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Mental health issue - too many cats (Long post)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
OK, first off, let me start this off by saying I am not a hoarder, and all of our cats are very healthy, well fed, vet checked at twice a year unless more visits are warranted, spayed/neutered, indoor only, and all of that. But - we have 12 cats in the house right now. At the end of last year, a very sick stray started hanging around, and he looked awful. I could tell he was an indoor cat until recently, and he was scared of everything that moved outside. So we neutered him and brought him in, which seemed like the right thing to do. I thought we had a home for him at the time, but the woman started having health problems and couldn't take him. So Oliver is still here, as we've been unable to find a home for him. The other cats don't really like him. He's been in the house for about ten months now, and all he ever does is sit by the door and whine, or lay in front of the door and sleep (except when the dry food is out, then he lays in front of that and scoops food into his mouth). At one point I even considered putting him back out since he seemed so miserable, but he wanted to come and go as he pleased. He must have been allowed to do that at his former home. Not here.

Then a stray cat had a litter of 5 on our back patio back in April, and they weren't in very good health. We ended up bringing them in (and the mom, until they were weaned), and a local agency told us that they would take them when the kittens were weaned. That time came and went, and they never returned any of our calls, letters, 3rd party contact attempts, or emails, and they don't have an office - they are strictly foster homes. The no-kill shelters were all full and still are, and we've been unsuccessful in finding homes for them because around here there are so many strays having kittens, it's insane. The only offer I had online was someone who was involved in selling animals to labs, even though he wouldn't admit it. Soooo.... now they are 6 months old and adorable as all get out.

We have a house that is large enough that they all COULD have their own space, but instead they ALL choose to follow me around the house constantly. If I close the door to play with some of my "regulars," the kittens start ripping up the carpet outside the door. We've tried blocking it, putting citronella on it, and sticky paws tape. My husband works nights and sleeps days and my son is, well, a teenager and largely unhelpful. So I'm the primary caregiver, hence the followers. I love the kittens dearly, and all of our cats, of course, but my "regulars" (I guess now they are all regulars) seem to be getting annoyed and a couple of them depressed because of the demands for attention from the kittens and the lack of one-on-one time they got before the kittens arrived. Plus one is now over 13 years old and wants some quiet time. He's not getting much, except when the kittens sleep.

I know this is long and rambling, but I guess I just wonder if anyone has any advice or suggestions. I'm doing the best I can and getting them alone every chance I get (as anyone can tell who looks at the carpet in front of the doors!), but I feel so sad that my BoBo and Thumbs are depressed. Any ideas? Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you're still with me.
post #2 of 9
I do cat rescue in Montana. I can completely understand where you are coming from in reference to your household growing. I have placed animals many different ways however, I have found a couple of ways that seem to work. Many of my 4 legged "Kids" came from our local "kill" shelter as they were either very little or extremely sick. I had all taken directly to my Vet and had them provide the necessary medical care. I have taken digital pictures of each of the kittens/cats and put together either a collage or an 8 X 10 picture along with their story and printed them out on my computer. These were placed on bulletin boards at our local Vet's office's and at our shelter. I have also asked our local shelter if I could put all of my "foster" pets on the website. (Once people start hearing your name you are the drop off for all unwanted pets.)They allowed me to do this so each kitten/cat is on the website along with a little bit about them. This has been very beneficial as the website reaches much farther than your own city/town. Our shelter has allowed me to screen the individuals etc.. All of my kittens/cats have been FeL Leuk tested, given current shots and are usually spayed/neutered. If the kitten/cat has not been spayed/neutered I explain this cat/kitten must be spayed/neutered before going home with them. I explain the adopting family will need to pay for this and which Vet's office would they like me to either contact or drop their pet off at. Our shelter has also allowed me to participate in the adopt a cat/kitten at Petco as well as Vet's if they have a yearly open house. I have alway's felt that once the cat/kitten has been removed from the shelter, the chance of finding a home goes down but the quality of the home is higher. I think you have to be very proactive as the kittens are little for such a small period of time and special people adopt the older ones. I hope this gives you some ideas. Hang in their and thank you for helping those who have no voice! Les
post #3 of 9
I know how you feel... I have 4 cats,, it not alot,, but I only had two cats at one time.. Well two strays came,a nd I haven't found them a home,, and don't suspect I will,, so there now part of our family.... But I can tell my older cats are depressed because they want my full undivided attention.. You can tell the hate and loathing for the kittens. I figure I'll give them as much space as I can, and attention when they all want it... I've found that my older cats now sleep with me more,, just to get that one on one attention..... It might be a good idea to buy a crate or something to put the cats in while you play with the older ones. It won't hurt them to learn that you have special time when you want it... In time, the kittens will learn that when the door is closed,, they aren't to disturb you.. Also maybe put a heavy type of rug down in front of the door, that way they can tear it up instead....

