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Need advice desperately! (Need sleep!!)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
My poor husband and I have been dealing with this for about a year now. We have two cats- Sophie and Jack, and they're both about 2-2 1/2 years old, both were rescues off the road (Jack as a little kitten, and Sophie around a few months old). When we found Jack, he was so hungry and driven to eat anything in sight that we fell into a routine of feeding him four small meals each day. A lot of the time he inhales the food, hardly chewing the pieces!. Sophie is more of a grazer- she doesn't finish what's in her bowl most of the time, and we try to put the bowl up before Jack finishes it off, then we offer it to her throughout the day so she eats her full amount. I've never had a cat that had to be fed meals-they've always been free-choice feeders, and I'm sure Sophie would accept that fine, but Jack would eat until he exploded!

Ok, so Jack is such a fiend for food... The main problem is that he very obnoxiously wakes us up at all hours of the night and annoys us to try to get us up. He meows very loud, paws at our faces, makes rats-nests in my hair, (I know these aren't that obnoxious, but when it's all the time, it gets that way!) but worst of all, he'll clink at the blinds and knock things off the dresser. There is nothing worse than having to wake up to your picutres being knocked off and panicing because the glass might have broken, or having your light knocked onto your sleeping face.

Don't get me wrong, I'm the first person to defend a cat's behavior, and I absolutely cherish affection from any cat, but we've not had a full night of uninterrupted sleep in so long, and we're getting very frustrated with him! We can't lock him out of the room or he'll scratch/pound/pull at the door all night. Sometimes he will settle down pretty quickly and go to sleep, but other times he's waking us up every 30 minutes! Once he gets fed, if we go back to sleep, he's quiet for about 3 hours, then starts up again.

We've tried so hard not to feed him immediately after one of these episodes, but some times we're desperate, and my husband gives in sooner than I would have.

I guess at the end of this long story, my question is this- do you think switching him to a high fiber/weight management formula and feeding free choice would help? He is in perfect weight now, getting about 2/3 cup of Purina O.N.E. daily, spread out in 4 meals. I don't know how much he would consume if it was out free choice. I know Sophie would adapt to free choice right away, but can't leave food out for her without it getting eaten by Jack. Also any suggestions on how to convert from meals to free choice without upset tummies??

Again, sorry for the long post... we're just so tired and frustrated, but we adore our two kitties!!!
post #2 of 20
How about an automatic feeder, the type that dispenses food at set intervals?
post #3 of 20
Maybe your bedroom should be off limits at night. There are deterrants you can buy to put around the door to keep him away. You can put up packaging tape around the edges of the door since he won't want to scratch something stick. You can try putting foil down in front of the door but most likely they will just figure out how to move it. But mostly I'd look into commercial cat repellants, maybe teh kind that detect motion and make a sound or something.

I really think keeping him out of the bedroom will be the only way to sleep at night. Usually its kitten behavior and it goes away over time but if hes 2 then most likely hes in a habit and needs this habit broken.

Edit: You might make the bedroom off limits period. After a while a cat will get used to a closed door. But if the door is sometimes open and sometimes closed thats when they dislike the closed door and will scratch.
post #4 of 20
Sadly, you have created a monster, and this cat is spoiled now and set in his ways. I don't mean these comments in a bad way. I have many strays here, and they are spoiled too! When they have lived such a hard life on the street, it is our first inclination to make life as easy for them as possible, and inadvertently this means we spoil them.

You need to make your bedroom off limits to him. This can be accomplished in a matter of a few minutes, but before you place him in the other part of the house, you need to set that portion up for him so he will be happy. This means cat posts, cat condos, cat beds, food (automatic feeder or treat balls) litter pans and plenty of water.

Once you have a special section for him, park your vacuum outside your bedroom door. Turn the switch on. Run the cord under your door and near an outlet. The first time he hollers, or scratches at the door, plug the vaccum in just for a second. Then unplug-

If he does it again, run the vacuum a few seconds unplug. It really only takes about two times of this and the cat will go away and find other sleeping arrangements.

He sounds like a typical stray cat they do eat everything in sight, it is a programmed response because even though after all this time, you know food is coming again, he doesn't. Another way to break this cycle is to set him up on a food schedule and adhere to it rigidly. Don't feed except at scheduled times, once he gets a routine that doesn't deviate, he will relax and not be such a pest, then you can let him back in the bedroom-

There is also this article

http://www.thecatsite.com/Cats/Cat_B..._Crazies!.html
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
Once you have a special section for him, park your vacuum outside your bedroom door. Turn the switch on. Run the cord under your door and near an outlet. The first time he hollers, or scratches at the door, plug the vaccum in just for a second. Then unplug-
Wow thats a great idea! I'm going to stash that idea away anytime people have a similar problem .
post #6 of 20
Have you tried playing with them right before you go to sleep and really exhausting them? Also if you can get them to exercise more during the day when they would normally be sleeping (if you're not there you might try solo toys), then they'll have to sleep at night.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the information- here are my replies:
First, I thought about the timer cat feeder, but my fear is that I won't be able to monitor who's eating it all. Chances are, Jack would eat it all as soon as it opened, leaving Sophie with nothing... I guess there are ways I could get around it...

