For the past five years, I’ve been the only cat living with my human. But then a couple of weeks ago she did the unthinkable—she brought home a kitten! I’m totally disgusted. My human keeps going out of her way to make sure we both get equal amounts of attention and frankly it’s enough to make me puke. What’s worse than my human’s inane behavior, however, is that this kitten is a little snot! He thinks he’s God’s gift to humans and does everything he can to get more food and attention than me. So I did the logical thing—I whapped him one to put him in his place. But you know what the little jerk did? He whapped me back—the nerve! What can I do to show this squirt that I’m the boss cat around here? And do you think there’s a way I can get my human to take him back to where ever he came from?
I can understand your ire, but at the same time I wonder if I’m the right cat to answer your question. The thing is, when I first came to my home, I treated Binga the same way that this kitten’s treating you. (Actually, I still try to hog all the food… I probably shouldn’t even admit that.) But since this is my site and my column—not Binga’s—I’ll see if I can help. Besides, I don’t think Binga handled the situation all that well.
I think I’ll start with the bad news first—I doubt there’s anything you can do to get rid of the new kitten. No matter how violently you react to him, your human will probably try all that much harder to make you guys get along. If you’re disgusted with her behavior now, imagine what that would be like! She sounds like the type of person who reads cat psychology books, so she’d probably lock you two up in separate parts of the house and bring you together for short periods of recreation until you both were nice enough to each other to be allowed full reign of the house. So if you want to get locked up in a room for weeks or months, go ahead and behave badly. Just thought I’d warn you.
Other manipulations probably won’t help either. You could try acting depressed—mope around, don’t eat your dinner, stuff like that. It will get you extra attention from your human, and she’ll probably bring home all sorts of great treats, but to make this ploy really work, you’d have to turn your nose up at all the good stuff, too. Let’s face it, the depression act is really no fun. Save it for when you’re really ill.
The bottom line is that your human is not going to be much use in this situation. As you already know, her efforts to “help” are laughable. This is going to be purely between you and the squirt. If you’re stuck having him around—and that’s probably the case—you really do need to make him realize that you are the boss cat. The direct approach—hissing and hitting—apparently doesn’t impress him. So you’ve got to get sneaky. Attack him when he’s not paying attention. This is pretty easy to do, as kittens tend to be oblivious to anything that isn’t a toy. Sneak up from behind and give the “killing bite”—leap on his back, wrap your front paws around him and bite him on the neck, hard. You’re not going to kill him, of course, or even draw blood—just surprise him and make him cry “uncle!” Then leap off him and attend to other business. Do this frequently. If it seems like he’s going to try to fight back after you’ve jumped off him, give him a couple of good kicks with your hind legs and an extra bite. Yes, this is playing dirty, but that’s the only way to handle an uppity little cat. Also, don’t do this while your human’s around. It will only distress her and she will try to intervene. Humans really don’t understand the whole cat hierarchy thing. Do all your dirty work when she’s not around. Eventually the kitten will realize that you’re bigger than he is and that maybe you’re being kind by not doing him any serious damage. After that you should be able to come to some sort of agreement. But make sure you jump him now and again, just to keep him on his toes. Doing it from a high perch is especially effective. These tactics should work, at least until the kitten grows up. If he turns out to be bigger than you, you may have another problem to deal with.