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Brand New Cat Owner with some Concerns

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I've been reading the forums here for about a week now since we've had our new Cat, a black/white domestic short hair that my wife named Poe and I have some questions/concerns.

Until recently my wife and I have both been primarily dog people, but we've been living in apartments for the last 5 years or so and felt that having a dog just would not be practical. My wife has wanted a pet for a long while and this Christmas I caved after being tested for allergies and coming up negative (I used to be allergic to cats when I was a kid but apparently I outgrew it).

Anyway, we got Poe from a Petsmart that was housing him (he was a shelter kitty), he's about 2 years old and was picked up as a stray, though I believe he was housed at one time because he already knew how to use a litter box and was pretty friendly when I came to visit him, wanting to be petted and loved.

I ended up picking Poe (My wife made me pick, she said if she had to pick we'd be taking them all home, and we can't house 11 cats. lol.) because he had been in a very small cage for a little over a month, is a bit overweight and just looked really sad to me. Basically he was the most pathetic cat there and I felt that because he was overweight and an Adult the chances were slim that anyone would want him, and like I said he came to me when I walked up to the cages.

Anyhoo. There's a lot of stuff here so please bear with me. hehe.

Poe is not Declawed, he got his shots when he was picked up and tested negative for all the usual things (doesn't even have worms, which I hear is relatively common for strays). He had a case of Diarrhea when we brought him home, but we have since found out that they were feeding him Nutro, and while he likes it, it gives him the runs and causes him to burp a lot. (I found out because we had originally bought Purina and then I read that wasn't so great, so we bought Nutro and when I started integrating it into his diet the Diarhea came back so we had to lay off the Nutro for now).

Anyway, my list of concerns are as follows.

He doesn't like to be picked up.

The only time I can touch his paws is when he is sleeping, and He wakes too easily so I haven't been able to clip his toenails. (Though I would like to).

He's not fond of his Kennel Carrier that we got him.

He squeaks/grunts a little meow sometimes when we pet him and he's not expecting it.

Last night he had a bad dream (I think?). He was twitching and doing the normal -i'm chasing something in my sleep- thing when he started crying softly. (it was like a low moan. it freaked me out a little. hehe.)

He spends several hours a day either under the couch where I spend a lot of my time (I have spinal arthritis so I'm not working outside of the home right now), or under the bed (though he does prefer to sleep in the bed with us, we've had some issues).

He nips, sometimes hard. Luckily he hasn't gotten my wife too hard yet, but he's gotten me a few times when he's tired of being stroked. He's also not a fan of being combed (he got my wife while she was brushing him).

He also doesn't like being disturbed when on the bed. We can pet him when he is asleep and he seems to enjoy it (he'll start purring and relax) but if he wakes up he'll move away. He's also hissed at me when I get in and out of bed or jostle the bed too much and tried to nip me, and he's tried to attack my wife's hair in bed as well. hehe. -- This I firmly believe is not because I frightened him but rather because he was cranky/angry at being disturbed. I know I've read that Cats are incapable of anger/spite, and quite frankly, I've been around animals long enough to know that this is mostly B.S. I have found that most animals, regardless of their species, have the full range of emotions just like people do. Anyway, I digress.

He seems to generally be afraid of just about everything. Including the dark, any kind of loud noise at all or even if we look at him funny. The only exception to this is during play time. He loves to play with the interactive toys. (though he won't touch his Panic Mouse, he just sniffs it and walks away).

On top of the crying last night, he exhibited another new behavior today, after my wife and I played with him, while she was getting ready for work, I walked by Poe as I was heading to the kitchen to get stuff ready for my wife when Poe launched himself through this little crackly-tunnel toy we got him and head-butted my ankle. At first I thought he was launching himself at this cheapo-toy mouse that we got him which he seems to enjoy (he won't touch the motorized ones, they hold no interest for him), but it was nowhere to be seen. He continued running away from me like it was an accident, but then turned around suddenly and came right back, looked up, and meowed at me. I reached down to pet him and he head-butted my my hand and then ran off and came back again. Any clue as to what was going on here?

