or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › HELP or my cat will be finding a new home!!!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

HELP or my cat will be finding a new home!!!

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Hi there,

I'm new to the forums but am desperate for some help. My wife and I picked out a 4 year old female gray/white cat from our local shelter about 3 weeks ago. She (Cleo is her name) was a stray on the streets of Pittsburgh. By her thin looks and slightly dirty stained paws (white fur) it looked like she spent at least a few weeks out there. She had been in the shelter for about 10 days prior to us taking her home. Anyway, she came home with a respiratory cold, which we quickly addressed with our vet who gave us medication for her. Through the first two weeks of having her in the house, she slept a lot - rarely being awake for more than a half hour at a time and sleeping for as long as 7 or 8 hours at a time. We attributed this mostly to being sick. In the last week however, she has come around and seems to be 100% healthy.

Let me give you some background now. My wife is a major cat lover and comes from her parents house where she grew up and lived with 3 cats. She couldn't wait to get this one and loves her to death. I have never owned a cat, and really not had much more experience with them other than to interact with the 3 that she/her parents live with. I've been very open minded about getting a cat for us and am actually enjoying having Cleo around - she's great, most of the time. She is a very sweet and loving cat, who appears to fear nothing and is very curious. She warmed right up to us and to our house (we broke her in slowly, a room at a time). She does not hesitate to jump up on our laps (which my wife loves of course) and is always looking for attention. Strange thing about her - she NEVER wants to play, at all and she could care less about cat nip. We keep her fed, give her treats, and give her all of the attention that we can possibly give her.

Now for the problem, she is incredibly rebellious after we go to bed at night or when we might have to ignore her when she wants our attention. It started out with scratching the couch (she only does it when we ignore her - it's not a claw maintenance thing). We've corrected her with a spray bottle and yelled at her to stop. We shown her her scratch post, but she never uses it. From there, it escalated into carpet soiling (even though she is well trained to use the litter box, as is evident by her actions when we are awake!). Now she has begun scratching at doors and is opening kitchen cabinets, room closets, crying in the middle of the night, etc. Last night she was literally banging on the cabinet doors, on top of the refridgerator (she never even attempts to get onto the kitchen counter tops, let alone the fridge, when we are awake during the day). It just doesn't stop and she'll continue to do it even after corrected. As far as frequency of this behavior? Pretty much every night now since she's been healthy. She does not do these things, to our knowledge, while we are not home. It only seems to be when we are home and having to ignore her. My job involves rotating shifts, and I have been home during the day since we got her - my wife is home at night with her - so it's not like Cleo is home by herself all day either.

Because of all of this, it's tough to sleep at night, not knowing what she's going to do next. We're a young couple, just getting started and are trying to update our house/buy new furniture and cannot deal with the potential of her tearing our house apart. What makes it so incredibly difficult to deal with is her pleasant, loving personality that we see during the day. We both agree that we have never met a cat so friendly and loving - which is what makes this so difficult to understand and deal with.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with this? As of last night's incident, I was ready to take her back to the shelter this morning - but we both really want to keep her. Please help!

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 42
Please don't take her back. Is she spayed? Please also put away the squirt bottle and don't yell at her anymore. Yelling causes cats to stress out, stress causes them to usually have UTI because the bladder is the target organ for stress. Your cat sounds ill and should go to the vet first and foremost to rule out illness.
post #3 of 42
Mike...first, I would take your cat in to see whether she has a UTI (Urinary Tract infective) which are painful and can cause litterbox avoidance.

Here is a good article on teaching cats to scratch appropriately:


Also...given her history as a stray, I'm not surprized that she wants attention at all hours. Some ideas to try: food right before you go to bed, some type of activity (I know you said she doesn't like toys...but what about string...what about a feather toy) find something that you can engage her in for 30 minutes of intense "play".

Another thing...I know this is going to be hard...but what about "ignoring" her....I know she is trying to get your attention..but when you give her negative attention...perhaps she is reading that as better than no attention at all.

