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Behavioral Problems with a Senior Cat

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi Kerry!

First of all, welcome to TCS! It's a pleasure having you here and any advice is greatly appreciated from all of us.
We have 3 Persians and 1 Stray I took in last year. The ages go from 14 years, 9 years, and two 3-4 year olds respectfully. The 14 year old, Tedi, is also my cat. He has formed a special bond with my mom. He never really bonded with me or came to me for company. I try to spend some time with him, playing with him, feeding him, etc, but he loves my mom to death. Ever since I took the stray cat in, Lexi, who is a calico, he has constantly stalked her, picked on her, smacked her, and is just ruthless at times. All the other cats pick on her as well so my room is her sanctuary. The others are not as bad as Tedi.
What I can't figure out is that he never cared whether I spent time with another cat. Is he jealous? If so, why now? He spends more time in my room because she is in my room and I try to treat them both fairly, but he still goes to my mom as before. At times they can be nice to each other, but that is not often. It has been a year and I feel like the transition has not completed itself.
What is going on with him? I found out he has a heart murmur so I will also be taking him to a specialist to have it checked out. I am at a loss of what to do because I just don't understand his behavior.
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 
As a side note, he stalked her again last night and bit her in the tail taking a chunk of hair out. When I try to nicely tell him to just move on, he hisses and swats at my feet or hand. Still to this day, he does not come to me, but is always, constantly, with my mom. I don't know if this might also help, but Tedi is the oldest, but not the top cat. He is scared and often does not fight back towards the other three cats. Luna is the second oldest, and can be a big bully picking on every one else if it suites her. Especially, if anyone dares to enter the living room. She will not pick on Tedi often. She constantly bullies Maya which in turn prompts her to pick on Lexi also. Again, I just do not understand his behavior.
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post
Again, I just do not understand his behavior.
I am so with you on that.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsAreBetter View Post
I am so with you on that.
At least I'm not the only one who can't figure it out.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Another side note I forgot to mention as I saw this in another thread. Tedi will also stalk her while she is in the litterbox, to the point where she will jump up on th sink to avoid him and will just stay there until he goes away. However, If I notice Lexi is gone more than 5 mins I go and check on her because that usually means she is cornered somewhere, by someone. He stalks her on a daily basis and meows at her aggressively and is just non-stop. Sorry for all the posts, but I felt if you knew as much as possible it would give you an idea of the whole problem. Maya was our latest addition and he has totally accepted her, but will not Lexi and it's been a year. I feel like there will never be a full and complete acceptance among the whole group.
post #6 of 13
Hi Duchess,
You are not alone, so many of us cat owners live in a multicat household where all the cats just can't seem to get along. So to shead a little light on the subject, our cute little domestic kitties occupy A LOT of space on their own in the wild. For example a female can occupy 15 acres all by herself and males can occupy 150 acres all by themselves ....yes a 150 acres! So, when we put several kitties in one house, it can cause a world of trouble. Many times they duke it out over territory and resources, such as napping spots and food, even litterboxes. In a situation like this were the aggression has gone on for more than a year I recommend medication. We basically need to get Tedi to be less hostile/aggressive and Lexi to get some confidence. I would suggest approaching a vet in your area that has some experience with treating behavioral issues and advise them that you've spoke briefly with a cat behaviorist and that I think it is a good idea to try buspirone for Lexi to help build her confidence and Prozac for Tedi to make him less aggressive. This should help level the playing field in your home, because at this point, behavior modification will not do a whole lot since Lexi as learned to fear Tedi, her submissiveness eggs Tedi on and Tedi thrives on the thrill of chasing her, so it's a cycle that it feeding off of each of them, so medication I think would be the route to take. Also make sure there are plenty of resources and territory, such as plenty of food at several feeding stations placed randomly through out the home, and multiple litterbox stations also randomly placed through out the home, because Tedi cannot stand gaurd at all of them at once, so Lexi will always have a back up litterbox if needed. And also make sure there is plenty of 3-dimensional space, like window perches, scratching posts, and chairs for them to nap on, the more resources available, the less they will feel inclinded to fight over them. I hope this works for you, I wish you the best!
Kerry


Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post
Hi Kerry!

