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Old 11-09-2011, 07:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cat wants to play at night, then attacks me when I ignore her

Thank you in advance for offering help to my problem. There are several problems here that are all intertwined. I will try to keep it brief.

Backstory:
I have a 15 year old cat named Kitty who is the only pet in our household. I got her as a kitten from the SPCA. Kitty has a history of pooing outside of the litterbox when she is upset or stressed over something. We've had no incidents for at least 6 months until now. My husband and I sleep in the master bedroom and Kitty sleeps in the bed with us. She gets up and does her thing in the night eating / drinking / using her litterbox typically.

Now / Initial Problem:
Lately some time around 1 - 3 am she is adamantly waking us up to pet her. A sleepy pat or two will not do. She wants me to be awake, engaged with her, preferably sitting up and petting. My husband's work schedule fluctuates so for a while he was getting up in that time frame and she had a bit of time with him before he'd leave for work. I think she wants it back. Permanently. If I wake up and pet her for about 5 - 10 minutes she'll go on her merry way. I don't want to do this because I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep as is. If I ignore her she goes into psycho kitty mode and attacks me by biting and clawing. Badly. Like, blood and scars attacking.

Attempted Solution That Has Created New Problem:
I've closed her out of our bedroom so she can't sleep in the room with us. She paws at the door and cries for maybe 5 minutes max and then stops. But now she's pooing on the couch or while the bedroom is open during the day she's pooing on our bed. I imagine to let us know she's stressed about this change and unhappy.

Question:
What can I do besides lock her out of the bedroom to make her stop this middle of the night attention / crazy attacking thing? I know she hates the spray bottle of water but I'm not sure that she will understand and if it will change the behavior? Or if that's fair to her because I'd have to do it when she initially just asks to be petted. I think she may see it as aggression on my part and still attack, too.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate all of your knowledge and time very much!
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's quite a predicament and you have my sympathies. You mentioned that Kitty has a history of pooping outside the box, but you didn't say she had a history of aggression, in particular "blood and scars" attacking. On the assumption she has no such history, I would suggest a vet visit. Given that she's 15, an annual vet check would be in order in any event, on top of which any serious change in behavior always suggests a trip to the vet.
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laurachristin View Post
My husband and I sleep in the master bedroom and Kitty sleeps in the bed with us. She gets up and does her thing in the night eating / drinking / using her litterbox typically.

she is adamantly waking us up to pet her. A sleepy pat or two will not do. She wants me to be awake, engaged with her, preferably sitting up and petting. If I wake up and pet her for about 5 - 10 minutes she'll go on her merry way. I don't want to do this because I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep as is. If I ignore her she goes into psycho kitty mode and attacks me by biting and clawing. Badly. Like, blood and scars attacking.

Attempted Solution That Has Created New Problem:
I've closed her out of our bedroom so she can't sleep in the room with us. She paws at the door and cries.

I totally understad what you're saying because I too have a similar problem to you (minus the pooping).

Milky slept in his cage until a couple of weeks ago, so now he has freedom of roaming around the apt while we're asleep/gone out. When we first let him out, we didn't realise that he would keep us up all night. It was sleepless nights for far too long, until I read on this forum that what we should be doing is ignoring him completely. Well it worked, but not for this past week...

Basically he's been doing the same thing as kitty, trying to wake us up in the middle of the night by meowing incessantly, pawing at us, nudging our faces, even biting me quite hard, etc. We ignored him but for some reason he's started to scratch around the bed (I guess in a hope to get us up). My husband was very annoyed because even if we said no, moved him away from that spot, he would only go back to it again within a minute. So this went on for about half an hour every night lately until we couldn't stand it any longer. We then attempted to close the bedroom door and leave him out but he has started to claw at the door nonstop, which was really frustrating as we didn't get any sleep. Eventually last night after an endless amount of sleepless nights, we had to cage him because it was almost dawn and we still hadn't slept a wink!

I would really like to find a way to have him rest peacefully or at least go about his own business at night without disturbing us too much. Honestly, I don't know how much longer we can take this. We are just so tired!! However, in any case, we will try again during the weekend and see if his behaviour has improved. Otherwise, we're definitely going to have to cage him at night again which I don't want to be doing.

I hope somebody has a way to help us!!!
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for your quick response, Susan.

