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Frisky kitty's energy can be overwhelming

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Q: I love her with all my heart, but my 9-month-old kitten is driving me crazy. She jumps on kitchen counters, the refrigerator and stove. Spraying her with water, making loud noises and slapping her behind does not help. I am a senior citizen; she is my only companion. I hope you have an answer. I cannot bear to give her away, but it is coming to that. Please help.

B. S., St. Paul, Minn.

A: I do believe you love your cat. But believe me when I tell you cats climb - it's what they do, especially kittens. Maybe it's been awhile since you've had a kitten. It's important you offer alternative places for climbing, and encourage her to go there using treats and praise, and perhaps a bed if it's a sunny place.

Consider a compromise. After all, maybe it's not so bad to allow her to scale the top of your fridge. Perhaps there's a window sill in the kitchen or another place where she can climb.

Offer toys for your kitty. This doesn't have to be an expensive proposition. To a kitten, a wine cork, bottle cap, empty box or ping pong ball are all superb toys. It's important to rotate toys so they don't become old and boring. It's also great to actively play with your kitty, using a "Cat Dancer" or another interactive toy. Active kitties may love a "Mouse in the House." Don't worry, it's not the real thing. A toy mouse races along a track on a toy living room backdrop. There's a squeak before the mouse emerges, so cats learn to run to check out the noise. The mouse is on a timer, and some kitties even learn to push a button that makes the mouse appear. A Mouse in the House is $70, available at some pet stores. Click here or call 920-426-4330.

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. R. K. Anderson, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Minneapolis, says that by attempting to scare your kitty or physically taking your hand to her in an unfriendly manner will diminish her trust in you.

Spraying with water could work when you're in the room. However, walk away and the cat will scamper on the counter for grins. Your kitty could be bouncing around on objects, in part, to get your attention. It's working! Your distress might be a game for kitty.

Anderson suggests ignoring your kitty when she climbs where you don't want her to. Place double-stick tape or Sticky Paws (manufactured sticky tape, available at pet stores and online) on counter tops and other places where you don't want her to go. Cats detest feeling sticky on their paws. If all else fails, there are motion detectors that spray citronella in your cat's direction; one example is called ssscat (available here and at selected pet stores).

Also, remove tempting tasty morsels from the stove top or counters.

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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