Also, about the biting. Is this just something we'll have to get used to or will it lessen over time? Honestly he doesn't show a lot of remorse over it unless I yell NO or OUCH, then he'll run off and occasionally he'll come back all sulky. But If I ignore him he just ignores me back. hehe.

Any insights or suggestions would be appreciated. I'm beginning to wonder if he wasn't abused at some point by a previous owner. I've never known an animal to be afraid of being petted before (evidenced by the squeak/grunt that he'll voice if you touch him when he is unaware)?

I've read a lot of info about kittens who bite. etc. But not so much on Adults. It seems mostly people go for kittens because they are easier to teach and more cuddly. So any help here would be greatly appreciated as I have no clue what to expect with how long it might take, if ever, to get our new cat calmed down and biting/scratching less (oh yes, he also likes to pounce on my feet in bed, and his claws are razor sharp. Yeouch).

Thanks,

Doug.

P.S. Sorry for the rambling, We've just had a lot to take in recently and I feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I would like Poe to feel comfortable enough in his own home so that he doesn't feel the need to hide under the couch/bed so much, and maybe not bite so much either. hehe.
post #2 of 16
Hi, and congrats on doing a 'good deed' (even though I know you wanted him anyway). I think the attack on your feet and subsequent meow was to get you to come and play with him - try dragging a cord knotted once at both ends under a sheet of newspaper slowly, and watch him pounce on the hidden mouse. Throw little balls of mushed up foil for him to chase (you'll end up with hundreds under the furniture) and find a 'Da Bird' toy in the pet store - a stick with short feathers on one end to wiggle and watch him catch it. Get a cat tree (or make one) to give him a 6' high up perch or two (and incidental scratching post - my husb. made one with sonotubes, horrible green indoor/outdoor carpet - it also comes in brown - a 16 x 14" perch, and a couple of pegs to fix it to the wall). Our (12-15) cats over 30 yrs have always had Purina crunchies along with canned food and were always healthy and happy on it, while other things came and went (they're so fussy!). He needs a little action and you haven't said how old he is, but if he's more than 4-5 mos., he should definitely be neutered, or you'll pay the price of his spraying and yowling to go outside.
post #3 of 16
Hi Doug and Welcome to The Cat Site!!

ok, where shall I start First, I wouldn't doubt at all the Poe was possibly abused at some point in his life, that would explain the jumpiness at being petted. As far as being picked up, some cats just don't like it and never will, I have a couple myself like that. Biting can be corrected by doing what you said you are doing, yelling NO! or OUCH!! when he does it, it might take a while, but he'll get the hint Poe's only been with you for a week, correct? Give him some time, cats are a naturally wary and suspicious creature, he is probably overwhelmed right now and under the couch or bed seems like a safe place to him, he'll come out when he's good and ready as far as his behavior yesterday morning, I agree with Larke in that he was trying to play with you and that is an excellent sign he is definitely starting to trust you. as far as the nail thing, my suggestino would be to just try to touch his paws as much as possible and until you can do it yourself, possibly take him to the vet or a groomer to get it done, you said he doesn't like his carrier, but most cats don't, they get over their "traumatization" pretty quick when you pass out the treats

you said you have interactive toys, are they toys that have YOU interacting with him? Like Larke said, Da Bird is an excellent toy and I have yet to find a cat that didn't go berserk for it

Thank you for adopting Poe, I know you will have many years of love and affection from him once he gets settled in, just give him time

If you have any other questions or I didn't answer anything that is particularly on your mind, feel free to private message me (just click on my user name). I'm sure some of our other folks will be along to put their advice in!!
post #4 of 16
Greetings. I used to be a dog person too. Marcie was a Humane society kitty at PetSmart. Those cages are so tiny. Anywhoo, She did the whole hiding under the couch thing for about the first month after I brought her home. Now, she hardly ever goes under the couch unless it is to retrieve one of those little jingley balls that she likes so much. Just keep giving Poe lots of love and attention and things will work out!
post #5 of 16
Boy, you have a lot to contend with. Some cats just don't like to be picked up. I have a guy, that I have had since 8 weeks. His litter mates never had a problem, but if you pick him up, he turns into a frightened board. He wasn't abused.
Anyway, your guy is new, and it sounds like you have thrown a lot at him at one time. Nail clipping, etc.

