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Cat drama in da hizous!

06/22/2012

Belle

Source: Snatched from a Facebook profile.

I don’t spend enough time writing about my cats. We have four of them. Four meowing, eating, pooping machines.

Sometimes having four cats is hard.

  • Four cats produce a lot of cat shit. We order 120 pounds of kitty litter at time. (Seriously, the UPS man hates me.)
  •  Four hungry cats have a big appetite. We order 30 pounds of cat food at a time.
  • Four cats require a special pet water fountain to make sure there is enough clean water to keep everyone hydrated. Dehydrated cats get constipated and constipated cats will keep you up all night.
  • Four cats require a lot of cat scratchers. Currently there are three in the living room alone, and they still insist on using my pretty couch and chairs.
  • Four cats cost a lot of money. We just spent $500 in vet bills in 2 WEEKS for annual checkups.

There is also the issue that cats are typically solitary creatures and do not always care for the company of another cat. My cat was an “only child” before we moved to Kentucky and was NOT pleased with her new step siblings. After two years of resistance and constant cat accommodations, she finally came around. While she does not love the others, they tolerate each other quite nicely.

Mr. Husband’s cats are all sisters from the same litter. Two of them are quite happy together and play and bathe one another. It is adorable and at times disturbing when one will clean the other’s ass. Mr. Husband’s third cat, Newton, is “special.”* Newton does not understand feline body language nor does she understand boundaries. She does not walk so much as lumber along. She has an abnormally small head and mismatched fur – short hair in some spots, long in others. She does not bathe herself and requires regular grooming and clipping. She does not have a normal meow and instead makes this ear-piercing squeak. That said, Newton’s simplicity, naivety and adorable squeaky attempts at meows make her absolutely charming. She is ALWAYS happy and always excited to be around anything or anyone that moves.

During the past two months we have seen a dramatic negative shift in Newton’s personality; our perpetually happy, squeaky, small-headed cat has been torturing my cat and it is destroying the peace. Seriously, even the dust bunnies seem tense!

Newton approaches my cat, gets right in her face and starts glaring without blinking. After a few seconds she starts letting out a war cry that gets my cat all upset. The others them come to see what the fuss is and soon we have a room full of unhappy animals – one wailing, another growling like a dump truck and two more looking around, obviously on edge while  two humans frantically flap their arms and try to calm the masses.

We have tried everything to curb this behavior: squirt bottles filled with water, loud noises, picking up the aggressor and offering cuddles and putting them in “time out.” We have tried more play time, offering a treat dispensing toy, opening windows despite the oppressive heat and putting a bird feeder outside their favorite window. Nothing seems to work.

We can’t eat a meal without having to attend to angry cats. We can’t enjoy an episode of 30 Rock (my current obsession – yes I’m grossly behind the times) without having drama. My cat spends most of her day perched on a stool, out-of-the-way of the war cry and aggressive stare.

Last week it all became too much and I called the vet and set appointments to bring each cat in for her routine exam and rule out any underlying health issues. First we took the two buddies in and they got an excellent report. Today we took the two drama queens in and while they got a clean bill of health, the doctor agreed that the misbehavior is not good.

The solution? Kitty antidepressants for Newton. I feel like a terrible cat parent. I don’t want to dope the dopey kitty, but can’t handle the tension anymore. It is unfair to all the creatures in the house, humans and dust bunnies included.

I’m having a really hard time stomaching the idea that tonight I will go home, greet my lovely little cats with pats and hugs for all, tenderly scoop their kibble, sit with them as they dine and then snatch the “slow” one and drug her. Does anyone have experience with a pet acting out like this? Has anyone had success with pet antidepressants? I don’t want my cat to be a soggy lump of fur, but do wish that the happy-go-lucky “I LOVE EVERYTHING” feline who used to shed all over the ottoman would come back.

* Now that I’m learning all about genetic defects I really want to do a karyotope on Newton and see what exactly is askew but that is not really in the financial cards!

