Black devil




When choosing a cat, the last thing we wanted was a boring pet.

Well, we got real lucky in that regard.

There is nothing boring about Boris.

He’s settling in now after a few weeks and has become familiar with our various routines.

He is endlessly high-energy and entertaining – as Bennie quipped at one point, it’s like having our Animal Planet channel right in our own home.

He’s a long way from becoming a “lap cat” yet – but that’s OK.

He likes his new companions but is sparing with his intimacies.

Despite reasonably deep experience in living with felines, I’m seeing Boris do things I’ve never seen a cat do before.

Aerobatic hi-jinks and mock battles with his various toys is only to be expected from such a young animal.

Heck, I even owned at one stage long ago a cat that “fetched” – just like Boris does.

But playing chase and tag the length and breath of our house is a first for me.

But all this has a down side.

This high-spiritedness seems to be all he knows.

He scratches and bites at almost every opportunity.

He’s shredding furniture and books.

Sometimes I just want to yell at him: “Geez, mate, take a chill pill!”


Yes, I know.





Maybe when we decide it’s time for him to be an outdoor feline, we’ll see the edge come off his manic behaviour.

His psycho behaviour …

He’s ignored the scratching device we first bought, despite it being liberally doused with catnip.

So today we got, on the advice of a pet store employee, a cheap deep-pile rug.

It’s working!

Scratch and sharpen those claws to your heart’s content, little fella.

Thankfully, he IS being a good boy when it comes to his food and litter area.

It’s messy but liveable.

And I guess it’s not just Boris who is need of some attitude adjustment.

We do, too.

We’ve got an animal in the house now.

As such, it’s up to us to ensure there’s nothing lying around within easy claw reach that we value or don’t want to be destroyed.

I know that among regular CTS readers there are a number of Cat People.

Tips, anyone?

9 thoughts on “Black devil

  1. As a fellow cat person my tips are to give Boris lots and lots of love and patience and to always maintain your sense of humour! Positive reinforcement and rewarding the “good” behaviour is the best training tool (yelling at or punishing a cat is fruitless). Having him desexed, combined with the natural (eventual!) maturing process will help calm him down.

    Please, please, please consider keeping Boris as an inside only cat – it’s so much better for his health and also for the local birdlife etc. (My vet told me the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 12 years compared to just 5 years for an outdoor cat).

    As you’ve had cats before you no doubt know the wealth of love and happiness they can add to your life, and there’s nothing like a soft warm body curled up on your lap emitting noisy purrs of contentment!


    • And I forgot to mention (as a fellow black cat owner) that black cats are notorious for their feistiness and spunk. In my opinion they are also extremely loving and loyal.


  2. Lovely post, Kenny, and I particularly like the picture of Boris silhouetted behind the door. I agree with Keri: consider keeping him an indoor cat. My current cat, Lucy Locket, is 8 and only ever goes into our courtyard. I have had several previous cats run over, one was bitten by a tiger snake (survived, only to be run over two weeks later), and one just simply disappeared. I asked Dr Harry once during an interview if it was cruel to keep cats indoors and he said, “Not at all—as long as they have a window to look out of, they’re fine”.
    On the biting and scratching, it’s great that you have toys for your cat (lots of people think it’s only dogs who like toys). Let him bite and scratch those. Never jaggle a finger at a cat or make claw-like games to get them to attack—it can be fun, but this will make them worse, and they don’t necessarily know when to play and when to stop. Have fun with lovely Boris!


  3. Hi Kenny,

    As one of these cat people you speak of, I can definitely picture this kind of behaviour in my head – and it’s not that uncommon for the wild tears through the house etc to continue simply to burn off energy, or as a response to some sound or smell that we aren’t privy to… but biting and clawing things that aren’t meant to be bitten or clawed is a definite no! (Thank goodness he’s not urinating on the wrong things though, that’d be a really bad sign!)

    I’ve seen a great deal of good advice in this ‘Way of Cats’ blog – – so you might want to look at some of her tags.Bear in mind one of her repeat advices is ‘get more cats’ though, which you’re probably not ready for yet!

    Off the top of my head though…
    1) If the cat is spending time in the same room as you, that’s an overture of friendship, even if they’re not on your lap! It just might take a bit of time for you all to get used to each other and the ways you show affection.

