Stop the infidels! Destroy the TP!
July 17, 2006 10:37 PM   Subscribe

CatFilter: What are the best ways of ending my cat's jihad against the infidels when "the infidels" happen to be rolls of toilet paper?

My nine month old cat seems to have gone bonkers from the heat and is taking out her pent-up rage and energy on rolls of toilet paper. In two days, she has shredded three rolls of toilet paper, which gives our bathroom that enviable "distressed" look.

Keeping the TP in the medicine cabinet works great as a short-term solution, but given that I enjoy having guests and also enjoy intact rolls of toilet paper, I don't see this as a great long-term solution. (Yes, I can explain to my guests "The TP is in the cabinet because the cat is insane" but I would prefer to have it more accessible.)

How do I convince my poor heat-addled cat that the scratching post is really the better outlet for her aggression? I have catnip and have spread it on the post several times, but she doesn't seem to be going for it.
posted by grapefruitmoon to Pets & Animals (21 answers total)
In similar situations, I have always acceded to the cat's demands -- buy more toilet paper.

But I think friends of mine have had luck with a squirt gun or spray bottle. You'll need to really follow the cat around for a few days and squirt her every time she goes ape on the toilet paper, but I guess it works after a while.
posted by rkent at 10:49 PM on July 17, 2006

I guess you could close the bathroom door.

My cat occasionally goes nuts and shreds a roll of paper towels. He knows it's naughty and he acts guilty afterwards, but it doesn't seem to stop him the next time.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:49 PM on July 17, 2006

I found my cat lost interest when I put in a roller with a metal flap over the top.
posted by Sallyfur at 10:52 PM on July 17, 2006

Baby-proof your toilet paper. There are toilet paper roll protectors sold in the baby section of your local Target, K-Mart, or Wal-Mart. I have had absolutely no luck in training my kittens with water. (Or anything else for that matter.)

My kittens absolutely love the cardboard scratchers. This type is this their favorite. It took them a while to get used to it, but now they love it. I also have several scratching posts in my apartment, & I finally broke down & got a tree for my two hooligans. They were more likely to take to posts that had some sort of toy on them or that they were able to play on. Not a simple scratching post, but one they could run & jump on. They absolutely love the sisal rope on their tree. They use either the sisal rope or the cardboard interchangeably when they want to scratch.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 10:52 PM on July 17, 2006

Best answer: I'd agree that she's frustrated because it's hot. Does she have a suitably soft and scratchable (and pet safe, obviously) stuffed toy? If not, I'd try that. Some cats really like stuffed toys that are as big as they are, or even a bit bigger, some like smaller mouse-sized toys, I'd offer her both (one at a time). Not stuffed with catnip (you can spray or sprinkle some on it, if she likes catnip, but if catnip is an upper for her, only use a wee bit - you probably want one of the stuffed toys for dogs since they seem to always make cat toys too small and/or stuffed with catnip), and take up any other toys she has (except the scratching post) for a while, so she has to investigate the new toy. Find something that has the same kind of squashy feel as the toilet paper roll if you can, she needs to be able to dig her claws into it, so probably not material like terrycloth, which catches.

I'd bet that the kind of scratching cats can do on a scratching post is different from what your cat is doing with the TP (scratching post vertical scratching is usually more a kind of territory marking behaviour, what your cat wants to do is hunt and kill something, hence the TP jihad (which is a great band name)). And until you wean her onto the toy (or whatever ends up working, and be aware that the first few toys' lives may be very short, but at least they're cheap and it's not TP), you need to keep the bathroom door closed (if the litter's in there, move it into the hallway outside for a bit (and once you do start leaving the door open, you need to hide the TP for a bit so kitty doesn't redeclare war).

I haven't tried it, but some people say that those pheromone diffusers work. I might try to avoid overloading her though, and just try the toy first.

