or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Very distressed about nervous cat
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Very distressed about nervous cat

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm very ashamed that the situation with my male kitty has gone this far, but I can't handle it anymore.

My two cats (intact male and female) just moved with me from an apartment where they were very happy, to a new big house. This in itself has not caused stress in the kitties. (They quickly got used to the new surroundings and got over their intial fear within hours.

However, about 2 months ago, my brother moved in with us. Unfortunately, he is not a cat lover. He expressly prohibits the cats from entering his room (mostly because he doesn't want them poking holes in his waterbed, also does not like shedding). I had bought a squirt bottle to use for discipline because there were new rules in this new house that were OK in the apartment. (For example, I decided I would no longer allow them on the kitchen counters)

Problem is, my brother has redefined the "squirt bottle" punishment to the "Super Soaker" punishment. For those of you who don't know, this is a high-pressure squirt gun made for soaking your friends. And instead of a quick squirt so they stop doing whatever they were doing, he will hunt them down and continue to soak them with this high pressure until they are completely soaked or he's out of water. My female cat is a quick learner and doesn't misbehave, so she's not been a target of this more than once.

However, my male cat is a lot more prone to revenge. He has been subjected to this "punishment" enough times now that the mere sound of the squirt gun pumping action (this creates the pressurization) will incite him to fear where he will crawl under my bed and hiss at anyone (even me!) who comes by.

Today it's just continued to get worse. I woke up to the male crying at my door to be let in my bedroom. He immediately hid under the bed. There was a fresh piece of poop where he had been sitting. Apparently in his dislike of my brother, he went and peed all over my brother's clean clothes, which, for obvious reasons, made my brother mad. So, the cat (who had already run away because he knew he had done bad) was stalked down and sprayed with the squirt gun. In his fear, he pooped on the kitchen floor, then ran in front of my door and pooped again. He never poops outside the litter box unless he's in fear, and the more afraid he is, the more poop there is.

Of course my question is, what do I do? I got into an argument with my brother this morning because I'm sick of him abusing my cat, leaving me crying because my cat is afraid of me, too. I know the squirt gun is not good discipline. My brother says they need fear to behave, but he doesn't understand that cats don't think that way. The cat was not like this when he was with me alone and I did not ever have to spray him.

Up until the last few days, he's had his episodes, but still came to me and put his paws up on me when he wanted to be held, but now he won't purr and he'll only be held when I pick him up. He won't ask. I'm very distressed about my poor kitty. I just want him to be happy. I'm afraid if I can't get him to behave, I will have to get rid of him. I just bought this nice house, and I can't have him pooping all over it. He's only 13 months old. Part of the stress may also be related to the fact that his sister just gave birth to their kittens and he gets lonely when she's not around. I wouldn't let him in my room where the birthing occurred for obvious reasons, and he cried.

I'm sorry for the long post, but I'm very upset about this and I don't want to get rid of my kitty. Unfortunately, my brother pays much-needed rent, so if it came down to it, I would have to get rid of him.

Does anyone think getting his neutered might help anything? I need to do it anyway to avoid more unwanted (but loved) kittens...

Thanks in advance,
post #2 of 13
Yes, neutering is the best thing for the cat in general. Also, getting the female spayed will prevent her from a life threatening infection of the uterus not to mention mamory cancer.
As for the behavior. This will not stop unless your brother stops abusing your cat. If you are not willing to put your foot down and make him stop or find another person to help pay the rent I honestly would find him a home where he can be a cat and not get tortured. The more abuse this cat suffers, the less chances of him making a recovery. If you try and find him a home and he has this behavior from fear, it is likley he will end up in a pound or shelter and then euthanized.
post #3 of 13

Two choices:

Retrain your brother

Have your brother neutered

Seems to me that it is an issue of your brother needing to get a grip and realize that he cannot treat animals that way. I realize you need the money for the rent, but, at what point does one compromise values because of a need that can be filled elsewhere? In other words.... find someone else to share the rent. If you can't get your brother to respect your wishes in regards to your kitties, then he obviously doesn't much respect you either. Lastly, think of the alternatives, you place the kitties, and possibly end up in a home that isn't a good one, or they go to home that is a good one, but because of all the stress caused by the big water bottle, they end up in a pound. Seems to me that people are far to quick to throw away pets becuase it is the easiest thing to do. We tend to forget that when we take on the resposibility of another life, it's FOR life.
I'm not saying this applies to you, but it is something you have to think about.

post #4 of 13
If you are not willing to stand up to your brother and tell him to stop torturing your cat or to get out, if you are not willing to put forth the effort to get a roommate that will not hurt your cats, then please, please, place this cat into another home where he will be treated as he deserves to be treated. Your cat isn't into "revenge", your cat is scared to death - how could you let this go on this long? Yes, the cat should be nuetered, but that is not going to change the situation of him being afraid in his own home. You have allowed this to happen, and you must fix it. Although I may sound harsh, I actually am restraining myself from saying what I would like to say - so as not to upset the karma of the site in general. But, if you had called me (I am the president of an animal rescue organization and cat behaviorist) I would have said a lot of things you would not like to hear and told you to bring me the cat immediately. The cat deserves better than to have to live with someone like your brother.

