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Help! I'm Not Dealing Well . . .

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
March 6th, we had to put our beloved orange tabby to sleep. He had renal failure, and after months of fighting for his life, he just couldn't fight any more. My husband and I had raised Opie since he was a kitten. He was headstrong, mischievous, and full of catitude. But he loved us. When he died, I felt unspeakably lonely.

I can't explain it, really. I have a husband that I love, a wonderful family, and another cat (Mercury) who is a little sweetheart.

But there was an unbearable emptiness that I felt I needed to fill right away.

I missed the titter-tatter of little feet when they would play. I missed the way that Opie would look at me, his eyes filled with love and happiness to see me. Alright, so sometimes, Opie's eyes were filled with a little bratty defiance too. He knew how to tell us off in no uncertain terms. But even when he thought we were jerks, he made his love for us known.

The gnawing grief is what drove me to the local humane society in search of new pets. My husband and I wanted two kittens, but instead, this year old cat named Finnigan reached for me, and was super affectionate. They said that all he liked to do is cuddle up, and his demeanor was shockingly calm in light of the noise and chaos of the shelter.

I really wanted kittens to bond with, but the shelter told us that it would be just as easy to bond with an adult cat--maybe easier. They also told us that an adult cat's personality was "set" and so there'd be less surprises than when you get kittens.

Finnigan shed incredibly, he was older than I wanted, would prevent us from getting two kittens, and had a kink in his tail. But none of this mattered in light of his clear affectionate nature, and how well-behaved he was. His former owners described him as relaxed, a cat who loved other cats, and a cat who was well-behaved and great about using the scratching post.

I knew I could never replace Opie--and I didn't want to. But in my grief, I was desperate for a little furbaby to hug, to love, to help with the horrible emptiness that Opie's loss left in our lives and my heart. So after much indecision, and vacillating on my part, we decided we had made a connection, so we rescued Finnigan from the shelter thirteen days ago.

We had him checked out by our vet, given a stamp of health, and we slowly transitioned him from his isolation room into the household at large.

At first, he was the sweetest cat in the world. If you'd asked me a few days ago, I would have told you that the adoption was working out wonderfully and that I couldn't imagine why anyone would give this cat to a shelter.

I was learning to love him and he was learning to love me. But now that he has gotten comfortable in our home, and decided that he's here to stay, he's turned into a hellspawn.

He started tearing chunks out of the carpet instead of using the scratching post. He started openly defying house rules that he was cheerfully obeying when he first arrived, such as not going into the kitchen. When we try to correct him, he takes it out on the other cat.

He used to purr and rub against me when I pet him. Now he angrily stalks away, and licks wherever I touched him, as if to get my human stench off of him. He seems perfectly healthy, and he is not hiding from us. He just seems to think that we should be hiding from his gloriousness.

The first few days he was here, he was affectionate with our resident cat Mercury, but now he is increasingly aggressive. (Last night, he caused three skirmishes on the bed that caused me to get slashed and bleed.)

When we fed him, he used to purr happily and eat with relish. Now he tries to knock the can out of my hands, and growls at me and my husband. Of all his bad behavior, the growling is the thing that is setting me over the edge. It's completely unacceptable behavior in our home.

When he growls at us, he gets a time-out in the bathroom. Last night, there were three time-outs before it was finally just time to go to bed. But then he howled and scratched at the door all night. I waited for a lull in the tantrum, then let him out. When he saw that I'd put the food away for the night, he took it out on the other cat. (I joked that he decided to eat Mercury instead.)

By 3am I had kicked them out of the bedroom, and tried to ignore the gnawing sounds he was making. When I woke up, I realized he chewed his own collar off--the expensive one that my mom went out of her way to buy for him with a shamrock on it.

Perhaps if I had raised this cat from a kitten, I'd find all of this cute or charming. I know Opie had days when I wanted to throttle him--but he was my cat and there was mutual love.

Finnigan and I don't have that yet. We're still getting to know one another. And right now, I'm feeling totally resentful of him. His rejection has me missing Opie even more. And if he keeps growling at me and my husband I just don't know what to do.

On his worst day, when we were having to stick needles in his back to give him subcutaneous fluids, Opie--a big tough cat--never growled at us once. I can't tolerate that from a new pet.

My insides are all jumbled up, and I'm just not dealing with this well. The less Finnigan likes me, the less I like him, and I'm afraid it's going to be a vicious circle.
post #2 of 24
First off, I am so sorry for your loss. I have been through the same thing and I know how hard it is to deal with. I know how terribly you must miss Opie.

