3-25-22 Friday

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I’m sure you’ve answered this in the past, but what is the best way to “train” a cat to not jump up on counters, tables, etc.? My sister has a cat that is almost a year old (neutered) and he’s learning some not so good behaviors. I suggested that they use a can of air to spray towards the cat (not directly in the cat’s face), but wasn’t sure if there were other methods that would work.

I’m meeting the cat in person for the first time this weekend and have to confess I’m a bit excited. 🙂

Ricky & Bibi’s Mom said: Every cat is different, but I had pretty good results with a hardware-store pump spray bottle filled with plain water. I was always careful when aiming to avoid direct spray into eyes. And I kept the spray on the lightest setting.

This didn’t discourage ALL counter exploration, but it did keep Mazzilli off the counter and table while I was eating (Mookie wasn’t much of a counter explorer). Beyond that, I didn’t care, but you and others may care much more, so keep that in mind. If you want absolutely NO counter contact, this may not work.

Consistency is absolutely key. If I kept my spray bottle nearby, eventually all I had to do was lift it to where Mazz could see it and he kept his distance from my plate—and fork (my table was attached to my counter).

If I were trying to train a cat not to jump up on counters and tables (I’ve given up that fight… and ironically, the cats almost never go on the counters in the kitchen since we moved to this house. Maybe not caring is the trick?) I’d probably use a can of compressed air. Our cats are trained to the can of air so well that all I have to do is pick it up, and the cats cease and desist their behavior.

I’ve heard that cats don’t like tinfoil under their feet and people will line their counters with tinfoil to stop cats from prowling the counters. Also, they make scat mats that will beep – when we had a cat who would spray the front of a particular cabinet, we put a scat mat in front of it. It worked to keep the spray-er away from the cabinet, but kittens would almost always step on the scat mat and then stay there, looking puzzled because there was a loud beeping sound. (My concern about putting a scat mat on the counter is that a cat might step on it, be startled, launch himself into space, and fall a relatively long way down to the floor and then get injured.)

Anyone else got suggestions? Please chime in!


Considering the dramatic weather the South was having the past few days and the similar weather we had here in Ohio, have you ever had an instance where you needed to implement a duck-and-cover safety moment with your permanent residents and your fosters? We have a clowder in double digits and figuring out how to get them all to the basement and in safe places is not an easy task. So far we haven’t had the necessity for our plan, but I am always wondering how others might handle moving multiple fur-charges.

The only time we’ve had a serious threat to our safety was April 25, 2011, when we were fostering Maggie and her kittens. We lived at Crooked Acres, and at that time we didn’t have a tornado shelter. When the EF-5 tornado went by a mile south of us, I was in the hallway closet with Maggie and her kittens in a crate, frantically calling for the permanent residents to come join me. They didn’t (I don’t have any idea where they were.) And where was Fred? Oh, Fred was in the front room watching the tornado go by and yelling “Wow, come look at this!” (And like a dummy, I did.) (You can read about that experience here.)

After that, we got a tornado shelter in the garage (which was a detached separate building, and I think it’s on the verge of REALLY STUPID to have a tornado shelter so far from the house) and in the 5 years after we got the shelter, before we moved, we had the occasional bad weather and never once went anywhere near the tornado shelter.

We had no tornado shelter at the house in Huntsville, but never really had a serious threat in our three years there, either.

At this house, we have an in-ground tornado shelter in the back yard. I have looked inside it maybe twice. It’s old and it’s kind of musty, and if we were under a serious tornado warning I doubt I could be talked into going out there. I’d most likely hunker down in the center of the house with whoever we’re fostering at the time, frantically shaking the treats and calling for the permanent residents.

(If/when the tornados get us, you have my full permission to shake your head mournfully and say “They had a tornado shelter, but they’re so dumb they didn’t use it. Now they’re scattered all over Alabama. Tsk tsk.”)


How is Uncle Charlie? You haven’t shown any pictures of his beautiful face lately.

He was in last Friday’s post! I have a calendar with the permanent residents’ names on each date through the week so that I know whose “turn” it is to be the featured permanent resident in each blog post (this keeps it fair so that you see each permanent resident regularly; otherwise, I’m not sure I’d ever remember to post pictures of Dewey!) For some reason today’s square on the calendar is blank (I must have been distracted when I was writing in names), so you get a couple of random permanent resident shots.


Hi Robyn. Since you’ve been dropping facts about kittens (eyes, ears, claws), may I ask about tongues: are kitten tongues rough like those of adults? if not at this age, when do they ‘roughen’? Thanks.

I honestly can’t say that I’ve really noticed, even though I’ve been licked by many kittens – I think that they’re rough, but they’re also so much smaller than adult tongues that they maybe don’t seem quite as rough. A Google search has given me zero information (it’s entirely possible my search terms aren’t all that great), so if anyone has any information on this, I’d love to hear it!


Mama Mimosa is looking less like a wide load, lately. Have you weighed her recently? Maybe it’s the angle of the pic but when she’s sitting she doesn’t look as shapely.