An option (although one that I would only use as a last resort) is to confine her during the night to one room. That is what my parents did with our cat who loved to "explore" during the evenings. They used the laundry room as the cat room and at night...there was a litterbox and food/water in that room. Again..it isn't ideal...but if you love this cat and there are no other solutions proposed...you could try it.

post #4 of 42
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by hissy
Please don't take her back. Is she spayed? Please also put away the squirt bottle and don't yell at her anymore. Yelling causes cats to stress out, stress causes them to usually have UTI because the bladder is the target organ for stress. Your cat sounds ill and should go to the vet first and foremost to rule out illness.
Thanks for the quick reply! Yes, she is spayed. If you don't mind me asking, what illness could cause such affectionate, normal behavior during the day yet such rebellion at night??? Thanks again!
post #5 of 42
Cats are nocturnal creatures. They start getting really active at dusk. She may be acting out out of boredom. Does she have a lot of toes? Activities to keep her entertained. You may want to try have a really good play session right before bed to get her tired out. After awhile this will switch her sleeping/playing schedule more into line with your hours. When she starts being rebellious you could try distracting her with a toy, string etc.

Please don't get rid of her. You've done a wonderful thing rescuing a kitty. Don't give up yet!
post #6 of 42
You know what would help tremendously with the need for constant attention?

Getting another cat.

My cat, Leo, has separation anxiety...sounds like this might be the case here, too. It sounds like she is DESPERATELY trying to get your attention. When I added my 2nd cat, all of the anooying behavior and even the attacks (that he was executing to initiate play with me) stopped virtually immediately.

Another thing that worked moderately well was to play really hard with him around dinner time...that's when they start getting active....or I tried to keep him up during the day. That way, he was all tired out at night!
post #7 of 42
Your kitty may be experiencing love and affection for the first time in her life, and will therefore want it as much as she can get it! It's no surprise to me that she doesn't want to be left out alone at night. I got Opal a month ago, and she is still wanting to be held 24/7 and has no interest in playing with me or with my other cat. I don't think she got a lot of lovin' at her breeder's home, but I don't know. I just know that she likes it a lot!

I don't blame you for wanting a break. That's why I got her in the first place, because my other cat is the same way. If you love on her uninterrupted for a while before bed, maybe she will get her fill. Also, if you feed her before bed, she might be full and feel like sleeping. I've found that giving her attention for at least half an hour with no interruptions, will calm her down and she won't be so frantically trying to get loving all night.

Does she have a bed to get cuddly in on her own? If she is sleepy, she might sleep in it if you put her in it when she falls asleep. Something cuddly that makes her feel safe would be good.

You shouldn't yell at her, because she doesn't understand, and it might cause her to be frightened of loud noises. Right now she doesn't have much to be scared of, and you want to keep it like that.

good luck
post #8 of 42
Getting another cat is not always the answer. You don't want to take a behavioral problem and add to it by adding another cat, until you figure out where the problem is stemming from. This cat could be ill. She could be stressed by the waterbottle, by the yelling. When cats get stressed they get sick, and their bladder is the first thing that is affected.

They are nocturnal creatures yes, but until the health issue is ruled out, you don't move forward into the behavior plane. You must find out if the cat is sick first, because if she is, there is no amount of behavioral modification that will "cure" her.
post #9 of 42
I wouldn't give up yet. If you return her to the shelter, she may not get adopted again. I know it can be hard, but from what you tell us, she sounds like a really affectionate wonderful cat. Have you looked into Soft Paws Nail Caps? Using Soft Paws would stop the ruining of your furniture while you try to sort things out. Check out www.softpaws.com

Does she like her litter box? Twitch made a point of taking a big messy poo in the middle of my bedroom. She was letting me know that she didn't fit in her litterbox very well anymore. She had been using the box, so I never noticed she didn't like it.

Can you baby proof your house? They make clasps for cupboards. We have tacky folding chairs(I like them there ) in front of the bi-fold doors to out closets.

Before Lily, Twitch & I go to bed, I lay down on the floor with a "special" food(Roayl Canin adult-they only get it as treats, therefore it is special). I pet Lily to her hearts content while feading her a bite of food at a time. I play with her a little when she is done getting petted.