How much is money really worth to you? How much do you really love your cats? These are questions you need to answer and answer immediately. The biggest thing you need to realize is the problem is not with your cat - it is with you and your brother. And if you happen to live in Connecticut, I or any of my volunteers, would be glad to take the cat immediately.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you for telling me these things. I am not afraid to stand up to him. In the meantime, I spoke to my stepmom about it, and she suggested I tell our grandmother... her wise ways might convince my brother to shape up.

I do love my kitties and I was crying my eyes out after he left for work because I'm so upset that my cat is scared. I want him to be happy again. Next time (if there is a next time - which I will do everything I can to prevent) he uses that gun on him, I will throw it in the trash.

I can understand he's pissed that my cat sprayed all over his clean clothes... but as far as I know, the cat need to be "disciplined" (read: snap fingers, say no) exactly when he's doing it, or the cat does not know why its being punished. And "doing something" can only entail a small mist from a water bottle or a loud startling sound. He stops doing wrong when I snap my fingers and say (not yell) 'no'. I don't need even need to use water at all.

What I need him to understand is that cats to not behave when they live in fear, they poop and pee where they shouldn't, and may eventually attack.

Thanks for listening. My cat's happiness is extremely important to me, and I will do everything in my power to make him happy again.

Assuming the abuse ended today and will never happen again, what steps should I take to make him feel secure again? Should I give him lots of hugs and attention or leave him alone? Should I give him free reign of the house or seclude him in my bedroom where my brother never enters? I need to know the quickest, most effective ways because it breaks my heart to have him feeling this way.

Thanks again.
post #6 of 13
Until the matter is under control 100% you should put him in just one room. Somewhere your brother cant get him. It is even possible your brother got him while he was in his cat box. So now he may fear the box. He needs some privacy and a place to feel secure. Also, whole male cats WILL spray. You need to have him neutered before he starts spraying everything out of frustration. It is very true that cats dont learn by punishment. They will only learn fear and aggression. What your brother is doing, is in my oppinion just as bad as beating the cat. Since I know you do not want to give up your cats, please at least take him out of harms way.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much. I have kept him in my room all day today, with small breaks to use the litter box, which I am relocating in a few minutes. He is doing much better from his earlier fright. He is now speaking to me again and asked to be picked up a few times. I will continue to do this for a few more days until he looks to be feeling better.

Incidentally, I spoke to my brother, and he pulled a "I didn't know I couldn't do that" which was complete B.S. but I accepted because it's easier to let him try to save face and ego and pretend to let him get away with it. So, I think things are going to be much better in the future. He will leaves my cats alone, and will only use snaps and brief loud noises when he does something bad. The gun which incites fear is not allow to be pumped in the house (the sound terrifies him), and he will try to avoid even letting the cat be reminded the gun exists. I also bought a pet repellent spray to try and keep him from going into my brother's room, and an odor removing spray from FreshStep to get rid of the odor.

I'll keep you posted.
post #8 of 13
While you've already said you think you have this situation under control, I wanted to thank you for posting, and remind you to let us know how things are going for you. It sounds to me like you haven't gotten much support and maybe need some from a group that also feels about their cats the same way you do. Your brother is another matter, and one I will reserve judgement on, because I do not know all of the facts - his age, for one thing - but I do want to say that if your brother HASN'T gotten the message, then buy your own water gun and drench him every time he does something you don't like. Like sleeping. *evil grin*

Sorry, couldn't resist...

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, today was a good day. I was at work all day and my brother (who is 18, by the way) was home all day. My cat did not do poop anywhere he's not supposed to and was not hiding, so I can assume he had a pretty good day. I have also let his sister (the new mother) out a bit to get away from the strains of her kittens and they have done very well. I think he missed her, and that didn't help. He's already being protective of the kittens, and if mommy wants to get away, he will stand guard a few feet away and makes sure nothing happens to his kittens. I can't wait for them to open their eyes and start playing.

Thanks everyone.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to let everyone know that my brother has been nothing but nice to my kitty and even feeds him treats to win his trust again. He even picked out one of the new kittens as his own.

Phew...thanks for letting me vent here!
post #11 of 13
I am glad all is going in a better direction. Better yet, your brother is learning that animals are not something he can treat badley.
post #12 of 13
I am glad that things are going better, because while reading your initial post, I developed some really strong negative feelings toward your brother!!!

For one thing, I'd take his Super Soaker and smash it into a million pieces. Next, assuming your brother is the more intelligent of the 2 species (and the jury's still out on that one), if he doesn't want the cats in his room, is it too much to ask him to keep his door closed?!? I realize he's paying rent, but I would be extremely firm in telling him you won't tolerate his abusive behavior, or he can make other arrangements.
post #13 of 13
I agree. He pays rent BUT you own the house. Don't forget that. I lease an apartment and my landlord has rules I abide by even though I am paying him every month. The rules aren't unreasonable either. I think asking him to keep his door shut is a small thing. Also, that is the only place he is guaranteed absolute domain. The rest of the house is yours and your pets. He needs to understand this. Please keep an eye on your baby/babies. The more he punishes, the more they are going to rebel. Cats are very sensitive to things of this nature.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Behavior
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Very distressed about nervous cat