Suggestions for cat who claws through screens?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by sleepyinlalaland, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. sleepyinlalaland

    sleepyinlalaland New Member

    I'm trying to help my daughter who has a cat (about 7 month old) who is well.......spirited.

    This cat was born to be outside, and apparently is determined to be. Unfortunately the apt. she is in requires cats be inside.

    Anyway this guy has clawed its way through 2 screens so far to be in the great outdoors. This is impossible to try to maintain, but she doesn't want t give it up, and of course no one wants such a wild cat. Well, not exactly true, she wants to give it to ME!

    For one thing...although I would be nice to it, I don't really want a cat, and I could NEVER bear to keep a cat prohibited from ever lounging in the sunshine and lolling in the grass for its whole life. I know that's the advice of SPCA for a healthy cat, but inside-only cats depress me. Oh, maybe if I had a BIG place, but I have a SMALL place, and also one where cats must be inside.

    Anyway wherever this cat winds up, it needs to be taught not to claw through screens. any suggestions?

    (Why she got this cat is a longer story that could lead me to a long rant, but that's another story)
    [This Message was Edited on 07/02/2008]
  2. stick2013

    stick2013 Member

    I know that most people don't agree, but you could suggest that she have it declawed. I had one of mine declawed yrs ago, and if I ever got another cat, I would do it again. Of course it has to be an inside cat for this.

    Cats are just very destructive if not declawed. That's just my opinion. I'm sure someone will come along and give more advice, and probably yell at me for suggesting it, as most people feel it's cruel to do this.
  3. texangal81

    texangal81 New Member

    Let me tell you my experience with outdoor cats. They all meet their demise under the wheels of a vehicle. Mine have always been indoor cats and my current baby stretches out full length on the window sill to catch the sun!

    If you are going for an outside cat, don't declaw, they need to protect themselves. If you are always there, keep spraying with a water bottle when they claw and eventually they get the idea. They aren't fond of water and are very smart, independent, wonderful creatures!

    Get a bunch of catnip toys and the cat will drive himself nuts playing with them. A good scratching post is essential if you keep the claws. Give the kitty a chance, they can be wonderful companions.
  4. 4everkid

    4everkid New Member

    I agree with Texangal's idea of using a water bottle. That is a handy tool for a lot of bad kitty behavior. Works from a distance too!

    Someone here suggested using lavender to repel cats. They hate the scent. I bought some lavender body spray to keep my cat from swinging from a hanging lampshade. It did help, until the scent wore off. I just have to spray it again every now and then. They hate vinegar too. So you could try spraying the screen with that.

    Another thing they hate... Get a coke can and put about 10 penny's in it, then tape the hole shut. When he does something bad, shake it. They hate the loud annoying sound.

    My dad used to put something over the screen to keep the dogs from scratching it. I am not sure what you call it though. It's like thin sheet metal that has been punched full of holes. Something like octagon shaped holes with round smaller holes between. You could probably find this stuff at a home improvement store like Lowes or Home Depot. He just put it over the lower half of the screen door. It still lets air through, and you can still see through it, but its not good for sharpening claws. Claws would get caught up on this stuff.

    If it were me, I would spray the door with vinegar, and sit the scratching post nearby. Rub the scratching post with catnip to make it more attractive. If the cat scratches the screen, spray it with the water bottle and shake the coke can full of penny's. Then when he uses the scratching post, praise him. Then if that is not successful, move on to the punched metal screen guard.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/02/2008]
  5. kellygirl

    kellygirl Member

    I have 2 kittens and I just caught one of them clawing our new screens. We had new windows put into our mobile home. During the demo, the woman said the cats could scratch the screens and they wouldn't hurt them.......NOT.

    My kitten left the start of a hole in the new screen. The windows can be used open on the botton or top, so I have to open the top of the window.

    It was nice, though, for them to be able to lay on the sill with the air and sunshine.

    When I yelled at her, she wasn't sure what I was raising my voice about, she doesn't know right or wrong yet. Everything she does is cute.

    The two of them have hung off a pole lampshade and now it hangs crooked.

    I have never had furniture that didn't show wear and tear, raising 3 kids, and always having pets in the house. I don't know how people do it with their furniture always looking so nice and shiny.
  6. poets

    poets Member

    I have three inside cats, two of who wouldn't even venture outside if they could. My neighbor's cat has ruined my screen at my sliding glass doors. He climbed it, and he is a large cat. I just took out the screen altogether because it looked so bad. I didn't replace it because they don't keep him inside much and I knew it would only happen again.

