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PLEASE HELP! I might have to get rid of my cat...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
My boyfriend and I have had Tak for about 3.5 years now (she was a kitten when we got her). She's always been a little crazy, and very active, but it didn't strike me as odd as most cats are that way.

Lately she has become absolutely unbearable to live with. She has picked up many nasty habits and is driving Simon and I completely insane. We don't get any sleep and we spend a lot of time picking up after her. I've been trying to give her extra attention and play time to fix her bad behaviour, but it didn't work. It seemed to get her more wound up. Further, it is very hard to want to spend time with the animal that is making me so miserable...

Here's what she's up to. I'd appreciate any input at all, as she's making us very unhappy and cranky...

1. Meowing. CONSTANTLY. It's this awful, mournful noise. She mostly does this at night, and will go for a good 6-8 hours. Letting her in our room does not solve it, nor does keeping her out. She's not allowed outside here (busy roads). Nothing has changed in the past few months to make this behaviour start, but it's been going on for a long time. I want my sleep back! (yes, she's spayed)

2. Getting into the paper garbage in the computer room. We've tried everything to fix it so she won't get in there, but she keeps at it. I'm tired of picking it up at least twice a day.

3. Eating things she shouldn't be. Most notably: photographs, negatives, postcards, important letters, plastic bags. She chews them up until they are useless. Even if I hide things from her, she finds them and ruins them.

4. Being agressive with guests. She used to be so loving with our company, no matter who they were, but recently she's been biting and clawing them if they get close. She doesn't growl or snarl. It seems like more of a playful thing, but it is hurtful for the human involved!

I don't want to send her away, but I am at my wit's end with what to do. Losing the solace of our home to this suddenly destructive animal is really wearing both of us down. I fear it might be the cat or our relationship if she doesn't straighten up... but I don't know where to start!

Thank you for ANY help.
post #2 of 19
Ok, first of all, have you taken her to a vet? While it might seems unlikely at first to you, there is a good chance that at least some of these problems have an underlying physical cause.

Second, if she's been checked by a vet you trust and given the all-clear, have you consulted a feline behaviourist (they aren't as expensive as you think - especially if you think of it as a sort of medical cost).
post #3 of 19
I should point out that the chewing stuff up if very risky behaviour for her health, even if the underlying cause is psychological (ie attention seeking or stress related) rather than physical.

She may also be bored, and you might want to look into getting her a buddy.

Given the number of things she's doing though I would urge you to consult your vet and a behaviourist before making the decision to adopt as it will require an introduction period for both of them, and I'm not sure that it wouldn't make things worse for a while first. Also, if she requires as much management as you describe, it's probably best if you can fix some of the problems before you deal with introductions.

Having said that: if everything checks out with the vets, and you get some help from a behaviourist, I think a buddy might be a good option for her.
post #4 of 19
Oh no!

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that the best way to get her to stop meowing at night is to play with her right before bed, and then ignore her until morning. No matter what she does. If she jumps on your head and kneads your eyeballs, pretend to be asleep. Don't open the door, don't shut the door, don't even grumble. You don't want her to know you're awake.

There is a way to keep all of the stuff she chews away from her. My plastic bags are kept under the sink, with a rubber band holding the door shut, so she can't get them. Find a high drawer and put your photos, or childproof your cabinets. Put the paper trash by the computer room in a can with a lid. Put a brick on it if you have to, as long as it won't tip.

The aggressiveness with guests can be solved by putting her in a room with all the kitty comforts until they leave. If they're staying longer then it might be more complicated.

And lastly, Tak is sensing how upset you are, and how much stress there is in your home, and it is probably making her worse.

I agree, take her to the vet first. But all the problems you are having are fixable.
post #5 of 19
Chewing things like bags and placticy things and photos can be common things in bored cats. It is your responsibility to keep those things out of her reach. You need to put them in a high closet or shelf and do something to hold the doors shut. Or put them in a plastic rubbermaid container.

I think she needs a buddy. She is awfully bored. Either that or play really hard with her right before bed. Feed her some warm wet food and go to bed. Maybe confine her to an extra bedroom or laundry room or even a bathroom if it is so bad. Dim the lights and give her toys and food and litterbox. Play soft music or if it is in a bedroom leave the tv on quietly for her.

