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Catsitting a very unhappy cat--advice?

LM1313
June 23rd, 2006, 11:43 AM
My parents are on vacation and my brother is catsitting for them. Unfortunately Phantom is scared to death of all strangers and apparently my brother is in that category as far as she's concerned! She refuses to go outside. Tom says she refuses to eat, too, but I think he may not realize just how little she normally eats. (She is only seven and a half pounds. She freefeeds, but only eats a few bites at a time.)

Anyway, I went over yesterday because I visit Mom and Dad more often so she's more used to me. I found a puddle she'd left at the bottom of the stairs and poop on the afghan on the downstairs couch.

So I cleaned them up and searched around for the litterbox that's used whenever I visit with my kitties. Phantom is an indoor/outdoor cat who always does her business outside so I don't know if she "gets" the concept of a litterbox, but I soaked up a little bit of cat pee with toilet paper and buried it in the box while she watched . . . Maybe she'll get the connection. I couldn't scritch her paws in the sand because after initially being friendly, she decided I wasn't trustworthy and hissed whenever I reached towards her.

Later she calmed down enough to let me pick her up and I carried her outside to look around and I went around the big pine tree in the back and there was a CAT lying there looking up at me. Well, that should do wonders for Phantom's paranoia.

My folks are gone until the second week of July, so if anyone has any suggestions for calming down Phantom, I'm all ears! In addition to everything else, construction workers are tearing up the whole street.

CyberKitten
June 23rd, 2006, 11:51 AM
It sounds as tho this poor kitty has a bad routine to start with - she goes outdoors, free feeds, etc. I would let her come to you - don't stress her any more than is necessary. Monitor her eating somehow - because cats HAVE to eat!!

Have you tried rescue remedy or Feliway? What do her people say about this? I would consult them - is this the 1st time she has been left with a sitter?

Perhaps the outside cat is new and that adds to the stress? I would find where the cat is from and if it is a friend or foe of Phantom's. I am assuming of course that Phantom is spayed.

Dog Dancer
June 23rd, 2006, 12:19 PM
If Phantom is so nervous and the parents are away and there's a strange cat outside I wouldn't let this cat out at all. You may come home one day to find Phantom gone and then you'd feel awful. I'd confine the cat to one room with a litter box and food and water when nobody is home and provide lots of attention and stimulation (play) when you're there with Phantom. The cat will survive indoors until the owners return, and will likely eat when nobody is looking. Most pets (but not necessarily all) will eat when they get hungry enough. That said,I do believe my Shadow would starve herself sick if I went away for any period of time.:rolleyes: Good luck with Phantom, but I'd leave the cat inside.

LM1313
June 25th, 2006, 01:01 AM
I think a separate room is a good idea . . . I even know the perfect one, the downstairs bathroom. She loves to sit in there. I'll talk to my brother about it.

Some quick answers to other questions . . . She is spayed, of course. :)

Previously I've catsat her and had no problems. But now that I have my own kitties I can't, as you can imagine how she'd react to two strange cats in the house! :eek: Unfortunately, Phantom has been more unhappy and worried in general since Ebony died. :( She and Ebo were never cuddly--they mostly seemed to ignore each other--but now that Ebony's gone there's a defininte change in Phantom. :(

I can't contact my parents because they're off camping in Minnesota and don't have cell phones. I keep trying to convince my mom to get one, but . . . :rolleyes:

The cat I saw belongs to the neighbor's son and his girlfriend, although the last I heard he had moved in with his girlfriend, so I don't know why the cat was here. (The son was also there, I saw him in the neighbor's yard a bit later calling for the cat.) We've never had problems with cats in the yard before, but I suppose that was because we had Ebony.

chico2
June 25th, 2006, 07:44 AM
I totally agree with Dog Dancer,I would not let her outside..her home is not what she's used to and she might one day just not come back.
However,I also do not agree with keeping her in a bathroom,it's after all quite a while before the owners get back and she might get totally crazy being confined.
I would just leave her be,hopefully eventually she'll come out of her shell.
She'll eat at her own pace and also hopefully get used to the litter-box,even so,an accident on the floor,to me,is not a big deal,at least she's safe.
It's after all a temporary situation.

CyberKitten
June 25th, 2006, 01:28 PM
I agree- do not confine her to a small area - that may stress her more. She is likely stressed both by the death of Ebony and by the fact her people and her routine is changed. (Just by virtue of her people gone, her routine is changed.) What about Rescue remedy for stress?

LM1313
June 25th, 2006, 06:40 PM
I'll check Petco for Rescue Remedy. Is it something taken internally or a scent like Feliway? I thought about Feliway, but I think it takes several weeks to "activate", right? If it would stress her out more to be in the bathroom (which does make sense), we'll just let her have the run of the house like normal. Usually she likes to sit in the basement, especially if people are watching TV down there. Maybe if Tom sat there and watched something, she'd feel better. He's really more of a dog person, I think he's trying to be too interactive in trying to cheer her up.

I forgot to add that in addition to the vacation, roadwork, etc, the basement flooded with muddy water last week and all the rugs had to be taken out and thrown away, plus Phantom's favorite chair that her cat cushion was on had to be tossed. Poor Phantom. No wonder she's upset.

LM1313
June 26th, 2006, 11:49 AM
Just an update; I was wondering how to convince my brother to keep Phantom indoors, but as it turns out he decided to do just that before I even came over, following a day of trying to get Phantom to go outside, then facing the harrowing experience of trying to get her to come back inside, which she flatly refused to do, hissing and running whenever he got near her. Then she went into the front yard and an offleash dog chased her so she shot over the fence into the neighbors yard, which means she's more stressed out than I can comprehend because she's scared to death of the neighbors. (Not because they're mean, just because she's afraid of strangers.) Poor Phantom!!! My brother did finally get her inside by leaving the french door to the bedroom open--she's always liked that room.

So she's indoors for the next couple weeks and I'm going to try to convince my parents to make her a permanently indoor cat when they get back . . . I'm going over today with Rescue Remedy and a new litterbox, as I think the one I put in the basement probably smells like my cats.

I've also suggested to my brother that I catsit Phantom, who's more used to me, and he catsits my cats, who warm up to strangers after a few hours and can't run away anyhow because they're inside cats.

chico2
June 26th, 2006, 04:35 PM
That sounds like a great idea,even trying to make the cat an indoor cat:thumbs up
My son stays here with my cats when we go away,but he loves them and they him,so there never is a problem.
Maybe if you look after her,she won't need any meds to keep her calm.

LM1313
June 26th, 2006, 08:51 PM
Well, it turns out Petco doesn't carry Rescue Remedy! So I bought catnip instead. ;) Phantom was feeling much better today and purred frequently. She also ate about half of a bag of kitty treats because I was trying to get her enthused about the litterbox by giving her some whenever she got vaguely close to it. So far she's cautious about it and I don't dare try putting her in it or she'll hate it forever. I really don't think she has a clue what it's for. I dug in it with my hands and she just stared at me. "You're crazy, aren't you? Yes you ARE, you're CRAZY. Give me more kitty treats!"

chico2
June 27th, 2006, 07:35 AM
LM1313,sounds good:D :D
I bought 2 new catnip plants yesterday and planted them in the kitty patch,however catnip has far from a calming effect on my cats:D :D
But I am sure she loves it and that's what's important..
I try to picture you sitting there scratching in the litterbox.:crazy: