Dear Dr. Baum —
I have a young 10 week old female kitten … was told she had bobcat in her, but from what I understand that is impossible even if she does resemble a young bobcat. Anyways, this kitten can be on the other side of the house and if you turn on the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink she comes at you with a running start only to climb up your leg so she can play in the sink. She also gets into the shower and bathtub with anyone who’s in there. We can accept her getting into the shower but as she gets bigger the whole climbing up the leg will really start to hurt. How do I put a stop to it now?
Also, she has started to nurse one one of my blankets. Should I just let her enjoy the blanket?
Dear Chantel —
Dr. B has many tricks up his sleeves when it comes to pussycat and doggie behavior issues. But in response to these particular questions, Dr. B turned to a friend, animal trainer Mike Chill, asking, “Do you have any advice for these poor souls?” Here is his reply:
“They will need to find a deterrent to the behavior, such as a penny can. Try to shake the can just as the kitten is running up to them to climb up their legs. They should then pick up the kitten, so she isn’t afraid of them; just afraid of climbing up their legs. Also, a spray, such as Bitter Apple chewing deterrent or even aerosol hair spray applied to their pants should work as a repellent to the kitten.”
About the nursing on blanket question: “As long as the kitten is just ‘nursing’ on the blanket and not actually eating it, there really is no problem in allowing her to do that. The theory is that kittens hand-raised or weaned too early will do this, but it really doesn’t hold up; many kittens and cats nursed by their moms exhibit this behavior. I think it’s a feline version of thumb sucking…. “
If you would like to contact Michael Chill directly, you can reach him through his site: http://asDogTraining.com
Meantime, Chantel, thanks for allowing us to share your dilemma and the answer here with visitors. Kittens climbing up human’s legs paint a familiar picture to many of us, and it’s good to find a great idea to turn this amusing but painful behavior around, and to the blanket nursing.
Happy tails from the folks at Center-Sinai!