First of all, welcome to TCS! It's a pleasure having you here and any advice is greatly appreciated from all of us.
We have 3 Persians and 1 Stray I took in last year. The ages go from 14 years, 9 years, and two 3-4 year olds respectfully. The 14 year old, Tedi, is also my cat. He has formed a special bond with my mom. He never really bonded with me or came to me for company. I try to spend some time with him, playing with him, feeding him, etc, but he loves my mom to death. Ever since I took the stray cat in, Lexi, who is a calico, he has constantly stalked her, picked on her, smacked her, and is just ruthless at times. All the other cats pick on her as well so my room is her sanctuary. The others are not as bad as Tedi.
What I can't figure out is that he never cared whether I spent time with another cat. Is he jealous? If so, why now? He spends more time in my room because she is in my room and I try to treat them both fairly, but he still goes to my mom as before. At times they can be nice to each other, but that is not often. It has been a year and I feel like the transition has not completed itself.
What is going on with him? I found out he has a heart murmur so I will also be taking him to a specialist to have it checked out. I am at a loss of what to do because I just don't understand his behavior.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply! I had not thought of medication will bring up the issue the next time I go to the vet. She does seem to lack confidence because often times I will carry her back to my room. At times she is brave and will wander out. With her having been outside, I would have thought she would have been fearless and do not know how she did survive. I have not tried Feliway. Do you think that might also help?
post #8 of 13
Kerry-

First of all, I really respect what you do. I really appreciate you coming on here and helping. Thanks! But my only question is that you recommend medication? Isn't there anything else they can try first? I just hate to see cats on meds if there are other solutions. But what do I know!?!


Tiffany
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabyphx View Post
Kerry-

First of all, I really respect what you do. I really appreciate you coming on here and helping. Thanks! But my only question is that you recommend medication? Isn't there anything else they can try first? I just hate to see cats on meds if there are other solutions. But what do I know!?!


Tiffany
I believe your question was already dealt with:
Quote:
In a situation like this where the aggression has gone on for more than a year I recommend medication. We basically need to get Tedi to be less hostile/aggressive and Lexi to get some confidence. I would suggest approaching a vet in your area that has some experience with treating behavioral issues and advise them that you've spoke briefly with a cat behaviorist and that I think it is a good idea to try buspirone for Lexi to help build her confidence and Prozac for Tedi to make him less aggressive. This should help level the playing field in your home, because at this point, behavior modification will not do a whole lot since Lexi as learned to fear Tedi, her submissiveness eggs Tedi on and Tedi thrives on the thrill of chasing her, so it's a cycle that it feeding off of each of them, so medication I think would be the route to take.
post #10 of 13
I see what you mean, I only recommend medication if the situation has persisted for more than a year and the quality of life is greatly lessened. What she described was that not only Tedi, but all the other cats pick on Lexi. They ambush her in the litterbox, and spend the rest of the day taunting her. This is no life, it's one thing if the aggression is occasional, but all day, everyday, even when trying to use the restroom is not the life for a cat. The litterbox ambushing can easily lead to a litterbox avoidance issue and Lexi using the restroom outside of the litterbox and the cat aggression can also escalate. The medication is not permant either, and Buspar is non-addictive. The cats are generally on medication for an average of three months, then gradually weaned from it to a medication-free household. Yet Feliway is a good idea to try, it generally helps to reduce stress caused by aggression, but when actions have become habits, well they are just hard to break and Lexi's submissive behavior feeds into Tedi's aggressive behavior. It would be different if Tedi was aggressive and Lexi was too, they would eventually work it out, but in situations where the aggressor has totally dominated the submissive one and the submissive cat has took the submissive roll yet the aggressor insists on bullying her, sometimes medication has to step in, because at this point it is more of a bullying issue and not a working out of the cat's hierarchy. I agree with you, I hate to recommend medications, but sometimes I feel it is in the cat's best interest and in this particular case I felt it was, as a rule, I use it as a last resort too, this was just one of the few I recommended it on. Have a good one!
~Kerry



Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabyphx View Post
Kerry-

First of all, I really respect what you do. I really appreciate you coming on here and helping. Thanks! But my only question is that you recommend medication? Isn't there anything else they can try first? I just hate to see cats on meds if there are other solutions. But what do I know!?!