    My "girls" like the furniture and the carpet. One of them has torn up the carpeting in two of the bedrooms. She was trying to claw her way under the door to get out. (Not a very smart cat.) I got so upset as the house is new and these cats can be so destructive. I can't use vinegar because it gives my son seizures. Maybe I'll try the lavender. Any more suggestions for something to repel them? Don't even consider the cat repellent. It only works for a few minutes!
  7. Didoe

    Didoe New Member

    if so, can you afford to replace them with aluminum.

    Even indoor cats should NOT be declawed; not only is it very painful for them, cats instinctively flex their paws in stretching, knead their paws from pleasure about something, for swatting things that need a swat (bugs, crawling babies)

    But they usually select one chair or side of a chair/sofa to mutilate. You ladies must be young and fashionable with your is meant to be used, cats are part of the family and this is the way they use the furniture.

    Squirt bottles--the opinion of people who shelter and care for many cats is 'yes, its only an unexpected squirt of harmless water, however cats are normally skittish and nervous. If you want your cat to trust and feel you as a partner instead of a threat, skip the water treatment.
  8. sleepyinlalaland

    sleepyinlalaland New Member

    Thank you all so much for your input. You all had such practical and/or inspirational ideas as to the felines!

    This will be a meandering update, because things were/are more complex than I originallly posted.

    FIRST. I misunderstood about the cat's intentions in clawing through a screen. The reason's were not only to get OUT....but also to get IN. My daughter has severe anxieties and also I believe CFIDS (of which I've posted numerous times on the other board), and sometimes the communication between us is strained, because between the both of us (my normal confusion, and her rushed and sometimes garbled attempts at talking to me), I don't get the clear picture. I was thinking that the cat clawed its way out of a window screen in a pathetic attempt to get to the great OUTDOORS. Half-true. This is an update and is news to me as of today.

    The exact facts are that she (daughter) accidently left her cat in a closed upstairs bedroom one day (couple weeks ago) while she was at class...and the cat clawed it's way out of her upstairs bedroom, and LEAPED to the small enclosed yard below. This was an ideal little yard because it was completely fenced with fence height at around 7 feet, and kitty never dreamed of trying to scale it. It had been a great way to safely let the cat out under supervision. Now, though, no one was home...and kitty wanted back INSIDE, so he clawed through the sliding screen door screen to get BACK IN! The clawing and destructive stuff is bad but it is not as I thought...that the cat just would naturally destroy any screen that separated it from the natural world.

    Here's the UPDATE: Kitty is now MY roommate. I was pretty sure this may turn out to be the outcome earlier when I first posted and I was wanting to know if anyone had suggestions I could use for curbing this tendency to rip through all barriers to get outside. Now, having had my daughter clarify the rather extreme circumstances which prompted the original BREAK-OUT (and break-in), I feel less worried about that particular behavior. However, I have filled a squirt bottle with water in preparation, and am thinking about the lavender (which I love) and possible vinegar, and also will keep a mental file on the stronger metal screening should it still turn out to be a problem. I don't feel qualified to take a stance on the de-clawing issue, but now I certainly understand why someone may find that a last-ditch effort to make some kind of compromise with living with an indoor-only cat. Since I am home most of the time, and can react quickly to misbehavior (spray bottle!), I don't think it will come to that.

    Well, the cat landed in my lap because NO ONE, but NO ONE would take that cat in (months of trying). Today I actually called a vet and inquired about euthanasia. They were reluctant and suggested I give the various shelters yet another call. I did and still NO. I DO care deeply about humane treatment of animals yet I'm not that sentimental about hard realities; once before we had a similar circumstance when I originally filed for disabiity and lost our home, and...we had one pet that was just NOT placeable and we couldn't find a rental that would allow any pets. After having that dog spend a few nights in our CAR while we continued to beat bushes for another home (afte we'd found one that was stipulated pet-free)...I was the mom who finally took it to the family vet and...held it as it quickly (and seemingly painlessly) succumbed to a gentle-hearted veterinarian's needle. I feel very BAD about that difficult time, but I don't feel GUILTY. It was a very desparate time and I favored the survival of my human family over the furred one.

    I lay that all out only because I couldn't go through that choice again. My DD was wrong in acquiring the pet (again...long story), but she has had such a hard row these past few years, that I broke down and did what I told her I'd NEVER do. She had to come up with a hefty deposit, because I could not cover that, but I now am a cat owner and ...I think it's gonna work out.

