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Dept. of Cats, I Can't Even

Cat Problems: Answers? Anyone? Bueller?*

I love my cats, for a multitude of reasons. Alex, the senior partner, is an impressive blend of leonine gravitas, dog-like generosity, and impressive lolling ability. Philip, our sidewalk rescue, is easy-going beyond all belief, trusting, and happy to sleep with one. Opie ... well, Opie is a huge ball of insecurities, nerves, largely un-repressed desires to become a mother, and other quirks. He also has the loudest purr of any cat in my recent experience, he's a cuddly round ball of need who makes you want to pet him and tell him everything will be all right.

Opie was rescued from a cat hoarder, and I think his quirks are directly or indirectly tied to that experience. At least one thing I tie to his living in an apartment with at least 7 or 8 cats as a kitten is that he gets very upset when new cats (beyond Alex and Phil)  show up. However, the last two times FB's kitties were fostered with us, Opie eventually reached a nervous detente with them.

We thought this was what would happen when FB and Miss Emily dropped Tommy and Lily off with us for the summer. Nope. This third visit apparently tipped Opie over the edge.

During the day, he's more or less OK - just hiding and growling, which by Opie terms is at least a B- in socialization. However, starting about five days ago, things have gone to hell once deep night falls.

Opie has begun peeing and depositing feces all over the kitchen floor, instead of using the cat box which is also in the kitchen. (I know having a cat box in the kitchen sounds awful, but I can assure you that it is far less eurg-inducing than you might think. And it's the only reasonable place to have a cat box in our tiny condo; there's definitely no room for it in our bathroom, which would have been my first choice ... augh, getting off-track here.)

He never does this during the day. It only happens at night, after we've all gone to bed. It also coincides, I think, with Tommy's and Lily's most active time.

Given where he's doing the deed, it's entirely possible that he's trying to keep the  twins out of the cat box. Other possibilities; he's creeped out by using the same box they do; he's become afraid of the box (it's a Booda Box with a cover on it); or other reasons that we can't puzzle out.

We've cleaned up after him every time, and luckily the kitchen floor is a fake flagstone material, which allows us to hit it hard with bleach and old-fashioned top-strength Lysol. But erasing his own smell from the floor hasn't helped.  Nor keeping a light on in the kitchen overnight (I thought the dark might be freaking him out). Nor has placing boxes and other obstacles over the spots he prefers.

Yesterday we went out and got a second cat box, and it's now ensconced in our already cluttered office. That' where we'd placed a second cat box the last time the twins came to stay, and we'd decided not to do it this time, because it had been such a pain. However, with Opie's new habit, we changed our minds

Sadly, it didn't change his activities, at least not thus far. We're trying to give it time, so that he realizes that there's another box that he might claim, and leave the kitchen one to the twins.

However, there is every possibility that Opie will simply continue to do this as long as the twins are in the house (dear lord, I hope it doesn't occur after they leave). As BB said, "we may have to become used to cleaning up every morning." My response has been one of quiet horror. Soooo ....

Has anyone out there on my wonderful f'list every encountered something like this? Even more to the point, has anyone figured out a successful strategy against it? Help me, Intarwebz friends


* I use that line, or a bastardization of it, so often that it comes as a shock,even to me, that I've never seen the movie. Since this year marks the 30th anniversary of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I really should take the time to watch it.

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/363493.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2015 09:02 pm (UTC)
Try tiring out Tommy & Lily with play before you go to bed at night. That should hopefully drain some of their energy so they don't go after Opie.
Jun. 7th, 2015 10:20 pm (UTC)
That's worth a try; mind you, they're not actually racing around after him. It's their very presence. No, I amend that; Tommy does stalk Opie (which is weird to watch, since Tommy is half the size of Opie.) Maybe I can do something about Tommy. They all love watching the laser ... thanks for the advice!
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:40 am (UTC)
They all love watching the laser ...

Jackson explained to somebody in one of the episodes yesterday that it's important for cats to have toys they can actually catch. He wanted them to play with one of the cats with a toy he could catch, and only use the laser pointer as a way to distract him when he started acting like he might get aggressive with the other cat. From the show, and past experience if you can get Tommy and Opie playing with the same toy it might help breakdown tension between them. They could get used to sharing the toy, and by extension sharing territory.
Jun. 8th, 2015 02:14 pm (UTC)
I love "My Cat From Hell". :)

But yeah, for Pippin, we have Things on Strings and sparkle balls for him to be the Mighty Hunter. Neither of our cats were interested in lasers.
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:15 pm (UTC)
We have many toys in the house, only two of which the twins like to play with. Tommy is very happy to play with a squeaky mouse and I can try to get him interested in it post 9 p.m. Physically, however, he and his sister get more excited, and spend more time chasing, the laser. They appear to think they've caught it when I stop and let them stare at the light, holding it in front of their paws.