I can only suggest the things that have worked for me. First, never play with your hands. His previouis owners may have done this, thus he is very comfortable biting humans. When he bites say no, or ouch loudly (try not to pull your hand away) and as soon as he lets go, praise him. For petting, sometimes there are areas they don't like to be touched. You must be gentle and try one area at a time. maybe behind the ears, or under the chin. If he likes that, then thats what you do until he trusts you to touch other areas.
The nail clipping should wait until he is alittle more comfortable with you and then doing it when he is sleeping is good, you might only get one nail at a time, but they sleep all day long. My guys sit patiently on my lap while I clip away. Sometimes I will get a little bit of a struggle, at which point I put them down and do it later.
The key is trust.
He sounds like he could be a great pet, but go slow and give it time.
post #6 of 16
I have a cat that bites when overstimulated. If you haven't read the sticky about cat aggression towards humans in the Behavior forum, please do so - it might answer some of your questions. With my cat, I've come to recognize when he is about to bite and stop petting him before he tags me.

I didn't catch how long you've had Poe. Cats are creatures of habit, far more than you'd ever expect. Some cats can take months to settle into a new environment and/or new routine. Others just take things in stride and handle whatever you give them. It sounds like Poe just needs some adjustment time - the jumpiness tells me that he isn't comfortable in his environment yet.

Get a good solid routine going with him if you can. Feed him at the same time everyday. Give him treats at the same time each day. Mine absolutely love their 7PM nibble of canned food and heaven forbid if I'm 5 minutes late (they line up and tap their feet at me).

And I have more than 1 cat that doesn't like to be picked up. They are the type that want loving on their own terms, and are usually the first in my lap when I'm sitting.

The head butting and running away? Cat's head butt as greetings to each other. That is a good sign that he is accepting you. The running away and coming back could mean that he wants a good game of chase. (tag your it follow me while I run from you)

I don't tolerate when a cat tags my feet in bed. I give them a time out (stop them from doing it) and explain to them that bed time is for sleeping, not playing. Amazingly they figure it out pretty quick.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WELDRWOMN View Post
Greetings. I used to be a dog person too. Marcie was a Humane society kitty at PetSmart. Those cages are so tiny. Anywhoo, She did the whole hiding under the couch thing for about the first month after I brought her home. Now, she hardly ever goes under the couch unless it is to retrieve one of those little jingley balls that she likes so much. Just keep giving Poe lots of love and attention and things will work out!

Yes those cages are incredibly small, in fact I was a little upset when I saw how small they were. Barely enough room to walk around in.


I appreciate everyone's advice, We are going to take it slow with him. We've had a good couple of days actually, I just don't understand how anyone could abuse such an adorable little creature as Poe. Ahh well, he's got a good home now, so if nothing else the boy is on easy street from here on out. hehe.

Thanks again!
post #8 of 16
It sounds to me like you have a perfectly normal cat there -- and one that's starting to enjoy his new home, too! You're making a great start! You've gotten some excellent advice here...except that I'd be careful about using wads of tinfoil, because some cats will eat it. Most pet stores have lightweight little silvery balls made of Mylar that are just as much fun, and much safer.

Bless your heart for adopting a sad, overweight, grownup kitty. You're one in a million!
post #9 of 16
Congratulations on Poe!

May you have many happy years with him.
His behaviour problems will modify if you let him know what you do and do not like. The best 'punishment', I found, is to blow a jet of air from your mouth toward the cat. They really don't like that, but it doesn't harm them and there's no need to go for a water bottle. Whatever else you do, don't hit him. He sounds as though he's been abused in the past.
Kindness should do him well. You have already done him a great service by giving him a home.

Happy Holidays with Poe! and as a former only-dog owner, cats are just as much fun!
post #10 of 16
We adopted Gabriel 9 months ago and he was afraid at first too. Spend all his time under our couch. He was also skiddish when we tried to pet him and he wasn't expecting him.
We did a lot of playing and enticing him but it was always on his terms. If he wanted to come out and play, that's what we would do. If he didn't, we didn't push it.
He was declawed when we got him so he belonged to someone at some point. I think he was abused to from his reactions but you know what? After 9 months, he is positively the biggest cuddle bug we have. He is a perfect foot warmer

Give her time, she'll come around when she is ready. Talk to her a lot. She'll get over the skiddish.


