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Face-patting cat!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've recently taken on my elderly mother's (equally elderly! he was born in 1991) cat, Buster, following Mum's hospitalisation. It's likely Mum will be in hospital for weeks (possibly months) to come, and may not even be able to return to her home. She admitted that she has been having difficulty caring for Buster in recent months, as she says he is quite demanding! For the first week or two my sister would pop in and feed him every day (morning and night on the way to and from work) but we became concerned that he wasn't getting any meaningful attention or company, so about three weeks ago my husand and I brought Buster to live with us. Hubby and I both work full time so there is no-one at home during the day until our teenage son gets home from school mid-afternoon...

We've noticed that Buster does seem to like a lot of close attention, and when I say close, I mean I sometimes get the feeling that if he could crawl inside my skin he would!!! He will come and sit on my chest (or my mums or my sisters - anyone in the family who gives him the slightest encouragement, really - he used to sit on my dad's chest when he was alive, too!) and get as close to my face as he can, staring at me all the while (but in a sort of indirect way; he seems to avoid looking at my eyes - and I've just this evening learned from a website that staring at a cat -as I have been doing because he stares at me and I'm trying to understand what he's communicating!- is seen as threatening behaviour by the cat, so I shall try not to do that in future!) and he will sniff at my mouth sometimes, rub me with his nose and forehead and -this is the oddest thing, that I've never seen another cat do- he will poke at my face with his paws! Unfortunately he's not very good at keeping his claws sheathed so if I want to avoid multiple scratches on my face, I have to sheild my face or put him down, which I dislike doing as I feel it must be a request for attention and fussing! I should add that he is almost always purring whilst he's "in my face"! I am sure he's been stressed to some measure by the move - and perhaps when I've come from seeing Mum in hospital, maybe he can smell her on me and is confused as to why she isn't here? - so I try to give him as much cuddling as he wants, and some nights he will have a cuddle for a while and then will settle down on my lap for a snooze, which is nice for both of us! But other nights (tonight for instance) he was relentless and obviously in need of much cuddling! (He did have a swearing match with a neighbour's cat in the front garden, from which i rescused him as the other cat is younger and a lot bigger - did i do the right thing? So maybe he needed some comfort after that?!) We do wonder if sometimes he is simply asking for the chair - he didn't have his own bed at Mum's and used to sleep all over the place, giving all the chairs equal attention, and he seems to do the same here. Should we get him his own cat bed?

We don't object to him using our furniture but if he would be happier with his own bed (especially at night time), we'll make him one - we shut our bedroom doors at night because otherwise he comes in at the crack of dawn and wakes us up! I remember Mum saying that he would get her up at all hours of the night - in fact she used to give in to his every whim, so he probably thinks we are right meanies! The first couple of nights we didn't, but after he poked my husband in the eye one night, we felt we had to. He used to share a double bed with Mum - now he often sleeps on the landing outside our door, which of course makes me feel very mean for shutting him out!!! He has no trouble using his litter tray, which is in our downstairs loo (as it was at Mum's), which is a relief. Mum got the tray so that she wouldn't have to keep letting him out at night - although he still used to wake her up anyway!

Since he is an elderly cat and may not be with us for too much longer (earlier this year the vet diagnosed tumours in his abdomen which he was reluctant to try and remove because of the position and number of them and because of Busters' age) I'd like to make sure he is as stress-free and comfortable as possible, so is there anything I'm not doing that I should be, or that I am doing that I shouldn't be?!
post #2 of 10
Don't bother with his own bed - I mean do it if you want, but he may not use it at all, or may only do so for a few days, or weeks. Cats seem to like certain places for various times, then adopt new ones, then others, etc. and may not go back to the first one at all (or may!).
post #3 of 10
Oh, he sounds like an absolute sweety! I love it when cats do that, but I know what you mean about the claws. I always thought of it as them "petting" us. Penni (RIP) used to do this all the time at night when she was snuggling with me in bed. She was also a very demanding kitty when it came to attention (I even bought her a little leopard spotted pillow that had embroidery saying "It's all about me" because of it - she was quite the princess!)

I agree - he may not use his own bed. However, he would likely be happier if he could sleep with you. Earplugs maybe?

post #4 of 10
Will Buster tolerate you trimming his claws? If he's going to have his paws in your face all the time, then it's really for your own safety. Past experience, claws + eyes = ouch!
Best time to try trimming his claws is when he's sleepy or really relaxed. But he sounds like he's very well adjusted and hopefully won't mind it.

Have you tried putting Buster down towards the middle or foot of the bed when he bothers you at night? Maybe try on the weekend if you don't have a busy schedule the next day. Grabbing him and snuggling him up to you may work too.
You could also try getting him his own really soft blanket. There's lots of little fleece throws on sale at this time of year. It could be tossed on the foot of the bed, beside you, or if you have a nice chair in your bedroom - on that. Donating a nightstand or dresser draw might work well too - cats prefer some of the oddest places to sleep. There are also round or partially covered beds for cats to curl up in that could be put on a bedside table/night stand - redirect him to that. Cats eventually get the message and settle down or go off to do their own thing.

Since your mother is going to be in the hospital for the holidays and obviously loved Buster a lot, maybe you should take a picture of him and put it in a very nice frame to sit beside her bed? Just a gift idea.
post #5 of 10
my kitties pat my face... fortunately they don't use their claws.

maybe try those little kitty claw caps?
post #6 of 10
LOL, this sounds familiar. We've just picked up a new kitten Milo, he not only pats your face, but wants to physically sit on it. It seems he is obsessed with human heads. Whenever we go to sleep he literally sits on your cheek or neck. Strange little chap he is
post #7 of 10
Face to face closeness is a cat's highest compliment. Face patting, however, is usually an invitation to play or have some other interaction.

Don't be afraid to say ow or whimper when he scratches you; he may not realize he is hurting you.

He sounds like a highly affectionate cat who is also worried about his Person. Let him know she's doing okay and being taken care of, and maybe bring a towel or hanky of hers to put somewhere so he can be reminded of her.
post #8 of 10
My kitten Seti strokes my face with his paws too. He's very good with his claws, thankfully. He even sleeps with a paw on my face and often, he lays down on my face. Were I you, I wouldn't feel badly about making Buster sleep outside your bedroom. Boundaries can be good for everyone. I know from Seti how impossible it can be to get a good night's sleep when there's a cat who needs a great deal of snuggling laying by your head!

You certainly could give him a cat bed but as Larke suggested, cats often roam from spot to spot. A cheaper alternative is just to fold up some towels and leave them around your house. Cats like to be warm, especially older cats.

It sounds to me like you've done a lot of great things for Buster and he has a really good home.
post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by flinni View Post
LOL, this sounds familiar. We've just picked up a new kitten Milo, he not only pats your face, but wants to physically sit on it. It seems he is obsessed with human heads. Whenever we go to sleep he literally sits on your cheek or neck. Strange little chap he is
my baby Chloe does this exact same thing. If it were up to her she'd sleep across my throat.
so while she's on my neck/chest, Berach sleeps on my pillow, wrapped around my head and then eventually pushes my head off while I'm sleeping. haha. little brats.
post #10 of 10
I have 3 cats that like to stroke my face. Depending on their mood, sometimes their claws are out and sometimes they are retracted. When they are out, I simply place my hand between their paws and my face. If they persist, I push their paws away. I don't push the cat away.

Some cats are not threatened at all by eye contact. But if you are concerned, slowly blink your eyes when you make eye contact. This is a sign of greeting amongst cats.

He sounds like a sweetie pie!
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