About a week before she had her kittens, Mimosa weighed 13.75 pounds (6.24 kg). A week later (March 8th), she weighed 11.88 pounds (5.39 kg). Last night she weighed 11.25 pounds (5.1 kg). She’s definitely losing weight, but I’m keeping her well-fed in hopes that she doesn’t hit that super-skinny stage (but I think she will.) I’ll try to remember to weigh her again soon and we’ll see where she stands. But yes, she’s definitely getting smaller!


Mimosa, up close. She has such pretty eyes!

Mimosa has a ::thlurrrp::

Bramble in my lap.

Mondo does not wish to properly pose for the camera, thank you very much.

Nor does Bramble.

At least Hollyhock’s looking in the right general direction.

Clover has an opinion about me, and it’s not a nice one.

Kudzu’s ready to climb, it appears.

Mondo’s rolling around all “Everyone, look at my awesome belly!” Bramble, however, has his eye on Kudzu’s foot.

“It’s a good foot!” says Kudzu with a smile. Can’t argue with that!

No one has left the crate yet, and I’m getting impatient. I think Mimosa’s getting impatient too – she’ll go to the crate, talk to the kittens and get ’em all riled up, and then go a few feet away and talk to them some more. So far, the kittens aren’t getting the hint. I know they’ll leave the crate when they’re ready, but let’s get a move on, guys!


Archie’s having Deep Thoughts while Newt is out cold.

Archie (left) and Charlie enjoy the sun in the back yard.


Posted on social media (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr) yesterday.

I’m holdin’ paws with Bramble.

Throw Back Thursday: that’s Andouille (one of Nola’s Cajuns) in 2017 at 17 days old, eating canned food. That’s the earliest I’ve ever seen a kitten show interest in solid food, and I was completely surprised. (Naturally I got a LOT of flack for “forcing” a 17 day old kitten to eat food. If you consider watching a kitten toddle across the room to sniff at – and eat – food on his own to be “forcing” him, then yeah. Ya got me. Guilty! Somehow he managed to grow up to be an upstanding citizen, he’s now Andre, and you can actually see him and his sister Beignet (now Bella) on Facebook occasionally, here: https://www.facebook.com/kayskittykisses )⁠

Kittens usually start showing interest in solid food after 4 weeks. When there’s a mama present, I let them go at their own pace. Eventually they follow mama to the plate, sniff at what she’s eating, and decide to give it a try. It’s worked out well so far, and every kitten I’ve fostered has figured it out sooner or later.⁠

In my experience, kittens generally figure out the litter box first (likely because once kittens are eating food other than what they get from nursing, mothers are MUCH less interested in pottying them). This weekend I’ll put out small litter boxes and let the kittens check them out. (This is assuming that they start leaving the crate on their own. I’m pretty sure they’re only a few days away from that.)⁠

Oh, and the kittens do, indeed, have teeth coming in, adorable, sharp little chompers.

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Throw Back Thursday: 4 years ago (2018), we had TWO pregnant cats, dilute tortie Kristi and her super-feral housepanther daughter, Katia. Katia had 4 kittens three weeks before Kristi had her 6. Katia and Kristi co-mothered their 10 kittens in the same crate, and so the day after Kristi’s kittens were born, I captured this sweet video of 3 week old Dean cleaning his aunts Tessa (gray) and Picabo. (In the first section, you can see Dean’s sister Katarina hanging out with them.) ⁠

These days, you can see Katarina and Dean on Instagram. Picabo (now Harley Quinn) and her brother Brian Boitano (now Prince Harry) can be seen on Facebook here.

We have an escapee! Hollyhock didn’t know where she was going except for “Away from that ding-dang pie plate,” and her brothers looked on in amazement, thinking “Wait. We can DO that?!” Mimosa came over and gave her a sniff, and then said “You do you, kid” and went back to her dinner. (They still haven’t even attempted to escape the crate yet, though.)

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Throw Back Thursday: 2018, when Deanzilla (the floofed-up black boy) was feelin’ floofy and showing off his skills for his aunt, Ohno. ⁠

(If you missed the earlier video of Dean cleaning his 1 day old aunts, I suggest you scroll back, because it’s way too sweet.) (Dean and his sister Katarina are on Instagram, here.)

“Lady!” said Mimosa. “You will be shocked to hear that the plate of canned food is empty and I am starvin’! I recommend you rectify this situation immediately!” (I did, of course.)

Good night innernets. (All 5 kittens are in this picture, but Kudzu is hidden under Hollyhock.)