    PART 3 (or whatever): Now, I'm gonna elaborate about my conflict about indoor-only cats. Granted, many, maybe most, people live in high-trafficked areas where letting a cat roam is just irresponsible. But I have this image in my mind: When the kids were growing up, we lived on a sleepy dead-end street, we had a total of 3 cats over the years and they were almost ALWAYS outside. At the end of a hot summer day, I loved to gaze outside at my fresh-mown lawn and see a kitty lounging between the marigolds and sunflowers and I SWEAR, she was feeling the same bliss I was (ok, a little anthropomorpholizing) feeling at being physically IN the natural world. She would romp after bugs, butterflies, and close her eyes as the breeze ruffled her fur. I told myself that if I ever lived in an environment where I couldn't let a cat enjoy the outdoors...I just would NOT have one. Like I said, we had THREE cats who survived OTHER cats, cars, skunks, possums and raccoons. All of our cats were "accidental"...they just "showed up" over time and we adopted them. So, I don't know how old they were, but I believe they lived a pretty normal life span; one died of cancer and the other we assume died of OLD AGE as she seemed old when she first "adopted us". (the 3rd cat, we found a home for, when we had to move)

    So, I guess I AM sentimental for the old days. I will keep this cute kitty, and I will do my best to give it a satisfying "cat-life"...but I know I'm gonna feel some pangs about not being able to let it traipse over fresh grass, and loll about in cool earth between the flowers and shrubbery.

    Thanks again to all for your thoughtful comments, and perhaps for surviving my diatribe (if you've read this far!).
  9. sleepyinlalaland

    sleepyinlalaland New Member

    my sleep is VERY sketchy. Maybe I'm hoping most of all that he won't wake me too early out of rare and precious sleep. Yet another reason for an indoor-outdoor cat with a "cat door". Ohhhh, dreaming again of ancient and bucolic times.
  10. Didoe

    Didoe New Member


    i've been up since 5am, physically up but awake since 3-4am because mr. boo starts his nightly whoops and dashing around (2 rooms, tiny bath).
    Yesterday evening we moved a large chest of drawers to the head of the bed which is acting as a headboard. when he realized he could jump from bed 4 ft up to top of dresser and be higher than moi, he was delighted to hop up during the night, stare down at my head and aim his fat fluffy self over my pillow...and plop...fur bomb

    He has a strange habit of rooolllling slowly with feet in the air until he's come to the edge of...dresser, coffee table, bookcase...and then rolls right off. He thinks this is the funniest thing, especially if i'm there trying to hold him steady from falling off the edge. last night he insisted i throw his toys around so he could chase and find them. i usually keep an eye on where they land because occasionally he comes back empty handed. last night he didnt come back, i found him stretched out staring up at the ceiling, looking bored. i get on the floor and while looking for his ball, he watches me look under the chair, dresser, bed and finally he gets up and shows me the ball was tucked under his fat stomach and he was laying on it. I thought it was a coincidence, he couldnt possibly have a brain to lay on a toy and hide it, knowing i'm looking for it. but when it happened a 2nd and 3rd time i realized i was being taken for a sucker. (same thing at work...i'm slow)

    i'm writing all this nonsense because the bucolic images of your cats rolling in sweet grass, chasing butterflies, living a life any cat should have....thank you, for a beautiful start for the day:)
  11. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    Please forgive me for enjoying reading about other people's frustrations with cats. They're wonderful animals and I've had a cat or two all my life but I now have met my match. More about that in another thread.

    Unfortunately, your kitty is too old to safely declaw. It's a tiny bit easier on a kitten but not much. They don't take out the claws, you know; they remove the first joint of their paws. The surgery can be easily botched and even if it isn't, it's very painful for a very long time. The other thing people don't realize is that when cats don't have claws they often turn to their other weapon: teeth. Many declawed cats bite.

    I can guarantee you that, especially since you're home a lot, you can train the kitty to use a scratching post. Get one with rope around the "trunk" to give more sensation and as others said, rub it with catnip and praise her when she uses it. (And yes, it's OK to show her how although she may laugh).

    I have one cat, Sophie, that uses her cardboard scratching box to exercise her claws and to sleep on when she's upset with the other cat.

    The water bottle is a good idea but make sure you have one that works quickly. I reused a Windex bottle and could almost hear the cat laughing as I squeezed, squeezed, squeezed away trying to get the water to spray out. She would stand there and look at me as if to ask WHAT are you DOING???

    Trimming nails is not my favorite thing but it needs to be done. Just make sure you start right away (taking off only the very tips) so the kitty gets used to it. If you absolutely must and can, take the cat to a groomer for this, or I take mine to my vet. It's worth every penny to have a vet tech do the job every few months.

    Our shelters are filled to cat capacity now with people needing to move and losing jobs. If you can keep this cat, chances are she'll become your very best friend.