She is not doing this stuff to annoy you. There is something she is unhappy or bored with. She is trying to tell you. It is your responsibility to figure out what it is. I agree if she hasn't seen a vet to take her to one. Don't say she looks or seems healthy, that means nothing. Cats hide their pain and discomfort and illness really weel to the point where you might not know. Take her to a vet and if that doesn't help then a behaviorist.

Good luck.
post #6 of 19
Is she spayed?
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by wookie130
Is she spayed?
Yes she is, she said that under #1.
post #8 of 19
My first though is that she sounds very, very bored.

My second is that a small trash bin with a lid would help greatly with the computer room problem (especially if the lid locks down somehow). Expecting a cat to stay out of a paperbag is a bit of a tall order, as many cats love nothing more than to play in them.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Phew... thank you EVERYONE for the thoughtful comments. I'm very happy to hear that there are some solutions to my problems!

To comment on some of the suggestions:

1. A behaviourist is definitely out of our financial reach. I am a student with loans up to my eyeballs about about $200 to my name. I WILL take her to the vet, though. I see the vet as a fix to any medical problems she might have (good point that cats hide their pain well.. It's hard to remember that since she looks okay), but the behaviourist is above and beyond what we can do now. Vet first, then we'll see!

2. I can't get her a friend! Our apartment building has a VERY stupid cat rule (5 cats in the building, no matter what suite they are in. One lady has 3 of the 5), and while our name is on the list for another one, I don't see it happening any time soon. Also, with the way things are right now, two cats would make me throw myself off the bridge!

3. A few of you suggested removing her from guests or giving her a safe place to spend the night. We live in a very small apartment. There are 2 rooms with doors (our room and the very hot computer room), plus the bathroom which is too small to confine her in. I really wish that this was an option, but our place is so small!

Finally, I think that yes, she's bored. I bought her a feather stick a few weeks ago, and some treats to give her after playing. She has 3 climbing castles, a hiding tube, and a brand-new window seat (which she LOVES). She also has a catnip mouse and a hoard of balls in all shapes and sizes. We leave her boxes and cartons on the floor now and again for her to amuse herself with.

I think she might need something to encourage her to play while we are out during the day? I know another cat would be perfect for this (not possible now, as I said). But can anyone suggest anything else I can get?

I really don't want my house to be torturing Tak or she torturing us! I think that you are right to suggest that the air in our house is full of frustration and it's having a negative impact on all involved. I do love my cat, and I hope you guys don't think otherwise. That's why I'm here!

(any more ideas... please, keep them coming!)
post #10 of 19
What about a robo pet to interact with? Or to chase?

That might not be a good idea - it's just an idea that popped into my head, and should definately be investigated first! Someone here might know if it's a good or bad idea.
post #11 of 19
Do you leave the radio on for him when you're out so that there is at least some noise. Preferably a channel that has lots of talking, like a news channel.

Also, I can appreciate your frustration, but you took that baby into your house and promised to love and care for it for the rest of his life. If he were a child and developed "bad habits", you wouldn't just up and give that child away, you would work hard on finding a cause. A pet isn't a right, it's a privilege and a huge commitment of time, energy, love and money.

I know you love your kitty and your kitty loves you. With time and patience and encouragement from both you and your boyfriend you will all make it through this difficult time.

You could maybe get a gold fish or two or three and it would provide entertainment for the cat. Hopefully he doesn't like water and won't dive in and fish though.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
haha a robopet! Actually that might stress her out. We got this little ball that rolls randomly around and she just followed it around to make sure it didn't get into any trouble!

I think that leaving the radio on is actually a really good suggestion. I will start that tomorrow!

And we do have fish already, but she ignores them completely. Even as a kitten they didn't get her attention!

Also, as I said, I don't want to give up my cat. That's why I'm here.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Just thought I'd update for everyone because I deeply appreciate all the input I've received so far!

Tak seems to be doing a bit better today! I took the advice and played with her before bed, then we gave her goodnight pets and cuddles and treats and went to bed. She meowed for about 10 minutes and then quit! It was a breakthrough! I'm going to keep this up and see if we can cut out the night crying all together.

I also gave her LOTS of love when I got home today and took some pictures of her too (my favourite hobby!). Simon also cuddled her when he got home. She's really not a cuddly cat so we have to love her on her terms!

Starting tomorrow I will leave the radio on for her too.

