My cat, Furball, likes to whine in the morning for breakfast. To hear him, you’d think he’d been starving for weeks. He also used to be a crazy kitten who attacked anything under a blanket, so I had to keep him outside the bedroom at night. What this created was a finely tuned whining machine complete with razor-sharp claws capable of scissoring up carpet.
Furball’s morning ritual wasn’t a big deal when I was single and living in an apartment with hardwood floors. Then I got married, moved into a townhome with carpet, and had a baby.
Then, I had a problem. As a result, I tried many ways to stop Furball from whining and ripping up the carpet. Here’s a list of techniques I tried — a list of shame, really.
My first attempt was this old standby. When Furball started whining, I opened the bedroom door and gave him a squirt.
The good: The cat ran away and stopped whining for 30 seconds.
The bad: I had to get out of my nice cozy bed.
The ugly: I was "breaking the seal" when I opened the door. Furball liked the attention, so he started whining earlier and earlier each day.
I tried placing a Sofa Scram sonic mat outside the bedroom door. The mat beeps when it’s stepped on.
The good: The beep scared Furball away and stopped him from ripping up the carpet.
The bad: Furball figured out he could simply avoid stepping on it.
The ugly: He started ripping up the carpet next to the Sofa Scram.
I did some research and read a recommendation to use a hall runner with the spikes turned upward to deter cats from sitting on furniture or jumping on counters. I bought a hall runner and placed it next to the Sofa Scram. It was so spiky that I felt guilty, and I hoped the cat wouldn’t get hurt.
The good: The hall runner protected the carpet next to the Sofa Scram. My concerns about the spikiness were unfounded. See "the bad."
The bad: Furball actually liked the hall runner and would stretch out on top of it.
The ugly: Imagine needing a glass of water in the middle of the night, opening the door in the dark, and forgetting about the hall runner. OUCH!
In my home, the master bathroom is next to the bedroom. I plugged in a hair dryer and blasted it under the door whenever Furball started whining or scratching.
The good: Furball ran off and would whine 10 feet away instead of right next to the door. This also stopped him from scratching the carpet right next to the door.
The bad: Furball ripped up the carpet that was 10 feet away from the door.
The ugly: The blow dryer woke up the baby.
Have you ever seen the book about babies by Dr. Bill Sears? It’s the size of a telephone book. Picture a sleep-deprived new mom being woken up prematurely by a whining cat. Out of frustration, I hurled the book at the door.
The good: Furball stopped whining and scratching for a few minutes.
The bad: Hubby was not thrilled about me hurling stuff. Picture a sleep-deprived new dad being woken up prematurely by the sound of a giant book smacking against the bedroom door.
The ugly: I started wondering whether I had anger-management issues.
My friend told me about her brother’s cat, who also used to whine for food like Furball. Her brother successfully solved the problem by disassociating himself as the source of food. We bought a pet feeder and set it to dispense food in the morning.
The good: It worked!
The bad: Since Furball is the Houdini of breaking into automated pet feeders, we had to spend more than $500 for a cat-proof one.
The ugly: Furball still whines for food at dinnertime. So does my son.
Does your cat whine for food? Have you tried to stop it? Tell us your story in the comments!