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The ultimate message I want to convey to a 4-5 month old cat is that he is free to run and jump and attack his toys and be as crazy as he pleases in the majority of the house. However, if he chooses to come on the couch or on the bed, he must remain relatively quiet and still. When it is play time, he must remain off of the "calm zones."

As an example, my habit is to read in bed for about a half hour before turning off the lamp and going to sleep. As I was doing so the other night, he came up, wondered around, the began to bite my knee through the blankets. He quickly got picked up and placed on the floor. He soon was back, and this time he grabbed on to the corner of the blanket and started to claw and chew at it like a toy. Again, he was quickly sent to the floor. Finally, he came back a minute later, and laid down against my arm. Now, he got some petting and soft talk. He stayed that way until after I feel asleep.

So it seems he might be starting to learn, but I want to be sure. I know there are dozens of related questions here, and I will read them, but none seem to cover this exact scenario.

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I've managed to 'Train' my cat with this kind of thing, to a small extent, over the years. Basically, you've got the right idea. I discourage them from the bad behaviors and encourage the good ones.

As an example, my cat likes to jump on my bed and walk over my chest when I'm in bed. When my computer is on my lap, and when he was little, he'd stop and sit on my chest blocking the screen. I didn't scold him, but I wouldn't pet him till he stepped off onto the bed. Now he never stops on my chest.

If he would do a behavior like you're describing that you can't ignore, such as chewing on your knee or the sheets, I'd do something shocking that wouldn't really hurt him. I might chuck a small pillow at him or better yet, if you have a throw blanket, throw it over the top of him. He'll be so busy try to get out from under it, he'll forget about chewing your knee. You can also flap it at him.

These have been effective for me. I recently read that cats don't make the same associations that dogs do. With a dog, if it's in the middle of doing and action and you correct it, it knows that the action cause the correction. The article was saying that if, for instance, you cat climbs on your kitchen counter and you shoo him off, he doesn't associate getting on the counter with him being bad, he just thinks you're a butthole. The article suggested making the counter the bad guy by using a motion sensor mounted on top of a can of compressed air. The cat jumps on the counter, walks by the motion sensor, and 'PFFTT!!!', gets a blast of air up his tail. It not only creates the appropriate association, but in consistent 100% of the time where a person only corrects when they see it happen.

Ssscat on Amazon

Using the same principle, you can pick up a can of compressed air pretty cheap. Keep it on your night stand. If the cat comes in the room, set it close at hand. If you're reading and he starts to chew on your knee or the blanket, completely ignore him, keep reading, but reach down and give him a puff of air. It won't hurt him, but will startle him. A few repetition should cause him to quite the behavior. He won't think it's you, but the action that causes the response.

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    Agree with the first part. Disagree with the second since I've found it quite possible to explain to cats that human doesn't want (to catch) them on certain surfaces.
    – keshlam
    Oct 13 '15 at 15:03
  • I'm going to try the cover-with-something idea, maybe an old towel or shirt. Remember that the point is not "stay off the bed" nor is it "don't be a rambunctious fireball dunder-headed kitten" rather it is "don't be a rambunctious fireball dunder-headed kitten while on the bed"
    – cobaltduck
    Oct 13 '15 at 15:41
  • It sounds like you have a plan. Even hitting them with the compressed air won't keep them off the bed. They'll probably jump off right then, but they'll quickly come back. They'll sort out pretty quick that being rambunctious on the bed causes a correction and they get no correction when they're being good. Either way will probably work.
    – Dalton
    Oct 13 '15 at 17:13
  • I used a wrap up and aggressive cuddle with irritating squeaky voice rather than something loud to discourage without harm.
    – Oldcat
    Oct 16 '15 at 0:41
  • You're right. I don't think being loud does anything. I typically don't say anything, even "No!" to my cat. I just make the correction.
    – Dalton
    Oct 16 '15 at 13:54
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Sure. Basically, I trained my cats in the 80s that my bed is a calm zone when I am asleep. Not only did they learn, but each generation trains the new cats without me doing anything. I think we are on Gen IV or V now.

When I wake up, soon a cat or two is climbing on me or sleeping on my shoulder.

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