Please give Finnigan more time...He is still probably adjusting. Or maybe something has changed in your home to make him uncomfortable.

Have you brought him to the vet? Maybe he is ill?

Or maybe now that he has adjusted, he is jealous of Mercury?

I know that you have probably thought of all of these things...Please keep the faith and work with Finnigan.
You are in my prayers.

JIL05
post #3 of 24
Hi, sorry about your loss. Is the new cat using Opie's things? (litter, bowl, toys,etc.)
The new cat probably senses he is a replacement.

Maybe you might want to give him his own brand new cat stuff. Wash away Opie's scent (where Opie went that the new cat goes also) so the new cat will know that he is wanted and not coming in second. He will know that after you wash down Opie's scent, you are starting to let goe of Opie and while doing so, you are giving the new cat attention.

You know how smart cats are, be careful what you say around him, he understands every word you say, and not only that he knows your thoughts especially when you think about Opie and not him and when you compare the two.

Hope this helps.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddcats View Post
Hi, sorry about your loss. Is the new cat using Opie's things? (litter, bowl, toys,etc.)
The new cat probably senses he is a replacement.

Maybe you might want to give him his own brand new cat stuff. Wash away Opie's scent (where Opie went that the new cat goes also) so the new cat will know that he is wanted and not coming in second. He will know that after you wash down Opie's scent, you are starting to let goe of Opie and while doing so, you are giving the new cat attention.

You know how smart cats are, be careful what you say around him, he understands every word you say, and not only that he knows your thoughts especially when you think about Opie and not him and when you compare the two.

Hope this helps.
Thanks for your comments.

We cleaned the whole house of everything that belonged to Opie before we brought Finnigan home. And that was hard to do. But I couldn't bear to have a new kitty using all of Opie's things, and I also didn't want the new cat to feel like a replacement.

If I had to guess what was happening, I would say that now that Finnigan thinks he's here to stay, he wants to establish himself as the king of our domain, so he's challenging us. I know that all the kittens I've ever had went through this stage briefly as they were growing up, but Finn isn't a kitten.
post #5 of 24
You might want to have a talk with Finn and tell him exactly what you stated here. Also, have a small towel available with the scent of the shelter he came from as a reminder of where he was so he will realize that he is in a caring home now and that COULD change.

When he is bad, show him all the damage he has done and then make him smell the towel.

When he is good, then reward him.

Does he have a TV? (a window with bird house or feeder)
post #6 of 24
i think your comparing him to much to Opie , im sorry for your loss , but he isnt opie he will never be him , every cat is different , he may have been badly treated before he came to the shelter , or maybe its because you was so set on getting 2 kittens to *BOND* with in the back of your mind you sort of recent that you didnt go with the first option and listend to the shelter who said about taking finn.
i would speak to the shelter you got him from , they may be able to suggest trying some things that you havnt already tried , or if you feel you just cant do it no more , then the shelter may just have to find him a new understanding home , no this wasnt a snide remark to you , now they know how he can be they can let others know this before they take him home with them. good luck in what you decide to do , and please keep us updated on what happens.
post #7 of 24
Oh, how I wish Finnigan had come from a no-kill shelter, rather than the humane society. Then I could tell you that, under the circumstances, it's okay to reconsider the adoption and let him go back there.

But at the humane society, that would very likely be a death sentence. You've taken responsibility for this cat's life now. I can't suggest that you give him back, even though I do sincerely understand how you feel.

So... two thoughts for you:

1. Maybe there's a no-kill shelter somewhere nearby who might accept Finnigan... a place where, even if he never gets adopted, he could live a comfortable life in a cageless free-run cat room. If you could arrange that, you could give him up knowing you had done him some good by moving him from a kill shelter to a no-kill shelter... and you'd be giving him another chance at finding a home someday, maybe as the only cat (which might make a difference in his demeanor).

2. You could try returning Finnigan to his isolation room, spending time with him in there, being affectionate, but leaving if he becomes aggressive... consistently demonstrating over time that he earns your company by being civil. If he responds to this, you could wait for a time when he's been good for a few days, and then invite him out into the house -- to be instantly returned to the room if he becomes hostile again.

Teaching him this way might take a very long time, and it might not work. But if you returned him to a kill shelter, I don't think you'd feel any better about Finnigan than you do about Opie, y'know?

And I am so sorry you lost Opie... he sounds like a wonderful kitty.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Oh, how I wish Finnigan had come from a no-kill shelter, rather than the humane society. Then I could tell you that, under the circumstances, it's okay to reconsider the adoption and let him go back there.

