Monday, February 11, 2013

Trash Can Cat

Our cats are ten years old.  Over the years they've gotten into their share of mischief-nibbling on the plants, sticking a paw into a glass of water left on the coffee table, and climbing into open dresser drawers.  Occasionally  they kick the naughtiness up a notch, doing things like running across the counter or clawing on the back of a chair.  However, in the last week Pepper the Cat has developed a horrible habit. He's figured out how to open the cabinet under the sink and tip over the trash can we store there.

I'm not sure why he started, but the practice has to stop.  When I researched ways to put an end to the behavior, my Google search led me to a great article from the Humane Society of the United States called Just Say No: Aversive Training for Your Cat.

I learned that an aversive is something that your cat finds unpleasant.  It could be a texture (things that doesn't feel good), a taste (hot sauce or a spray specially designed for taste aversion), a smell (citrus scents or cologne), a sound (a whistle, a shaker, a book dropped on the floor, or hand clapping), or a surprise (a squirt from a water bottle, a blast of canned air).

Using an aversive sounded like a great idea.  But which one?  Noises and surprises work best when you're around to catch your kitty in the act.  Pepper likes to perform his new trick when we're not around, so I scratched those off the list. I couldn't figure out a way to add a disagreeable texture to the cabinet door or trash can, so I decided to try using an unpleasant smell.  I dug around in the master bathroom and found a spray bottle of "Belmont Extreme eau de toilette" in the back of the cabinet under Hubby Tony's sink.  Judging by the layer of dust on the cap, I think it had been there for years.  I used the cologne to give the trash can liner a good spritz, then put the can back under the sink.

Every time I opened the cabinet to throw something away the cologne's woodsy scent wafted out.  I didn't see Pepper anywhere near the cabinet all day, and was hopeful I'd taken care of the problem.  However, this morning there was a note from Tony which read:
I am sorry to have to report the trash experiment did not work.  I was pretty sure it had failed when Pepper came into the bathroom while I was shaving and his head smelled of cologne.
When I came down to the kitchen the trash was all cleaned up, and Pepper was asleep on the couch until I left for work.  Later in the day he was up to his shenanigans again; Son Donald's text to me said:
So perfume doesn't work :-( 
I guess it's back to the drawing board...

Five years ago today: New Thing #31--The Spin

8 comments:

  1. Oh dear! Good luck with your trashcan, Kathy. I just noticed that you and I have both been blogging for 5 years. What fun!

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    1. Five years! Isn't it amazing how time flies?

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  2. My only training success has been loss of interest--in the part of the cat.

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    1. I'd like to think I'm smarter than Pepper and can affect the outcome. We'll see.

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  3. we'll stay tuned to hear what happens next!

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  4. maybe another scent? the citrus one may not be appealing to them. good luck!

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  5. We had a similar problem with a cat years ago, and installed a child-proof cabinet lock on the trash cabinet. Another option might be to install one of those pull-out trash can cabinet organizers. The cat could still get into the cabinet, but the devices hold the cans a bit more firmly upright.

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