Second, I absolutely hate the idea of closing the kitties out at night! I know, I whine about these problems, then I don't want to hear the solutions! There is nearly nothing that makes me happier than a kitty cuddling up to me at night. I had it for years with my last kitty, Cinnamon, every night, she was such an angel, never ever causing trouble or irritating us at night! When we had to euthanize her October of last year, it was 2-3 months before I'd let these two kitties in the house. It was really hard, because I needed the cat in my bed to make things normal, but I wasn't ready to accept a new cat in the bed. Those were really hard months. I can't imagine not having them in there...

Jack does sleep nearly all day long, and comes alive around 7-8pm. I try to rile him up through the day so he'll sleep better at night, but nothing changes. I do try to play with them before bed, but Jack usually loses interest after about 5-10 minutes... maybe I need to get some more exciting toys????

Has anyone had any luck converting a cat like Jack into a free-choice feeder on a high fiber/weight management diet??? I don't know, he'd probably still do these things, maybe just to a lesser extent...

Thanks again for the help, sorry I'm such a whiny-pants!
post #8 of 20
In that case you need to look into cat proofing. Get the pictures frames stuck down really good using sticky poster adhesive (used to ptu posters up without putting holes in the walls). Consider the pull-down blinds or some kind of material curtains instead of venetian blinds (I'm guessing thats what you have, our cats want us to wake up, they will rattle the blinds and climb in and out of them, saying Get Up!). I can't change my blinds since I'm in an apartment but I'm determined to have all of my windows have vertical blinds when I have my own place. That way the cats can still look out with minimal noise.
post #9 of 20
No need to apologize, you have understandable concerns What will work best for your kitty will certainly depend on his personality.

I think that perhaps it would be a good idea to feed him less times per day. Currently he is used to getting food every few hours so the middle of the night seems a natural time for another meal. Your kitty seems like mine though so if you just feed one meal then he will gobble it all down and look starved for the rest of the day, this will make it difficult when you are having dinner and they are not! I would feed them twice a day, once in the morning when you are having breakfast, and once in the evening when you are having dinner.

Oh, and like Solarity says, you need to try to have everyting cat-proofed at night so you won't have a reason to get up. Then NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE BOTHERS YOU BOTH, neither one of you should get up and feed him until you are good and ready to get up and start your day (he will learn even faster if you don't get up at all except to use the bathroom). If you give in and feed him in the wee hours, then he will keep waking you in the middle of the night. So YOU BOTH MUST NOT GIVE IN.

As for toys, make sure you don't just leave them sitting around all the time or your kitties will get bored with them, hide them when your cats get bored and rotate with other ones. Get a variety of toys so the kitties can practice various hunting techniques. You might even try walking him (with a *very secure* harness and not just collar) if you live in a warm area.
post #10 of 20
With my cats, Valentine eats occasionally, while Blueberry the baby eats all the time and will go after Valo's food. So when Valo is ready to eat, I hold Blueberry or put him in the bathroom until Valo is done. I feed them wet at certain times of the day, but keep the dry bowl filled at night for anyone to pick on.

Behaviorally, you'll have to unteach Jack that he will get food when he wakes you...which means you can't give him food when he wakes you anymore. I would suggest closing the bedroom door while he is trained so he doesn't wake you and leaving a bowl of dry food out.
post #11 of 20
I have a automatic feeder that supplies constant flow of food. I have 3 cats and none of them are overweight or overeat. I kind of look at it like this, remember when you were a kid how you had a huge obsession for candy because you only got it once in a while? Now that you're an adult you can have candy whenever you want it but you don't eat it because it's not restricted. I'm not saying that this works on every cat but mine don't have a problem with it. I would give it a shot and monitor how much they're eating. I can always tell how much they're eating by how often I have to refill it
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
Sadly, you have created a monster, and this cat is spoiled now and set in his ways. I don't mean these comments in a bad way. I have many strays here, and they are spoiled too! When they have lived such a hard life on the street, it is our first inclination to make life as easy for them as possible, and inadvertently this means we spoil them.

You need to make your bedroom off limits to him. This can be accomplished in a matter of a few minutes, but before you place him in the other part of the house, you need to set that portion up for him so he will be happy. This means cat posts, cat condos, cat beds, food (automatic feeder or treat balls) litter pans and plenty of water.

Once you have a special section for him, park your vacuum outside your bedroom door. Turn the switch on. Run the cord under your door and near an outlet. The first time he hollers, or scratches at the door, plug the vaccum in just for a second. Then unplug-

If he does it again, run the vacuum a few seconds unplug. It really only takes about two times of this and the cat will go away and find other sleeping arrangements.

