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Please help, overly needy and manipulative cat

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
So I took in a stray about a month ago. When I got him, he was the sweetest well behaved cat. Now he is manipulative, extremely smart, and very attention seeking. He seems to need stimulation at every waking hour and when he doesn't get his way he persists at coming up with new ways to annoy me, and if that doesn't work he becomes upset, starts acting sad, overly meowing and making a ton of noise. He insists that I am awake when he is, and wont go to sleep when I am awake. When I am awake he demands that I play with him all the time and let him in and out and in and out when he pleases. I have tried leash training with him and that has turned into him demanding to be let out 6-10 times a day. I even tried setting specific times for his walks and this isnt enough. He wont let me get work done at my desk and he wont let me sleep at night. If I ignore him, he finds another way to annoy me until finally I get to the point of yelling STOP. Then he becomes emotionally withdrawn and wont let me pet him. When he gets what he wants he is the sweetest cat, but I need this to stop. I can not let him to continue controlling my life. I play with him and give him attention probably more than most owners do. But nothing seems to work. I don't want to get rid of him. I cant afford another cat and I am just so frustrated. The last couple of days I have been sick and it has been raining so he has missed his walk. Yesterday he was back on schedule, but now his behavior has gotten completely out of control. He wouldnt let me sleep this morning. First he started with chomping his food really loud, which he does to wake me up. This didnt work so then he resorted to jumping on and off my bed and batting at the curtans. I told him to stop but he wouldnt. After an hour of this going on I was so pissed off that now Im up. Im typing on the computer and now he is acting all nice and cute and wanting a belly rub. It is 6:28am. Im not supposed to be up for another two hours. This is not cute! I am so mad right now and am trying my best to keep my cool. Please help. We need to get on a harmonious track and he needs to lean that I am in charge. What can I do about him?
post #2 of 15
How old is the cat? If its a kitten (under one year old), it just means he's healthy and intelligent, which are good things. A single kitten will usually have too much energy for a single person, but can do well in households with families and kids so there is a lot going on and interesting things to watch and interact with. If you're by yourself though, its going to be boring for a lively kitty, and a playmate is the best solution but only if you can afford it.

To keep him out of your bedroom, I would recommend a ssscat, which you place right behind the threshold of the open door.

It releases a poof of air via a motion sensor when tripped, and it scares the BEJESUS out of most cats. Unlike a closed door which they will meow through and scratch at if closed, the ssscat is more like an omnipresent evil force, and so they just give it a wide berth.

Cats require about 18 hours of sleep a day, so if you can keep him awake during the day, he'll have to sleep at night. Its natural for them to be most active right before dawn though, as a crepuscular species, so can't really hold that against them.

I'd recommend indoor only for a variety of reasons, but if you have to go indoor/outdoor, then I'd just get a cat door installed.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
He is full grown and a handful on his own. Not sure of his exact age, but I live in a small apartment and would hate to get another cat and it not work out. Any recommendations for behavior correction? BTW he is at my side at this very second meowing up a storm.
post #4 of 15
Take a deep breath Now, step back a moment. Cats are very intelligent but I think you are taking his behavior as a personal attack toward you and that is just adding fuel to the fire of your frustration.
He may be needy and sure cats are good at letting their wants known but the sole purpose of this behavior may not be about annoying you
Has he been vet checked? Is he neutered and such? How old would you estimate him to be?
There may be some health issues that are not obvious to the naked eye and may only be confirmed by blood tests.
Also, have you had a cat before or is this your first?
I know it may be annoying but hang in there, there's all kinds of factors that may be going on here. Cats can be needy but usually they have a reason with much more depth than just "annoying you"
Please tell us more about him, the age the vet estimated him at, health history, diet, his home enviornment, etc. I'm sure we can brainstorm
post #5 of 15
I've trained many a cat and you can almost always train them out of bad habits. If he's nagging you put him in another room and close the door for awhile make sure he has a litter box, food and water in there. If he's still making noise turn on a fan to cover it up and eventually he'll learn that nagging will only get him put in another room. Also use positive reinforcement for good behavior. When he does something you like or comes when you call tell him he's a good boy and pet him a little bit. When he's acting up say no in a determined strict voice so he knows you mean business. Cats are smart they pick up on things really fast but you have to be consistent. If you let him get by once then he'll think it's ok all the time. It does take a long time in with some cats but being consistent is the most important thing. When he's good speak to him in a soft voice and tell him what a good boy he is cats love that. You can try turning on the vacume cleaner or hairdryer to scare him when he's getting too obnoxious but I don't like to use that approach unless the behavior is particularly bad. Usually the positive reinforcement works best with most cats. Good luck.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've had cats before. He is by far the most intelligent one that I have had. He really knows how to pull my strings to get his way. He is fixed. His age is estimated between 1-2 years. Checked out fine at the vet. When he showed up at my door in December I got the impression that his previous owners had moved out and just left him by the way he acted. I am almost sure of this, as people do it all the time in my apartment complex. He came fixed and litter trained but didnt seem to have a home. The first few days I would let him come in and then let him out again. He always jumped back in my porch and wanted in. He claimed my place as his. I asked around, no one seemed to own him. No one put up signs. Christmas came and I couldnt find a home for him and with a massive snow storm approaching, I had no choice but to leave him at my place for a few days for the holidays. I didnt like it but I had to do it. I came back 3 days later to find that he had not pooped or peed any where, and he was generally happy that I was home. I continued to let him go outside and come back in as he pleased. Usually he would be gone for about an hour than he would come back until he wanted to go outside again. Within the last month I noticed gun shots outside from hunters. I live back in the woods and apparently some people in this community take fun in shooting back toward the woods. Thats when I realiazed I could no longer let him roam free in the neighborhood. I went out and got him the come with me kitty leash and harness. At first he absolutely resented it, but now he is taken well to the routine of putting it on and following commands while outside in upset......

