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Old 11-07-2012, 03:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Need some advice on behaviour

Hello everyone,

Thought this would be a great place to seek some advice for my 4 year old cat, Dexter.

My last posts here were not of the happy variety unfortunately. I recently (June) had to send my beloved girl Monkey to the bridge, as she quickly became ill and the vets and I could not help her, despite all of our efforts. This has left my heart extremely broken and I believe is the root of the issues that are effecting the change in behaviour of my 4 year old.

A little back story (sorry, it's probably going to be quite long)..

I have always had a cat or two, or three in our home, along with our German Shepherds. When I moved out of my parents home for University almost 11 years ago now, I brought with me a beautiful little black kitten since I could not have a dog with me in school. I trained her, took her on all my vacations, she even hiked with me (on leash) in the bush. She was my constant companion. I did not have roommates, she was my roommate. I lost her in June and I am still not over her loss..

My sister, who was living at home still had a cat (Callie) who was about the same age. Monkey (my cat) and Callie would visit when I returned home in the summers and on the sporadic weekends I visited. I never had any issues with them and they actually got along quite well and loved to play and snuggle with one another.

Fast forward many years, and I brought home another little kitten, my Dexter. He is a MC mix from the rescue group in town. I did some volunteer work with them afterwards as well (just paperwork - calling to do followups). Dexter is a joy, super affectionate, and VERY dog like in his behaviour. He is clicker trained and knows several tricks.

My sister, who has since moved in with me (going on 3 years now) brought her cat with her. Callie is very quiet, not active at all and does not enjoy nor initiate play with Dexter.

Dexter and Monkey played and snuggled all the time.

When he was about a year, I finally welcomed home my own German Shepherd dog Stark. And a few years later, welcomed another one into my home. I compete in sport with both my dogs and am VERY active in the GSD community and sport world with them.

In June, when I lost Monkey, I swore I was done with the cats and that Dexter would be the last cat I brought home. I still somewhat feel this way.

But... since June, Dexter has been demonstrating some new behaviours that make me think that he is no longer happy. It is very frustrating and sad to not know how to help my little spunky guy.

The behaviours:
- crying and walking around the apartment
- clingy (more so than normal)
- not as active
- needs to be ON someone
- just seems 'off' (depressed?)
- constantly pestering/trying to play with Callie (Callie does NOT like this)

I have taken him to the vet, thyroid is great, did a snap test, everything seems fine and he has checked out with a clean bill (excellent!) of health.

The vet thinks he is lonely, as does a few rescue people I have spoken with and who know Dexter (friends of mine).

I am on the fence about bringing another cat home. I have the finances to do so, have the time, but not sure I want another cat...

I will be bringing home another German Shepherd in a year's time as well.. this will bring my total count of pets to 5! Not including my sister's cat - who realistically, does live with me.

I have tried the following to help Dexter:
- new play house/tree - custom made
- new toys, etc.
- rescue remedy
- plug in's (pheromones)

I feed raw and Origen kibble and do not do any grain or other additives in my pets diet (dogs are on all raw). No change in food, living situation or the like, etc.

The behaviour started a day after Monkey was sent to the bridge and has not stopped since.

Any advice as to what I can try, what YOU would do, etc... like I said, not sure if I want another kitten or even if it would help... ?
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think you already have the answer.....Dexter lost his play/cuddle buddy Monkey and Callie isn't interested in his games. Cats can grieve over a cuddle buddy for quite a while and his behavior shows it and that's why he's "depressed" and "off". When you brought home the first GSD and then another, and spent more time with them in your sport games than you have with Dexter, so it's no wonder he is needy and depressed. So I think he feels now he's the "last man on the totem pole" so to speak. He's likely jealous of the GSD's as they are very much like him....want to be with their owner and are extremely loyal and crave attention. I think Dexter needs some one-on-one attention with you for a while each day; it's TLC=tender loving care is what Dexter craves. Give him some very special time each day, with lots of loving, cuddling, grooming, treats and make sure it's private in a room away from the dogs. This is what he needs and is asking for, and an additional GSD may tip his neediness into objectionable behavior (e.g. inappropriate litter box behavior as a way of showing his objection), over-grooming from stress, becoming aggressive to the dogs or you. If you can't give him all the attention he wants and he is suffering because of it by being depressed or withdrawn, you may have to consider re-homing him to someone who can give him more attention.
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Old 11-08-2012, 01:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Catloverami - not sure what type of owner you think I am, but you are WAY off base here.

Dexter and I have plenty of alone time and I do pay equal attention to ALL of my animals, the dogs AND my Dexter.

I actually can honestly say that Dexter receives MORE one-on-one time with me than the dogs.

When I am training the dogs - he is right there with us, getting treats and training time as well. He is not "the last guy on the totem pole" as you say, he actually would be the top guy in this house.

He even comes with me when I travel for competition or vacations home to my parents or friends.

I do not think the behaviours are because he is lacking attention from me, it can't be. Since my Monkey has left us, I have made a point to give him the extra play time he lost. The cuddling thing, he has always been a cuddlier, but now it is not a healthy thing. He is constantly trying to get on us, not in a 'he's an affectionate kitty' kind of way either. It has become almost an obsession, not healthy.

The fact that you think I want to re-home my 4 year old cat is appalling and I am definitely disgusted that you would even suggest that to someone.

This is not a "the owner doesn't have time for the cat" situation, if you read my thread you would see I am doing everything in my power to help Dexter through this situation... geez... I am disgusted.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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When you ask for advice, be prepared for it. Ami said nothing wrong. You asked what others would do and she answered you.

You said he's right there when you're training the dogs. Ami suggested one-on-one attention - away from the dogs.

