Dear Barb—Cat Tails

Dear Barb:

I think I may have read something similar in a column, but I can’t remember your advice.  My husband and I adopted a kitten from a cat rescue organization six months ago.  Ginger was three months old when we got him.  We had just lost our dog and decided we would get a cat this time.  We felt too tied down with a dog and thought a kitten would work for us.  We were so happy when we got him as he filled a void in our life.  However, I didn’t realize it when we got him, but ginger cats are known for being climbers and very active.  His climbing has escalated to the point where we must clear everything off dressers and bookcases and put away anything that is sitting out.  When he is calm, he is a sweet, loving cat, but when he gets wild we have considered returning him.  My husband seriously thinks we should give him back, but I don’t.  I think he will outgrow this phase and become a sweet boy.  How can I convince my husband that we need to keep Ginger and give him a chance?  I don’t think we should just get rid of him, but rather we work on controlling his behaviour.  What are your feelings on this?  Thanks, Dawn.

Hi Dawn:

Great question, but not an easy answer.  Cats will be cats, and one thing they do is climb.  It is very difficult to stop cats from doing a behaviour that is natural and normal for them.  Cats like to be in high places, and they are built for climbing.  You can try to deter the behaviour, but sprays, yelling, or hitting your cat often do not work and only makes them fearful of you.  Cat trees and window perches work well and give your cat the option of seeing the world from up high.  Also, it’s a good idea to make sure there is no food or crumbs on your countertops.  If you do catch him on your counter or some other area where you don’t want him, quickly pick him up and put him on the floor.  Do not pet him or talk to him.  He will then learn that he does not get the attention he is craving.  Also, when giving your cat treats, make sure he is on the floor, so he will associate getting a treat with being on the floor and not on the countertop or other place he should not be.

As another option, aluminum foil is said to be a deterrent for cats on countertops.  I personally have tried that, and my cat perches on top of the foil and is still happy to be able to keep an eye on what is happening on the counter.  This is an issue you and your husband will have to resolve together.  There is no black-and-white answer.  All pets have some quirky behaviours, that’s all part of owning a pet.

Best of luck Dawn, sorry I couldn’t resolve this for you.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.