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Misty the Mischievous

tsacrey
May 24th, 2009, 04:56 AM
Hello, all, this is my first post on the forum, and I'm very glad to be a member!

We have two cats. One orange tabby named Cinnamon (he's very low maintenance, confident, and really not an issue) and a gray ragamuffin named Misty (she is EXTREMELY insecure). We weren't sure what was wrong with her until we read your webpage. The description for an insecure cat fits her perfectly. She calls to us when she can't see us, follows us around the apartment incessently, and when we go to work at first she hides away as if she feels abandoned.

The last couple of nights, before she started calling, we brought her into the bedroom and cuddled with her for a few minutes before going to sleep ourselves. This worked the 1st night, but not the 2nd night. We try to ignore the calls, but we she has becomed conditioned to doing destructive things she knows will get our attention. For example, last night she was calling very loudly and that was difficult to ignore in and of itself, but then she started digging at the tall mirror in our bedroom, literally trying to pull it off the wall. At one point I looked up and she had it pulled off the wall almost a foot. I had to get up and get her away from it simply because I was afraid it would fall on her and she'd be hurt (not to mention the mess!). If I bolt down the mirror better, I know it will only be something else....chewing on wires, knocking stuff off our shelves, bookcases, and our clothes drawers, and, of course, raking her claws on the walls and other areas she's not supposed to.

As a note, we do have a scratching toy that they both use fairly regularly, but she knows we don't like her scratching on other things, so she does it only when she wants our attention! She's smart, but as we lose more sleep, we find ourselves getting dumber and dumber. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

-Terry & Adriana

14+kitties
May 24th, 2009, 07:24 AM
Welcome to the forum tsacrey. Sounds like you have your hands full.
The article below was taken from:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Separation-Anxiety-And-Your-Cat&id=858571

I hope it gives you some insight and help in your issues.

Separation anxiety is the term used to describe the condition where an animal has developed too close a relationship with its owner. They become overly dependant on their owners and find it difficult to cope with situations without them. This condition is usually associated more with dogs than with cats as it is usual for a cat to live a more solitary independent life naturally rather than a dog that would live in packs in the wild. A dog requires following a leader and so the bond with their owner is more of a dependant one.

However over recent years research has indicated that cats can make very strong bonds with their owners and for some, this bond becomes more of a dependency. This can be exasperated by owners who treat their cats more like a baby than a pet and is therefore encouraging the cat to behave in a more infantile way rather than develop their adult behaviours.

Generally most cats see us as their mothers and indeed they change their behaviour around us from the hunter to the kitten. They will even change the cries they make and revert to sounds kittens make to encourage their mothers to feed them and pay attention to them. This interaction as a rule works very well, but problems arise when a cat doesn't then revert back to its adult state and continues to behave like a kitten. Cats who display this type of behaviour generally follow their owners around everywhere, rather than explore the outside world. They may even continue the suckling behaviour and chew and suck on their owner's cloths and even hand.

Separation anxiety for these "adult baby" cats is therefore quite understandable, as they become very afraid and unsure of how to behave when they find themselves alone and without their protective mother figure. Signs of this condition are:

Constant following of owner or companion animal.

Hiding and sulking when the owner is about to leave.

Attempted blocking of door as owners try to leave.

Inappropriate urination of defecating in the house when they are left alone.

Excessive chewing or scratching of items in the house.

Inability to eat or use their litter tray until the owner returns.

Excessive grooming, causing bald spots (although this is rarer).

Any of, or a combination of any of the above, may be a sign that the cat has become over attached to their owner. Although it is always advisable to have a cat that is displaying any of these signs checked by a veterinarian first to endure that the behaviour is not associated with any underlying illness.

Of course prevention is better than cure and the best way to prevent separation anxiety occurring in the first place, is to make sure that kittens are well socialised during the first few weeks of their life and they are introduced to many new experiences, people and other animals. However if the condition does arise the treatment is essentially to help the cat become more independent and more adult like. This can be quite difficult for the owner as it involves stepping back or removing themselves from the cat's attentions, which can feel like they are rejecting their cat. But as the saying goes you are essentially being "cruel to be kind".

Treatment involves:

Letting other people take over some of the feeding routine.

Only provide affection when the owner and not the cat initiate it.

Reject advances by the cat in a non-aggressive way by removing your self from the situation.

The cat should be encouraged to pursue other activities like going outside to explore or by providing the cat with other stimuli like toys and even in some cases another animal.

Gradually reduce the amount of petting time given to the cat from the owner.

Leaving radios or a television on when the cat is left alone in the house.

When leaving or returning to the house, leave a ten-minute gap where you do not pay any attention to the cat.

These treatments will take time and persistence from the owner and it should be done in a gradual manner so as not to stress the cat too much. The idea is to basically increase the cats other activities and to get them to share their loyalties around to other people or companion animals. Thus preventing their great sense of worry and fear if one particular person is not around all the time.

More cat health and cat care tips can be found at our site http://www.our-happy-cat.com A feline friendly community full of helpful advice and fun things to do to make sure you have a happy cat and a happy you.

Copyright 2007 Kate Tilmouth

14+kitties
May 24th, 2009, 07:26 AM
From the same site:
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Cats-1606/2008/8/Sleeping-habits.htm

http://www.messybeast.com/moggycat/affy_10.htm

catlover2
May 25th, 2009, 12:16 PM
Misty the Mischievous! Ah yes, cats can be mischievous for sure. One of mine always gets into something while I'm on the phone talking as she knows she won't get reprimanded. You've got some good info from 14+K, but the solution is a large dog crate for you to get a good night's sleep which is essential for your wellbeing. Get her used to the dog crate by feeding her in it, and letting her go in it for treats, and making a fuss over her while she's in the crate---lots of "good girls" and caresses. Put in a cat bed or blanket and litterbox at night. She might fuss for a while, but just ignore it. The crate should be in a warm draught-free spot (like a laundry room), away from your bedroom. When you do interact with her, give her lots of attention and play time, on your terms, not hers. Reprimand with a stern "No" any undesired behaviour, and walk away. A lot of this stuff is just attention-seeking, don't give it to her.

tsacrey
May 25th, 2009, 08:11 PM
Hi,

Thanks so much for the prompt and informative replies. The article was very helpful and definitely has confirmed that our cat does indeed have separation anxiety and insecurity. We're going to try some of the suggestions in the article, hoping that she becomes more independent.

The dog crate is a good idea also, but we live in an apartment so we don't really have the space. At any rate, I think that by building her confidence and independence we'll have fixed the real problem rather than having to forceably separate her from everyone else in the apartment.

Thanks again for all the help and the references. I'll post again soon with an update.

Terry