    2) Cats can be easily intimidated by humans and may be scared, thus responding with violence – the only meaningful response you can probably make without further scaring them is to simply stop interacting any time you get hurt (and possibly make sad noises, but not loud, angry ones). The Way of Cats blogger talks about approaching cats in a way that makes you smaller – eg lying on the floor and slowly reaching your hand out toward them and then if they withdraw, you stop.

    3) As Caron said, NEVER use your fingers as toys! They’re convenient, but you don’t want the cat getting to know them as toys. I see you have some toys that he does like which is a good start, but if you’re not using up enough of his energy with the ones you have, try some different ones. Mocha’s favourite for the last year or so is these – – I’ve been through about 6 of them, but at the price you can’t complain (she chews the feathers off if we leave them down).

    My cats didn’t respond to catnip at all until I bought some hemp mice filled with organic catnip (which looked rather a lot like these – ) , which they’ll now chew on and kick at quite happily – ditto a non-catnip ‘kick toy’ I bought at a standard pet warehouse in Sunshine. Other toys ours regularly use include a cat tunnel (like this – – or you can get ‘3 way’ ones too) , and a string with a bit of alfoil balled up on the end.

    It’s tricky to know if the ‘destroying things’ is just too much energy, or a stress response. Regular play sessions are important though, and if you can make it part of a routine that works even better for some cats.

    4) Feliway – an artificial hormone diffuser that is meant to calm stressed out cats. It’s a bit pricey, especially to buy the diffuser first up (non-brand diffusers go through the liquid way faster than they should), but if you’d like to borrow one of my two diffusers for a month and see if it works to calm him, I can sell you a month’s supply at the bulk-rate I purchase it at ($20 a bottle most recently). If he’s calmer after that, then you can get your own diffuser + supply. (the behavioural changes might be best to change first though).

    5) Scratchers should be taller than the outstretched cat – if they’re standing on their hind legs and stretching up as high as they can, ideally, the scratcher will be slightly taller. They’ll use shorter ones, and most of the ones you can buy are way too short or have shorter ‘sections’, but it’s worth keeping in mind. I’m glad he’s using the ‘right’ carpet you purchased! (You could try wrapping something similar around a vertical surface if you have one spare – nail it to a cheap bookcase or similar – but some cats just prefer a horizontal surface to scratch on.

    6) I’m the crazy lady who walks her cat (and occasionally, cats, but never simultaneously). You should be able to buy an ‘extra small dog car harness’ for him, and a leash, and slowly work up to taking the cat out into the front or back yard for short walks. (however, this is a pretty common response to first wearing a harness – – don’t drag the cat, just let them lie there passively for a while then take it off them) This is kind of a high-value stimulation exercise because there’s lots of mental energy used assessing new situations, and tension from being in a new, unfamiliar, riskier place, so it wears them out faster than inside ‘fake’ play.

    7) Can you build an enclosure, or budget to get one installed outside a window, so that he has some safe access to the outdoors? This will help use up some beans too.

    Part of it might just be settling in, of course – and getting used to each other – but if he’s to be an inside cat (which I would also strongly recommend, for his safety and for the convenience of your neighbours too), you’ve gotta make sure that inside has enough of the good things cats need to be happy 🙂


  4. Hey Kenny,

    We got our cat recently from the same place Boris came from, and even though we had the opposite problem (our little lady is eight and she does a great impersonation of a cushion), kitty had settled in really well 🙂

    We live in an apartment with tree view, so we built her a “cat TV” by putting out a bird bath and seed block (hanging off the eaves to be out of claw-reach). This provided endless hours of joyous viewing for cat and humans. Totally recommended 🙂


  5. Yay more Boris! He’s beautiful Kenny, good luck with him settling in. That first photo says it all! I don’t have much advice but have found a water squirter bottle deployed when Scruffie scratches the couch or bites my ankle to be quite handy. Cheers c


  6. My cat Lily lived until the grand old age of 17 despite losing a leg after surviving being run over when she was 12. Nursing her was exhausting and I agree with the comments of keeping cats safe from cars. Lily loved sleeping under the lavender bush in the garden and sun baking and I couldn’t keep a cat inside all the time. I would however be creating a netted cat run or caged area so he/she can enjoy the great outdoors. Boris looks like a character! He is testing you as young boys will do! Good luck!


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