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Max is making me so sad... what can I do? I don't understand his behavior...

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm posting this because the poor little guy is breaking my heart. He's such a sad little cat, he always looks afraid and nervous... if you reach out to pet him, no matter how quietly and gently you do it, he pulls away, clearly scared. He's terrified of my fiance for no reason (other than a probable experience with a previous owner) and hides at a pin drop.

He seeks me out when I'm on the computer or lying in bed and tries to lay on top of me, right by my head. He always wants to lick my hands, and if I move them away, he'll follow. He's so sweet, always head butting me and trying to get me to pet him (his expression when he gets lovin is clearly that of being in heaven) but he's so needy... wants my attention 24/7.

And lastly... the hairpulling. I thought it was over but maybe it never stopped? He'll lick himself vigorously... lick, lick, lick...puuuull. And out will come a big chunk of hair, which he'll proceed to eat. Why? That's gotta hurt him... not to mention, it's responsible for hairballs I get to pick up.

When I took him to the vet, they couldn't figure out the pulling. It's not devoted to any specific spot, no UTI or sickness and I don't think it'd be stress as he's been with us for 6 months and in this apartment for 3.

Sorry so long but I think I half needed to vent... he's such a sweet guy and he breaks my heart with his behavior. What can I do?
post #2 of 23
Maybe this thread has some similarities.
Although Max may not have gotten sick like Sylvester, he may be as anxious.
post #3 of 23
Aw Ariana. I have no advice for you. But that's really heart breaking.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yayi
Maybe this thread has some similarities.
Although Max may not have gotten sick like Sylvester, he may be as anxious.

So he could be nervous because we work a lot, and not regular hours? If *that's* the case, then I have a cure for that - I start my new job in mid-August and it'll be a Monday-Friday with a set schedule that won't change, unlike my current one.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you Sam... lately, every time I look at him I want to just hold him real tight and tell him everything's ok. Of course, when I DO do that, he freaks out and tries to get away.
post #6 of 23
*hugZ* to Max and you Ari. He sounds like such a sweet fella. i hope he breaks out of that behavior soon.

Maybe try some treats and then proceed with a small hug? Kiss the little guy for me Oh and Baylee too!
post #7 of 23
I believe some cats suffer from mental issues, just like people. I have one such cat that suffers from anxiety. It must have something to do with their brain chemistry, IMO. Not enough serotonine or whatever it is that goes wrong. I suppose you could put him on anti-anxiety meds for this. But the meds have side effects so I am not sure it's worth it.
Unless the hair pulling gets bad.
post #8 of 23
Ari, I've just seen this!

I think that routein will probably help Max! He'll know when you are going to be around and it should make him feel safer! I really does hope it works for you!

Calming }}}VIBES{{{ coming Max's way and to you too!
post #9 of 23
Oh Ari i wish i could help!

I hope Max gets his problem sorted a.s.a.p
post #10 of 23
poor Max.

I wish i had some advice but all i have is vibes and hugs
post #11 of 23
Hi, I don't know if there's any connection, but one of mine goes for my fingertips when he's hungry... maybe it's like a nipple to him, and he won't get really affectionate either, except to lie down for a minute like yours. Have you tried giving him a little Cat Milk, or reg. milk? You never know...
post #12 of 23
My Pearl is skittish like that. Once she gets up the nerve to come in and join us though, she wants her petting and she wants it now, and for as long as she chooses to stay. She is a sweet cat, but was abused before I got her, and at 5 years old is still very timid. She does not pull her hair, but grooms vigorously, and has awful hairballs. She likes to be combed. Have you tried combing Max while you are interacting with him? Pearl is much more likely to be calm and unafraid while she is being combed. She has gotten much more social since we discovered she liked it.
post #13 of 23
He sounds very very nervous, and that can contribute to the overgrooming. You say when you pick him up, he freaks out and tries to get away. I think you should stop picking him up, just pet him when he comes to you.

Have you looked into any Bach flower remedies for stress? Try a search on this site, there is a lot of discussion about how these work to calm a nervous cat.
post #14 of 23
Hi Ari,

I just saw this- Go to www.littlebigcat.com and then click on the banner for Spirit Essence. They make several blends that will help Max with is hair pulling- which could be either from pain, from stress either in his life now, or his life before, or an allergy to the food you are giving him. Most cats who have had to endure some sort of trauma will be shy around people and skittish, scared of noises, or triggered by smells-
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your replies... it helps to know people at least understand.

Quick hi to Hobbester - long time no see!

krazy kat2 - Max doesn't mind being combed, although it does kinda make him nervous when we start. But he loves it, you can hear him purring a mile away... perhaps we should come him more often and see if that would help.

Sammie5 - I don't really pick up Max that often, he's a big cat and his claws are sharp when he wants to get down! And half of the time, when I do pick him up, he's pretty calm... until he wants to get down and then he means it, you know? Oh and we used to use Back Rescue Remedy but when we ran out, I didn't notice any change so I never bought another one.

Hissy... thanks for the link, I'm off to research it. I hope something they have works... poor little guy, it makes me so angry that he must have been mistreated (in some form) before he came to us.
post #16 of 23
Ari - I'm so sorry, poor little Max.

6 months is not so long for this kitty - how old was he when he came to you? Tippy was a super anxious kitty when we brought her home. She was undersocialised as a kitten, she had not seen other kitties for a long time (no-one knows how long) and was terrified of them and of humans too.