He sounds like a typical stray cat they do eat everything in sight, it is a programmed response because even though after all this time, you know food is coming again, he doesn't. Another way to break this cycle is to set him up on a food schedule and adhere to it rigidly. Don't feed except at scheduled times, once he gets a routine that doesn't deviate, he will relax and not be such a pest, then you can let him back in the bedroom-

There is also this article

http://www.thecatsite.com/Cats/Cat_B..._Crazies!.html
Hissy....you crack me up....BIG TIME!
I laughed so hard when I read this that I about peed my pants!
You are one really, REALLY smart cat-Lady!
Linda
post #13 of 20
Why not self feed at night? leave a big bowl of LITE dried food so he doesnt get fat but fills up. I would think that he will stop when he is full.
post #14 of 20
In that case then you need to ignore your cat. Sleep with a scarf over your hair or wear a shower cap if you have to. When he is banging things around, just ignore him.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks again, everyone, I really appreciate all the quick ideas!

I really like the idea of leaving a bowl out at night. Maybe it will just take a few days to figure out how much I have to leave out and how much he eats until he stop. I'm sort of curious to know anyway! He's quite the unique little man!

I do have venetian blinds, and currently rent, so not much option there. I can do better to cat-proof the room, which I think is another great idea.

I'll definately have to convince my hubby to be a little more stubborn though, as the positive reinforcement has not helped... Trouble is, he works an irregular schedule, where he works 3-4 days a week and has to get up at about 4:30am, other days we sleep in later, so I think it's been tough for Jack to really settle into a schedule... again, not much we can do about that! once a human is up, the kitty demands the food!

I have to admit, for all the annoyances, I really think it's cool that he has such a strong personality. It's like I can look at him and see the little wheels turning! I wish it was just easier to reason with him... Ah, for the days of the old lady kitty who just wants to cuddle on a warm lap and be loved on... I miss it!
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by touro1979
Why not self feed at night? leave a big bowl of LITE dried food so he doesnt get fat but fills up. I would think that he will stop when he is full.

Believe me not all cats stop when they are full...ecspecially strays....

Poppy would not only eat till she pops...but I think she would eat her own wasteif it was in her bowl......(ick)
post #17 of 20
I had a similiar problem. My kitten Loki was very shy when I got her and would let slightly older Mishka bully her. I left out dry cat food for them both and he gained weight and she became underweight. So I ended up feeding them twice a day. Which meant he gulfed down his food and then took hers unless I stopped him. So I bought two petsafe feeders. However, since the timers aren't the most reliable, they opened up within a half hour or so of each other. So it solved nothing.

Current Working Situation:
I bought a large tupperware box. Loki is alot smaller than Mishka (6 lbs versus 12 lbs, both full grown now) I cut a whole just big enough for her and leave food in it all the time while he gets fed by the timer dish. So he spends a good portion of the day trying to get it open. But, how many cats have a hobby like that?? Everyone laughs after I explain why I have a huge tupperware in my dining room but now I only get woke up at 6 am if the battery got knocked out by his intense opening sessions. (One of his meals is at 4ish am because despite all this, he insists and as long as it means I can sleep, who cares.

Don't know if this will help but hope it does. Good luck.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki
I had a similiar problem. My kitten Loki was very shy when I got her and would let slightly older Mishka bully her. I left out dry cat food for them both and he gained weight and she became underweight. So I ended up feeding them twice a day. Which meant he gulfed down his food and then took hers unless I stopped him. So I bought two petsafe feeders. However, since the timers aren't the most reliable, they opened up within a half hour or so of each other. So it solved nothing.

Current Working Situation:
I bought a large tupperware box. Loki is alot smaller than Mishka (6 lbs versus 12 lbs, both full grown now) I cut a whole just big enough for her and leave food in it all the time while he gets fed by the timer dish. So he spends a good portion of the day trying to get it open. But, how many cats have a hobby like that?? Everyone laughs after I explain why I have a huge tupperware in my dining room but now I only get woke up at 6 am if the battery got knocked out by his intense opening sessions. (One of his meals is at 4ish am because despite all this, he insists and as long as it means I can sleep, who cares.

Don't know if this will help but hope it does. Good luck.

Wow! I'd like to offer some applause! Now that's using the old noodle! Good on you! It's practical AND better than TV!
post #19 of 20
you may want to feed your two cats in two different areas. ie. one eats in the kitchen and one eats in teh bedroom. lock them there for 1/2 hr - 1 hr. so they are not able to eat each other's food.

and feed twice daily.
dont' worry about jack, he won't die becuz he doens't get food every 2 hours.

after a while he'll learn that when is his breakfast / dinner time and you get to monitored both cat's eating habbits.

hehe i think the hardest part is for you to ignore him while he's begging you for food

i once read from somewhere that "humans r suckers to the four leg beggars" i think it's absolutely true.
post #20 of 20
Thanks Linda- I just learned over the years to listen to my cats and they already think the vacuum is a big scary monster, so just parking it outside the door is enough to let them reconsider their sleeping arrangements. Plus no yelling on the cat owner's part, no squirting water, no teed off cat, just peace and quiet until the owner gets up at night and stumbles over the vacuum in the dark because she forgot it was there!
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