Penny Pig

Earlier tonight, I saw Marco intently hunting something on the carpet. They tend to hunt things like dust mites and little specks of dirt, but once in a while they’re after bugs. I moved the cat bed to see what he was trying to catch and saw a flea hopping around. Spring is officially here.

Between the flea and the fact that both kittens are all upset and out of sorts right now, I went ahead and gave them their Advantage doses, hoping that they’d be too grouchy to want me to pet them until the medicine dried off their fur a bit. So far, so good.

The kittens are upset not necessarily with me in particular, but with the state of their world. Because yesterday I finally introduced them to Penny Pig.

Penny Pig is about the size of a baseball. She’s a hard plastic piggy bank that I got as a trinket at a conference recently, and right now she has about ten pennies in her little plastic self. Penny Pig might seem small and insignificant, but the fact of the matter is that Penny Pig goes whereever I go, and Penny Pig is kicking kitten ass and taking kitten names.

Penny Pig does not tolerate kittens on kitchen counters, and she does not tolerate kittens on computer desks or laptop keyboards, and she especially does not tolerate kittens climbing the miniblinds. Abby and Marco are learning pretty quickly that Penny Pig is not to be fucked with, because she makes a hideous, horrible, neverending racket if she catches them in any of the bad places.

I’ve been fighting a losing battle to keep the kittens off the counters ever since they learned to jump. I tried a lot of things to keep them down, but they gleefully ignored water squirts, yelling and hand-clapping, aluminum foil, citrus, and even butt swats. I was really hesitant to introduce the penny-shaking disciplinary method, because we used it to train our golden retriever and while it accomplished its purpose very well, it had the unfortunate side effect of turning her into a chickenshit fraidydog who freaks out at the slightest hint of loud noises. I don’t want the kittens to be fearful, but I also don’t want their fat hairy asses on my kitchen counters anymore. I have seriously had enough.

So I gave Penny Pig a try, and so far she’s keeping them in line pretty well. There are some downsides, though. For one thing, it’s tough to associate Penny Pig with the bad behavior for both cats, because if I shake the pig at Abby on the counter, Marco might be in the other room doing nothing at all wrong, but he’ll freak out twice as much as Abby did and will hide under the couch for a half-hour. I don’t want him to think he’s doing something wrong, but on the other hand, it’s more important to be consistent with Abby every single time she’s on the counter, as she’s the worst offender and the most stubborn. Marco seems to actually get scared by the pig, whereas Abby just dislikes the noise and will do anything to make it stop. The only other thing Abby has ever responded to in her life is the vacuum cleaner, and I can’t very well chase her down with the vacuum cleaner every time she gets on the counter. Penny Pig is much more efficient.

The good news is that I’ve barely had to use it tonight. The bad news is that they’ve been all freaked out and upset all night, and I’m kind of upset by that too because I am a ridiculous softie sometimes. I’m trying to give them more attention when they’re in the places they should be, so they realize that it’s much better to get cuddles on the couch than to get a Penny Pig scolding on the counters. We’ll see how this goes.

7 Replies to “Penny Pig”

  1. You could also just get over the local taxidermist and commission several stuffed cats (dead of natural causes and donated to “the cause”, of course) and have them made into permanent uncomfortable (agonizing) positions. Place these new tchockes on surfaces you wish the kittens to avoid and see if it don’t put the fear of the taxidermist in ’em.

    (I know I’ve crossed a line here. Still, I think it’s funny.)

  2. I had the same problem with my cat, everything I tried didn’t keep her off the countertops. Then I came up with a brilliant idea that actually did the trick. I took all the cookie sheets I had and placed them along the kitchen countertops (I didn’t have a huge kitchen so it only took about 3 pans). Then I filled each pan to the top with water. I set all this out in the morning and came home after work to a lovely surprise. I was only bummed that I didn’t get to see the commotion. She must have tried jumping up there during the day…landed on the pan/water, proceeded to seriously freak out and jump down AND knocked one of the pans down onto the floor (which I’m sure caused even more incentive for her to stay off the counters). I swear it only took that one time and she never got up there again. I really wish I could have seen it. Hee hee!

    This should work great for your countertops. As for the miniblinds, I can’t help ya there. Good luck. :)

  3. if it helps at all, my friend greg’s family trained both of their dogs this way, and neither of them were even close to as much of a wuss as my basset hound.

    of course, i did my share of yelling at wrigley, which i am not proud of, but i dunno. it’s hard being a single pet parent! thank christ it’s just a dufus hound that has to rely on me. :-P

  4. also, ~A, that was most likely my favorite comment of yours EVER.

    and finally! i have seen dog books recommend those quasi-mousetrap things for counter surfers. there is a kind you can get that can’t actually snap the pet, but CAN scare the ever living shit out of them.

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