Tiffany
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatPsych View Post
I see what you mean, I only recommend medication if the situation has persisted for more than a year and the quality of life is greatly lessened. What she described was that not only Tedi, but all the other cats pick on Lexi. They ambush her in the litterbox, and spend the rest of the day taunting her. This is no life, it's one thing if the aggression is occasional, but all day, everyday, even when trying to use the restroom is not the life for a cat. The litterbox ambushing can easily lead to a litterbox avoidance issue and Lexi using the restroom outside of the litterbox and the cat aggression can also escalate. The medication is not permant either, and Buspar is non-addictive. The cats are generally on medication for an average of three months, then gradually weaned from it to a medication-free household. Yet Feliway is a good idea to try, it generally helps to reduce stress caused by aggression, but when actions have become habits, well they are just hard to break and Lexi's submissive behavior feeds into Tedi's aggressive behavior. It would be different if Tedi was aggressive and Lexi was too, they would eventually work it out, but in situations where the aggressor has totally dominated the submissive one and the submissive cat has took the submissive roll yet the aggressor insists on bullying her, sometimes medication has to step in, because at this point it is more of a bullying issue and not a working out of the cat's hierarchy. I agree with you, I hate to recommend medications, but sometimes I feel it is in the cat's best interest and in this particular case I felt it was, as a rule, I use it as a last resort too, this was just one of the few I recommended it on. Have a good one!
~Kerry
I agree. I would only use medication as a last resort, but I feel for her. She will smack back at times, but most of the time she runs and tries to get up somewhere higher off the ground. She will also yowl and hiss when she gets cornered and Tedi stalks her. I will try Feliway also to see if that might help because the other three are often at each other's throats.
Once I move out and am in a house of my own it will just be her. I want to add another cat to the household, but will be looking at a kitten. I was hoping a young one would make her gain more confidence and not feel so threatened. Do you think she will respond more positively to a younger cat?
She will feel that this is her territory so she may become more protective over what she feels is her space.
Thanks again for all your advice! I am taking Tedi in next week to have his heart checked so I will see what the vet says. Do you know why he is behaving this way? I have never seen him respond so aggressive ever in his life.
post #12 of 13
In your situation if you are going to add another kitty to your household, I would suggest a female kitten. Those are the least threatening to the already established house cat. Males require more territory so it's more difficult to bring in a male than a female, and of course kittens are easier to introduce, so I would suggest a female kitten to help make things go more smoothly. Good luck!
Kerry

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post
I agree. I would only use medication as a last resort, but I feel for her. She will smack back at times, but most of the time she runs and tries to get up somewhere higher off the ground. She will also yowl and hiss when she gets cornered and Tedi stalks her. I will try Feliway also to see if that might help because the other three are often at each other's throats.
Once I move out and am in a house of my own it will just be her. I want to add another cat to the household, but will be looking at a kitten. I was hoping a young one would make her gain more confidence and not feel so threatened. Do you think she will respond more positively to a younger cat?
She will feel that this is her territory so she may become more protective over what she feels is her space.
Thanks again for all your advice! I am taking Tedi in next week to have his heart checked so I will see what the vet says. Do you know why he is behaving this way? I have never seen him respond so aggressive ever in his life.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatPsych View Post
In your situation if you are going to add another kitty to your household, I would suggest a female kitten. Those are the least threatening to the already established house cat. Males require more territory so it's more difficult to bring in a male than a female, and of course kittens are easier to introduce, so I would suggest a female kitten to help make things go more smoothly. Good luck!
Kerry
Thanks! I was thinking of a female kitten for sure just because she has had so many problems with Tedi.
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