Does Cleo only want to sleep with you? Lily will scream bloody murder if she doesn't get to sleep in the bedroom with a person. She absolutely hates being alone & she knows that I am there.

There are tons of possiblities as to why Cleo does what she does. There are also many ways to prevent some of her beahaviors & to work with her. She sounds like such a wonderful kitty that I would give her many more chances before I give up.

And, like hissy said, you should look into having her checked by a vet. There was a healthy looking kitty in the HS I volunteer at that had a severe infection. She looked outwardly healthy & acted normal, so no one thought to have her checked by a vet.

Good Luck and remember, Cleo loves you!
post #10 of 42
I agree that you need more time. After you have checked out that her health is okay, a program of playing with her will reallyhelp her settle in for the night. I also suggest some cat furniture with scratching surfaces. My cat has a tree, a tunnel and a table covered in sisal with padded cubbies and little angly toys to swat at. I put severa sisal rugs down on my carpetting and played with her near them, even modeled scratching with my own nails and she took to it really well. then i stapled some to vertical surfaces so she can get a full body stretch. she hasn't scartched ever on a piece of furniture because the sisal and rope surfaces are so much more fun.

I also keep my cat in a guest suite at night so she doesn't have the run of the whle house. she has plenty of toys and her food and water and litter boxes there, plus plenty of places to climb and perch and even watch night life from the windows. she is always happy to see me in the morning but she doesn't cry and resist bedtime either.

Try everything you can to keep her and love her. And i never found that squirting her or shouting ever was a sensible thing to do. I use distraction and affection and treats to get her to comply. dogs might work with shout, but not a cat.
post #11 of 42
There are many possible explanations for your kitty's behaviour. Cats are complex and many faceted creatures that function according to their own philosophies for the most part, but are a great joy to have around when you try understand them.

First, as previously suggested, start at the vet and make sure that she doesn't have a physical problem causing her restlessness. My first thought was that she wasn't speutered, but you said that she was already fixed. I would try to verify that fact if possible and treat any illness that may be discovered.

Second, if this kitty has been on the streets on her own for a while, she may be very independent and exhibit dominant characteristics. Cat are independent creatures by nature, but make wonderful companions when you accept them for what they are. Since, she was sick for the first couple of weeks, this last week of exploration and manipulation may just be her coming to terms with her new environment. She will probably establish one special area as "hers". My top cat, Peter, has two favorite spots that he hardly ever leaves - the top of the entertainment cabinet and in front of the heating stove in the kitchen. Pete's buddy, Snow, favors the top of the freezer. Just bear with her as she settles.

Third, I would make sure that she doesn't have a physical problem or serious behavioural issues before bringing another cat into the mix. If time reveals that she is lonely and maybe yearning for feline companionship, then by all means get another kitty. Two, usually, aren't much more difficult to care for than one. And another kitty can often bring balance and harmony to your household (it did mine), but there are exceptions to every rule. Just be prepared. Adding a cat to your home is like adding a new family member.

Fourth, time, time, time... Please, don't get frustrated with your otherwise sweet kitty and give up. Just give it some time. She may settle down and be your best friend. Or she may just need time to adjust to living in a house and not on the street, fending for her very life and scratching up her next meal. You have done a good thing by giving her a good safe home! Good luck and God bless.

PS - Oh and feeding before bedtime is another good idea that I saw someone else mention here. Really, cuts down onthe night time begging.
post #12 of 42
Thread Starter 
Wow, lots of great info everyone, thank you!!! We've made another vet appointment for early next week and we're going to try many of the suggestions that you all offered. I'll be sure to post back up with her progress (hopefully) in a few days.

After reading your thoughts and keeping a closer eye on her, we're thinking a UTI might be possible. Just 10 minutes ago, she came up to her spot on the carpet (which we've now covered with aluminum foil), whined, and then went in and used her litter box. Also, just before she has soiled the carpet, we've seen her acting very strange (running to the corner of the room and then just stopping there for a few seconds and we've also seen her running around like an idiot). Maybe she's jumpy from pain from a UTI? We'll see what the vet has to say I guess.