Most of us love our cats enough to find them a new home if that would be the only way to make their life better. And since you seem to be "done with cats", I would think you'd be willing to do that, if that's the option that makes sense for everyone.

Sorry if that disgusts you, too.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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He misses his playmate. He is seeking that from the other cat who isn't interested. The solution would be to get another younger cat to be his new play buddy but since you don't want cats after him, this isn't an option. He may get over it with time but to be honest I don't think he will. He needs a buddy to play with... Some cats are good by themselves and others are not. Since he grew up with a buddy, I think that is what he craves and may not get over it. Sorry.
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I agree with Marie that you over reacted a bit to what Ami was saying.

You need to keep in mind that since you're still new we DON'T know what kind of an owner you are, and we get many many more 'It's just a cat' people dropping in (they tend not to stay, or they change their tune) than we get of owners who are just as involved as we are.

Please don't take Ami's comments that way, she was just trying to help and I can completely see where you're both coming from. She wasn't trying to be insulting.

I also agree with what everyone's said. Dexter lost his best and closest friend...They were very tightly bonded and that might not be something that your attention can fix. I know that if one of my boys passed away the other would be completely lost, and not in ways I would always be able to do anything about. They literally spend all day every day together, and cry when they're apart.

If a new buddy isn't an option then it might just be a matter of waiting for it to pass, or encouraging him to bond with one of your dogs. Cats and dogs can be the best of friends, so that might be an option if you have a dog with the right personality to be compatible in that way with Dexter.

Other things that might help are increased play time, not just cuddles. I don't know how much run around time he gets (with dogs around likely quite a bit ) but adding a bit more for a bit might help him be able to focus on his missing friend less. In the same way that people counsel other people to keep busy right after a loss.

The fact is that he's grieving, and that there's a process to it for animals just as there is for people. I think that your support and love will help him get through it, but waiting it out might be the only solution left.
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I didn't see any suggestion that the poster was done with cats in a real sense. I come from a very multi-pet family and every time one of ours died, my mother would say something of that sort..... it lasted until the next stray turned up (and not just dogs and cats).

To me, it sounds as if she / he is trying very hard. For me, getting new animals has always (thankfully) worked but it depends on the individual situation. I think that particular cat would benefit from company - playful company.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I understand that no one really "knows" me here, but the simple fact is, if I didn't care, then why would I choose to find a cat forum and ask for suggestions?

Anyways, for those who responded, thank you.

Dexter has plenty of play time with me and of course cuddle time. I mentioned the training because not only does he get the one-on-one time with me (like ALL 3 of my 'kids') but he also is integrated into our training time or play time with the dogs. It's a multi-pet household and so we are always doing things together as well.

I agree that he is grieving, so am I still which is why I do not want to welcome in another cat at this moment. I need more time, I have ALWAYS had cats and probably always will have at least one in my home but right now.. I am done. Maybe I won't feel the need for another or maybe I will.. time will tell.

I don't feel like bringing in another cat when my heart isn't in it is healthy for the new cat. I am being honest, and if I get looked down upon for that, then so be it. I raised cats my whole life, have fostered for a well known rescue, adopted all my cats, saved cats and kittens for every situation possible, and then lost my soul mate. I am not apologizing to anyone for not wanting another cat.

As you can see from my original post, I have tried A LOT of things to ease Dexter during this time, if I didn't care about him then why would I do that? Feeling like I have to justify my love for my little guy on a internet forum is plain ridiculous to me and you won't keep people coming back if every time someone posts, they get a response like I did.

I am a fellow rescuer, a foster parent and for people to treat me like I am some person who would dump my cat because he is grieving and I don't want another cat or tell me I am not spending enough time with him... well... not okay. The fact is, like someone pointed out, you don't know me and I don't know you - so maybe starting off on better footing would be better for everyone so this forum can thrive and people can communicate without feeling like they have to defend themselves. This isn't my first forum and I know how it goes, but sometimes it gets old.

Anyways, I am going to try talking to my old rescue to see if maybe bringing a foster over for a few days does anything, and maybe doing some outtings with Dexter on lead will help take his mind off things.

Any other suggestions, please do share.. as 'far out there' as you can think, I am willing to try almost anything.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It isn't that we're making assumptions about you...but that we're trying to cover all the bases just in case. IMo it's always better to ask than to find out later that the whole problem comes down to the 'obvious' thing that you never thought to ask about because it was obvious. We weren't saying you don't care about your boy, no one meant that at all!

If your heart isn't up for a new cat right now, then you're right that it's best to wait.

IMO the fact that you are upset about this misunderstanding is a good thing, because it shows that you're truly not that sort of person.

I've found every forum has a 'tone' and until you're used to the tone of the forum it can be hard to understand the place that comments come from. Unfortunately the only fix I've found is time...but I hope you'll stick around so we can get to know you better and you can get to know us

I think trying a foster might be a good idea, especially if Dexter is used to other cats coming and going. I know when I used to do a lot of fostering an extra cat wouldn't even phase my 4...now it'd throw them right off though, lol. Is he good with kittens? Fostering a baby or two might be just the thing to bring light and giggles into your life and his. It's also easier to integrate kittens as fosters IMO. No one can be too mopey with bouncy silly kittens about

It sounds to me like you're doing everything right, and that you're still grieving the loss of your other cat. I'm sorry you lost your kitty, and I hope Dexter perks up soon for you.
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think you took it the wrong way. No one was saying you didn't love your cat/trying to do the best things for him. We are just saying he would benefit from another cat and no one knows anything else to suggest. I agree he is grieving and you are right, if you don't want another cat now then don't get one.

I think the fostering idea is fabulous. Even if its for a short time, you are helping out an animal in need and maybe that's all it will take to distract your cat and help him move on. Good luck and please keep us updated
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