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Whisper's Fear Instinct

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
While I'm pretty sure that this is normal, I want to help as much as I can.

Whisper has always been somewhat possessive of me and Reagan. We are "his" girls. So it's understandable that he's having a hard time adjusting right now. Both of us are doing everything we can to be loving and understanding, even though he wants nothing to do with DH still.

All kitties have vanilla on them. Molly isn't too happy about it, though she allowed it to happen (this could mean a bath should be scheduled!). She's exhibiting a fear response to just about everything right now, and that, too, is normal. Again, we're doing everything we can to love her like crazy until she comes out of that shell.

Reagan's doing great. She's acting like her world hasn't changed in the *least*. She's a bit on the grumpy side, but everybody has their moods.

I had to "unconfine" Baloo tonight because he was getting miserable because he didn't know where DH was. Not really a problem. He and Reagan are doing fine (except that she thinks he smells bad ), and he's leaving Molly alone (smart kitty!). He would have left Whisper alone, too, if Whisper wasn't being such a dumb-butt.

I admittedly have my favorite cat in this house -- and the one who's giving me the most problems *is* that favorite. I want him to be happy and know that he *can* be. He just needs to drop the attitude.

DH doesn't want to try Feliway. It's expensive, but that's not his primary concern -- he thinks it's going to make the house smell like cat urine

Whisper has a very deep, instinctive, built-in fear response. To this day we don't know where it came from, except that when we got him, the family said that the other kittens were fearful -- but Whisper wasn't. It's developed more and more over time.

I genuinely want to help. This is *his* problem, and it doesn't relate to any of the other cats. Neither DH nor I are tense during introductions, either. I'm completely at a loss though as to what we can do to make him feel more confident. Nobody is challenging his place in the household. Baloo seems content to either back off or share it, even, and for a big, older tom cat, that surprises me considerably.

Other than vanilla and Feliway, does anybody have any suggestions to calm him down? I'm *not* adverse to herbs (applied, not ingested) or Crystals if anybody has any suggestions along those lines. If medicine can't tackle it, I'm very prepared to go medieval
post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 
No suggestions? Do I just have an odd cat?

Something that's been occurring to me lately is that Whisper is essentially feral. He was born feral and he's only social with me and Reagan. This is part of why we're having a hard time with him. He accepts DH if he *has* to, but he'd rather avoid him if he can. He's a very loving kitty otherwise, and I think he's got the potential to make a couple of new friends here and be happier for it.

We've done what we know to do other than the Feliway... If there's something I'm overlooking, that somebody else has tried with success, please let me know!
post #3 of 6
No, I don't believe you have an odd cat, he's behaving very normally for someones who whole routine and territory have been turned upside down. Also, as you said he maybe more feral than not.

By the way - no baby yet?

Ok, you're pregnant, you're stressed because of Dozer, Dozer stresses everybody, you have how many new cats? Whisper sounds perfectly normal to me. Not all cats handle new changes gracefully or willingly. By the way, your own scent has changed with pregnancy and will change again after you deliver. We can't tell but the animals can. Another added stress for Whisper.
After the baby is there that will also stress him.

The Feliway Comfort Zone mimics facial pheremones not cat pee! Big difference. So I would try that.

Rescue Remedy is ingested but is very safe - it either works or it doesn't.
Add 2 to 3 drops in their water dish - big dish maybe an extra drop. Or you can rub a drop behind Whisper's ears (it will absorb through the skin).

It can take months for cats to accept new things or new cats. Some times the best you can achieve is tolerance between the animals involved, i.e. they refuse to share a room but don't try to kill each other.

Don't give up, but don't push to hard or that will make things worse.

Here's lots of calming, soothing vibes for Whisper and you.
post #4 of 6
Feliway used with a diffuser has ZERO odor. I have them running all over my apartment, can't tell the difference. Feliway spray has a scent to it, but air fresheners are worse, IMO.

My only other best suggestion is to just let the cat be. Give him time, he'll learn to trust you by observing.

My Ferris is a former feral and was (still is at times) horribly skittish. He has panic issues and PTSD about being captured and caged. For 6-8 months I was certain he'd always be that way, now he's a giant lovebug who'll lie in my way while I step OVER him instead of panicking and running under something if I take a single step in his direction.

Time and patience and understanding that you need to give time and patience.
post #5 of 6
I know it sounds silly, but have you told him everything that is going on?

Explaining to cats is underrated. Even if they don't understand all the words, they pick up our body language and our tone.

For instance, from the moment the kitten set paw in our house, we've been telling Mr. Bond that this is his kitten, we got him a kitten that he should train and supervise. Even if all we are doing is linking their two names together, that can form a bond.

Sympathize with Whisper. Tell him how you dislike all the mayhem, and you wish it could be like it was, but these things happen, and, here's the kicker: You need his help.

Tell him you despair over keeping all this straight without him. He's so important! He can take charge of something, whatever he's most interested in, and consult him whenever that thing needs maintaining or changing.

It lets him get a pawhold on the changes that are going on, and feel some sense of control over it.

Dear Husband fed the cats, got down on the floor to play with them, and planted their kitty grass. Still, Mr. Bond held him at arm's length until DH sprained his foot and was confined to his recliner for a few weeks. Each day, before I left for work, I would tell Mr. Bond he needed to take care of DH, who was stuck in his chair and needed company.

By the time DH's foot healed, they were best buddies.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Whisper has always been a bit "different" in terms of cats I've known and loved. He's not the first born-feral cat I've had, but I think that fact does make a difference in him. It's only recently (unfortunately) that I've recognized this difference and need and I'm still learning to adapt to that. We're getting places with it, but it's going to take a *lot* of patience. Patience I have, especially with Whisper!

I'm going to talk to DH about trying the Feliway spray. Right now with the baby coming up and new expenses related to that (and two additional cats), I'm pretty sure that he won't go for the diffuser, but I can start saving my poker money to get one, too. He can't argue with how I spend my money From what I have read about the Feliway diffuser, it's a good *long-term* solution for us, especially with Whisper's personality and his conflicts.

By the way, he's tolerating petting from DH now. This is *good news*.

As for talking to him... I hadn't really thought of doing it in the terms you've mentioned, but I talk to him almost constantly. He's a real companion to me, my best friend. I talk non-stop at him. I sing to him.

However, I haven't really taken time out to explain everything to him in simple terms. I'm going to do that tonight, have a good sit down with both him and Reagan, even though she's adapted already to having two more cats in the house, and she's "getting along" with Dozer as well. Hates him, but doesn't go out of her way to bother him, either. Some cats just don't like dogs.

We will continue to be patient with him, and hopefully try the Feliway.

I also wanted to add some additional information about Whisper that only just occurred to me tonight.

We got him when we were living with the same room mates who were so horrible to Dozer. Whisper is an *exceptionally* well behaved kitty naturally (i.e. we've never had to discipline him, really, he's just naturally good). However, our former room mates (the evil jerks!) would blame him for everything that their own cats did wrong. He was often scolded or yelled at when their "favorite" kitty did something that she wasn't supposed to do.

Given that his memory seems to last for quite some time, I'm wondering if it's not possible that he associates other cats with his being blamed for crimes he hasn't committed. DH does so jokingly at times, but never in front of Whisper (and never seriously). If this is the case, then I can really understand (and relate to!) what he's going through. It requires more work to get through, but I know we'll manage.

BTW, I did give him a snuggle earlier and reminded him how much I love him. He's *much* more relaxed now!
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