Hard Habit to Break

We are already a few weeks into the new year. That means that many resolutions have already fallen by the wayside – which is very obvious at my gym.

There is one bad habit in my household that I am bound and determined to break. Carmen isn’t pleased.

As I mentioned in the past, Carmen is allergic to fleas. She licks her entire belly free of hair and keeps scratching at her face. By using fleas control every two weeks (at our vet’s suggestion), we have taken care of that part of the equation. What is left is her habit of licking and scratching.

Since this year began, I’ve been disrupting her every time she goes to over-groom or scratch her face.

Last Sunday she was sitting on her ottoman in her box (thank you Costco), which is near my normal spot on the couch.

Carmen on Ottoman

Evidently her right ear itched because she went to scratch it with her rear foot. I gently grabbed that paw to stop it, then I rubbed and gently scratched her target area. About 30 seconds later, the paw started to go up again. Again I stopped it and scratched her. This went on for about 10 minutes, then she had enough. She tried to bite me, then she swung her front paw at me with claws extended, and she hissed. Then she jumped down and left. All very un-Carmen-like behavior.

It looked at first looked like her claw had gone in but didn’t draw blood. About a half hour later, a blood blister started to form. Ultimately it looked like this.

Carmen War Wound

I fully deserved it. I can’t believe she tolerated me as long as she did. I have adjusted my tactics as a result of my war wound. I now pelt her with cat toys when she starts to scratch. I get stink eye from her, but I can live with that.

Has anyone out there had any luck with cat behavior modification? or What is your favorite animal war wound story?

6 thoughts on “Hard Habit to Break”

  1. Cat behavior modification? Bwahahahaaaa. Can that be done? 😀
    Seriously, though, I guess we’ve had success with that to an extent. We managed to get whichever of our three was peeing on the carpet (eew) to stop. Of course, it involved the installation of hard floors and a whole lot of carpet steaming!
    Mostly, though, it’s been about getting them to behave and not hiss and fight with one another post-vet. At some point, we had to take one without the other two and it did not go well when he returned home. We used a room to close the most obnoxious one off and let them paw each other under the door, etc. It was much like introducing a new cat to the old cats but it worked.
    Sorry you got that nasty blister – hope it heals well!


    1. Carmen definitely won the first battle. I’m so glad that the flooring changed helped with your feline behavioral issues. I’m trying not to resort to the cone of shame for Carmen. I don’t think that would go over well.

      At least the blister popped (on its own, although I was tempted to “help”). The remnants are still standing proud. Hopefully they will get bored and go away soon.


  2. Yes, not only have I been able to modify my cat’s behavior, but I’ve also trained her. When she’s sitting on the couch where I want to sit, I’ll come up to her and snap my fingers and she’ll jump up and move. My wife’s jaw drops when she sees it because she thought our cat was untrainable. I just laugh. Plus, I got her to get out from under our bed simply by clapping my hands. I use a combination of threats (playful ones) and treats to get her to do those things. It takes time, but you can do it.


    1. I’m going to have to take a less “hands on” approach moving forward! I hope to find a good reward (she won’t eat treats – shocking considering her girth) to convince her that licking her belly and scratching is not the way to go.


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