Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Restless biting and meowing cat very unhappy and driving me mad

JackTheCat
September 23rd, 2006, 06:04 PM
I have a two and a half year old male, neutered, and very active cat named Jack. Although he's an indoor cat (got him after he was declawed), I take him outside as often as possible, as well as play with him as much as I can-- both of which are never enough for him. So, now, here's the problem:

WHAT HE'S DOING:

Problem 1: Now that the weather's colder and we go out less often, he can't deal and meows CONSTANTLY, often howling mournfully, at the door during the day. The crying is sometimes angry, but mostly distressed and pitiful.

Problem 2: Jack is also biting a lot--random biting, particularly when I'm laying in bed in the morning or working at my desk, in which case he will sit in front of me, meow loudly in my face, and the try to fight me. This is all new, unlike his earlier and endearing habit of strategically laying on all my papers to keep me from working.

WHAT I'M DOING:

Problem 1: When he cries at the door I sometimes call him to me, to distract him and talk to him to calm him down. He always comes running to me readily, but once he's no longer distracted, he heads right back to the door and starts meowing. I also have been giving him "time-outs" in the bedroom, where he stops meowing and calms down--but the peace and quiet doesn't last long when I let him out. He usually returns to the door to meow within ten minutes.

Problem 2: In cases where he bites playfully, I tolerate it to a point as long as it seems to be play. In terms of the random biting and fighting, I give him a number of firm no's and make eye contact with him, try to pet him and calm him down, and when he won't stop I take him off the bed or the desk--and then he gets back up and the cycle repeats itself.

In dealing with both problems, when he calms down, I give him lots of praise and love. Despite what this all suggests, Jack is a very affectionate, personable, and playful cat otherwise and when he's not doing all this meowing, biting, and fighting, we have fun playing and he's still cuddly during his less active periods. But even in the course of writing this message, he has returned to the door three times to meow and sat on my desk and bit/fought me twice.

WHAT I'D LIKE TO KNOW:
1) If there is more to this than restlessness and need for attention (i.e. should I move on and investigate physical ailments)

2) How can I put a stop to it, short of always dropping what I'm doing to comfort and play with him. I work from home, so you can see this would be a problem, since he wants constant attention and play and often does these things to stop me from working and he is, already, rather spoiled. When I go somewhere else to try and work, he's very unhappy when I leave and very needy when I come back. But my concern is that appeasing him will only encourage his demanding behavior. Any thoughts???

Thanks very much in advance -- Jack and I appreciate it!

rainbow
September 23rd, 2006, 06:14 PM
I would adopt a playmate for Jack from a shelter or rescue. :cat:

MyBirdIsEvil
September 23rd, 2006, 06:32 PM
I also have a very talkative kitty named jack :)

When he's meowing at the door loudly, ignore him, I dunno what else to tell you. Cat's aren't like dogs, it's kind of hard to punish them, or give them time out or things like that. It works for certain things, but not really with meowing.

Every time you call him to you or distract him he's getting attention. It's annoying to listen to a cat meow but the more you give him attention for it the more it will go on. Was he already in the habit of meowing to get you to take him outside? If that's the case, that may have started it.

I give him a number of firm no's and make eye contact with him, try to pet him and calm him down, and when he won't stop I take him off the bed or the desk--and then he gets back up and the cycle repeats itself.

I hate to tell you this, but the eye contact thing is unlikely to work on a cat, lol. One of my cats will actually butt you on the nose with his head and ask for petting if you do that.
When you pet him you're yet again giving him attention. Don't pick him up and move him off the desk either, try pushing him off, no it's not gonna hurt him, he's a cat. Don't make eye contact, just push him off the desk and ignore him. When you make eye contact it's reinforcing him.

My kitty jack has the same problem, if I just ignore him and keep pushing him off though, he eventually makes kind of a "oof" sound and runs off to play on his own.
Btw if he doesn't have many toys buy him some. You'll probably have to experiment to find out which ones he actually likes to play with, but it's worth it.

I would adopt a playmate for Jack from a shelter or rescue.

Adoption is a good idea if you want to save another cat, but as far as behavior, then you just may have 2 cats instead of one meowing at the door constantly and getting on your desk, lol.

Pike
September 23rd, 2006, 06:51 PM
Merged from 2 threads to one

MyBirdIsEvil
September 23rd, 2006, 06:59 PM
And now with double the posts! :p ;)

chico2
September 24th, 2006, 08:31 AM
I believe the biting is related to him being declawed in some ways:confused:
I too was going to suggest a friend for him,the easiest way is to get a kitten.
It's more complicated to get Jack used to a mature rescue.
It might help,since he would have a playmate other than you.
I have 3 male cats and I take them outside regularly,they know when it's time to go outside and I have a regular symphony at the patiodoor,but once they are back in they are ok.
His behaviour is probably not that unusual for a lone cat,but I would ask the vet,just to be sure..