Still to go:
- book a vet appointment
- get a wastepaper basket with a lid
- find a solution to keep the things she eats safe on my desk (tupperware was an awesome suggestion)

THANK YOU ALL for giving me hope for my relationship with my girl!
post #14 of 19
I have an overactive boy here who gets bored easily (and there are 5 other cats he could pester!).

The best investment ever was $4.99 at PetCo, we bought a Cat Dancer Compleat.
The Compleat (yes, it's really spelled that way) comes with an adhesive paw that you stick high up on a wall or door (about 5.5 feet up) and it holds the cat dancer toy.
Hours of leaping craziness for cats.
The upside to this is that the toy isn't up permantly, just the paw, so you can use the toy to play with her, or put it up for her to amuse herself.

It's kept Vash from annoying my more sedate cats to death.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malakaiii
Just thought I'd update for everyone because I deeply appreciate all the input I've received so far!

Tak seems to be doing a bit better today! I took the advice and played with her before bed, then we gave her goodnight pets and cuddles and treats and went to bed. She meowed for about 10 minutes and then quit! It was a breakthrough! I'm going to keep this up and see if we can cut out the night crying all together.

I also gave her LOTS of love when I got home today and took some pictures of her too (my favourite hobby!). Simon also cuddled her when he got home. She's really not a cuddly cat so we have to love her on her terms!

Starting tomorrow I will leave the radio on for her too.

Still to go:
- book a vet appointment
- get a wastepaper basket with a lid
- find a solution to keep the things she eats safe on my desk (tupperware was an awesome suggestion)

THANK YOU ALL for giving me hope for my relationship with my girl!
This is great news! Good luck, and please keep us updated.
post #16 of 19
if ants are not a problem where you live you could also try feeding her once in the morning.... and not during the day and then at night you could hide some of her food in the play castles that you have so she has to hunt for her food...

i'd agree that she sounds very very bored....

another very useful toy that does not require much work from you is a laser pointer.... you can pretty much sit on the couch and totally tire her our before you go to bed at night....

toy rotation also works wonders.... and so do a couple of ping pong balls rolling around....

also... if you have 3 cat castles switching them around from room to room helps sometimes....

if it is in your budget you could try this: my neighbour had a similar problem and he solved it by buying some wand toys and keeping them away and then giving one to each guest when they came over and asking his guests to just play with kitty a little when they were over... and then taking them back and putting thm away when they left... this trains the cats attention onto the toy rather than the guest.

every now and then even thought we have 4 cats i always bring in an old car board box and cut some holes out of it .... and then crunch up sme newspaper and put it inside the box... my cats just love this....
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Update!

I booked us a vet appontment. We go in on the 12th, so I will update again then and let you guys know if it's anything physical (I really hope it is not)

We left the radio on all day on Friday. Simon put it on the traffic update AM so she'd have lots of talking, but I think it stressed her out a bit. We will try classical next week, as it's a good combination of music and chatting.

And I'm going to look into that wand holder! GREAT idea!
post #18 of 19
Classical music is good for kitties...I think it will help calm her. Another idea is to let her have the computer wastebasket, when you get a new covered one. Use the current wastebasket to put a few toys in when you leave the house, so she can dig them out and play with them.

Her excessive meowing sounds so much like a kitty in heat. Maybe the vet should check hormone levels if he doesn't find anything else wrong with her. I've heard of kitties with an ovary left in or something that went in heat after a spay surgery. I'm sure it is pretty rare though.

Glad things are going better. The idea of toys for the guests rather than shutting her away is great!
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks Becki!

We'll see if her IQ goes up by the end of next week, after listening to classical the whole time!

I like the idea of putting some toys in the old wastebasket for her! I've replaced it now with one that has a lid (we'll see if that lasts!) but the other one is just sitting there. I'll give it a try!

I will also ask the vet about the spaying and see what they say. I really hope that's not it because another surgery would make her miserable. She seemed so sad the first time!

Well I've gotta go play with her now. She knows when it's 10pm and play time! She's sitting here staring at me and willing me to go get her feather wand...

PS: There is a stray kitten outside of my friend's house that I was SOOO close to adopting last night! Tak would've probably been too upset, though. And I still have issues with our building management and getting a new cat. But gee, I was tempted to take that little darling home! My friend is going to take her to the SPCA instead.
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