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Aug 30 2012

Hell’s Kitten: Learning to Love Our Play-Aggressive Cat

“Comet! Damn it, no! Comet, get down from there! Comet — yowch! COMET!”

These words probably come out of my mouth five times a day. Aimed at the cat who’s on the spice rack, or who has gotten into the liquor cabinet, or who has attached herself to my leg with all four sets of claws and is hanging on like it’s the last lifeboat off the Titanic. Aimed at the cat who, as I have acknowledged to the world, is my favorite.

I have never known a cat like Comet. Throughout my life, I’ve had 16 cats. I’ve been close friends with countless more: office cats, family cats, friends’ cats, neighbors’ cats, lovers’ cats. And I have never known a cat who was this disruptive, this adventurous, this much of a troublemaker, this adept at getting into places she absolutely should not be, this fearless, this intractably bitey, this frantically demanding of attention. I’m used to having to rearrange my life and my space around my cats, and having to tailor these rearrangements for the specific cats who are in my life. But I have never had a cat who has been anywhere near as high-maintenance as Comet. Not even in the same ballpark.

Comet on spice rack

*

Thus begins my latest piece for Catster, Hell’s Kitten: Learning to Love Our Play-Aggressive Cat. To read more about her acts of terrorism hijinks, and how we’ve been learning to not just cope with them but admire and love them, read the rest of the piece. (Lots of pics.) Enjoy!

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  1. 1
    A. Noyd

    I have a cat a lot like Comet. In fact, just this morning I was woken up three hours early by a banging noise in the kitchen and had to get up to tape closed the cabinet she was trying to open.

  2. 2
    Onamission5

    I have two cats: one who likes to bat fragile items off of high surfaces just to watch those items smash, and another who regards my ankle as his personal scratching post/attack toy. If said ankle is not available, my hands or head will do.

  3. 3
    Marta

    I have a single cat, named Evil.

    In private, at home, when no one is there to hear, his name is Puppy.

    Evil wakes me every morning before 5, for no reason I can tell. I’ve had him almost 7 years, but he was 8 when I got him. In those early morning hours, I wonder about who had him before me. Who surrenders a cat like Puppy when they’re 8? Did he or she die? Did they get transferred? Were they just sick and tired of him waking them before 5am every day?

    He’s mostly a good boy, except for when it dawns on him that he’s a large male cat and he should be dominating me. Oy, then he’s awful.

    I love him quite a lot.

  4. 4
    ReasJack

    Theme from “Cat over the fridge up high”

    Comet!
    She’ll bite like a machine
    Comet!
    Your feet she’s in between
    Comet
    Your stuff she’ll glom it
    She’ll chow down on it
    And vomit todaaay
    badum badum
    bum
    bum
    bum
    COMET!
    She needs some more play time
    COMET!
    She thinks “That LEG IS MINE!”
    COMET!
    She’ll jump upon it
    So play with Comet
    Get on it
    Today

  5. 5
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Yes, it’s heartbreaking when your little darling decides for no discernible reason to destroy everything. Like my tiny little cat who decided one day that she resented being shut out of the bedroom so she dug through the cheap plasterboard wall. Love that cat, but it’s getting expensive to replace walls…

  6. 6
    Kate from Iowa

    I was raised by a cat like that. You’re going to have to train her. No joke. She’s bored, and energetic and it’s your only hope. Since you probably can’t let her outside safely where you are, I suggest some simple little tricks. Fetch, go hop on, hide and seek, sit, stand, turn around…anything you can teach a dog, you can teach a cat.

    It just takes three times as long and hurts a lot more. Also…string-a-ma-thing. Because you will get tired long before she does.

  7. 7
    Crissa

    Hee, we have a kitten who’s a year old now who is intractably active. Luckily, she’s not into destroying things, but… The temptation is there. If there’s a stack of things, she wants to see it knocked over. If there’s folded laundry, it should be unfolded flat on the floor. This week, she decided to bite through a fern three times her height and brought it down into a lean-to. If there’s a bee, fly, or moth, she wants to catch it or play with it. Took her months and months to figure out how to play by herself: Now she’ll get out a toy, and then hide it somewhere, and then try to fish it out of where ever she’s hid it. Or put it somewhere to pounce on it later.

    But this cat also ‘found’ the cookies that were set outside for some contractors we’d employed, and then delivered one – with nary a hint of saliva or biting – to my SO with much fanfare.

    She doesn’t take naps. She only sleeps when exhausted. The other kitten we got at the same time? Far more sensible. Takes afternoon naps.