Also make sure she's getting enough water (feeding canned food can help a lot in the heat).
posted by biscotti at 11:20 PM on July 17, 2006

Is there a problem with closing the bathroom door?
posted by Justinian at 12:41 AM on July 18, 2006

A rubber band and a paper clip, bent like a hook.
Pull the rubber band through the cadboard tube and hook the two ends together to keep the toilet paper from unrolling.
You could do the same thing with string or whatever, but this is what we did in my house, and after about a week, the cat seemed to think it wasn't as much fun to scrath if the paper didn't go all over the floor.
posted by gally99 at 1:03 AM on July 18, 2006

Toilet paper cozy.
posted by Gator at 3:59 AM on July 18, 2006

My cat does this when he's pissed. The only way to prevent him from doing this is to keep the bathroom door shut.
posted by tastybrains at 4:49 AM on July 18, 2006

Make sure the roll doesn't rotate as easily. Something like this (and it's free!) will prevent it from spinning freely. At worst, the cat can only destroy a few layers (are you trimming its claws?); at best, the cat will lose interest because it doesn't spin and unravel and make fun noises.

To make the scratching post more attractive, you can try tying a toy at the top, with or without a dangling string.
posted by booksandlibretti at 6:02 AM on July 18, 2006

Response by poster: The litter is in the bathroom and the bathroom seems to be her favorite place when it's hot (I guess the tile is cooler than the hardwood), so closing the bathroom door isn't an option. (Given the moron who installed our bathroom door backwards, there's no way anything will fit in our hallway and I'm not about to put the litter in the kitchen.)

Hiding the TP works for now and I will definitely baby-proof it once the heatwave dies down.

biscotti: Thanks for the tip! She's got plenty of stuffed toys, but I will be sure to get some more big ones for her to hunt and kill!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:21 AM on July 18, 2006

also, you should always put the roll on the "wrong way around", ie, not aestheticly proper, but the cat-owner way. doesn't stop it completely, but you just get pockmarked toilet paper rolls, not streamers across the whole room.
posted by mdn at 6:40 AM on July 18, 2006

I'll second sallyfur's recommendation.

My ex-kitten used to grab the tp in her little mouth and trot out of the bathroom, tp unrolling behind her -- cute, but annoying! The metal flap stopped that behavior real quick.
posted by LordSludge at 9:53 AM on July 18, 2006

If this bathroom has a shower that gets daily use, don't take the "close the door" route unless you have an exhaust fan. We kept our bathroom door shut for a year or so to prevent the cat from getting to the tp and the garbage can. The moisture build up caused the paint to crack and peel straight to the dry wall/plaster/whatever the bleep is underneath of it (Why, yes, it is an old house). Since I haven't found the time to take care of it for the past three years, everytime I go into the bathroom now I'm forced to deal with my own inadequacy as a home maintainer. Don't let this happen to you.
posted by mollweide at 10:15 AM on July 18, 2006

My cat did this but only while still a kitten -- he grew out of it.
posted by Rash at 10:34 AM on July 18, 2006

Oh man I thought Tempura was the only one who did that kind of shit.

In addition to the above suggestions of making the tp less interesting for kitty, try putting the scratching post right next to the tp and gently moving her little paws over to the post every time she tries to attack the tp.
posted by radioamy at 10:52 AM on July 18, 2006

9 months may be a bit young for catnip. My Kaudha didn't start to enjoy catnip until she was close to two (and my dog, who is 12ish, is still surprised she likes it).
posted by QIbHom at 11:54 AM on July 18, 2006

I tried Feliway with my difficult kittens, & it did nothing. It was a waste of money.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 12:21 PM on July 18, 2006

Oops, QIbHom is right, I wouldn't be using catnip with any cat younger than a year as a general rule.
posted by biscotti at 6:10 PM on July 18, 2006

Try spraying the general area with lemon juice. Cats don't like citrus. It was the only way I saved a statue (of a sleeping cat, even) that one of my cats seemed to think it should be sharpening its teeth on. I use it on the furniture as well, when they decide that they need their scratching post replaced.

Good luck.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 9:02 PM on July 18, 2006

She is probably reacting to the scent. Now that it is hotter, the scent is becoming stronger. It may also be hormonal. You might try an unscented brand or a different scent. Or just view it is a cheap way to make your cat happy.
posted by tbird at 9:12 PM on July 18, 2006

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