Have you called the No Kill Shelters.. Ask them if they can courtesy post the kittens for you.... My shelters let me do that...
post #4 of 9
This is such a difficult situation.....out of the goodness of your heart you took these babies in. You know the old saying "no good deed goes unpunished" don't you?

Do you have any family members that could take a few off your hands for a couple of days, just so you can get your perspective back? Do you have any friends that would be willing to do this.

This way you get a break, but you are not throwing your babies to the "wolves" so to speak, and then when you get your head back in place, maybe some or all can come back, but in the meantime, maybe you have had a chance to make up some rooms for them, or barrier off some places where you would prefer they stay.
post #5 of 9
I have 13 of my own so I totally understand where you're coming from, it really makes it difficult when everybody doesn't get along I also am the only care taker. I really can't offer you much advice other than the kittens will grow up and calm down and not need to be with you all the time eventually, and can you try to time your regulars cuddle/play time while the kitten are sleeping? I know that happens alot but maybe feed them at a different time and then put them in a room? Good luck! we're always here to listen
post #6 of 9
I know where your coming from. I have 21 cats-never planned this but a stray in 96 started this. I got him(he came neutered and then took in some kittens...over the years I handraised a dumped litter(3 of 6 made it and kept them) then took in another litter of 5 whose owners though living on a very busy road would be "ok cause the other kitten whos a month older will teach them not to go in road" ya...took kittens ina nd tried to get teh older one-was able to till he got hit by a car and broke his leg.....hes fine now currently have litter of 6 month old kittens(6 months old today) and thier mom(who hated being here at first but decided its not so bad-no more heats/pregnancy(SPAYED and all the food she wants. I hate caging but for my sanity I had to do somethign cause my older cats were getting aggravated from the nonstop kitten chasing, tail biting. House is big enough but nor spare rooms/baths so I built a cage out of the 14inx14in panels found in a box of 25 from target. zip tied it into a 4 1/2 squared cage. I would tire them out with a laser pointer and then let them stay in there for a bit. I recentley had to put my 16 yo cat to sleep-he started off as a stray I got in 98 and for 3 years refused to be a inside only cat so I let him stay outside(I'm really against it but he was miserable in the hosue) when we moved I put him in spare room and when I thought it would be ok to let him out(didnt want him trying to go to old house) he refused so he stayed in only Local vets and petfinder.com are great places to post adoptable pets. As for them scratching the carpet I had success using duct tape on the area of the closed door(don't do it if the carpet is VERY torn as it will never come up but if they just started it will remove easily enough with not much damage(I duct taped all our doors when we first moved into a rental) also trimming thier nails helps that. do they have food out 24/7 cause with my crew that seems to help cut down fighting and makes them more sleepy rather then in a hunt mood. RJ
post #7 of 9
If you want to keep them & truly can care for them, my suggestion is to completely pour love over the ones that are feeling sad. They need extra attention right now. The kittens are obviously happy & healthy so you ignoring them once in a while to pay special attention to your others is OK. My Levi tends to be a loner away from the other cats & gets picked on sometimes. So I will pick him & hold him. If he is on my lap & Isaac tries to come up I push Isaac down & tell him later. I can't imagine being in your situation I feel bad for not having enough time for the 4 I've got.
post #8 of 9
Maybe if you start a "playtime" for the babies, where you go in a room with them, get out certain toys that are only for "playtime". And hand out treats, too. Then after a few days, they will like going into "their" room for playtime, and you can start throwing the toys in, and putting the treats around for them to find, and leave them in there for an hour or so.

This gives the older cats a kitten free time, yet the babies don't feel left out (hopefully). I can't imagine having that many kittens and cats all the time! I know it has been a bad kitten season, so all the rescues are overrun. They should still get back to you, though!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your suggestions, all of you. I feel a bit better knowing there are others out there in this situation. I don't have any family that could help out in any way (the in-laws wouldn't help if my arms had been ripped off and I was bleeding profusely, but hey, they are in-laws!). I posted pictures and printouts a few months ago at several vets' offices, the library, etc., but the shelters that did actually contact me back said they can't let me post things on their site or in the shelter because their focus is on finding homes for the ones they have. I can understand that, they are kill shelters and I'd rather them find homes for theirs as long as I know ours are safe and not in any danger of being PTS. Currently I have a back room in which I feed the kittens their wet food (plus one of our female cats, who is 6 years old, who has grown really attached to the kittens). They stayed in that room until they were about 6 weeks old, then they were allowed out for a few hours a day. After 2 more months they were allowed out at night too, and they've been out ever since. I try at least once a day to get one or 2 of the regulars back there for playtime, especially when the kittens are asleep. The kittens have a radar that goes off whenever I'm playing with anyone, no matter how quietly. katiemae1277, you have a good point about the kittens growing up and not being so demanding. I guess I've just hit a rough patch, but I'm sure it will get better. Thanks again!
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