    Crazy cat.

  8. 8
    inquisitiveraven

    I had a cat who in her youth would get up on my dresser and knock things off it. After woken by this a couple of times, I dubbed her “the little furry poltergeist.” Age and arthritis eventually put an end to that, and I put her down in June at the age of 18. I miss her.

  9. 9
    Francisco Bacopa

    ReasJack at #4:

    Thank you for carrying on the traditions of the Colonel Bogey March.

    Do kids today still do the Comet song to that tune?

    BTW, I totally support A+ even though it doesn’t mention cats specifically.

  10. 10
    lokicleo

    Great article! Sounds quite a bit like one of my cats. He is an awesome, wonderful, cuddly, incredibly fun pain-in-the-butt troublemaker. We also had never met a cat like him before, and were initially at a loss when we first adopted him, but totally & immediately in love with him.

    Two days before we were going away on vacation, Loki figured out how to 1) open the cabinets, and 2) get from the counter, to the top of the fridge, to the top of the cabinets, to the ceiling beams (which are high, and spaced far apart). So we had to run out and get child proofing for the cabinets, and lined up cardboard boxes & empty tin cans all along his approach to the beams (not the most attractive kitchen decor) so our cat sitter wouldn’t have to deal with it (and for our own sanity while we were away). He is smart, goal driven, and relentless.

    We also had trouble with him attacking feet, and terrorizing us at 3 AM, etc.

    Anyway, I agree with Kate from Iowa’s suggestion about training. Loki LOVES learning tricks. He purrs like crazy both when learning and performing. His first trick was to jump to wherever I point (clicker training). He’s really into treats, so if Comet is not, it may be harder to motivate her. But I think its a great enrichment activity for cats with this kind of personality.

    If you’re looking for good toys, Loki’s absolute favorite is Da Bird. He will easily jump 5 feet high chasing that thing – which uses up a lot of energy! And he will go to where we store it, stare up at it and make a pitiful tiny cry when he wants to play. Wicked freakin’ cute.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    darchole

    If you have dogs, Kyjen makes great toys, that can handle chewers (aggressive chewers can still destroy the toys, but it takes a while)

    I suggest the ginormous size of this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Kyjen-PP01056-Hide-A-Squirrel-Pet-Large/dp/B0002I0O60/ref=sr_1_3?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1346379857&sr=1-3

  13. 13
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Do you know how to talk like a cat? It often helps, unless the cat is too scared, stupid, or a complete arsehole.

  14. 14
    latsot

    Comet sounds a bit like my cat, Fortran. She had been spayed just before we adopted her, but had managed to take out her own stitches before she had even regained consciousness. The adoption centre said they weren’t even slightly surprised. “Not with *that* cat”, they added, darkly.

  15. 15
    OrneryPest

    Reminds me of our cat Ermyntrude we used to have. We got her as a partly grown kitten from the animal shelter just because she was absolutely climbing the cage wall to get to us. When we got her home, she climbed everything. We couldn’t keep her indoors. Open a door, she’d bolt for it. That was her undoing. We live on a busy street, and she bolted out into the street and got hit by a car.

  16. 16
    latsot

    I grew up on a farm and we had a cat couldn’t go two days without an accident directly related to her doing something foolish. Most memorably, she fell into a drum of waste oil. We had to bathe her every night for a couple of weeks, causing my thumb to be bitten through to the bone twice.

  17. 17
    Space Monster

    I’ve got a cord chewer who also thinks Macbook chargers are delicious. The best thing I’ve found is wire loom. It’s not pretty but it makes the cords too big to fit in a kitty mouth.

  18. 18
    Blitzgal

    Oh, the fridge magnet thing. I had a cat that did this. He also loved to rip posters off the walls so he could play with them. And chew up cords. One time he managed to record himself on my answering machine, playing with a feather toy I thought I’d hidden. A week later he chewed through the cord and the answering machine was dead. That was when I switched to voicemail.

    RIP, Maxwell Smart.

  19. 19
    Hunt

    I just got the joke. “Hell’s Kitchen”

  20. 20
    Quinapalus

    Crissa @ 7: If there’s a bee, fly, or moth,

    http://cheezburger.com/6291334400

  1. 21
    The Comet Song: Theme from “Cat Over the Fridge Up High,” by ReasJack | Greta Christina's Blog

    [...] we have one! It was posted in a comment by ReasJack, in response to my latest Catster piece about Comet, Hell’s Kitten: Learning to Love Our [...]

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