This however is also part of the problem....
When he first showed up I let him in for the night because it was so cold. I made him a make shift litter box. The next day I let him back outside and threw the litter box out. He was really upset about this and he kept coming back to my door and following me everywhere outside. Finally I caved and decided to keep him. I think the issues I am having with him stem from separation anxiety, where at one time he had a home, then they up and left him. I know he trusts me to the extent of rollin and giving me the belly every day and letting him walk him on the leash, but I dont think he quite is over what happened to him before. Maybe he thinks that if he isnt constantly up my ass 24/7 im gonna leave him. Im almost sure of it. If this is the case I need help resolving his anxiety issues. He seems to be deathly afraid of other people. Yesterday when we were on our walk, people kept coming and going, and it made him want to come inside. So as a result, his normal 60 minute walk was like three 15 minute walks. That kind of set him off too. I can see clearly that he needs some form of consistency, but there are things beyond my control like if I have to leave for something or if the neighbors are making noise. Also I get that he is having trouble coping with his freedom being semi taken away with the harness. I want him to be happy, but at the same time I dont want him getting shot at. Thanks for listening. I know I was crabby earlier. Still any advise is welcomed.
post #7 of 15
You are correct in guessing this is separation anxiety. I know how to handle it in dog, but not in cats, sorry. I do know that just shutting him away with his past history of abandonment would be bad, though. You may be best served consoluting a behavioral specialist that mainly deals with cats.

You're also dealing with a bored cat, which makes it worse. Some cats need a lot of mental stimulation and even play (with a human) isn't enough. I have one like this, but luckily he has cat buddies to help. Otherwise he'd be stuck up my butt like he was when he was younger - it was like never ending kittenhood where he acted like he was stuck at the needy pre-12wk stage socially. And yes, he gets into things/misbehaves to get attention, too, and is smart enough to know what he's doing.

If you could adopt another young cat, you'd get some break from his attentions. But its better that you are being financially responsible.

Try some new games? Maybe see if you can train him to do tricks more similar to common dog tricks? Challenge him.
post #8 of 15
I know this is a pretty small suggestion, but I think it helped my cat when i got her as a kitten (about 2-3 months old, found under the hood of a truck at a bar!), she had a bit of separation anxiety. I left a radio and/or TV on for her. She seemed a little less desperate when I got home after I did that, although she did still try to follow me out of my apartment when I left. Now I'm in a house and she's got a friend and is allowed outside, she doesn't have much of a problem.

Another thought is to leave her inside, leave for 5 min, come back. A little later, do it again, increase the time, eventually she'll get the idea you are coming back. I did that a few times, and mine improved a little, I didn't have the opportunity to gradually increase the time since I had to go to work :P

Good luck! I know how desperate an abandoned kitty can be!
post #9 of 15
I am a huge fan of clicker training for animals and I clicker train with my Kismet.... I found about 3 weeks ago he hit this teenaged bratty stage lol He was driving me NUTS and I decided it was time to start clicker training.

We have a kennel (the carrier to go out of the house) and a crate (like the big big wire doggie crate? ) and I use the clicker. I have trained him to go in to both on command...... and he gets a click and reward. We work on this for about 10 minutes at a time for 20 mins a day (( you can do it for as little as 5 mins a day though)).

I noticed an IMMEDIATE change in his behavior. He was PLEASED to have a task where he gets constant positive rewards. He gets to use his brain to figure out what I want him to do. He gets to decide to do it or not do it and see what the consequence is (click and treat vs No click and no treat).

Clicker training not only occupies their mind but it gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Try it

You can get a clicker at ANY pet store - usually in the dog area.