Biting I wouldn't know much about except Gabriel gives us love bites but it's definately not nipping. Other than trying not to flinch and saying a firm NO, I don't know what else you could do.

for adopting an adult cat
post #11 of 16
About the "kennel carrier" - put a soft towel or pad on the bottom, leave the door open, and leave it out in the room where kitty spends most of his time. The goal is to make the carrier a safe place, not a scary object where maybe he had bad experiences. After awhile, kitty may enjoy going into the carrier for a nap. If you're lucky, he'll be napping in there when you have to take him to the vet!
post #12 of 16
Sounds like you got a real sweetie there! I agree with everyone else..the head butting and running away was a game. Also, "attacking" your wife's hair was probably also a game. Yeah, cats have a weird sense of humor. One toy I have found that will tire them out and they absolutely LOVE is a laser pointer! You can get them real cheap on Ebay and my cats adore chasing that little red light around. Just make sure you don't shine the light directly in her eyes...or yours for that matter!

Your baby will settle in soon, but it sounds like you made a great start! Congrats on your new baby and bless you for welcoming her into your home. Have a great Christmas!
post #13 of 16
First off, congrats on the kitty! My DH and I adopted a 3 yr old cat in September, and I was a first time cat owner/dog lover so I kind of know where ya'll are coming from!

On the sleeping under the bed and couch thing, Carl did this all the time when we got him, and he was very uncomfortable with us over-petting him when he wasn't asleep at first. After a few months he got used to us and our apartment and now he sleeps on the couch and bed instead of under it.

He also nipped a little when we first got him, but kind of "grew" out of it once he got used to us being around all the time.

Good luck with the kitty!
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
I appreciate all the responses. He seems to be hiding less and less each day, and wanting play more and more. hehe.

He's still nipping when he gets over stimulated though, though not nearly as hard as he was.


He's definitely getting used to us and the apartment, but he's still very skittish. I opened up a 2 liter of diet pepsi the other day and he ran out of the room due to the hiss of the bottle.

He'll definitely get there. He's doing better all the time so I don't think it will be a problem. I just wish we could curb the biting some as it's nearly impossible to pet him without giving him all of our attention in case he goes to nip one of us.

Thanks again and Merry Christmas (or Happy Christmas) to you all.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post
Hi everyone,


Anyway, my list of concerns are as follows.

He doesn't like to be picked up.
Yeah, that'll happen. Sometimes, no matter how they were raised, they just don't like being picked up. You can try adjusting him to it, by treating him and praising him whenever he's held for short periods of time, but this is generally met with limited success, at least that's what I've heard. One of my cats doesn't like to be picked up, so I just don't bother

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post

The only time I can touch his paws is when he is sleeping, and He wakes too easily so I haven't been able to clip his toenails. (Though I would like to).
You'll have to adjust him to having his claws trimmed and this might take a long time. You want to start by petting his paws in little fits and starts and really laying on the praise...food or treats, too, when he lets you pet his paws. He'll gradually let you pet them for longer if he's like most cats. When he's pretty used to it, then try to extend his claws, but don't clip. Reward and praise him until he'll let you do this with no issues. Then you can try clipping a couple claws. Otherwise, there's always the scruff (you would firmly- but not roughly- hold his scruff, from his jawline.) This should pretty much immobilize him and you could clip claws that way. Or wrap him up in a towel and have someone hold him and the other clip. I wear thick gardening glovs when I clip nails, just in case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post

He's not fond of his Kennel Carrier that we got him.
Leave it out at all times with fun things like toys and towels and maybe even a heating pad in there (supervised, of course) and he'll come to accept it. Might even like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post
He squeaks/grunts a little meow sometimes when we pet him and he's not expecting it.
Normal. Don't worry about it. Cats are all different in their vocalization levels. If it changes significantly at any point in his life, call a vet first to rule out a health condition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post

