This plea for help is on a forum about cats. The owner of the cat was concerned because, on her desk, she had a customized computer and her papers. She had a fan on her desk as well. She was concerned that her male cat would knock these items off her desk when he jumped up. When she is lying in bed she can hear her cat chewing on her papers. All in all, this makes the cat’s owner anxious and she’s desperate to stop it. She seeks advice from fellow cat owners.
As far as I can see, almost all, if not all, the responses referred to ways to prevent her cat from jumping up onto her desk. And, you know, there are some pretty odd and, on occasions, rather cruel ways to achieve that. In fact, nearly every method that I have read about preventing a cat from jumping up onto counters or any surface could be described as, at least, uncomfortable for the cat. It is training by punishment, in effect.
My advice to her would be this. The first point I’d like to make is that her cat is possibly demonstrating a sign of affection in being close to objects handled by his human companion. Her scent is on those objects and he wants to be around that smell. Cats frequently like being on their human companion’s desk. Do you really want to stop that happening?
I would not try and prevent my cat from jumping up onto my desk. This is natural behavior. It is something that her cat finds interesting and which may, in fact, be stimulating. Surely that is the objective of a cat owner; to make her/his life as interesting as possible.
The first thing I would do is to make sure my cat was stimulated by playing with him or her. I know that does take some time and some commitment but in simply doing that this cat owner may discover that her cat is sufficiently stimulated to not want to jump up on her desk and find something to do there.
Additionally, what I would do is to make sure that the items on my desk could not be nudged and pushed or knocked over, or the papers chewed upon etc.. So, for example, I would place the papers in a box file which puts them out of reach. I would put the box file between two heavy weights, perhaps paperweights which would prevent the file being moved by a cat. That is just a simple idea and there are many alternatives. You could also leave a sheet of paper out that could be chewed on.
As for the computer and other items on the desk, I would again ensure that they cannot be moved by my cat. There are numerous ways of achieving it. What about, for example, using Blue Tack? This is a reusable adhesive which can be pulled away from the surfaces without leaving a mark. What about putting the computer on a shelf behind the desk, high up and screwing a “facing” to the shelf as a barrier to stop her cat jumping up to it?
I know that a bit of work is required together a bit of lateral thinking to ensure that the items on the desk are protected from a cat walking around on the desk, but then again there is work required trying to stop one’s cat jumping up onto the desk so which is the better?
I think cat behaviour solutions are really about people outsmarting their cat but in a nice way and getting around the problem rather than confronting a problem because after all these are not actually problems, certainly not from me cat’s perspective. If a cat owner confronts what she perceives as being a cat behaviour problem she is in fact confronting her cat and as far as I’m concerned this is something to be avoided. People should work with their cat and find a solution based upon a good understanding of cat behaviour rather than preventing natural cat behaviour.
Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to achieve two objectives at the same time, namely, to ensure that their cat is content and stimulated and at the same time ensure that their treasured possessions are protected?