She does have a history of aggression with me but not this frequently and not when it's unprovoked like when I'm sleeping. She has always got aggressive when I talk on the phone on speakerphone - something about it must freak her out and other scenarios that I can anticipate so I avoid when possible. I can tell it's coming because her ears go back, she cocks her head to the side, gets a wild look in her eye and meows differently. I can usually diffuse the situation by sitting on the floor and talking sweetly to her and having her sit in my lap and be petted. (Perhaps over 15 years of "diffusing the situation" I've taught her a reward for this bad behavior.) Being petted is what she wants at night. Hadn't thought of this til I typed this response out.

She has been to the vet most recently about 6 months ago because she had persistent diarrhea. Because she's pretty combative they put her under and ran lots of tests at once. They did xrays, an ultrasound, blood, urine and fecal tests. They said she was in good health other than few crystals in one kidney. They didn't have an explanation for the diarrhea other than suggesting we change her diet. We stopped giving her cat treats which corrected the problem. I'm sure things could have changed medically in 6 months time but I get the feeling it's behavioral, though I admit I'm not an expert.

Milky - I'm sorry you're going through this as well. It's really frustrating, I know!

I'm wondering if playing hunting games with her to tire her out and get out some of her aggression will help or if it will make her MORE aggressive? Any thoughts on that? Is it better to play these games at a certain time of the day? Otherwise, I'm considering seeing a specialist or behaviorist because no one, Kitty included, is very happy in our home at night right now and we're getting towards the end of our rope.
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Old 11-10-2011, 12:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Since she's recently seen a vet and she has a history of aggression (i.e., her aggression is not a radical behavior change), then I suspect you're on target when you say the problem is more likely behavioral. I would think that giving her a constructive outlet for her aggression via play might improve the situation, rather than worsen matters. You might try playing with her late in the evening to tire her out a bit more. You might then follow the play/hunt with a small meal (perhaps feed a bit less at other times) and then hopefully, if she's tired and has a full tummy, she'll settle down better at night. Also, have you had any success using Feliway or similar products with her in the past?

If none of that works, then I too would seek the advice of a behaviorist. I'm a strong advocate of behaviorists, since I used one several years ago and had a lot of success (when dealing with a very difficult introduction of my two cats). The trick, of course, is finding a good behaviorist.

Milky's Mammy: You might also try tiring your cat out at night with a play session, followed by a small meal, to see if that helps.
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Old 11-10-2011, 12:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I play with the girls right before bedtime AND give them their biggest meal of the day when I go to bed. They eat, groom and sleep.

(most of the time)
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for your advice Susan.

We do have a massive play session with him every night, which is why I don't understand where he gets so much energy and slight aggression...

Basically what happens every night is, we get home from work, have a love cuddle session, which probably goes on for about 30-40mins (that's all he allows). We play with him for an hour, then feed him dinner. Afterwards we groom him for as long as he allows. Just before bedtime we'll play again, and usually both Milky and I are out of breath when we're finished. He is usually panting like a dog. When he has had enough, he won't chase the toys/strings/ribbons etc, but instead he'll hold them in his mouth and trot beside me as if to tell me "I'm too tired". Sometimes he'll eat if there are leftovers in his bowl, but usually he goes to lie down and rest. This is when we decide to climb into bed....

Is there something missing from my evening routine??
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Milky's Mammy View Post
Is there something missing from my evening routine??
Not that I can see. Your routine sounds a lot like mine! I also give each of my girls about 1/8 of a cup of dry food at night (they get wet food during the day). They nibble a bit before going to sleep, and they must nibble during the night, since the 1/8 cup is usually finished by morning. I also keep a scratch post in my bedroom (which they use) and they have their cat trees and a few toys in there too...although my bedroom door is open so they're free to roam around if they choose.

You could try keeping a few things in your bedroom, to see if they keep him occupied while you're sleeping, but continue to ignore him if he bothers you. If nothing else works then, rather than caging him for the entire night, I might try leaving him in your room at the start...but IF he wakes you up at night, then put him in the cage (I'm assuming this cage is large enough to hold a litter box and large enough for him to be comfortable). You will have to get up briefly for a few nights to put him in the cage, but perhaps he'll get the message after a few nights and then stop bothering you, so you no longer need the cage.
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