2021: Baff time for Pinochle.
2020: Carmelita, studiously NOT looking at the camera.
2019: Mary did not approve of this behavior.
2018: Babysitting doesn’t mean sitting on the babies, Torvill.
2017: No entry.
2016: Art Vandelay is killing me dead here.
2015: And then Peter mocked Heart.
2014: Then Mariette got all “But WHY does the mouse keep running around the track? Does it hate us?”
2013: Meet the Royals.
2012: No entry.
2011: Just occasionally, she needs a nap. With her fangs showing and her tongue sticking out a bit.
2009: Beulah critiques my belly-rub technique.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



3-25-22 Friday — 16 Comments

  1. On the subject of using compressed air to deter cats from going on the counter: be careful about what you use because compressed air cans meant for cleaning keyboards have an irritant in them to discourage people from inappropriate usage. We tried an automated system made for cats (called “ssssscat” or something) and it worked well but it kept getting our housemate too (also it’s not cheap)

    Now we just use spray bottles from target (the travel toiletries aisle has smallish ones that are like $2 and come in fun colors so we have 10 scattered around the house) with water and stomping. It works well on two of the cats and the third will mostly ignore it because the sink is just so interesting

    • Oh, I should have said that I would never spray them directly with it – just basically use the noise to stop them from their behavior. We tried using the “sssscat” too, and it invariably scared the CRAP out of me, so didn’t last long.

  2. Re training cats, a lot of methods will train them just to not do it in front of you, which may be enough for your peace of mind! (Ignorance really can be bliss.) Re our responses to your getting hit by a tornado, that made me snort out laughing, which startled Jitterbug.

  3. I read this post, enjoyed, and then re-read the tornado post, and man it was scary to read then and scary to read now! We have no real tornados in the UK and I am very glad. I have far too many massive trees right outside my huge wide panel windows, one tornado and i think the entire block of flats would be full of trees!

  4. Had to laugh at the cat on benches. Mine never did it home but daughter was babysitting two doors down and was asked if she knew had a black cat with a red collar. Apparently it would come thru their dog door and curl up on their benches and sleep in the sun. Oops. Also water spray works well. (Empty or full)

  5. Living in KS, a lot of us are like Fred when it comes to tornadoes. I lived most of my life without any basement or shelter other than a closet. In 1999 I finally had a basement. We had a warning & it was coming close. I got my cats in carriers & down to the basement then came back upstairs, stood in the kitchen & was wondering what to do next when the tornado went through 1 block west of my house (they REALLY do sound like a freight train), then finally ran down the stairs. The power had already been out & stayed out for awhile and it was night time. It wasn’t until the next morning when I was on my way to work that I realized how close it had actually come to my house. But I made sure the kitties were safe.

  6. Another thing that I have been told works for kitchen counters is to make some rattle cans*, place loose pieces of cardboard on the counters sticking out about four inches, with the rattle cans toward the back of the cardboard (one can per each piece of cardboard). The cat sees the edge of the cardboard as the edge of the counter and so that is where their hind feet “hit”, which causes the cardboard to flip them off the counter and send them and the rattle can flying. So they’ve (rudely) been flipped off (unexpected but doesn’t hurt them) AND attacked by a noisy rattle can. And they don’t see any involvement from YOU, so you are not an object of fear. If you can do it without being seen, you can toss a can also to interrupt any other activity you want to discourage.

    I believe this will give them the idea that it is not worth the aggravation, but probably will take a couple weeks, AND probably depends on the intelligence and personality of the cat. Probably best with a fairly smart cat (dumb cats won’t learn), but it they’re too smart, they will figure it out as soon as you stop using the cardboard and rattle cans and be back up on the counter. If the counters are under a window, you’re probably doomed to have (some) cats who will continue to jump up there.

    *Rattle can: Any empty, well rinsed soda can or smaller (like tomato juice) can, loosely filled with small gravel/pebbles. The idea is to make it make a loud rattle without being so heavy it would hurt them if it hit them. After you get that satisfactory, cover the drinking hole with some tape, so as not to have pebbles flying everywhere.

  7. Hi Robyn. I inherited a crate like yours but have no need for it. Would you like it? I can send pics.

  8. Found the kitten tongue answer from: https://petspipe.com/why-are-cat-tongues-rough/#:~:text=Because%20kittens%20need%20to%20eat%21%20The%20tongue%20of,the%20grooves%20in%20their%20tongues%20are%20more%20pronounced.
    Are Cats Born With Rough Tongues
    You might also wonder whether or not cats are born with rough tongues. Why do kittens have smooth tongues instead of rough ones?

    Well, it turns out that all cat’s start life with a smooth tongue but gradually develop the papillae as they grow older. As a kitten develops into adulthood, their bodies begin producing the muscle fibers and proteins necessary to form the papillae.

  9. Wow, I just read your post about the tornado. Yikes!! And people tell me they wouldn’t live here in Catifornia because of the earthquakes!

  10. To stop things from being scratching posts I’ve found double sided sticky tape either attached directly or into paper around table legs very effective!

  11. “Kudzu’s ready to climb, it appears”

    Look, you did that to yourself. You’re gonna find that kitten in all sorts of lofty hideyholes naming him that.

  12. It makes me feel a little better to know that you have trouble rounding up the Permanent Residents during tornado warnings, because whenever we have a warning here (frequent spring/summer/fall occurrence in Iowa), Allie is nowhere to be found! And thanks for reposting the video of Dean and the babies — I had forgotten about that until I watched it again.

  13. I think on the “ready to climb” pic, Kudzu’s really standing there screaming “MAMAAAAAAA!”