 7 months of learning how to deal with a hyperactive cat!
As I’m sure many of you know-cats are nocturnal creatures. This is something I was aware of from having a cat growing up, and a cat of my own for the past 6 years. Some things I had not experienced with cats before having Benjamin:
· Full nights of not sleeping
· Crying for attention
· Destruction of property
· Misbehaving for attention
The first night I brought Benjamin home, he slept through the night easily with Bensen and I in the bed. The next night was not the same at all. He wouldn’t lie down for more than a minute without getting right back up. When I stopped paying attention to him he would knock things off of counters until I got out of bed, or he would cry. Not like a small meow, I mean WAIL until I held him and consoled him or played with him. He chews everything he can get his teeth into, dumps over his food and water dishes, tosses his wet food to Bensen when I’m not looking. (Bensen is on a diet) He would up and down the hallway like a terror, bounce from the couch, to a dividing wall between our living room and kitchen, to the chairs on the other side, onto the counter and back again in a seconds time. It took me a long time to adjust and be able correct these behaviours, as I was under the misconception training cats is hard.
The truth is cats are incredibly smart; and training them, although tedious, is possible and even easy if you are willing to take the time. The key to training cats is the key to training any animal- consistency. Benji now understands several commands such as: Get down, no, come, sit, stay, give me a kiss, and high five. Commands lead to treats, and he knows that. It is a little easier to reign in his wildness with commands!
Commands only go so far for a hyperactive cat! My plan of attack for Benji was "exhaust him as much as I can." In the morning I open the door and Benjamin and I take off down the hallway on a tear and make a couple laps from the front of the house to the back. I have his toybox on the counter and toss toys the entire time I am eating, working, watching TV, reading, or doing anything that is not committing my full attention to him. Exhausting him while I am home is the best way to ensure he might be a little bit more calm later on in the day. While I’m gone I have an assortment of interactive toys that do not require me to be around that he uses to happily exhaust himself. One is a rotating ball with a feather on top that keeps him entertained for hours. Another is a squeak toy attached to a long elastic string that hooks over a door. (See bottom of post for links to these toys.)
The past 7 months have been a long road, but I am now to the point where 50% of the time, Benji sleeps in the room with me overnight. This is a huge success in comparison to when I first got him. The key is to never stop working with them- to always be consistent and never give up that one day they will be as behaved as you would like them to be. I know I spent nearly 2 months wondering how I could ever keep this kitten if he was this insane, and now I have a well behaved almost one year old cat, and I wouldn't trade my sleepless nights for the world. Let us know if this post was helpful, or if you have any questions about your crazy cat!
All the best!
-Megan, Bensen and Benjamin.
Spinny Ball with Feather- https://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/smartykat-feather-whirl-electronic-cat-toy/6000196083626
Hanging Door Mouse toy- https://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/play-n-squeak-cat-toy-batting-practice/6000001838538