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

    From one cat lover to another,
  12. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Active Member

    I had to buy two baby gates which I put over the screens. This has helped with my problem, however I would also go to the hardware store for that heavy hexagonal screening. I believe it's used to apply plaster to. Your daughter could turn the edges all around or use the silver electrician tape, then hang it from two or three hooks at the top of frame. A little ingenuity works here.

    And definitely do not declaw.
  13. sleepyinlalaland

    sleepyinlalaland New Member

    new kitty parenthood has gone very well. He did NOT wake me up and is turning out to be quite sedate, yet seems content. I also appreciate that he's not a "lap-cat" either. I'm a heavy reader and am not especially amused by cats that are always crawling into any possible lap and nudge to be petted and love to come between you and any competing interest. I DO pet it, but I don't HAVE to...incessantly (we had one like that).

    To the last poster, note that the cat is now MINE, and also that I learned since my first post in this thread, that I misunderstood about the screen episodes. She (oh it"s a HE, but I can't get through my head that all cats aren't girls...and all dogs boys!) went through those screens under exceptional duress and I don't think it will be a problem here. But I WILL keep the metal screens and your advice about using them in mind in case she decides to repeat that trick.

    Thanks again for the suggestion about a scratching post and I will look for a ROPE one (hmmm,thinking about how to MAKE one). Well, it sure looks like de-clawing is out, I hadn't seriously considered it, but I can see the appeal if it really did go about shredding up the place. Good to know about cutting the nails. I know my daughter did, so hopefully kitty is used to it.

    Didoe, I laughed at your story of trying to spray a cat from a spray bottle that you have to pump for five minutes first! And I'd be mighty disturbed by "fur bombs"...I hope you don't get hurt! (funny story, glad it's not mine)

    So, I'm happy to report that my new cat ownership is looking good so far. For someone who didn't particularly WANT a pet, I think I've lucked out with this non-needy critter!
  14. kellygirl

    kellygirl Member

    I have two kittens and this post really helps.

    I HAVE one that wants attention all the time. I can't even sit on the toilet without "NO" and that my role in life isn't to keep her happy.

    I once heard that you do not own the cat, the cat owns you.

    I love them!
  15. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    LOL. Yes, it does seem as if cats own us. I've also heard that cats are like women and dogs are like men.....

    About making a scratching post: you'd have to make sure it was the very rough, picky kind of rope, not real easy to handle. I'd buy a post and see how he does. They're not that expensive at Walmart or a store like that. As I said, a cardboard scratching box might be worth a try. I have one of each. The box is for Sophie, the cat I've had for awhile, and the post for Honey, the cat I rescued from outdoors last winter. She was used to climbing trees. (Don't forget the catnip on either one.)

    Boy cats are usually more affectionate and easier to raise than girl cats. I'll bet kellygirl's needy kitten is a girl. And to anyone who EVER considers adding another cat to the their household, make sure it's one of the opposite sex. If you get them as kittens or very young cats as I have done before, two boys will be OK. But if you have an adult cat, females especially are awful with new additions to their household. I'm here to testify to that!!!

    I adopted a cat from the shelter where I volunteered (past tense since I'm too tired to do it now). She was cranky with other cats but sweet when I got her home. Then last winter I saw a stray cat with badly matted fur eating bread under my birdfeeder. Long story short: I had Honey's matted fur shaved off and it's growing back nicely (see pic in my profile). She's now an indoor cat, very sweet but extremely meek - and after four months, Sophie is still being a brat. She did OK as long as Honey was on the other side of the screened porch but NOT in HER house.

    She stalks Honey and she bullies her. I'm continually having to intervene. Subtly, Sophie gets in the way of the kitchen or the stairs to the basement where the litter box USED to be.

    Now another trio of food, water and litter box are in my bathroom where Honey has easier access - and Sophie uses it too. It's not unusual for a cat and me to be peeing at the same time!

    Sophie now wakes me up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. I can't close the door to my bedroom because Honey couldn't get to the litter box and even Sophie "holds it" until she can use that box. This has increased my fatigue greatly. I can't take either of them to the shelter even if I wanted to because they're filled to capacity. Plus Sophie has food allergies (yes, the cats must be fed separately and it's hard in my small condo) so no one would want to deal with that, while Honey is so fearful she'd never be seen.

    Yes, indeed. We are owned by our cats.

    Good luck to all,
    Marta, a cat victim and still a cat lover. Go figure.
  16. kellygirl

    kellygirl Member

    Yes, how'd you guess my kitten is female? LOL

    The things we do for our "Kids". I have an elderly dog who is incontinent at times and I have a drop cloth down and blankets. I am constantly washing the blankets as she has accidents. Some people who can't understand us animal lovers, I will not let into my house. It does smell at times with her. I tried the baby gate in the kitchen and it was pitiful, I saw teeth marks as she tried to chew her way out, so I gave in and allow her in the living room on the plastic and blankets.

