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When a cat wants to play, you can’t stop it by screaming. Distraction works better, as it does with humans

THESE days, it is quite chilly so I like to lie close to my human on her favourite couch, snuggling against her. We cats are clever and know when to steal warmth from other beings. I snooze and when I suddenly wake up to groom myself as all cats do (and it baffles humans as to why we do that), I also steal licks and nibbles of the apple pie that they are having with coffee; but all this time I am half awake to what is happening around me.

My human and her friend have been talking about her one year old cat called Stanley. She is having a hard time dealing with Stanley’s ‘obsession’ as she likes to call it. Apparently, Stanley is obsessed with the sinks in her bathroom and kitchen so that she has to constantly monitor that is the door remains closed. But that is difficult to do for the kitchen sink. What Stanley likes doing is to jump up on the sink and stare at the tap or reach up to the shelf and throw the toothbrush on the floor and then run around playing with it. If the toothbrush is confiscated or if he is chased out of the bathroom, he complains by being loud and vocal or gets even more destructive.

It gets even more annoying when he jumps into the kitchen sink when it is full of dishes because he can knock over something; which in turn startles him and then follow more bangs and smashes.

Are all cats like this, the poor girl wonders?

Well, I’m not. But I know that lots of cats love sinks. For some of us, the sink and bathtub are a good place to cool off and if the taps drips, we get a cool drink. Although most of us may hate being in water, we are fascinated with moving, running, dripping water because our ancestor’s used to drink from natural water sources like springs and water falls. We also like sinks because they are the perfect size and shape for curling up in.

Since our minds and eyes are built to focus in on movement, the dripping, rushing and light-refracting the moving or rippling water makes, becomes simply irresistible for us.

This is why if Stanley hears the sink being used, he comes sprinting from wherever he is to watch.

Let me give my comment on the situation. This is Stanley’s learning time to find how to control his body, how to practise hunting, how to help his bones and muscles develop with exercise and how to discover the world around him. As he grows older, he will sober down.

Physically hitting an animal is unacceptable while screaming or yelling does not help, Negative training on this is not going to work when instinct has us cats programmed for doing something. What can be done is that when Stanley is in the sink, she can call him for play. She should pick Stanley up and distract him with his favourite toys or throw one across the room for him to chase.

Living with cats is a compromise. Stanley can’t be trained to stay off the table or sink or counters until he is older and this phase of his life is over. A firm voice in a positive tone does help, while squirting water should be kept as a punishment for more serious offences.

Remember that all the toys in the world mean nothing if we have nobody to play with. We are interactive beings, not cute little stuffed toys. We need playmates. So the best distraction is to play with us.