The idea of Tommy and Opie playing together is a long shot, since everytime we try to get them in the same room, Tommy stalks Opie and Opie growls, yowls and runs away. Still, we can only try!
Jun. 7th, 2015 09:46 pm (UTC)
*Whistles softly.* I've heard you should have 1.5 litter boxes per cat, but doesn't sound like you've got the room for close to that, even without two visiting cats. Jackson Galaxy, the cat therapist who does the Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell puts it as "a box for each cat plus one." I've owned a lot of cats, and I like watching the show. Pretty sure he'd also talk about making sure the younger cats get plenty tired out before bed time like cyngia suggested. He also talks about providing vertical space for cats, and territory they can feel secure in. Opie have something that's just his? I mean it sounds like you're in a small space with a lot of cats, but something simple like his own cat bed might work. I'd have to check on what Jackson says to do when you're working in a really small space. Given a) Opie's doing everything outside of the box, and b) only doing it at night it does sound like it's a stress/territorial thing rather than like he's gotten sick. If it's stress/territorial then he needs stress relief and some territory he feels secure about.
Jun. 7th, 2015 10:25 pm (UTC)
Having that many cat boxes actually does make sense - unfortunately, there's no way we can do that. Our condo is just about 900 square feet large and there is almost no space. Getting the second box in tops our space out.

Our own three cats are sedentary and happy with the size. We didn't think this would happen, because Opie did manage to adjust the first two times Tommy and Lily were here for extended periods of time.

Luckily, we do have a lot of vertical space for the kitties - especially Tommy, who is an incredible climber.

And yes, this is definitely stress/territory reaction. Opie does have a closet to which he can retreat, and our bed is generally his place during the day. But, again, there aren't that many places that he can hide in or under, other than that closet.

Ah, well; we'll work on it!
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:25 am (UTC)
Oh, I had a thought, You said, "It only happens at night, after we've all gone to bed," and "our bed is generally his place during the day." Does that mean he loses access to the bed once you guys have gone to it? If he's losing the bed at night, maybe you guys could put a blanket on it for him during the day that you can put somewhere else for him after you guys have gone to bed?
Jun. 8th, 2015 05:31 am (UTC)
I like this suggestion. Sounds to me like Opie needs to be top dog...er, cat. Having a blanket from the humans' bed for him to sleep on at night would be pretty sweet.
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah; the problem is that all our cats do get to sleep with us every night, so he doesn't lose his place. I've even stopped kicking him off at 3 a.m. which I used to do in order to get room to move my feet. Now I'm trying to live with it - which is hard.
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:19 pm (UTC)
Does that mean he loses access to the bed once you guys have gone to it?

He definitely doesn't lose access to the bed; all three of our cats sleep with us (on top of us, between us, the whole gamut), and have for years.

Right now, I'm playing with the idea of bringing one of the cat boxes into the bedroom every night after 9 p.m., which is when the trouble seems to start ramping up. We can keep the door closed, because Opie and our two other guys are big enough to get through the cat door. The twins are small enough that it takes them time and luck to get through the doors. That way, perhaps Opie will realize that that's his cat box.

It's not a very lovely idea, but we could probably deal with it on a nightly basis for the rest of the summer far better than dealing with him not using the box at all.
Jun. 8th, 2015 04:14 am (UTC)
IDK what to do about the cats- but yeeees- watch Ferris Bueller at some point. It's a really funny 80's comedy. The story even takes place in Chicago. :D
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:28 pm (UTC)
That's one of the things that made me think I should; I also know that the story has Bueller coming from one of the North Shore suburbs of Chicago - very moneyed, which means that I'm not sure I actually want to see it; dealing with entitled North Shore teens has been one of the banes of my working life.