(I also use clickers to train parrots)

REMEMBER to keep it POSITIVE. Be patient... get some books on clicker training from your library. Always end on a positive note.

Good luck
post #10 of 15
I think its awesome you are giving him a safe home. I too think that you are right on that for right now keeping him inside may be the best thing. Till he really settles and maybe then you can try the harness again. Being out may trigger all sorts of issues for him. Who knows what things he has endured. Most cats make like they want to be out, but its not always whats best for them. I think your intuition is telling you that he doesn't really like it.

Just from my experiance with a needy cat it can take time as well. Rocko didn't really settle till a year later. Anytime I sat or laid down he was on top of me wanting to kneed my lap or chest.....but I knew it was a comforting thing for him (the fact that he had to do it so often seemed to me very sad since he obviously didn't feel very secure and needed to make himself feel better). He feels more at home now and doesn't need his security blanket (me) as much anymore.

I also highly recommend some intense play/affection time. Fiona in the beginning needed soooo much time from me. She was a stray, abandoned also and rather young. I played with her for an hour before I went to work and an hour after and stayed with her while she ate as she didn't like me walking away when she was eating. It took her close to a year also and then she settled.

Not only getting down on the floor with them to play is really a good way to bond with them but it can be tiring so I got a laser pointer so I could be on the computer or watching tv and could aim the laser and still do what I wanted. Also the "da bird" toy is awesome....cats can jump around after it and go crazy. Lets off alot of steam.

I really do not agree with the "tough love" approach for most cats (if any). Yelling, isolating etc. doesn't usually work. I found being thoughtful about what is behind the behavior and then addressing that more than the behavior itself is most effective. Sounds like he really likes you and wants alot of you reassurance right now that you will be his new family.

Its only been a month and sounds like quite an adjustment for the both of you. Give it time and patience. Its totally worth it...putting in the work now pays off in the end. It is amazing how a cat can change when in the right environment.
post #11 of 15
Have you tried Bach's Rescue Remedy or Feliway to help with his anxiety?
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by Tink80 View Post
Take a deep breath Now, step back a moment. Cats are very intelligent but I think you are taking his behavior as a personal attack toward you and that is just adding fuel to the fire of your frustration.
He may be needy and sure cats are good at letting their wants known but the sole purpose of this behavior may not be about annoying you

I agree with this 100%. Cats can be persnickity, but they do not do things just to annoy their owners. Blue, bless his heart, spent months meowing all night long after Sissy died. I tried bringing him in the bedroom with me, putting him in the bathroom upstairs by himself, feeding him wet food before name it, we tried it. I hadn't caught on to him being LONELY. I got a kitten and he hasn't done the all night meowing since!

I think your kitty is trying to tell you something. Something is not meeting his needs and he is trying to let you know the only way he knows how.
post #13 of 15
It sounds like your cat definitely has separation anxiety issues due to his past. The more you push him away or get annoyed, the worse he will become. I would try a Felaway plug in diffuser. They are a bit pricey but might be worth it. Your kitty seems a bit overly anxious. There are some homeopathic remedies for anxiety too. What type of diet do you feed? Is your cat getting enough food for his size/age, is he hungry?? Do some active play sessions as often as you can with interactive wand toys. Your cat is a very intelligent, attention seeking cat and knows what he wants and how to go about getting it. Could you adopt another cat (one that is out-going and active) as a friend, but only if you have the financial means. It was truly wonderful of you to take this cat in and give him a home. I just think he needs a friend/or another means of stimulation. . If you do decide to add another friend, post ahead of time so we can offer suggesions on how to introduce a new cat in a positive way!
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to say thanks for your read and replies. Though I was upset at first what alot of you posted made sense. I got him a longer leash which he is happier about. At first, I was cheap and got one of those dog leash things, but it was too heavy for him. He felt like a slave with a boulder on him, which was a big problem. Prolly accounting for the constant bugging, and always wanting to go outside. Weve been walking with the come with me kitty leash which is great but really short. He felt like his freedom was taken away due to the very short leash. He could not walk at his own pace, explore as much as he liked, or get up into trees (which is what a wild animal needs). As far as the waking me up thing, I didnt use a spray bottle. When I so even spray Febreese in my place he freaks out. Kinda got the impression who ever had him before used the spray method. He seems a little traumatized from that. Instead, every time he gets up on my bed to batt the curtains in an attempt to wake me up, I shake a bottle of nutritional supplements. He hates it! I got a good morning sleep today as a result. + today he has been super good, lovey, and non clingy. Lessons leaned, cats are really cool and intelligent creatures. It just takes time. I didn't wanna give up on him, and though hard, I didn't. Things are getting better and after we get past his anxiety, hell be the best cat ever!!!
post #15 of 15
I am so glad you found solutions
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