Monday, 27 February 2012

Oh, Behave!

In the comments section, Amanda Cox wrote:

How do they behave? I've found training older kittens (ie stopping them climbing curtains and getting on kitchen surfaces etc) very difficult, I'm going to see an older Tonk kitten at the weekend (way more than 13 weeks) and I only hope its not been allowed to run riot!
We got Dom from a home where all the cats were allowed to do what they liked because some rooms they were simply locked out of, but we dont lock or shut rooms so Dom has to learn boundaries. But its hard work. He even got into the fridge today and wouldn't get out!

And I thought it would be a good subject for today's post! *sniggers at thought of stroppy cat refusing to come out of the fridge* (Hope you had a good weekend visit AC, how did it go?)

Well, I must admit that at the moment, the kittens en masse can seem pretty overwhelming (less so now the boys have gone) As I open the kitten room-the living room- door of a morning, they pour out like a tidal wave, meowing their little heads off for breakfast.  And letting them into the kitchen has become awkward now because keeping an eye on all seven (five now) whilst cooking or whatever is positively dangerous. Even when I'm just getting their dinner plated up they can and do jump onto the work surfaces and if I let them in I am continually chasing them off. Apart from the safety issue, it simply isn't practical. So I leave kitchen behaviour in the main to the new owners who will only have one or two to deal with!

They aren't generally allowed into the bedrooms, as this is not only my older cats' space but they might be going to a home where the family doesn't want bedroom access. However they are occasionally allowed in, one by one, for some time spent learning how to meet and interact with strange cats. I discovered, accidentally, with this litter that Ava doesn't mind meeting and greeting the kittens as long as its in the bedroom- her territory I guess. If she meets a kitten in the hall she's horrified! Poor Ava!

Here's Kurt last week, actually, he's just touched noses with both Ava and Sofia, and now he's sitting at the far end of the bed keeping a respectful distance!


Ava glares at the kitten from the security of her cardboard box!

The bathroom- well they are allowed in when I am in there. Again its a safety thing, after Marta jumped in the toilet one day I've really cracked down on that. All my cats enjoy visiting me in the bathroom though, and the kittens are no exception, they like to prowl along the side of the bath as I am washing, and fortunately no-one has fallen in yet!

This isn't to say they aren't taught boundaries- they are. Gretl's penchant for curtain climbing was heavily discouraged, for example- I've not seen her do that for weeks now. Freddie used to bite (not hard) almost constantly, and now he's just an occasional nibbler. And ALL the kittens know that if I clap my hands loudly together I jolly well mean business!

For me the trick is lots of one on one time with each of them, which as you can imagine is incredibly time consuming. Julia over at Rameses (read the website, so informative) says that a breeder should really spend half an hour PER KITTEN PER DAY as a minimum, and I reckon she's spot on there. That's a lot of time you have to spend socialising. Ok, some of it can be combined with other things- stroking and talking to a snoozing kitten on your lap whilst watching CSI of an evening is something I love to do lol- but a lot of it is time you have to specifically find to play with and interact with the kittens.

Of course it's a journey isn't it- I start the (hopefully) good work, the new family will continue that to fit in with their particular needs as a family (bedroom access etc) and fingers crossed by adulthood one has a well rounded adult cat! Of course Tonks are intelligent, which can make them mischevous, and that's part of their charm. And they are highly social, which can make them needy, which can make them misbehave when they aren't getting that attention and that's not so charming but that's Tonks for you. And all kittens have a toddler phase ( at the breeder's) and an adolescent, bratty, test the boundaries phase (at around 6 months, and again neutering on time plays a BIG part in keeping this in check) so when it's time, don't delay!

Any good breeder will tell you the same though- raising kittens well is hard work!


  1. Hi there!
    The Tonk we saw was very sweet and was happy to ride on hubby's arm and be carried around! All the cats there seemed well behaved, probably because the breeder still had them and they are basically her pets now, she doesn't want to sell the last kitten really (she wants to keep the lilac and the one we saw was blue), but she's moved from a big house in the country to a new build, and we know how poky they can be.. and with 2 dogs, an adult tonk and 2 burmillas, a 4 year old girl and another on the way she feels she has plenty of animals.. in fact the older Burmilla and older Tonk are going to be adopted (not to me sadly, although a quiet 3 year old Tonk would be nice, and she was brown mink with the most amazing bright chartreuse eyes!). The kitten is a blue solid with rather muddy coloured eyes, impossible to tell what they are going to turn into. Nice personality, but I want to see some browns too.
    The kitchen is a place for discipline, as a kid I remember baking a spicy ginger cake and when I went back to ice it two greedy siamese were nibbling away at it! I dont think cats and human food mix well!
    As for the bath, pretty much all of our cats have fallen in at some point, it seems to be a rite of passage!

  2. ROFL!!!!! This litter all seem to go bonkers for a chunk of crunchy green apple. Or rather they lick it to death, then bat it around. The Tonk/ Siamese/ Burmese breeds seem to be a bit notorious for getting into human tucker, not surprising given their propensity for 'snoopervising' into every other aspect of our lives! Why should food be any different?

  3. My rescue Tonk had no desire for human food, but that was just because he'd never known it before. My Bengal Cross Nimbus however will try anything once, and my Black and White moggy Dom will try anything if Nims doesn't get there first!
    Any Tonk kitten we get will have to form an orderly queue!!