When we went to pick her up from the shelter she was hiding under a cat bed because she was so scared of the other kitties in her pen with her.

We were warned that it would take her a long long time to get over this. Although she settled with us very quickly, she would run and hide at the slightest thing. She couldn't stand faces near her and any hand going towards her face would send her scurrying. She was 12 weeks when we got her.

She was about 5 or 6 when we got Felicity. That really helped her and over the years she has settled down a lot. She is much calmer now and loves to have a fuss. It takes a long time but they do get there.

I know it is such a shame when they are so frightened - but giving him a loving stable home as I know you will be doing, is the best medicine for him.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Max is actually not a kitty anymore, he's a big boy - about 7 years old now, so we got him when he was about 6 and a half years old.

Poor Tippy... so sad! I'm glad she's adjusted now... did it really take her 5 years? Do you think it'll take Max that long?
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkdaisy226
Max is actually not a kitty anymore, he's a big boy - about 7 years old now, so we got him when he was about 6 and a half years old.

Poor Tippy... so sad! I'm glad she's adjusted now... did it really take her 5 years? Do you think it'll take Max that long?
Oh yes - it really took her that long. In fact, some of her skitty habits she has only gotten over this year when Lily and Adelaide decided she was going to have a friend that wanted to sleep right next to her like it or not.

It might not take Max that long - Adelaide made tremendous progress in just 4 months and the Vet reckoned she was between 4 and 6 years. But if they have suffered over a long period of time, I guess it takes the poor kitties a long time to get over all that has happened to them. Learning to trust completely once again must be so difficult.
post #19 of 23
I've had Bailey for 2 1/2 years, she was around 3 or 4 when I got her. I still see progress from month to month.

I would look at the small signs of progress you are making with him, and then it won't seem such a daunting task. As for struggling to get away, I understand what you mean. It would be an accomplishment for you to "read" when he has had enough, and put him down before he has to struggle.

It's all a matter of trust, I think. And a few short months in the poor cat's life is not a very long time.
post #20 of 23
aw! poor max! I hope it all gets figured out soon and he breaks out of that behavior!!!

Good luck, Ari, and let us know how it goes!

post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkdaisy226
lately, every time I look at him I want to just hold him real tight and tell him everything's ok. Of course, when I DO do that, he freaks out and tries to get away.
I so understand that feeling Ari. I am the same with Cedar - just want to hold him to reassure them that they are safe and loved but of course he wants out of my arms.

I do hope the routine will help Max, it sounds like its a possiblity that it could.
I still see progress with Cedar - as others have mentioned, sometimes it just takes time and Max may have alot to deal with being 6 when he came to you, who knows what happened to him in those 6 years.

I feel for you my friend, and if I find some answers for Cedar I will most certainly let you know what is working and what isnt
post #22 of 23
I adopted Bam-bam a male black and white from my sister-in-law. He was so scared of everybody that would come around that he would hide. I think in 7 yrs. I had only seen him twice. He came to live with me about 1 yr ago he still hides from strangers but will come out sometimes while people are still here. My sister-in-law worked alot and was rarely around to give any attention. He seemed to be "love starved" as I call it when it was just me and him he could not get enough attention. He does not like to be picked up and held but will come to me and lay in my lap on his own. He has bonded to me and is extremely loving and sweet. Keep your routine of one on one attention as it will help him to trust you. Every living thing needs be touched to be happy and healthy. Hopefully it will help with his pulling too. Hang in there!
post #23 of 23
Cats have such looong memories - he may well be stressed from an incident. It never occured to me till now but I wonder if cats suffer from post traumatic stress. (I myself am required after my "tours" with Doctors without Borders to attend post traumatic stress counselling - we see such horrible things, the most cruel injuries poeple inflict on each other in the name of religion, their nationality or some other cause. One needs to really believe there is good in people to do that work! I work with the children and NO child should go thru any of that!)


Anyway - sorry to digress. I wonder, as Hissy suggsted, Rescue Remedy would work. It surely helps my YY when she has to go to the V-E-T or on an airplane trip to Florida. Also, feliway might help Max too. I've read it gets great results with ocd in kitties. (if I can label it that - hate to label anyone, feline or human).

Good luck with Max. It does take time - our family had a cat we rescued as kitten from a park where she had been dumped from a moving vehicle and she never really trusted too many people. She hid when anyone - even people she had met before who were kind and petted her or gave her treats. And she was not to be found when it was bedtime but at night, she'd crawl in next to me under the covers and nestle next to my side. I swear she had nightmares - she was jumpy in her sleep (tho YY is sometimes like that too and it seems not uncommon) and she would settle down when I petted her or talked to her. She did not like to be picked up but once I sat down, she would jump into my lap or sometimes on my arm, it had to be her choice and on her terms.

She rarely meowed and we wondered if her former so called "companions" had hurt her for meowing. She did learn to meow for food tho and would be quite insistent, lol

So maybe Max had some bad exoeriences and the best thing yuou can do is love him to pieces, try some Feliway or Rescue Remedy (I am not the biggest proponent of anti anxiety meds for kitties with chronic probs like this - do the benefits outweigh the risks and adverse effects and shanges in personality and usually they don't and will the cat become dependent on the med just to have a nornal life? Better to develop it gradually. Rescue Remedy is an essence so is not a drug in the sense we know of medications.

Good luck!! And I'll send some good vibes to Max!
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