Augh, the pull in two directions!
Jun. 8th, 2015 06:05 pm (UTC)
'Emmm. True. There is one part he goes on about being born under a bad sign because he got a computer while his sister got a car. But the movie's mainly just about him skipping a day of school, and dragging two of his friends along while they go to all kinds of places in the city. And of course- the principal who keeps trying to catch him in the act of skipping.
Jun. 10th, 2015 09:51 pm (UTC)
If it's "kids against the principal" then I'm all for it. Heh.
Jun. 8th, 2015 06:31 am (UTC)
If his behaviour is a protest against more cats, it will probably disappear when they leave. We took in a friend's cat some time ago as the she didn't get along with the other cat the had and started to do her business all over the house. As we had three cats already we were a bit aprehensive, but as it turned out they all get along splendidly and we haven't had an accident once.
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:35 pm (UTC)
If his behaviour is a protest against more cats, it will probably disappear when they leave.

That's what we're hoping, but the thought of having to wait until the end of August for all the fun to dissipate is less than appetizing. Still, last night there was slightly less urine-related mess. At this point, if I can get him to urinate in one of the cat boxes, I can, reluctantly, deal with the solid waste, which is easier to deal with.
Jun. 9th, 2015 01:37 pm (UTC)
Ugh, cat waste isn't much fun even in the litter box. I really hope he will get used to the other cats!
Jun. 8th, 2015 06:50 am (UTC)
Ugh, I'm sorry. I'm afraid I don't have any good advice for you, but I hope you're able to reach some kind of solution.

And Ferris Bueller is well worth the watch.
Jun. 8th, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the good wishes, my dear! And you're not the only person to tell me I need to watch the movie, especially since I live in Chicago.
Jun. 8th, 2015 09:45 am (UTC)
Och...dammit. Wish I had a solution for this one. This can be hard with older cats...and I'm still having trouble with Jack removing fur. Not as obsessively as before, but it has become habit, I'm afraid. Augh.

*Sends love and sympathy to you, BB and Opie*
Jun. 8th, 2015 05:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sory to hear that Jack's still obsessively grooming. One of our friends had a cat that did it for years- and then just stopped for no discernible reason. Here's hoping that happens with Jack.

Thanks for the love and sympathy!

Jun. 9th, 2015 01:16 am (UTC)
We thought we had it stopped. He just got sneakier. In many ways, he is back to his old self, but his odd quirks keep popping up - and he is still damaging his fur. It was just so...RANDOM. I'm hoping (since it sprang up out of nowhere) that it will go BACK to nowhere. Meh.

Always, honey. Every time.

Jun. 8th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC)
It sounds like a stress/ territory thing, cats aren't social animals. It would be better if you lived somewhere bigger and you could segregate the cats. Maybe put one lot in the kitchen and one in the lounge at night? Our cat is locked in the lounge at night - comfy.
Jun. 8th, 2015 05:17 pm (UTC)
Yup, it's definitely a stress thing; and Opie's now started doing this during the day as well.

I am thinking that we'll have to contact my son and see if he can contact another person who had offered to take the kitties for the summer.

When it's just the three of our cats, they are all very social with each other (sleep in a heap, don't fight, etc.) And two of the three even get along with the two newcomers. It's just Opie, but he's now so completely freaked that we will need to do something.

We probably can't lock either him or the twins up in any room, because most of our rooms don't have doors, or have cat doors. I mentioned that I was thinking of bringing the new cat box into our bedroom because that's where Opie stay; that may be what we have to do.

Other than that, I think it's time fo rthe twins, as sweet as they are, to move elsewhere. Sigh.
Jun. 9th, 2015 09:13 pm (UTC)
Ugh, this sounds pretty awful to deal with :/ I hope you manage to find a way to help him adjust, the poor thing… (Not to mention poor you =P)

Jun. 10th, 2015 09:52 pm (UTC)
As you'll soon see, we decided that we have to re-foster the twins in another home for the summer; otherwise we won't be able to help Opie get back to normal. Sigh.
Jun. 12th, 2015 07:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, that sounds best, unfortunately. *sighs*
Jun. 10th, 2015 02:01 am (UTC)
Have you tried Feliway? It's not, as it sounds like, a cat repellant. It's cat pheromones that are supposed to calm down stressed cats that are doing inappropriate things (like pooping and fighting).

It was recommended to me when I had warring cats. In my case, the ultimate solution was to send one of them to New York, but especially if it's a temporary situation, it might be worth a try.

It's sold at most pet stores, I think.
Jun. 10th, 2015 09:53 pm (UTC)
You're definitely not the first person to mention Feliway. The first person was in Australia, so I was afraid it was an Aussie-only product. I've been glad to learn otherwise.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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