Again, thank you all for your help and vast knowledge!
post #13 of 42
Originally Posted by Purr
Your kitty may be experiencing love and affection for the first time in her life, and will therefore want it as much as she can get it!
That's as insightful a comment as I've ever heard on this site. I absolutely agree that illness has to be ruled out first, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is exactly what's going on.

For over two years, I thought my Clyde was hungry all the time, because he kept nuzzling around me so insistently at all hours, day and night... so I would dutifully go feed him a little something, and he'd be back again in less than an hour.

But now I realize that what he wants is ME! He's just an incredibly loving kitty, and wants my affection and reassurance all the time. No matter what I'm doing, he finds a way to get close, give me little kisses, and elicit some scritching and quiet kittytalk from me.

A lovely problem to have! :-)
post #14 of 42
I noticed you use the word 'correct' in reference to modifying your cat's behavior. My suggestion is that rather than trying to correct her, as you would a dog, try reinforcing good behavior. Dogs respod well to correction because of their drive to please us. Cats are motivated to please themselves, and negative reinforcement will only scare or stress the cat as the other posters have said. Your cat wants to please herself by getting your attention. What you want to do is give her attention when she is doing the right thing, thereby rewarding and reinforcing good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. Also remember that you have really only had her a short time, so perhaps these behaviors will subside with time as well, once she is completely adjusted. Good luck, and please let us know how everything turns out.
post #15 of 42
About scratching.

You can't teach them how to use a scratch pole by force. The worst thing you can do is put a cat on top of scratch post and forse scratch it with her paws. It's like telling a professional how to do his or her job, they'll only tell you off. Same with cats. The best you can do is just put the scratch post out there in the open and leave it. Most cats will prefer it to your furniture. If they don't, you can (very patiently and lovingly) guide them to their scratch post by dragging along a toy on a string. I am sure there is something that can catch her interest. Some cats like little mice on a string, some like feathers on a stick, etc. You might want to get one of those lazer beams, I can't imagine a cat not be attracted to it. You might also want to trim your cat's nails, do it when she is cozy sitting in your lap. She won't damage your furniture as much.

And yes, if you yell, she might see it as attention and will do the very thing that anoys you just to get the negative attention, since it's better to her than nothing. Chichi did it to me when she was a kitten. Drove me nuts, then I learned to just ignore it and accept that sometimes she'll be doing those things, like crawl behind TV, jump around on the couch etc. She cut down on that.

You might want to try ignoring her whenever she is "acting out" and giving her affection and love when she is just sitting around minding her business. That way she'll learn being more independent. Where does she sleep? Do you let her in your bedroom to sleep with you or do you close the door?
post #16 of 42
Be certain she's healthy.

Try not to yell at her (or swat her); it'll only make her mad/scared/defiant. However, there's nothing wrong with squirt bottles as long as it's clear to her why she's getting punished.

Our cat behaves similarly - He bangs cabinets, but ONLY if we're ignoring him. It was annoying enough at night that we now let him in the room with us. He has his own nest that he retreats to once we push him away or move too much, and everyone's happy. It also helps to feed him at night (full belly = more satisfied kitty) and to play long and hard with him just before bed so he's tired. The more you keep her moving during the day, the less energy she'll have to misbehave when she's feeling neglected.
post #17 of 42
When or if you find out that this is a UTI- you will be ahead of the game to throw out the old litterpans she is using and bring in new ones. A lot of the time, the cat will associated the pan with the PAIN and will avoid the litter pan that hurt her in the first place. Tossing out the offending pan just makes your life easier because there will be no more litter pan accidents as the predator pan is now gone.
post #18 of 42
You've gotten lots of good advice here. I would also suggest you get one of the enzyme based carpet cleaners and clean up the spot where she's urinated on the carpet or she'll continue to go back to it, even if there's foil over it. Also, she may be stressing from all the quiet so maybe a water fountain will help create some noise and Comfort Zone or Feliway difuser will help with the stress.

post #19 of 42
And I strongly disagree with using the water bottle as a discipline tool. Cats do not respond well to discipline, they are not dogs. You redirect their behavior, they act by instinct and are not trying to upset you in doing so.
post #20 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks again to everyone - just to mention, she does have her own bed, which she LOVES! Also, we do provide positive reinforcement all of the time!