MyBirdIsEvil
September 24th, 2006, 06:23 PM
I don't think the biting would be related to being declawed, I think it's an attention grabber. The cat bites and gets eye contact and petting so he keeps doing it.
I've had 3 cats that act like that and none of them are declawed :shrug: .

I have to also disagree with suggesting the original poster get a friend for his cat. I've had 2 or more cats in my house at a time before (still do at the moment), and I've had all of those cats on my computer desk at the same time asking for attention :frustrated: .
So I don't think getting an extra cat necessarily solves anything.

I don't think getting a friend for your animal is a good enough reason to go adopt another animal anyway, you should adopt one because you want to rescue another animal IMO. Adopting another animal just to take care of the problems of an animal you already have is a bad idea for some people.

rainbow
September 24th, 2006, 07:15 PM
MBIE....sorry you've had such a bad experience with your cats. :sad:

I, on the other hand, have always found that two or more cats works out best. I've had cats for over 30 years and I guess maybe it just depends on the cats. :shrug:

I also agree with Chico that declawed cats are more inclined to bite. ;)

MyBirdIsEvil
September 24th, 2006, 11:15 PM
I've never had bad experiences with my cats. :confused: Well, not with behavior anyway, that's something I can usually solve.
I was just debating the fact that getting 2 cats instead of one will keep them from wanting your attention. It's also not a good idea to get animals just because one of your other animals has problems, even most rescue organizations will tell you that.
I think people should go adopt an animal because they want another companion, not because one of their other animals wants attention.

Besides all that, getting another cat for one cat to play with is kind of a quick fix, it doesn't actually teach the cat anything.
Any animal has to be taught proper behavior, cat, dog, rat, whatever it is.

I'm not disagreeing that cats CAN do well with companions, but I'm also not going to give someone the impression that getting another cat will make their current cat stop it's behavior, because that's not something I can decide without knowing the personality of the cat. For all I know the cat hates other cats, is territorial, would be jealous that the other cat gets attention, or many other possible scenarios that would only add to the owners problems and confusion.
Suggesting that they get another cat just isn't something I'd feel comfortable doing given the small amount of information I actually know about the cat.

I also agree with Chico that declawed cats are more inclined to bite.

Because they want attention? I'm not sure that makes sense. I agree that declawed cats are probably more inclined to bite defensively, but the original posters cat is most likely biting for a different reason.

For original poster, here is an article on cat behavior: (edited with better article)

http://www.pets.ca/pettips/tips-43.htm

The first rule of thumb is do not respond directly to the cat’s meowing. The cat is doing this to get your attention. Getting up to see what the cat wants, shushing or yelling at the cat is the worst thing to do because you are reinforcing the undesirable behaviour by giving the cat attention.

rainbow
September 24th, 2006, 11:54 PM
Your post didn't say it but it just came across that way because you're frustrated that all your cats climb on your computer desk to get attention at the same time.

You also seem to think that only your opinion is the right one.

MyBirdIsEvil
September 25th, 2006, 12:01 AM
I could also say you think that your opinion is the only right one.
Just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I shouldn't post my thoughts and opinions. The original poster has the option of reading every single one of our posts and picking the one they agree most with :shrug:

I also provided an article about one of the questions they had, so I'm trying to give references for my advice.

jiorji
September 25th, 2006, 12:41 AM
so let me guess....prior to adopting him he's never been outside and then you took him outside to show him the geratness of the outdoors and he's loved it a bit too much.

My cat does that too, except she's a bit less persistent. During the warmer summer days at the same time everynight she'd sit by the balcony door and meow to go outside. And if i ignored she;d come right up to me to meow in my face and then run to the door so show me what she wants. But luckily for a week while on vacation nobody opened the door for her and she got out of the habit. She also had nobody to meow at to open the door.

So i don't know what advice to give you except maybe to get a playmate. Can he climb somewhere to watch outside from a window? I'm not sure if that would help at all since he's that persistent. The biting comes from getting your attention since you won't reply to his meowing lol

i think you should take him out during a cold day and for you i hope he'll hate it and not want to ask to go outside again. :fingerscr

rainbow
September 25th, 2006, 12:56 AM
MBIE...nice edit job.

JackTheCat
September 25th, 2006, 02:44 AM
Thanks much for all the advice! There's been some disagreement, I see, but it appears to be productive disagreement and I'm grateful for all the different perspectives.