Last night he had a bad dream (I think?). He was twitching and doing the normal -i'm chasing something in my sleep- thing when he started crying softly. (it was like a low moan. it freaked me out a little. hehe.)
My cats sometimes do similar things. It sounds like your guy is pretty chatty, though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post

He spends several hours a day either under the couch where I spend a lot of my time (I have spinal arthritis so I'm not working outside of the home right now), or under the bed (though he does prefer to sleep in the bed with us, we've had some issues).
He'll gradually grow out of this, especially as he comes to associate you with the toys and food and treats and attention. Make sure you play interactive wand games with him each day. Cats come out of their shells and grow more comfortable through play and practicing hunting. This is also good bonding and will help him learn to approach you. Otherwise, some cats like small spaces. My Gracies is social as can be, but when there's a lull in the day's activities, she's crammed herself into a small space somewhere out of view.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post

He nips, sometimes hard. Luckily he hasn't gotten my wife too hard yet, but he's gotten me a few times when he's tired of being stroked. He's also not a fan of being combed (he got my wife while she was brushing him).
Ah, overstimulation. You've gotten some good advice, but here's a good link for you.
This is oh-so-common in cats. They all have their limit. http://www.treehouseanimals.org/Tree...0Site-E-OS.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post
He seems to generally be afraid of just about everything. Including the dark, any kind of loud noise at all or even if we look at him funny. The only exception to this is during play time. He loves to play with the interactive toys. (though he won't touch his Panic Mouse, he just sniffs it and walks away).
Some cats take months to adjust to new surroundings and cats in general freak out at loud noises. They also view being stared at as a threat or challenge, which could explain the funny look thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post
On top of the crying last night, he exhibited another new behavior today, after my wife and I played with him, while she was getting ready for work, I walked by Poe as I was heading to the kitchen to get stuff ready for my wife when Poe launched himself through this little crackly-tunnel toy we got him and head-butted my ankle. At first I thought he was launching himself at this cheapo-toy mouse that we got him which he seems to enjoy (he won't touch the motorized ones, they hold no interest for him), but it was nowhere to be seen. He continued running away from me like it was an accident, but then turned around suddenly and came right back, looked up, and meowed at me. I reached down to pet him and he head-butted my my hand and then ran off and came back again. Any clue as to what was going on here?
He's playing, it sounds like. They can be frightening little bats out of hell when they play.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post

Also, about the biting. Is this just something we'll have to get used to or will it lessen over time? Honestly he doesn't show a lot of remorse over it unless I yell NO or OUCH, then he'll run off and occasionally he'll come back all sulky. But If I ignore him he just ignores me back. hehe.
He's obviously learned at some point in his life that this is an acceptable form of play. You're doing the right things...ignoring him and yelling startled when he does it, but it's going to take time. Since he's an adult, it's likely this behavior is fairly ingrained. Getting him a friend would potentially help TONS with the play-biting and the kamikaze missions, because another young adult would welcome that kind of play and he'd learn the appropriate outlets. Most people don't realize it with the urban legend of cats beng solitary, but they do best in pairs or other small groups 99% of the time (there ARE cats out there who can't stand other cats, but they are in the minority, and almost all cats can learn to co-exist peacefully...in the cageless shelter I work for we only have 1 cat who acts out towards/becuase of the other cats, although there are 10-15 more that we feel would do BEST by themselves. So, out of 300 cats- yes, 300- there are less than 20 who wouldn't do best with a friend. SO if you and your DW are open and can afford it, etc, that's a really good option for the whole family. Poe has an outlet for play and you and DW get a break from his antics from time to time!
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jokieman View Post
He's still nipping when he gets over stimulated though, though not nearly as hard as he was.
I just wish we could curb the biting some as it's nearly impossible to pet him without giving him all of our attention in case he goes to nip one of us.

Thanks again and Merry Christmas (or Happy Christmas) to you all.
Are you watching his tail, in particular, when you're petting him? A twitching tail is a definite warning sign in most (not all ) cats. Stop petting him when that starts, and just let him sit or lie where he is.

Merry Christmas, and have lots of fun with Poe!
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