That aside, things just took a major turn for the worse. We were out shopping for two hours and we left her in our spare bedroom with the door closed as was suggested. She is familiar with this room as her litter box is there and she sleeps on the bed from time to time. We left her some water, toys, etc. We came home to find the carpet shredded at the door - she was trying to scratch her way out apparently. That's obviously nothing that will be fixed by trimming her claws! We were only gone for two hours!! I plan to leave her in there tonight while we are sleeping, god only knows what she'll do. By the way, we did not do anything to try to correct her or tell her what she did wrong - figuring that it had been too long since it happened to provide negative reinforcement. I'm trying to have patience
post #21 of 42
Get one of those plastic door mats and place it over the carpeting at the doorways of the rooms in which she will be confined. It will save your carpet.
post #22 of 42
Not sure what to think. However if she was on the streets, she would be more active at nite - and maybe she had to fight for everything on the street - so its like claiming territory, etc.

Can you try keeping her in one room at nite? Remember you've only had her 3 weeks - it might be a big adjustment, but sounds like you've done everything right so far. Give her time.

BTW not EVERY cat is responsive to catnip.
post #23 of 42
post #24 of 42
Try putting the soft paws nail covers on her, that will save her from shredding your home.
post #25 of 42
It does sound as if you are trying everything you can! But one other thought. How many litter boxes does she have? she should have at least two, as most cats do not like to pee and poop in the same place. On behaviour, this cat is a bit like a child who has been abused and is trying to test its new home. She has suddenly found warmth, food, affection and she wants all of it at once but may not know how to deal with it. It is hard on adoptive parents with any new creature, human or other, as we never know what the back circumstances are. Good luck, I hope you work it out.
post #26 of 42
and have you gotten feliway? also a tv on can be helpful or even a cd playing.
does she have things to lay on that have your smell? is her litter box super super clean?
post #27 of 42
Wow youve gotten alot of advice here. I hope your able to get to the bottom of your kittys stress. It sounds like your doing all the things you should be. Make sure you let us know what the vet says when you go.
I also use a squirt bottle and Stormy KNOWS what the squirt bottle means and now all we have to do it point it at her and say in a normal voice......Stormy No and she immediately stops. The only reason I ever use the squirt bottle was for jumping to where she should not be and the very beginning with scratching. For the crying we ignored it and after about a week it has mostly stopped. It used to be every PM and early AM and now its the occasional AM but thats it and we still just ignore her and she stops after a few minutes. Stormy hates to be wet so the bottle worked well for us. As for scratching she also learned quickly where she can and cant scratch but that was with the normal voice saying NO as well. WE just talk sternly when we say it. The bottle didnt hurt her in any way and shes still just as much a loving girl as shes always been.
Keep us posted........
post #28 of 42
Please keep us updated on Cleo. You have done a wonderful thing by adopting her and giving her a loving home and I am sure in time she will realize this. Hopefully you can be tolerant of her while she realizes what a wonderful family you are!
post #29 of 42
It can take adopted kitties a long time to settle down and feel safe and loved again. You can understand the fears that your kitty must have, knowing that she has probably trusted before and then been hurt or frightened, probably more than once, and they do say `Once bitten twice shy'. I someimtes think it's because animals don't understand what happens to them and why, that they can take so long to recover from mistreatment. However, if you show consistency to her - in your praise and positive reinforcement, as well as in your routine, your rules and your boundaries, this is the quickest way to establish trust and relaxation in your kitty.

Cats are creatures of habit, they thrive on it and they don't like change. Think of all the turmoil this poor kitty has been through in her young life, and how much worse that will make it for her if you find you are unable to cope and have to hand her back.

I had a kitty just like yours, my Cairo. I couldn't stand her after a while she was such a difficult little cat, and showed nothing to me in return for my care but fear and mistrust. But I perservered, because she had won my heart the first day I laid eyes on her and no one else was prepared to do what it took with her, and after about a year she was a different cat. Affectionate, loving, sweet - still a bit skittish (and she still is, seven years later) but the bond I have with her is unbreakable. She trusts me like no other, will come to me where she'll run from anyone else, she loves me with all her heart and I feel the same way about her.

