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'mad' cat and mom need help

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
It's been over a year since my Frisky died and I have visited the forums.
My husband and I brought a two month old kitty (we call her Molly) into our home recently and are experiencing some behavior problems that neither of us can figure out. I've never been without a cat in the home for more that a year at a time and always raised them from kittens so I'm not totally unexperienced BUT ...
Here's our problem . . .
Molly seems to be a prefectly normal kitten from around 11AM until 9PM. During this time she eats, sleeps, exercises/plays, nips and chews like you would expect from any normal kitten. Sometimes she takes the chewing to extremes, especially when it comes to electrical wires. I had to 'board off' all acess to the wires to my pc and had to resort to the water spray bottle when she chewed through the speaker wires to our stereo. I figured 'better a fine spray of water in the face than an electrical shock from chewing through something more dangerous'. Unfortunately the spray bottle hasn't proven effective. She just goes back to the chewing after a bit. She also makes a mad dash for ANY MOVING body part. I've tried shaking my finger at her and saying 'NO!' but she then just tries to jump at my finger.
The WORST part is after mid evening. It is like a switch is turning on and she turns into a completely different cat.

From mid evening Molly will start running around the house 'like a wild cat'. Anything in her path can be a victim of destruction ... shoes, tableclothes, books etc. At nightime we have to shut her up in the bathroom with her bed, food and litterbox (it is a big bathroom so they are well seperated). Otherwise we would wake with distinct claw marks across our face. I'm trying to establish this 'lock up' routine as a lifestyle pattern rather than a pinish but she isn't making that easy.
During this wild time her eyes are dilated and she has a frantic look as she races around. Nothing seem to work as a deterrent. The usual things that work during the daytime seem to make her more agitated during the nightime.
I've discovered that her previous owner would pet Molly on the belly until (and beyond) she started clawing. That probably explains her obession with jumping at moving body parts.
I also know that she was the only surviving kitten from her litter. Her Mom was attaked by an owl while pregneant and serverely hurt. She managed to deliver two kittens alive and of the two only Molly survived. Could her wild behavior be the result of her mom's troublesome pregneancy and delivery.
I know you can't give a diagnosis but was wondering if anyone here has had any similar expereinces and can offer any suggestions.
When I look at Molly napping on the chair beside me (it's mid afternoon) she is a 'purrfect' angel. She is a gorgeous kitten and has a nice temperment during the daytime. My husband and I are desperate as to what to do to help her overcome her nightime madness and help her adapt to the new home.
Any suggestions are more than welcome.

And I'm sure Molly will thank you too.
post #2 of 8
I don't know about the midnight madness, but as far as chewing cords you can try a few things to discourage this. If you are home when she chews, try making a loud noise, such as shaking a can with a few pennies in it or flapping a sheet of tin foil. She will start associating her action with the bad noise, and you stay the good Mommy she can run to for protection. Of course, this only works if you can consistently catch her.

For when you are not home, you can wrap the cords in tape, sticky side out or with double-sided tape. Use something non-toxic with a strong citrus smell and spray it in the areas of the cords, or get some bitter apple stuff from the pet supply store and rub it on the cords.

I know this doesn't answer your main question, but I hope this helps with one of your concerns.
post #3 of 8
"I'm trying to establish this 'lock up' routine as a lifestyle pattern rather than a punishment"

Excellent -- I think this is really key! Most things you mentioned sound typical kitten behavior. . . Molly sounds like a cat that would not learn from things that she perceives as punishment, and instead it would probably wind her up even more.


1) 11am - 9pm -- Play with her, love her, cuddle with her -- all those things you have been doing already.

2) Night time -- as you have already done -- simply put her in her kitty safe room and never open it till morning. If you open it once because of excessive meowing, she will learn that if she simply meows long enough, you will let her out. Don't do it.

(My 11 year old had her own bedroom (laundry room) for many years until she was less hyper. She is the neatest kitty in the world even though she was quite a handful early on.)

3) With her appetite for body parts -- never offer your bare body parts to kitty -- whether in play or to say No, etc. Play with Molly only with toys. If she ever grabs any body part, simply squeak as if you were hurt and immediately stop playing or walk away - - whichever gives her the message better.

Good luck -- you sound like a great kitty mommy

PS Cats are by nature nocturnal. By putting Molly in her own room at during the nighttime crazies, you will be making great strides in adjusting her body clock so that she will sleep during your sleeping hours, and interact (hopefully appropriately!) during your waking hours.
post #4 of 8
I wish I could be of more help, but I think you're aready doing the right thing. My two cats get wound up and have a game of "catch me if you can" every evening, and usually at least one in the middle of the night until I say "No, no, babies." They are very obedient kitties, the most obedient I've ever had. I think that's because they're Siamese. Of course, they are the first Siamese I've had, but they have other distinct traits.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions and the vote(s) of confidence. I know a cat with this much spirit must have a lot of heart ... and I'm desperate to break the behavior pattern without breaking the spirit.
We're both crossing our fingers (paws) and hoping that establishing alternative behavior patterns and the passing of time will make a difference.
By the way, does anyone out there know of any safe and/or alternative methods for flea control. I'm a bit concerned of using the chemical treatments on such a young kitten but would like to take her outside (on a leash of course) occassionally.
Thanks from Molly and me.
post #6 of 8
If possible, you could introduce another kitty into the household, this will give molly a playmate and someone else she can bounce off of besides you. As far as the finger play, have a small stuffie that you can give the kitty instead when she goes for your fingers, and don't shake your finger at kitty she will look at that as a threat and your fingers turn into her prey. You can blow gently into her face, distract her by a loud noise. I had one kitty that I ended up just wearing a whistle around my neck and when he got really out of control, I would blow the whistle and startle him out of his behaviour.
post #7 of 8
Hi--as some of you already know I have two 3 month old Siamese kittens. So far, they haven't attacked electrical cords--too busy chasing each other around-ha! When my Golden was a puppy had PVC tubing put on as much of the exposed electrical cords as possible. As someone also suggested, putting Bitter Apple on them might help.
As would getting another kitten.

In the two short weeks that I have had Grushenka and Tatyana, I have found that if I play with,cuddle and love them a lot that hour before my bedtime, they are pretty quiet at night. Will get up to crunch kibble or use the kitty box, but will then return to their vigil on or about my neck or shoulders. Perhaps, if I had just one, it would be harder to calm them down at night? Gatsbycat
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Just a quick update on the saga of Molly & me...
The shaker can is working out fine although she needs a lot of reminding.
I'm beginning to think that some of her (our) problem is stress related. I've read that some cats have a low thresshold for stress and suspect Molly is one.
A troublesome delivery, raised by a mom in shakey health, being taken away from mom and her first set of people and being put in a totally new environment with a new set of people. That's a lot to accept in just nine weeks. I'm not sure I'd take it calmly.
She has started to completely relax for short periods and is taking the nighttime lock-ups quite well.
I think there's hope ...
Thanks again.
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