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20 Comments

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  1. veetamia #
    June 22, 2012

    Belle I absolutely love this post! Tons of info learned about living with cats ja,ja And my eyes almost popped out at reading about the amount of kitty liter you order!!
    I don’t know much about the subject, but did read (once when I was still practicing therapy ha!) about the increase in antidepressants and anxiety meds on dogs and cats..at least in the US. I think it’s interesting, not sure where I stand on it, but think that you should give it a try! If it betters the situation with your cat and the other two kitties, it’s worth it.

    • June 22, 2012

      Lol! I guess I should clarify that the 120 lbs lasts about 3 months. I order online in bulk to save money 🙂 I have heard about American pets having more problems and needing medicated more often, too. I suspected it was due to the owners both having to go to work and the pets spending the majority of their time alone. I am trying to convince Mr. Husband to let me be a stay-at-home cat mom but he is not on board… yet!

  2. June 22, 2012

    Aw, poor special kitty. My parents have successfully used antidepressants for their neurotic dog. I think the meds make him sleepy, but sleepy is better than anxious and depressed. I hope it works for your kitty!

    • June 22, 2012

      Oh poor crazy pets. A little sleepy is ok, but I do want her to still have quality of life. Hopefully in a few weeks we will see an improvement and the house can return to its regularly scheduled programming: scoop the cat boxes, vacuum the cat fur, rinse and repeat!

  3. D #
    June 22, 2012

    Love this post! My cats are my babies and I love them both, although most of the time they just get on my nerves! A friend I work with has 2 cats that got along great until one day they just randomly started fighting. My friend would come home from work and find tufts of fur all over the house. The fighting escalated to the point that she would have to keep them in separate rooms because they were doing physical harm to each other. She ended up giving one of the cats (I would assume the instigator) “kitty prozac”. It ended up working out great. She no longer has to quarantine them and they seem to get along. This has been at least 2 years. I hope this helps out your kitty!

    • June 22, 2012

      Well that is certainly encouraging! Luckily ours have not escalated to knock-out battles like that and boy I hope they never do! Give your kitties a scratch behind the ears from the crazy cat lady in KY!

  4. June 22, 2012

    haha, i unfortunately have dealt with kitty prozac…..I can’t say I was impressed. A few years (okay 10) back when they introduced the kitty bylaw (which my neighbor was fierce about upholding) our cat who had always been allowed to roam as he wished was forced to either stay inside or go out on a rope. He was miserable, and decided his payback was to pee…..on everything. I kid you not this cat would get up on the counter right in front of you and spray the wall. It was horrible. So kitty anti-depressants it was. I can’t remember if it stopped the pee problem….probably not as we did eventually take him off them. But I do remember him seeming like he was drugged and out of it most of the time. He certainly wasn’t happy….just maybe too drugged to be mad.
    I recognize this does not help with your angst over this at all….I hope you have better luck with it.

    • June 22, 2012

      Yeah, I have heard about cats that just turn into lethargic lumps of sadness on kitty prozac. I don’t know the exact name of the drug we are giving Newton, but it is something new that is supposed to be used for several months to modify behavior. The doctor said she will be a little extra drowsy for the first few weeks, but as she adjusts she’ll be fine, just less on edge. He says it gives them “rose colored glasses” and makes their world a little happier. I hope it works!

  5. June 22, 2012

    You havent specified if your other cat is male or female. I know with my kitties (I had 5 at the time),the two females got really aggressive with each other suddenly and it was because it was mating season and they were both going into heat. Luckily they eventually settled but it was really stressful.

    • June 22, 2012

      ah, all our cats are spayed females. Poor Mr. Husband is grossly outnumbered!

  6. June 22, 2012

    Where do you get your litter? Do they have clay? One of ours uses the carpet if she doesn’t get clay.

    I hope poor Newton does well on her medicine and all is peaceful again. It’s hard when one of your kitties isn’t herself.

    • June 22, 2012

      Amazon! We pay for Amazon prime and get free shipping on everything including 126 lbs of litter 🙂

  7. June 22, 2012

    OMG we have 2 cats and they constantly drive us crazy. They have lived together for 10 years but they don’t particularly like eachother. So, we get hissing, crying, chasing, etc. Except that they are fakers because sometimes they sleep a foot apart from each other! Then, the other day, someone randomly peed in the kitchen! Gah! Cats are a handful. Good luck with the antidepressants. It might really help!