    She has arthritis but is happy and tries to play and still has an appetite. Non-animal lovers in my family tell me to get her put to sleep. It's not time yet.

    What can I do about my one kitten's ears? I used mineral oil on a cotton ball. I was told to put mineral oil in the ear for mites.

    I also tried peroxide on a cotton ball. I can't afford a vet bill, esp. if I can treat it at home.

    We had the two kittens spayed at a clinic and also got the shots there that the SPCA was running. The vet wanted $500 by the time everything was done, including the office visit. We paid the clinic $120 for both cats!

    I have an elderly cat with a growth in his head that has allergies. He sneezes and has a drainage from the nose. I keep sheets and a large towel over the bed where he sleeps. He is still trying to play with the kittens and eats well. He does look like he may be a little dehydrated. He has a growth in his head with the one eye growing smaller. I think he cannot see too well, as he can't find the snacks I give him.

    If he were operated on, he may bleed out, there is a lot that can go wrong in the head I was told. His face above the nose is pushed out. He doesn't breathe well.

    I am waiting for signs for when it's time to let him go. My daughter, who is an RN said he may go into seizures eventually.

    Right now, for my dog and cat, it's comfort care, then we will have our two babies left.

    My husband had a fit because I found this all-natural food with no fillers, no corn, has probiotics, all meat, omegas, etc, but it was $23 for 5 pounds. To me, the little they eat and it's all they need, it was worth it. He doesn't think so, being we have trouble feeding ourselves.
  17. Windytalker

    Windytalker Member

    I've seen plastic panels that fit over the lower portion of screens in catalogs. Might try an internet search for pet supplies.

    Also, if you declaw a cat, only do the front claws. Even if it's an inside cat, it might get out and will need the hind claws for protection.

    I miss my kitties....

  18. mezombie

    mezombie Member

    I let one of my cats outside on my balcony.

    Unfortunately, she often can't decide if she wants to stay in or out. Preferably, she wants to stay outside but only if I'm there with her.

    She, too, has scratched at the screen door. While considering a baby gate, I found a large piece of cardboard that I just stick between the glass door and the door jamb so I can still benefit from the fresh air without risking destruction of my screen door.

    So far it's working very well! My cat has tried and failed to get to the screen door with this barrier in place.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/05/2008]
  19. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I had to euthanize my last old cat just a little over two years ago and seven months earlier, I had to do the same with his pal. It was very hard on both of us when the first old guy had to go, and it was really hard on me when I drove away from the vet's that last time. They'd been with me for 16 and 17 years and knew me when I was well.

    My vet had said that "as long as they're eating" they can keep on going but I'll tell 'ya, with my first old guy, I ended up having to make an appointment to put him down and that was horrible. With the last old boy, he was in obvious pain so I called the vet and told them I was coming in NOW. That was still hard but it was better than making an appointment as if I'd be bringing him back home.

    As for ear mites, a cotton ball isn't getting deep enough. While you don't want to put out their ear drums, it's good to remember that mites hide way down inside and cats' ear drums are deep. You need to carefully use a Q-tip with oil on it, deeper than you thought you could. Use a scraping motion around the inside of the ear and do it at least twice without oil on the Q-tip to get out as much guck as you can. After that use a Q-tip with lots of oil. In a few days, do the entire thing again. Do it until the "scraping" with a Q-tip shows little or brown guck. They have some mite medication at the pet stores but I don't know how good it is. I suppose it's a medicated oil.

    We had a cat at the shelter who'd had ear mites so bad that he'd shaken his head hard enough for a hematoma to form and his ear flap grew down over his ear canal. That was bad because with no air getting to the canal, bacteria caused constant infections. His ear had to be cleaned every few days and antibiotic ear drops put in. He looked like a prize fighter! It took many months but he now has a home where his people love him dearly. I love happy endings with pets.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/05/2008]
  20. kellygirl

    kellygirl Member

    for the advice! I'll try it and see what happens. I'll be careful.

    My daughter's cat had the ear removed. From lack of ear care it had grown some hard substance in the ear, it was as hard as a rock. She is fine now and has one ear. It cost over a thousand dollars, but her two cats have been through a lot with her.

    I saw a true story on volunteers that go out and rescue animals from the floods. This man wanted his cat. He joined them and he found his cat! He cried and hugged the cat........what a man!

    I believe some cats are angels. The outdoor cats we had when I was growing up is what kept me feeling safe in an abusive home. I would sit on the ground and play with the kittens all day.