But at the humane society, that would very likely be a death sentence. You've taken responsibility for this cat's life now. I can't suggest that you give him back, even though I do sincerely understand how you feel.

So... two thoughts for you:

1. Maybe there's a no-kill shelter somewhere nearby who might accept Finnigan... a place where, even if he never gets adopted, he could live a comfortable life in a cageless free-run cat room. If you could arrange that, you could give him up knowing you had done him some good by moving him from a kill shelter to a no-kill shelter... and you'd be giving him another chance at finding a home someday, maybe as the only cat (which might make a difference in his demeanor).

2. You could try returning Finnigan to his isolation room, spending time with him in there, being affectionate, but leaving if he becomes aggressive... consistently demonstrating over time that he earns your company by being civil. If he responds to this, you could wait for a time when he's been good for a few days, and then invite him out into the house -- to be instantly returned to the room if he becomes hostile again.

Teaching him this way might take a very long time, and it might not work. But if you returned him to a kill shelter, I don't think you'd feel any better about Finnigan than you do about Opie, y'know?

And I am so sorry you lost Opie... he sounds like a wonderful kitty.
i didnt know this was a kill shelter im sorry. its different here in the uk.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Oh, how I wish Finnigan had come from a no-kill shelter, rather than the humane society. Then I could tell you that, under the circumstances, it's okay to reconsider the adoption and let him go back there.

But at the humane society, that would very likely be a death sentence.
I agree. If I bring Finnigan back to them, telling them how he has been behaving, they might think that he's "unadoptable" and kill him. Especially since it's kitten season. The fact that they -are- a kill shelter is one of the reasons I wanted to get him out of there in the first place.

But I'm not ready to give up on Finnigan yet. It's only been a few days that he's been behaving like this. I am hoping that it's just a phase where he's testing us, and he needs to learn some lessons about how to play nice with others. I'm just frustrated, and Finnigan's behavior is making me feel my heartbreak over Opie more keenly.

I really appreciate you all letting me vent my spleen about this, knowing that I'm a huge cat lover, and this is really hard for me.

Quote:
1. Maybe there's a no-kill shelter somewhere nearby who might accept Finnigan... a place where, even if he never gets adopted, he could live a comfortable life in a cageless free-run cat room. If you could arrange that, you could give him up knowing you had done him some good by moving him from a kill shelter to a no-kill shelter... and you'd be giving him another chance at finding a home someday, maybe as the only cat (which might make a difference in his demeanor).
I wanted to comment about this. As I said, I'm not ready to give up on Finnigan yet, but did you know that the Humane Society makes you sign a contract swearing that if you ever give up the cat, you'll only surrender it back _to them_? I was appalled, and that might just be one contract that I'm willing to breech.

I have yet to have a pleasant experience with the Humane Society.

Quote:
You could try returning Finnigan to his isolation room, spending time with him in there, being affectionate, but leaving if he becomes aggressive... consistently demonstrating over time that he earns your company by being civil. If he responds to this, you could wait for a time when he's been good for a few days, and then invite him out into the house -- to be instantly returned to the room if he becomes hostile again.
I think this is the method we're going to go with and it's really good advice. I think once he realizes that bad behavior results in getting locked up away from all the people and the fun, he will return to his former well-mannered self. I get the sense that right now, he's heady with all the freedom he has.

He's gone from being stuck in one of those tiny cages to having the run of a big house, with tons of toys, and people who are all too willing to cater to his whims.

Quote:
And I am so sorry you lost Opie... he sounds like a wonderful kitty.
Thank you. I miss him every day, and when I see his pictures I cry--but I know I'm crying for me, because I don't know how to live without him, but he's in a happier place with no more pain.
post #10 of 24
in addition to what everyone else has suggested, which are great. i would like to suggest some feliway diffusers, how many depends on how large your home is. i use them when we move or if there are alot of strays hanging out near our building. it seems to take the "edge" off the stress the cats are experiencing. that may help his integration into your household.

i'm so sorry to hear about your loss of opie.
post #11 of 24
I'm sorry about your loss, and with Finnagan is acting. I think some of the info and suggestions given to you here are great and I hope that they work. Good luck and keep us posted!
post #12 of 24
I'm sorry for your loss hun, it's really hard to lose a pet who is literally a part of your life from more or less the time they open their eyes.

Cats are very perceptive, and as it's been mentioned, he probably does sense that he is a replacement. He will need just as much love and attention as you gave Opie - possibly more - to help him to make this transition into a new home. It is hard to a rescue cat to get to grips with new rules and a new home and new cats - and it can be harder when they've got to fill the pawprints of the cat who padded before them.