Stick with this little kitty. Remember her trauma and pain, and how she is desperately trying to find a family to love her. She doesn't know how to behave until you teach her, and you have done such a kind and wonderful thing by taking her in and spending your time and money on her with the vet visits etc, she will become a wonderful companion whose love you will experience like no other. It is well worth it, I promise, if you can just hang in there.

Good on you, and good luck.
post #30 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks again to everyone, as mentioned, there is a TON of great advice here. Well, things have improved a bit on the behaviors I guess, but more because of us limiting her space while we sleep and also because of these wonderful inventions - SOFT PAWS! The claw caps have ended all of her destruction, though she is still trying to scratch at the carpet/door when we leave her in the separate bedroom by herself. We'll deal with the behavior as it continues to happen, but I feel better knowing that I won't wake up to more shredded carpet and doors that have been torn apart.

That said, she is still crying all night long - for a few minutes almost every hour during the night. Her new thing is to scratch and kick her litter box apart. I know cats can enjoy digging in their boxes, but being that the room she is in is right above the one we sleep in, I can hear her in there for 10 minutes at a time just going nuts with it - as opposed to her normal visit that is less than a minute normally.

All of this aside, I took her to the vet this morning and things are not good. This vet is VERY good, she has come recommended by many and we actually used to take our dog to her (the dog had to be put to sleep at 15 years of age just last year). She thought Cleo was completely healthy initially. I explained all of her behavior issues and the vet agreed a UTI couldn't be ruled out but she highly doubted it based on what she was seeing/I was telling her. She did the urine test anyway just to be sure. I got a call back with the results after I got home. Negative on the UTI, no issues. What IS of issue is that her concentration of urine is extremely low compared to what's normal for a cat. According to her, this is attributed to partial kidney failure, which is common with older cats? I obviously told her that we were told that the best guess was that Cleo was 4 years old. The vet said this type of problem normally only shows up in cats that are 10+ years old. The youngest that she had only ever seen/treated was one single cat that was 6 years old! She explained to me that the shelters basically make a guess as to the age of the cat when they get a stray - based on the condition of the cat's teeth and health/size/activeness overall. She admitted that it's a guess at best, and seems to think that Cleo is a good bit older than we first thought.

Bottom line - Cleo is in no pain as of right now. The Vet confirmed her belief of kidney failure when she asked how much water Cleo drinks (up to 2 small bowls per day). She said this is typical of a cat with kidney failure. She (the vet) wants to do more bloodwork to try to determine how severe this kidney failure is - I'm going back with Cleo on Friday for that. As it relates to how this thread started - the Vet is completely sure that this is having no affect on Cleo's personality - she believes that Cleo's behavior issues are just who Cleo is. We can try to work with it but it may be tough to overcome.

I haven't really got into asking what's next, if in fact they confirm kidney failure and it's severity. She warned me that the blood test will only confirm a rather severe case, and that the urine test would actually pick up less developed cases - but she thinks the blood work is the place to go next. She also warned me that ultrasound and xrays would be the step after the bloodwork, depending on what they find in the blood. Here lies another problem - all of that work could cost $500+ and that is only to diagnose it! On top of that, we have a cat with behavior issues that we've only had for a month, AND we're now being told she could be 10+ years old! As I mentioned, we're a young couple just getting started and we certainly don't have the money to put into this, knowing that the bills could get to be insane after the diagnosis costs.

Need I say more? We're going to talk to the Vet more on Friday, but I'm a mix of in shock, sadness for Cleo, and uncertainty of how to handle what may be next. It's tough to ask for anymore help after all of the great info you've all given to us already, but does anyone have any comment as to what we should do now? We want to keep her, but not if her behavior does not change - but we can't give away a sick cat - but we can't afford all of the bills and treatment! What a situation!

Thanks again for everyone's help!!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Health
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › HELP or my cat will be finding a new home!!!