As for Jack, I hate that he was declawed (not by me!) for many reasons and can see how the biting can be related, though it is aggressive rather than defensive. I think the attention-getting theory holds up since he is such a hog in that regard and he's used to being the center of my universe.

I also wonder, though, if it could be a seasonal change kind of thing? He really does appear restless and agitated--spontaneously bolting through the apartment every now and then, back arched, tail raised and puffy, letting out a long frustrated howl even after just being outside, more upset than a normal cat freak out. In the past he's gotten like this from time to time, but not with such regularity... I may be crazy, but sometimes I wonder about a link between his behavior and the weather...?

To answer some questions: Yes, he's got plenty of windows to sit in with occasional "wildlife" in the yard to tempt him. And yes, he has tons of toys and we play hide and seek a bit. ;)

As for getting a playmate, I've thought about this and have looked into it but I'm not quite ready to do it for a number of reasons. In the meantime, the advice given to me is already working so we'll see if Jack and I can fix this just the two of us. I love the take him outside on a crummy day idea--and thank you, MyBirdIsEvil, for the link and for curing me of my former dog-owner inclination to speak low and stare down! :) I should have known better!

If there's any more advice anyone can give, it's always welcome.

Cheers! :thumbs up

badger
September 25th, 2006, 04:02 AM
Scoff. Good word, now rarely used.
Sounds to me like you've got a particularly energetic, in-your-face cat who objects to having his routine disrupted. It's true that they withstand the cold better than one might expect, so if you're up for an outing, he probably would be too, although maybe this is just delaying the inevitable.
Ignoring him is definitely the only way, cats do not negotiate too well.
Leave toys around, if you can stand the mess. Balls of paper and those small, light balls are great, also the hollow plastic donut with the ball that rolls around the outside, anywhere he can climb up and see out (a bird feeder is a powerful magnet).
Maybe there are some on-heat females in the area.
Rushing around for no apparent reason, usually at some ungodly hour, is called the 'zoomies' and is quite normal.
Have you tried one of those laser pointers, where they run around after the light? My high-energy (indoor) cat loves it.

JackTheCat
September 25th, 2006, 04:27 AM
Love this term zoomies and Jack's sure got 'em, but lucky for me not at night. He's amazingly quite quiet at night. Sleeps more than me.

Thanks, Badger, for the toy suggestions. I was considering a laser pointer and it's good to know it works.

(Sidebar: Glad you liked the word scoff. Sadly, I edited the message after you posted and scoff goes unheard once again. :sad: A great word, but one I thought better of using in hindsight...)

rainbow
September 25th, 2006, 05:03 AM
Ah yes, the zoomies. You are lucky that Jack only gets them in the daytime. There's nothing like getting woken up in the middle of the night by cats flying across the bed. :evil:

So if a companion for Jack is out of the question then he needs lots of entertainment. The laser pointer is a good idea. You can also try using a flashlight in the meantime. Do you have a cat condo/cat tree for him? Cats also like to play in empty cardboard boxes. Here's a site with some other suggestions:

http://www.catsinternational.org/articles/fun_for_cats/just_wanna_have_fun.html

Good luck. :D

chico2
September 25th, 2006, 08:33 AM
A laser pointer is a great idea,the only toy my cats do not ignore and I have a basket full of cat-toys.
It's also great since you can sit and watch TV and also keep the cat busy:thumbs up
If there is any way to hang a bird-feeder outside,or near a window,it will be hours of fasination for Jack.
In no way did I offer an expert opinion about declawed cats and how they behave,I've never had a declawed cat.
Logic tells me,if a cat cannot scratch he would bite:shrug:
Also in suggesting a companion cat,it would be good on 2 fronts,a rescue cat/kitten would get a home and Jack would get a playmate.
Anyway,I still,after several decades of having cats,cannot always figure out why cats do the things they do:frustrated: Good Luck with Jack!

badger
September 25th, 2006, 10:27 AM
And a cat video for Christmas, pretty please.

LM1313
September 25th, 2006, 03:32 PM
My cats go nuts for kitty wands, you might try distracting him with one of those. :)

MyBirdIsEvil
September 25th, 2006, 05:20 PM
and thank you, MyBirdIsEvil, for the link and for curing me of my former dog-owner inclination to speak low and stare down! I should have known better!

Lol, I completely understand, I've been a cat owner my whole life and after me and my b/f got our first dog I had to do so much research it was ridiculous.
However my family has owned cats since I was born and my aunt even raised siamese cats for show, so cats are just second nature to me, and switching to a different animal is definately a change.
In any case, glad I could help:)