  8. June 22, 2012

    My kitty squeaks too. Only meows when the Hubby meows at him. I know you may not want to put him on them, but like us humans, they can be a huge help for us to be happier and others around us in turn. I hope they help because tense dust bunnies are not fun.

    oh and if we ever need to calm down our kitty we just have to give him kitty crack (catnip) it turns him into a drooling blob and then he gets the munchies. LOL!

  9. June 22, 2012

    When we first brought our little female home, we ended up putting her on Valium for a week because she was beating the snot out of our big male. And there’s no such thing as “kitty valium.” Anyway, it did the trick for calming her down (though she can still throw his butt across the room if he vexes her).

    Two thoughts: 1) I’ve heard of kitty prozac and heard that it can work wonders. Keep in mind that it may not need be a permanent thing and there should be no guilt. 2) Have you heard of Rescue Remedy? http://www.nelsonsnaturalworld.com/en-us/us/our-brands/rescue-remedy/using-rescue/why-rescue-pet/
    I’ve used it for our cats when traveling and it seems to help.

  10. June 23, 2012

    Yes! We totally had this problem. We adopted 2 cats as kittens from the shelter and they got along wonderfully with each other and with our senior cat for a couple of years, then out of the blue they started fighting. (Well, it felt out of the blue to us, the cats may have felt differently, I don’t know.) First we tried separation. We isolated the cats for a few days or a week maybe. They didn’t spend any time together. Then we isolated them only when we weren’t home. That seemed to do the trick for a while.

    Then the fighting started again. We eventually realized that it was sparked when one or the other of them would see another cat outside (through a window) one would react with fear and the other would pounce – and then all kinds of kitty fighting would follow.

    Usually I would yell at them and put them in separate rooms, and try to keep the curtains closed if I could. When we moved, and they can no longer see cats out the window, their behavior went back to the way it used to be. It was a really strange experience.

    We didn’t try medication though, so I have no advice there. I hope it helps! (And don’t feel guilty. You can’t let him bully your other kitty, and it doesn’t have to be forever. Maybe once the habit is broken you can wean him off.) Good luck!

  11. June 23, 2012

    I love cats and grew up with them. My mom has four of her own now and, though she has never used antidepressants on any of them, one of her kitties did start acting out (peeing on the carpet, being extra-aggressive) and the vet suggested he could be under some new stress. In thinking about it, she realized the behavior problems did stem from when they added kitty number five to the mix. Once they gave that kitty to another good home, things got somewhat better (though not completely). So maybe little Newton is facing some extra anxiety??? Just a thought. But I say, give the drugs a try and if they don’t work or they put him into a drug-induced coma, you can always back off the pills and try to figure something else out. Good luck!

  12. June 24, 2012

    Try checking out some of the books by Pam Bennett-Johnson (feline behaviourist), especially her book Think Like a Cat. She has helped me with some of my cat issues and knows what she’s talking about. You can also find her on Facebook (and she does respond to posts). I believe she also has a book about multi-cat homes. I hope you are able to find a way to get all your kitties to live peacefully again!
    (And as cass described, it isn’t unusual for misdirected aggression to happen when cats see stranger cats outside their house.)

  13. infertilitycansuckit #
    June 27, 2012

    We had on “only child” that had to deal with a new kitten addition a couple of years ago. There was some stress and fighting, but our vet recommended the Feliway defuser. It looks like a glad oil plug-in and releases pheromones that relax the kitties. It doesn’t have an odor to humans, but it’s made a big difference in our house. We even had some drama with outside cats putting Steve (our older gentleman) into a tizzy. By putting the defuser near the windows where the stay would show up and he totally calmed down. There’s also a homeopathic spray called Rescue Remedy for when you need to pull out the big guns on relaxation. I used it on a 13 hour car trip with both cats. I honestly don’t think I could have made the trip without it. Just make sure to get the pet-safe non-alcohol formula since they make a human version that’s laced with booze 🙂

    • June 28, 2012

      Lol, all excellent ideas! I have heard of Feliway but have not known anyone to use it with success. Perhaps we’ll look into adding it to our mix. Thanks for stopping by!

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