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catsitting - advice?

June 26th, 2009, 02:07 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm hoping someone might have some advice, or reassurance, for me. Anything at all would be gratefully welcome!

I am catsitting for a friend who is out of town for 3 weeks. I've had Ophelia for four days now. She was happy enough when her owner visited for half an hour when she was dropped her off at my apartment. She got nervous when her owner left, and went right under my bed when a loud truck went through my back alley. It's been going downhill for the four days since then.

Ophelia spends a lot of time under my bed, which is fine. She comes out occasionally to eat or sit in the living room windowsill, but she hisses at me at least once every time she comes out. Her ears don't go back, but her tail swishes. She sometimes gets really angry and growls. She'll also sometimes bat at my ankles (without claws, though I worry it will escalate to that). I will reprimand her with direct eye contact and a firm "No," and she always goes back under the bed. Her owner suggested I reprimand her by giving her a 15-minute "time-out" in the bathroom, since her owner's experience with Ophelia's bad behaviour has always been attention-seeking. I tried it once, but it didn't make any difference (she ran under the bed as soon as I let her out), and anyway, she is anxious, not attention-seeking. I try to leave her alone and not over-stimulate her, especially since even walking within three feet of her makes her hiss.

What is of more concern is that she doesn't seem to be drinking any water. Her water bowl is, as far as I can tell, untouched. I clean and refill it in the mornings and evenings, to no avail. I've tried filtered water and tap water. I've put saucers of water in other places in the apartment. All the bowls/saucers are at the same level, 8 hours later. I even left the bathtub facet running with a trickle when I went to work one day! There was no fur in the bathtub when I got home, so I doubt she even went in there. She's peeing about once a day, so it's not an emergency (yet), but I don't think her daily ration of 1/3 of a can of wet food is giving her enough water! And, according to her owner, this is a cat who LOVES water, and can't resist a running faucet, bathtub, or glass of water. She's eating her dry kibble and wet food like a champ, and is active enough when she's strolling around the apartment. She doesn't seem ill or lethargic.

I know this is a long, rant-y post. :rolleyes: But I could really use some help or reassurance. I love cats; I don't own one now because I'm a student and will be moving around a lot, but I always had two cats growing up. I know this situation is stressful for Ophelia, and I want to make her more comfortable. She has a carrier and a couple of toys from home, but she hasn't touched them since she's been here. Her owner hasn't responded to my email where I asked for some tips or tricks, and let her know about the water situation; and I don't have a phone number where I can reach her because she forgot to bring the instructions she'd written out, so when she got here she just wrote down Ophelia's feeding routine and we both forgot to get me a phone number! Also, Ophelia doesn't have a vet and has never been to one since she was spayed as a kitten (she's about 5-6 years old, I'm guessing).

Does anyone have any advice to help make Ophelia more comfortable and happy? Should I just give her more time? When should I be concerned about the no-water thing? I know it could be worse (e.g. at least she's not biting or scratching, and she's using her litterbox), but I'm worried and upset! Poor Ophelia!

Any advice or reassurance would be very welcome. Thanks in advance!


June 26th, 2009, 11:12 PM
Can you increase the amount of canned she gets, and maybe mix in a couple extra tsps of water? Wet food is better for cats than dry food anyway, so if she likes the canned and is willing to eat more of it, that would be ideal. Also, cats have a low thirst drive and often don't need to drink any extra water if they're getting enough moisture in their diet.

As for this hissing and hiding, I would just leave her be, and definitely no punishment of any kind (not even a harsh word). She's likely very stressed and making her feel bad isn't going to help. Cats are creatures of habit and thrive when they have a routine. Right now her routine is FUBAR. She's in "fight or flight" mode and her reactions are perfectly normal for a cat in unknown surroundings. The fact that she's at least eating is a good sign (my cat would go on a hunger strike if he was in her situation).

Some things you can do to make her feel more at ease: just sit in the room with her and talk to her (another member here, Jim, recommends reading to scaredy cats); play with interactive toys like fishing rod or wand toys or a shoelace with a knot in the end to try to engage her in a pleasurable activity (but go slow, no sudden movements); offer her the most delectable treats you can find (Greenies are usually a big hit, as are Temptations, Halo Liv-a-Littles freeze dried meat, bonito flakes, a bit of canned salmon, some cheese....). And have lots of patience. Next thing you know, she'll be jumping on your lap for some lovin'.

Jim Hall
June 27th, 2009, 12:03 AM
yup talking is good try absoulotly ignorimg her she is just pissed off amd upset if uyou jave any calming scents around like lavender my fav or vanilla
can you get soem clothing of your friends cats go a lot by opors and smelling her mistress might be calmmig

up date us let us know

June 27th, 2009, 08:32 AM
Thanks for the advice! I will definitely try mixing a little water into her canned food, ignoring her when she hisses, and talking to her more when she's calm.

Progress of a sort is being made. Since late yesterday, Ophelia will sit in the windowsill or on my couch, and she's not under the bed all the time. She even jumped into my lap this morning and sat there for about ten minutes! She hissed while in my lap when I petted her for too long, but I stopped petting her and she stayed on my lap. She'll still hiss and growl at me if she's not happy with my walking around, but I think it's more of an expression of annoyance than aggression. I hope things keep getting better for her.


Jim Hall
June 27th, 2009, 06:49 PM
lol well now we know MS DU my cat does that to me when she dont like me usually accompanied by a swat though
can you make a hideaway for her ? a box with a blanket or an open closet?

i mean under the bed is fine i mean mine spent the first 2 monthe thier

July 1st, 2009, 11:26 PM
Catnip has a calming effect. Buy some at a pet store, or get some from a garden if you recognize it. It keeps cropping up in mine, and the cats love to eat a little of it raw, or even dry. Rub some of her toys too. Most cats respond to it by being excited at first, but then they calm right down.

Suggestion to play with her is good...a peacock feather, or a shoelace or ribbon tied to a stick.

Ophelia's behaviour is normal in a new situation. Hissing is showing her displeasure at being in a new situation for longer than she wants. But she is adjusting in her own time, and is eating and maybe drinking more than you suspect. Cats normally pee at minimum once a day, but twice is more normal.

Your friend should have made sure you had her number to reach her, and she should check in periodically with you to see how Ophelia's is, as well as had a vet's number to call in case of an emergency.

July 5th, 2009, 09:08 AM
Do u have a bowl of water under the bed for her to get at easily? Maybe she would drink more there cause she feels safer under the bed.


Jim Hall
July 5th, 2009, 09:25 AM
any updates for us?:thumbs up