The isolation room is a fantastic idea - it will give you two the time to create a stronger bond and give him the opportunity to learn the rules. Sometimes the rules can become a little fuzzy around the edges when he's got so much else to think about. Make sure than whenever he behaves well, you reward him - and reward him very well. A kitty treat, masses of hugs and cuddles and he'll soon get the idea. Also make sure that when he is in isolation that he also has something that smells like you, so that he knows that even if you're not there, you still love him and you're not totally abandoning him. Abandonment issues can be a big problem in rescue cats. We found that a big help with a lot of rescue cats when I was growing up.

Please also bear in mind that he will still be trying to sort out the pecking order between him and Mercury. He has come from a shelter where there has been no competition. Even if they are all running on the floor together (as our shelter does) things are kept so clean that there are no smells/scent marks to spark any conflict over possession of certain objects, for example, a favourite scratching post. This isn't the case in your home. He will have to contend with Mercury and the remaining smells of Opie (they can really hang around, trust me) so he may still feel a little threatened with this new challenge. Definitely him having his own things will be a big help for him.

I really hope that Finnigan comes around soon - I suspect that once things settle for real, he will be a really super cat to be around.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Here's a picture of Finnigan that explains why I took him home:



Here's Finnigan in his James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause pose that we've been seeing lately:

post #14 of 24
aww his lovely, i really do hope it all works out for both of you.
post #15 of 24
Oh, gosh, LittleRaven is absolutely right! Feliway "Comfort Zone" diffusers are very helpful, and if you order them from valleyvet.com rather than get them in a store, they'll cost far, far less.

You might also look around at a health food store for "Rescue Remedy," an herbal oil that you can put in their water or massage gently onto the inside tips of Finnigan's ears. If you can get hold of him, that is!
post #16 of 24
He is a nice looking cat. The first picture he looks sweet. In the second picture he looks like he is upset about something! I was wondering, did you bathe him when he came home from the shelter? If not, he probably wants that 'shelter' scent off him.

What about food? Do you have the high quality food? I noticed that after the recall and my extensive researching I started buying higher quality food. I noticed my cats are happier. They eat less and I don't leave out the dry food all day long which was making them fat.

After I am finished with the Innova dry I am going for the California dry, made by the same company. (found this out by reading the other nutrition thread)

They also say that a good quality canned food is better than dry. I give my cats both.

Also, your new kitty, probably thinks he is at your home only for a little bit, he thinks he is going to go back to the shelter. He thinks that your home is too good for him after what he has been through, he does not deserve such a nice loving home.

He is in disbelief, which only time and love can heal.
post #17 of 24
There was another thread a while ago about ghost cats. Don't know if you believe in this or not, but, maybe could it be that your Opie is jealous of your new kitty?
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Oh, gosh, LittleRaven is absolutely right! Feliway "Comfort Zone" diffusers are very helpful, and if you order them from valleyvet.com rather than get them in a store, they'll cost far, far less.
also check out eBay for feliway - that's where i get mine.
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddcats View Post
There was another thread a while ago about ghost cats. Don't know if you believe in this or not, but, maybe could it be that your Opie is jealous of your new kitty?
I don't know if I believe in it, but I will tell you one thing. If Opie was a ghost in our house, he would definitely be haunting Finnigan. He always had to be #1.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddcats View Post
He is a nice looking cat. The first picture he looks sweet. In the second picture he looks like he is upset about something!
Yes. Haha. That's his Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde nature.

Quote:
I was wondering, did you bathe him when he came home from the shelter? If not, he probably wants that 'shelter' scent off him.
I didn't. It's been 14 days though, do you think he still needs it?

Quote:
What about food? Do you have the high quality food?
He's getting Purina One (with higher protein than a lot of those designer brands, but I've heard good stuff about Innova). And then for a late night dinner he gets a small can of Fancy Feast.

Quote:
He is in disbelief, which only time and love can heal.
post #21 of 24
Yes, give the new kitty a bath!!!!!!!!!
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddcats View Post
Yes, give the new kitty a bath!!!!!!!!!
i don't know about that... if he's unhappy with her now, how will he like her after a bath!?
post #23 of 24
Maybe he doesn't like the shelter scent on him. He wants the new scent of his new home.

My cats act so much better when they have baths; and they are indoor cats, so how dirty can they get?
post #24 of 24
we gave stimpy a couple of baths after we brought him home from the shelter. he also had really coarse dry fur, so it helped get rid of that while he grew in nicer fur (i think he was fed some pretty cheap cat food before he came to the shelter). i think he liked having the shelter smell off of him. although he hates baths.
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